State by State

Apparently there is an entire country between Boston and San Francisco.

grand army of the republic highway

by Natalia

After 2 days of traversing mountains and crossing forests we reached Lake Erie in a rush of excitement at such a great body of water.

The feeling was short lived once we've realized it hasn't escaped unscathed the greed that transformed the mountains and the forests we've left behind. Reminder of extinct species of fish made me guilty ordering local yellow perch. You cannot really see the destruction anymore as the intense conservation efforts of the last 40 years created illusion of pristine nature.

We rode our bikes around one such enclave - Presque Isle State Park - where conservation is in constant tug-of-war with public acces. But we still cannot justify cramming bikes into our track as the peninsula sports a highway amid a fragile ecosystem. Despite the highway it was teeming with birds possibly because most people come here for the beaches when the nesting season is over.

It sure felt empty except for a bus full of teenagers. But the bus got stuck in the sand and I'm pretty certain these particular teenagers will stay away from nature for a long time. Maybe bus driver was a crypto nature lover with unorthodox teaching methods?

pittsburgh

So Pittsburgh. Who would have thought. For some reason I was full of misconceptions about this place. First of all it's not really cold here. Sorry. That's actually from an entirely different bag of misconceptions. Well, let me just say after one full day it's an incredibly cool place. It actually seems to be a real city which from several years of painful experiences with what passes in US for urban planning is a real compliment. Pittsburgh feels organic and human-scale. People seem to live here not just commute to the office. Maybe it's because of the geography - it's a bit inconvenient to revel in urban sprawl when you are limited by 3 rivers surrounded by hills. Maybe it's because of the German roots. Or maybe it's because of the cycle of the boom and bust that touches this place with more regularity than it deserves. Well - if there is a reason it should be studied: the recipe is certainly worth replicating.

steam

There are of course locomotives. And they are of course impressive. It never hurts to remind oneself how to build a steam engine. Might be invaluable when this civilization of ours starts crumbling. Then again, I suspect there are couple of other things that might be helpful before steam engines make a big comeback.Still - the ingenuity of the mechanism, the ability to push things that feel heavy just to look at - fills one with awe.