Posted by: bkropf | October 25, 2007

I Never Knew Museums Were So Romantic

After the Cathedral of Learning at University of Pittsburgh, I went to the Carnegie Museum of Art and Natural History and spend the majority of my time there. I never know if you can take pictures in museums. Given the risk, I secretly take pictures of my favorites and then look around nervously wondering if some guard is going to tackle me for infringing on some sort of copyright law. I came across two older women who were staring at a painting of a blacksmith from the early 1900’s. They so perfectly fit into the art snob stereotype I had to sit and listen for a while. One women had her magnifying glass out and was canvasing the whole painting commenting, “Is that an animal in the background, that must have been a finishing touch.” The other one would respond, “Look how his face is broken like the wheel,” then “Can you imagine how important the blacksmith was to society at the turn of the century, this piece is reflecting a crucial part of society” and “Look at the use of colors to express longing.” Listening made me feel totally inadequate to have any opinion on art.

I walked around and entered the Natural History portion of the museum. I enjoyed the various stuffed animals in their recreated natural settings. To be honest though, I think my uncle Lowell had more and nicer animals in his personal collection. Then in one of the exhibits I heard a strange animal noise on my periphery behind some foliage. It sounded like some sort of monkey devouring a grapefruit. I thought, “Wow, now they are stepping up the experience by piping animal noises to the exhibits.” I walked around the exhibit hoping to see some exotic animal only two find two junior-high lovebirds making out. I think all three of us bonded, sharing that awkward moment.

Feeling sickened, I walked around in the rain getting wet and popped into an Indian Restaurant. It was really good food, though I can’t figure out how they make any money. I sat reading Catch 22 about an hour and a half and only saw two other people eating the whole time. Meanwhile, I think the whole family was in the back cooking.

Following my meal, I walked to the library to try to negotiate some internet access. They weren’t buying what I had to offer, but they did print off some directions on the public transit website for me to try to find John’s house. Rain was pelting me by this point. I had all my stuff with me so I was getting a little miserable.

A transfer downtown onto a different bus was a necessity, however, due to construction, the buses had switched pickup points. I did not know this however and sat in the rain. The new and improved, more patient Barney, waited it out until some other people started muttering and leaving the bus stop so then I knew something was wrong. I walked all around asking people for advice and finally, just saw my bus randomly and jumped on.

It was good to see John again. I hadn’t seen him in about 7 years but he was the same old good guy I remembered. I think the biggest changes were the facial hair and his height. We went and visited his church, saw some huge houses, watched the Biggest Loser and got some coffee. Then all too soon, I was back on the subway, running through the streets in the early morning dark trying to catch my Amtrak train. I slept on the Amtrak listening to Pennsylvania Dutch spoken behind me.

I made it Huntingdon, PA, about 11 this morning and am waiting for Byran’s wife to pick me up after work. The bad news is, I have no cell phone service (it is a really small town) and she doesn’t know where to pick me up. Seems like the past couple days have been logistically frustrating. I am considering hitchhiking but I just can’t get up the nerve and I don’t know where the edge of town is.

I got some lunch at this little local place and some really large nice man talked to me about bluegrass music for a while. I told him I was from Seattle and he started listing off some bands from that area I should listen too. I loved his beard and hair. His hair was white and flowing down to his shoulders, his beard was also white and long but was only on his neck. His face was completely shaven. After cracking some bluegrass jokes, he walked out of my life and into this blog.



  1. You make me laugh out loud. Keep up the good work! A monkey devouring a grapefruit. . . . lol, that must have been one disgusting make-out to walk in on.

  2. I’ve decided that people like the bluegrass man are usually the most memorable while traveling.

    Oh, and you forgot to take me with you.

  3. We could have picked you up in Huntington,PA. Live only 25-30 min. away. Would have served you a warm home cooked meal. Sounds like a trip you’ll long remember. Happy travels.

  4. You are such a good writer! This last entry made us laugh til we nearly wet our trousers (well, Kari almost wet hers…I had complete control over my bodily functions…but I digress…) Anyway, keep it up… Oh and Kari is a Band of Horses fan now too, thanks to you. Take care and have fun!

  5. Yeah, you haven’t changed much either. Too bad there wasn’t anything more exciting going on, but I guess we were both kind of tired. I haven’t started reading Atlas Shrugged yet, either.

    Time to go rake leaves.

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