Thursday, July 23, 2009

Adventures in Unemployment: On The Road

There's only so much sitting around mopeing you can do when you're out of work. So to keep me sane while I do battle with the Department of Labor & Industry and search for a new job I've planned some distractions. One such diversion is to get the hell out of the house and feel alive again, all while spending very little money. This week XL took a few days off work and we did what any red blooded American man does in the summer: watch baseball, eat wings and drink beer.

We left York first thing in the morning on Wednesday and headed west toward the Steel City. It's amazing how the Pennsylvania Turnpike can make a 3 1/2 hour trip feel like the Odyssey, but we made damn good time. Along the way we saw a pig in the road, which, surprisingly was a first for both of us.

Once we got to Pittsburgh we struggled for a while to find a parking spot for the rare 12:35 middle of the week start time. But, eventually we did find a spot and we made our way to PNC Park, which is one of the two or three best ballparks in the country. There's just something about the backdrop of the Clemente Bridge and all of Downtown Pittsburgh across the Allegheny River that makes watching a game there so wonderful. Plus: there are a ton of great amenities to be had.

A few innings into the game XL and I made our way to one of the many fantastic eateries in the park, called Quaker Steak & Lube. Their specialty is wings and that was what we were there for. So we ordered the half bucket and a few sodas and found a table to eat them at. What followed was an act of eating so ferocious that it could have been slipped into one of those nature videos of lions eating an impala. I'm not totally sure, but I think XL unhinged his jaw at one point and just ate a whole wing, bone and all. The bucket had 29 wings in it (yeah, I counted the bones) and this is what it looked like before the frenzy commenced:
Here I am digging in:
and here's XL enjoying his:
This was all that was left when we were done with them:
We got the medium heat wings, and they had just the right amount of spice on them. It was enough to make my nose run at one point but not so much that all you tasted was heat. Plus they were fried to perfection, with an amazing crispy texture but not burnt. Quite simply, it was heaven and we were stuffed, or so we thought.

We decided to walk down the big circular walk way in left field and along the way we saw the "Southwest Flight Deck" party area, which looked empty. So we snuck in to take in the game from the seats right under the big scoreboard in the outfield. About an inning and 3 home runs later, a lady came over and said we could help ourselves to some food. As it turned out there was a group event in the area that day The hostess told us that most of the people didn't show, and she didn't want the food to go to waste. XL and I have never ignored a lady in distress, so we decided to help out and eat a second lunch. After fried chicken, cornbread and a salad with blue cheese and peaches (which was surprisingly awesome) we realized we wouldn't be making a post game visit to Pittsburgh's finest sandwich shop: Primanti Bros.

In the end, we enjoyed a high scoring National League game, and spent much of the day bullshitting with one another. Just the thing I needed in the midst of my unemployment. In a few days Inky and I will be hitting the road to go see my family in Maine, which should also help to lift my spirits a bit.
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