Wandering: $20.10, Tree Climbing, and Venturing Out

"I'm a lumberjack and I'm okay."

Everyone should be so lucky to a have a Megan in his or her life.  I have a Megan in mine.  She’s that friend who is always in the know and manages to stuff so many interesting and jaw-dropping activities into her life that I’m sure she either has seven more hours in her day than me or else her college offered a degree in Cool that mine didn’t.  (Since we have the same alma mater, I guess I can rule out the second option.)  In any case, Megan has been the inspirational (not to mention organizational) force behind two weekend activities that I am greatly anticipating: Pittsburgh’s Restaurant Week 2010 and the Western Pennsylvania Tree Climbing Championship.

First up, the Western Pennsylvania Tree Climbing Championship held in Allegheny Commons near the National Aviary all day on May 22 beginning at 8 am.  If I can make it through the day without singing Monty Python’s “Lumberjack” ditty out loud, I’ll be impressed.  Apparently this Tree Climbing Championship is compliments of the International Society of Arboriculture and will feature scads of arborists running amuck through the park.  I’m going to relish the sight of tree-huggers exploring the urban forest of Allegheny Commons while my family and friends set up a little picnic brunch in the middle of the action.  Come tomorrow, I will dig out some flannel shirts circa my 7th grade wardrobe (and maybe bring my overalls and Tretorn sneakers along for the ride, too), and watch some serious arborists impress me with their arboreal climbing.  The event and exhibits are free to all.  And if I get to hug a tree at some point during the Championship?  Priceless.

Feasting on three-courses for $20.10

This weekend also marks the culmination of Pittsburgh’s Restaurant Week 2010.  Not that I need an excuse to try out a new restaurant, but okay, I’ll take one. Celebrating local, independent restaurants, Local Restaurant Week offers incredible dining deals running from May 25-30.  Each participating restaurant offers at least one deal priced at $20.10 or less.  Many of my favorite restaurants and a few on my “must dine” list appear among the participants.  While it was hard to whittle the list to just one choice (a necessary constraint thanks to the logistical difficulties of the whole toddler/baby-sitter thing), I’m opting for River Moon Café in Lawrenceville.  This restaurant is brand new to me, but it has some compelling keywords in its favor: Lawrenceville (one of my favorite ‘Burgh neighborhoods), casual, sophisticated, fresh, from scratch, made to order.  Best yet, for $20.10, I’m going to sit down and enjoy a three-course meal with nary a bib or baby spoon in sight.

Venture Outdoors tempts me (and more capable climbers) to the Point this weekend

Already, my Saturday is shaping up to be twice as much fun as my average day, but I may just try to squeeze one more event into my waking hours.  (Three events will also give me license to collapse exhausted on the couch during Sunday’s naptime.  Cleaning and scrubbing can wait until Monday, right?)  So third on my list: the 10th Annual Venture Outdoors Festival.  Held at Point State Park and the Mon Wharf from 11:00 AM to 6:00 PM, the Venture Outdoors Festival is free fun for an entire robust family.  Some activities you might catch me enjoying: climbing walls, kayaking, bike riding, and yoga (definitely the yoga!).  Some activities I will not be frequenting: dragon boating (although I could probably be a drummer on board), capoeira (beautiful but a bit perplexing to me), bicycle rodeo (I’d need more than a helmet to protect me), or grass roots racing (doesn’t yoga sound so much more relaxing?).  I may not be the most rugged of weekend warriors, but I will love watching the other North Face clad adventurers burning calories on my behalf.  The great thing about the Venture Outdoors festival is that it offers a unique opportunity to sample some of our region’s outdoor organizations and maybe find a new past time to boot.

Weekends like this, weekends that stretch until their seams burst to contain all of the fun activities, give me a special thrill.  I almost wish every weekend could be so accommodating.  Then I remember that it’s the normal “weed the yard, read a book, cook breakfast for dinner” kind of weekend that allows a “$20.10, Tree Climbing, and Venturing Out” weekend to be extra special exciting.

Get the Megan in your life to organize an outing to one, two, or (if you’re particularly adventurous) all three of this weekend’s great Pittsburgh events.  On Saturday, May 22, challenge the champion climbers in Allegheny Center Park starting at 8 am.  Swing over to the Venture Outdoors Festival located at Point State Park from 11 am until 6 pm.  Round out your day with a three-course special at River Moon Cafe in Lawrenceville, or select the restaurant of your choice through Local Restaurant Week.

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