Give Me Broccoli Rabe, or Give Me Death: 48 Hours in Philly

City Center Philadelphia around lunch time, with plenty of bustle
and one of the numerous Pakistani-owned Halal food carts in the area
Granted, I have not visited all the big metro cities on the East Coast yet. But in terms of feel and bustling energy that only a big city has, Philadelphia feels the most like San Francisco to me, with a little more age and space added in, not to mention a couple dozen or three Halal-style food carts scattered throughout the City Center area.

A mere two days really isn’t enough to absorb a city the size of Philly, but it is enough to lend impressions like these, and enough to make you anticipate when you might be able to squeeze in another trip in the future.

Stuck in the Middle With You: Keystone State Travels

Even Abe Lincoln will tell you there's a lot to explore in the state of
Pennsylvania between the cities of Pittsburgh and Pennsylvania
Leaving Pittsburgh and traveling eastward through Pennsylvania, we firmly had several National Parks in our sights as our main destinations. When it comes to the United States, the amount of and virtual age of this history tends to grow as you trek toward the Atlantic Ocean.

On this trip, we ended up spanning the historical timeline, from an unexpected find related to a conflict barely covered in the lower grade levels (the French-Indian War) to an event which has become a modern time "Day of Infamy" in the terrorist attacks of 09/11/2001.

Viewing nature's beauty was also prime on the docket, as we dropped by a state park with plenty of outdoor charms and a world-renowned architectural work whose best quality just might lie in how it blends in with the natural flora and fauna surrounding it.

Everyone needs a little curveball to break up the routine, and for us, that came in the form of a minor league baseball game and craft beer on an evening which scared away many due to the weather.

Three Days in the Land of Three Rivers

The Point State Park Fountain, located at the confluence of rivers that gave
Pittsburgh's former Three Rivers Stadium its name. Heinz Field, current home of
NFL's Pittsburgh Steelers, lies across the Allegheny River in the background
Pittsburgh, like many Midwest cities, finds itself in the long-term quest of reinventing itself

A city traditionally known for its bustling steel industry and a blue-collar reputation, Pittsburgh has used a multi-pronged effort in the fields of education, industry and government to diversify its job mix and economic base, trying to stem the tide of population loss that has turned the once tenth largest city by population in the country in 1940 to 64th in 2019.

Tourism is also a vital part of boosting the city's fortunes. There was a day where I wouldn't have even considered traveling for pleasure to a place like Pittsburgh, but that just shows how times change and how the spirit to explore is indeed a good one. And thus, our most recent road trip adventures took us into the Keystone State of Pennsylvania, with our first days spent in the Steel City.

The Untimeliest of Sunsets

A sunset can be beautiful, even spectacular. Unless this big blue marble we reside on gets flipped off its orbit by some large celestial object, this planet's inhabitants can expect this phenomenon to occur at dusk for the foreseeable future.

Human beings might wish that sunsets on our life on this earth were equally as timely and regular. But mix in luck and circumstance with the complex organisms that we are, and we find some will live into the triple digits, and while others will find that their sun has set far too early.

There's almost always a bit of unfairness in the latter instance. It hurts even more when the person sports a larger-than-life personality and charisma that naturally draws others to them, who are genuinely nice and makes others feel better about themselves. Patrick and Joe, who left this world and my life roughly a decade apart, were two such people.