I escaped from Swissvale. I'll tell you: It was rough. I didn't think we were all going to make it out alive.
Maybe it wasn't Swissvale, maybe it was West Mifflin. I'm not 100 percent sure. I am sure, however, I've never seen such a miserable collection of one-way streets, poor lighting, overgrown trees and hedges and dead ends in all my life. It's like the Pittsburgh area specializes in confusing and maze-like neighborhoods. Half of those who make their way into Pittsburgh never find their way back out.
I get around Pittsburgh proper OK - as long as the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation doesn't spring any surprises on me. So, I'm pretty much helpless while driving in Pittsburgh. One of PennDOT's favorite tricks is putting detour signs behind trees and other signs, especially in areas where you might need to get into a turning lane. I wonder if they do it on purpose? Maybe they giggle as they position the signs behind whatever is handy?
However, our harrowing ordeal repeatedly turning around at the end of dead ends would have ended much more quickly if the Long Suffering Husband would have listened to my directions. I had the map, I was navigating and he should have listened to me. Instead, he kept missing the turn and grumbling.
When he gets grumbly, I get irritable. That's just a bad combination - and the kids were in the backseat, trying to be helpful and reading street signs hidden behind shrubbery in the dark. It's amazing any of us made it out alive.
Especially after a long day at Kennywood. I loathe amusement parks. I don't find anything amusing about being spun around, hung upside down and flung from side-to-side. The LSH and Little Professor went on every rollercoaster in the place, while the Sassy Saint took pity on me and my queasy stomach and mostly stuck to the rides that didn't break the sound barrier.
The best rides in the park are the merry-go-round and Ghostwood Estates. I can nap on the merry-go-round, and you get a nice little breeze without being afraid of imminent death. They have benches on the merry-go-round. Ghostwood Estates is a "rollercoaster" that goes about five miles an hour and pauses so you can shoot at targets and "scare away" animatronic ghosts. I scored 1,700 on that ride, while the rest of the family only managed 1,050 all together. Clearly superior. (Also, hours of "Duck Hunt" in my youth didn't go to waste!)
We came for the parade - actually Sassy came for the parade with the marching band, the rest of us were there because there was no way Sass was running wild through the amusement park with the band kids. True story: Helicopter parents take lessons from me.
So I slathered on roughly six pounds of sunblock, bought stock in sports drinks and I endured. I endured so I could take Sass home myself, so I could ensure her safety.
Then we got lost in Swissvale.
Maybe I should have let her go home on the bus.
(Wallace-Minger, The Weirton Daily Times community editor, is a Weirton resident and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)