Category Archives: THE EAST COAST MISC

Greatest hits around Burlington VT – nearby Waterbury, Duxbury, Waitsfield

Gorgeous fall weather here in Burlington where we are visiting my cousin who lives in the “new north end” by the shoreline of Lake Champlain, with spectacular views, a sandy beach you get to though a staircase in the woods, and a shady greenbelt bike path that unfortunately we didn’t have time to ride. Next trip.

Lake Champlain

We visited some fun hipster drinking spots including St. John’s Club, a private drinking spot, with a back lawn overlooking the lake, and dinner at Burlington Brewery (burgers, salads, a Mexican stew). Breakfast was Montreal-style bagels (chewier than US style) at Myer’s, including good breakfast sandwiches (ex: scrambled eggs, cheddar, sausage). It’s in a former warehouse district along the water that’s turned into arty shops and restaurants.

About a half hour east in the hamlet of Duxbury, tucked into the tree-carpeted hills is Moose Meadow Lodge, run by family friends. It’s a sophisticated but cozy contemporary log-made lodge high on a wooded hilltop with amazing views and rooms with handmade, one-of a-kind bent twig furniture, petrified wood sinks, and decorated with weathered snowshoes, ancient sleds and taxidermies mounted on the walls. Even the refrigerator and dishwasher are camouflaged in birchbark and bent twigs. Behind the lodge is the treehouse, a dreamy two stories, electrified with a fabulous outdoor bathroom/shower in the woods overlooking a gentle pond.

At Leunig’s
A Moose Meadow view
Waitsfield, VT

In nearby Waterbury, we had excellent nachos with chunks of barbecued brisket and Vermont cheddar on the dog friendly patio of Prohibiton Pig Brewery, aka Pro Pig. In the sweet smaller town of Wainsfield, we visited the covered bridge, the Vermont Artisans Store (the art and crafts here are good quality but pricey) and a little outdoor cafe, The Sweet Spot, in a pretty rock garden beside a sun-dappled stream flowing under the covered bridge. Classic Vermont. The leaves are starting to change, with a few reds and oranges and purples. In another week or so, they should be a full spectacle. We didn’t have time to visit another small town, Warren. Next trip!

Dinner with old friends who live in Burlington was fun at Leunig’s, an old fashioned “Burlington institution” specializing in steak frites and beef Bourgignon. As we were walking there, along the pedestrian mall I spotted a local celebrity…”Mrs. Bernie” (Bernie Sanders’ wife Jane.)

Moose Meadow lodge treehouse

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Rose Park tot lot, Feta, water front, walk from foggy bottom metro, walk to DuPont circle and settle Osteria. — DC

Another spectacular day of weather in the 70s, bright sunshine. We took the metro to Foggy Bottom and walked an easy 15 minutes to Georgetown (so there is a metro there, sort of) where we met up with the grandsons and their parents at a friendly little cafe called Feta and then went to a pretty playground Rose Park Tot lot. I had a surprisingly easy 15 minute scenic walk to DuPont circle for a working lunch at Sette Osteria with my literary agent (who just happens to be based here, as fate would have it.) and a quick browse and purchase at Kramers, which used to be Kramer Books and afterwards in the 80s.

I had no idea DuPont circle was so close to Georgetown but then I’ve never really gotten a handle on the lay of the land in DC, despite my many visit. From the playground I walked on a path through a ribbon of a park high above rock creek parkway. Later in Georgetown we stopped along the wharf for an overpriced ice cream cone at the Hershey’s shop. This area of Washington never seems like dc to me, which I don’t associate with waterfront and boats, although the Wharf development by Navy Yard also has both.

On our walk back to the metro we bumped into a friend of Noah’s who stayed with us in iowa (while volunteering during the caucuses) so we stopped to chat. DC felt like a small town. very Des Moines, and gave me hope that this can happen in places like Chicago. Dinner was at Carmine’s – two long tables and maybe 30-40 people, mostly family and heaping platters of pasta, clams, meatballs etc.

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Souk/Barracks Row and Maketto /H Street – Noah’s DC

Noah and I wandered into the bakery Souk on 8th Street just south of Eastern Market (and our Airbnb) at 6:30 pm and found out it had just closed for the day, but we ended up leaving with a bag full of baked goods, two muffins, a jalapeño biscuit, a cinnamon bun, a scone…all free although we practically begged the guy there to let us pay. What a nice welcome to Washington DC. We will definitely try to return as paying customers.

Dinner was at a Cambodia/Taiwanese restaurant Maketto on H street with an unusual decor/vibe – a large display of designer sneakers which apparently they also sell – and delicious food, not much of which I recognized, although we have been to Cambodia. The steamed pork buns were the best I’ve had, very soft and savory. The crisp scallion pancakes were perhaps my favorite item. The fried chicken served on crisp toast reminded us of Japanese Chicken Katsu and some greens ( book Choi) had unusual additions of olives and dried anchovies. We ate out side in a courtyard in the rear with high brick walls briskly painted with manga style illustrations. Fun vibe and delicious food. Lovely walking in this pretty old neighborhood, Capitol Hill, with flowers in full bloom, tulips, azaleas, dogwood, lilacs, redbuds, flowering crabs, a riot of colors pink, purple, red, yellow, orange, white and lots of green. A sight for sore eyes, as was Noah!

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flight 93/ Shanksville in the news..

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When next in Pittsburgh

We did a lot in Pittsburgh but not everything our Pittsburgh enthusiast friends recommended so including here for the next trip! (Some places were also closed due to the pandemic.)



North Side – there is a homey German restaurant that’s been there forever. Max’s Allegheny Tavern at 537 Suisman Street. They have pretty good schnitzel on the menu.

Cathedral of Learning at the University of Pittsburgh campus – the nationality rooms. We walked around on our own. Would be much better with a tour. They are just amazing and are used as classrooms and study rooms.

Heinz History museum – if you love/d Mister Rogers, you have to see the display from the show.

Primanti Brothers is famous in the Strip – where you get french fries on your sandwich along with coleslaw.

Phipps Conservatory – our indoor botanical garden in Schenley Park close to the Pitt campus.

In the strip district— the original Pirmanti brothers location is there, home to the famous cheesesteak sandwichtopped with French fries

Penn Avenue Fish company fir great seafood in a casual atmosphere. Your order from counter with all selections on a big chalkboard

And you need to have some polish food of course. The S&D deli fits the bill nicely. Traditional cheap polish delights that your Bubba used to make.
The best periogies are made by the parishioners at St. Stanislaus kostka church tucked away on a side street in the strip. Probably not selling them now due to pandemic. But the church is worth visiting anyway
Closer to downtown also on penn avenue in the cultural district there are a number of places where you can eat outside on the street. One of our favorites is Emporio: A Meatball Place. They also have rooftop seating. You order one or more meatballs of different persuasions
Other places: The Pleasure Bar in the Bloomfield neighborhood has great Italian food but is best known for its French bread pizza. Its less than a mile from Lawrenceville
You have to ride one of the inclines-up mount Washington. The Duquesne Incline’s entrance is right near Station Square an old train station that’s been gentrified and is full of sho ps and restaurants. The mon incline is usually less busy. Both feature great views of downtown. The night view is spectacular
I assume you already know about the Warhol museum on the north side. The senator john Heinz History Center on smallman street in the cultural center is a terrific place.


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More Washington DC by Bike

My busted foot has opened up a new world of Washington DC by bike (which is easier on my foot than walking). Noah was a great tour guide, eager to show us his discoveries in and around Capitol Hill, his favorite houses, alleys, parks, hidden bike trails and even more hidden breweries.

After a good bagel brunch for Mother’s Day with takeout from Call Your Mother, in the Barracks area (near a cocktail bar called Betsy), we set off peddling to Union Market, which seems to have exploded with neighboring high rise developments since I was last there a few years ago. We took the MBT (metropolitan branch trail) through an urban landscape that I would not have pegged as DC had I seen it in photos alone. Next stop Navy Yard and more glass and steel high rises near the Nats ballpark but Noah took us to Bardo biergarten, a surprisingly rustic and bohemian outdoor spot, vaguely reminiscent of a homeless encampment on the riverbank, scattered with worn diner booths and rough wood plank tables in a wooded area. It felt like a lost world, beside the gleaming developments.

In the shadow of Navy Yard
Capitol Hill dwellers

Dinner was takeout upscale Indian from Rasika. (The spinach chat was especially delicious.) This morning we picked up pricy but delicious sandwiches with precious names (Pippa, Hermione) at a nearby corner shop Wine & Butter Cafe, which beat the Subway fare available on the Pennsylvania Turnpike.


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Sobering visit to Shanksville, Pa. – flight 93 National Memorial

About 1.5 hours south of Pittsburgh, we stopped at the site of the flight that crashed into farm land on 9/11/01, averting even more devastation in Washington D.C. (The terrorists were likely targeting the U.S. Capitol, or maybe the White House.)

The weather was fittingly gloomy, cold and rainy. The hardest part of the visit was listening to telephone messages that three passengers made to their families from the plane when they knew they would likely die. The plane had been hijacked by suicide terrorists, other planes had already crashed into the world trade Center Towers and the crew and passengers of flight 93 decided to thwart the hijackers plan to crash into the U.S. Capitol …which is a stone’s throw from where we are sleeping tonight, in an Airbnb carriage house in the Capitol East neighborhood, around the block from our son’s apartment. Flight 93 crashed in the tiny rural hamlet of Shanksville, killing all 40 passengers and crew aboard.

The memorial overlooking the flight 93 crash site.

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DC by Bike

The weather gradually cleared and we had blue sunny skies punctuated by the occasional slow moving dark cloud filled with showers and wind, nothing that kept us from bike riding all over with Noah. We started the morning at Eastern Market which is a block away from our well-situated and well-appointed Airbnb on 8th street near Independence (Noah’s street.) I fell for a delicious French pastry I’d never heard of, a kouign-amann ( “queen a-man) “a cross between a croissant and a palmier, with layer after layer of buttery, flaky pastry on the inside, yet caramelized with ever-so-slightly-burnt sugar on the outside,” according to Wikipedia.

We rode in Noah’s lovely Capitol Hill neighborhood, admiring the spring blossoms and old architecture. How strange to have the US Capitol as part of your neighborhood. I couldn’t help but think about the Trump rioters and the Shanksville 9/11 heroes as we passed that august building, now surrounded by a black fence and concrete Jersey barriers. So many threats. Next we glided onto the mall, past the smithsonian museums, the Washington monument and American U. college graduates in their robes posing by the Lincoln Memorial. We rode onto the Jefferson Memorial, covered in scaffolding and looked across the water at the MLK Memorial. We rode around Hains Point or some such which has a golf course and then over to the Wharf development that felt very un- DC, with high rises and trendy restaurants along the riverfront. We had Cuban coffee at Colada Cuban cafe.

After biking,dirck and I drove to Georgetown for a quick stop and purchase st the Allbirds (shoes) store, not far from a good burger place we got food from our first night called Good stuff Eatery. Dinner Was take out from a Chinese Korean place in Noah’s neighborhood called Chi Ko.


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Vanka Murals, original Oyster House, Mattress Factory – artsy Pittsburgh

Very full and fun day seeing a variety of provoking art on a cool sunny Thursday. We began at a Croatian Catholic Church (St. Nicholas) in Millvale for a docent-led tour of the amazing murals inside painted between the world wars (1938, 1941) by Maxo Vanka, an Austrian painter with ties to Croatia. We were early so we drove up an impossibly steep one-lane road to a handful of houses clinging to the hillside, with spectacular views of the old brick mill, modest homes and river tucked in the valley.

The Vanka Murals are strikingly contemporary, with scenes of modern war, proud socialism and uncharacteristically (for churches we are told) strong females. The murals cover all the walls and high-domed ceiling and are in the process of being restored. Tours are offered on Saturday. We lucked into a Thursday tour, thanks to a bigger group that had booked and came 1/2 hour late.

Our Airbnb street in Lawrenceville
Vanka murals
Vanka murals

Next stop, a fresh fried fish sandwich at the Original Oyster House downtown on Market Square which gave us a chance to admire the interesting architecture, old and new, downtown. The fish tasted very fresh and fun to eat inside (yes, inside…post-vaccines) an old tavern with vintage photos of Miss America pageants and Pirates baseball.

The Mattress Factory is in the lovely Mexican War Streets neighborhood, with gorgeous restored homes lining the streets. Fancier than Lawrenceville, not as fancy as Squirrel Hill. The museum specializes in “immersive” art and that it was, which was a bit challenging to navigate at times with my broken foot because we were sometimes plunged into complete darkness and had to navigate tricky steps and dark narrow passageways. Some artists we recognized – James Turrell and Yayoi Kusama.

Kusama polka dot and mirrors = infinity room

Beyond the four floors of the factory building are two neighborhood houses nearby, also with immersive installations. One installation takes up the entire three floors of the house, with holes cut in the floors so you can look up or down at the adjacent floor. Another had a Small piano hoisted awkwardly in the air on ropes and a song composed for the piece you could play on your phone.

Covid is also inspiring some strange art, this museum suggests.

Covid art
Vanka murals
Mattress factory

We did a little browsing at sweet independent shops along Butler street. (Pastries at la gourmandine, buttercream) Quite a few have limited hours, perhaps due to the pandemic. People are good about wearing masks and/or reminding you to put yours on if you forget. (Mine hangs on a chord around my neck for easy in and off.)

We met old (younger) friends Dan and Elizabeth for dinner in a tented space outside Spirit, a performance space in Lawrenceville located in a former Moose Lodge.

Toasting baby Charlotte, niece of Dan &Elizabeth

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Duquesne Incline, Strip District, church Brew works, Lawrenceville – Pittsburgh

With steep narrow streets lined with narrow row houses and so many iron bridges, hills and valleys, Pittsburgh struck me at first as a giant Easton, as in the river town on the other side of Pennsylvania, where my mother grew up.

We went first to ride the atmospheric funicular that climbs Mount Washington at a steep incline (hence the name, the Duquesne Incline), traveling inside an old wooden cable car. As promised, the view of the city fanning out across the valley below and up the opposite hillsides, at the convergence of three rivers, is spectacular. We returned at night to Grandview Avenue, which is lined with viewing platforms to see the city adorned with lights. Dazzling.

Grand view from the overlook along Grandview Avenue

We finally found the concentration of old warehouses and ethnic food purveyors along Penn Avenue in the Strip District and I hobbled along (my foot is broken) to window shop. (We stopped at a huge candy store, grandpa Joes to pick up some hard-to-find Royal Crown Sours.) Next stop, Squirrel hill, the fancy and yes, hilly, area with non-attached big brick houses and past the various Carnegie Museums.

Beer en masse

Our Airbnb is one of those narrow row houses in Lawrenceville with long caramel-colored wood plank floors and an old red brick fireplace. The street reminds me of my grandmother’s street in Easton (except it has hipster shops and restaurants a block a way on Butler Street). We entered through a little gate on the side of the white wooden row house and walked down a narrow alleyway to the back door. Dinner was good takeout pizza (pandemic style) from Driftwood Oven and then off to church for a beer. No joke. There’s a place called The Church Brew Works in a lovely old high ceilinged Romanesque church in Lawrenceville. Dirck’s brother figured it counts as mass attendance.


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