PILGRIMAGE TO MECCA
Hello Captive Audience!
Well since this may have been, probably not, but may have been my last big vacation of the real millennium, I've decided to bore yinz with, yet
another, vacation letter! Of course, I started it with the world's longest sentence. Because I sentenced my whole family and my friends to ten
days of sheer hoopla and mayhem! For those of you mushrooms, who are kept in the dark and moist, my latest adventure was the unenviable
task of having ten fun-filled days in the beautiful city of Pittsburgh!
I started it by getting the book "Homestead." It is about the Homestead Steel Works strike of 1892. People were killed when they tried to
preserve their jobs in a fight against Andrew Carnegie and Henry Clay Prick, oops, Frick. It gives a real feel of the people, grit and history of the
'Burgh.
I read this as I flew the 4.5 hours to Cleveland. Hey, I saved $160 doing this! Flying to Cleveland, that is. I missed another chick flick, "Here on
Earth." I knew I made the right decision to read my book when all the women were crying.
Arriving in Cleveland and was instantly consumed with the strange feeling of humidity. Coming from Phoenix I am used to our sweat evaporating
off of my skin before I notice it.  Got a rental car, not a GEO, mind you, but a 2000 Chrysler Concord. It was magnificent. Leather seats, moon
roof, CD and what I need most of all, a digital compass. There went that savings of flying into Cleveland. Began my drive to Pittsburgh after
leaving the post-industrial wasteland that is Cleveland. Who'd a thunk that I' would bring rain? It poured like a dickens or is that like a longfellow?
Either way, it was the first rain I had seen in three months.  There were clouds in Phoenix a couple of weeks prior.
I arrived in Dormont, PA at a about 5PM to a grand reception: brass bands, cakes,...okay, okay, but Mom, Dad, my godchild Kelly and the world
famous Uncle Dick were there to give me the "attamyboy!" We all proceeded to an Italian eatery were we dined on...um...food! Brother Bob and
his lovely wife Sherry met up with us and we headed to see my old buddy Buggsy. After hanging on his porch until the wee hours we headed to
the local watering hole, "Cips." Of course it was karaoke night, so it was filled with the strangest collection of weirdos that Dormont has to offer.
Actually, I think they import them.
Friday - Hop on the Kennywood Express! My favorite Pittsburgh adventure. Mom, Sis Linda, Leanna, Gary, Kelly and Greg meet me out there to
enjoy the day. We rode the train, Pirate Ship, Thunderbolt and Racer. And, of course, the Steel Phantom. Kelly even rode it. My new favorite
ride though was the Exterminator. I laughed my head off the whole time.  Mom was worried that I had lost my mind.  I may have lost that but
my cookies were still intact. Then we tried the newest ride the Aero 360. It is a big pendulum that spins you all the way upside down. Gary took
pictures while on it and then handed me the camera. Of course I got yelled at. Imagine me getting busted, this is why I gave up hoodlumry. We
were the last ones to leave the park. This was hoopla at its best.
On Saturday, it was the big shindig. Brother Bob's wedding! I swear, there has never been a lovelier affair, or do I dare. Ice sculpture, huge cake
and a beautiful bride all in a historic hall with an Irish bar inside of it! The hoopla began with the arrival of the happy couple and a twenty minute
video of their wedding in Jamaica, two months prior. Pictures of their youth followed by the ceremony performed by a witchdoctor. "Do you take
this bride?" You can say, "I do" or "Yea Mon." It was a hoot. They insist it was legal. I even got to tip then dip the bride without ramifications.
Bobby missed it. Bob tried to change it into a Jewish wedding by breaking a stein. Mazoltov! Then the whole party went down to the Redwood
Hotel or whatever they call it these days and partied til dawn, all 170 of us. The DJ was kickin' and I was a flailin'. Got to do the Twist with Aunt
Barbie and Cuz's Lisa and Jill. After several hours of bulging this little bar I tried to apologize to the exasperated bartenders. "This is an Irish
wedding and you will probably have to kick most of these people out of here, you know. I'm the Groom's brother and there is nothing I can do
for you. Here's a five and good luck!" By the morning the damage was complete. One beer stein, the family ego from watching me dance and the
Bride's family car stereo gone in a robbery. A great time had by all! Congrats to the conjugated couple!
The next day I got up at the crack of noon and slowly made my way with Mom to the Three Rivers Arts Festival. They had some jazz and some
rain so we went to the IMAX and saw the film "Dolphins" Highly recommended, especially with a hangover. We took a tour of the WWII sub in
the Allegheny. Where we learned it was as claustrophobic as that bar we were in the night before. We managed to dodge enough raindrops to
actually buy some things at the Arts Festival.  I ended up at Buggs' house again as he wowed us with jet fast PC. Probably used for porno.
Monday - I slept in. My other godchild, Leanna, left for her great adventure to Costa Rica. She graduated high school and now she is off to see
the world! Geez, when I graduated I ended up in Jersey in the back of a pickup...in the rain! I only hope she takes the time to send us all an
email about what a real vacation is all about. So anyhow, I pick up my dear friends, the Connolly's. Russ, Diana and my third godchild Clarice hop in
the Chrysler Cadillac and drive back to Cleveland.  They are not going along just to see the mean streets of Cleveland, we are going to the Rock
n' Roll Hall of Fame! We find downtown Cleveland much cleaner than advertised and lake is not on fire. I'm disappointed. The HOF is wonderful!
Built like a pyramid it is a multi-media conglomerate of today's and yesterday's stars! (they're sponsoring this email). We start browsing around 2:30
PM. Madonna's underwear, Jim Morrison's cub scout uniform, Bo Diddley's...uh...diddley. It takes us two hours just to see the bottom floor. We
suddenly realize we have five more floors to do in a half hour! We run thru the other exhibits. One highlight: Heavy D's belt with a fork and knife
on it. We could have spent five hours here. But I only have ten minutes to hit the gift shop! In actuality, I loved it and so did everyone else. Even
my beautiful godchild, Clarice at twelve years old, loved it. And she doesn't even know who Led Zeppelin is!
The next day, Brothers Bob & Greg and I decide to go golfing. I haven't played since the last time in the 'Burgh. We do the nine hole pitch 'n
putt at Scally's. Joe Golfer (Greg) is giving us lessons along the way. I manage to hack & slice in the best tradition of O.J. thru the course
without killing anyone. Greg plays subpar for him, or is that overpar? Meanwhile, Bob is playing like a doctor. He sinks a thirty foot putt and
unfortunately for Sherry, marriage has made him a better golfer. We decide that Bobby's winning must have been aberration so we go to a
miniature golf course nearby. This is the toughest course of all time. You have to play thru trees, ramps, fire and even get to chip shots! I kept
up my usual magic mystery tour and shot about a 92. Greg came on stronger. But Bob spanked us again. You would have thought "Car Wash"
was playing! (Inside joke). Later we headed out to dinner with the whole Rush clan invading a small country...diner, except Janine. We had a
smart aleck waiter who made fun of Bobby, what a blast! Later it was game night, Gary cheated, I cried, Bobby got looped, Mom laughed, you
know...the usual game night at the Rush household.
Wednesday - Kennywood! Again! This time it was with my buddy Russ his beautiful wife Diana, Clarice and their five year old boy, Jason. This was
Jason's first venture out of Kiddieland. We took him on the "Turtle." The boy screamed and cried and we all laughed at him, emotionally scarring
him for life. Certainly he could handle "Noah's Ark." This too frightened the longfellow out of him as his Mom dragged him through it like it was a
gauntlet. It was back to Kiddieland. Then the rain came...it was raining rhinos and camels! Clarice & I were standing under a neon Charlie
Brown sign and a tree. We saw Jason walking up by himself. Hitting every puddle of course. And Russ & Diana were who knows where. It rained
harder so we moved under a building ledge ten seconds before the Charlie Brown neon sign exploded! Blasting glass right where we were
standing! Russ finally comes running thru the rain, soaked like a fish. It seems Jason had ditched him, probably because of that Turtle episode. We
went on to have a great day. I even managed to win a couple of stuffed animals for the kids! There went all my spending money!
The next day, Russ & I went to Oakland (Univ. of Pitt) to have lunch with Buggsy, Little Dan and B-Roy. B-Roy used to live with us in the trailer in
Florida. The stories he remembers are not for public consumption. Then Jim gave us the backstage tour of the Pitt air-conditioning system. As an
electrician he knows the best places to fry. We saw home plate for Forbes Field (inside the Pitt Law Bldg.) and Mazeroski's wall. I took pictures like
a blind Japanese tourist. Then we went to the Carnegie Museum and saw lots of cool stuff. They have a real T-Rex there! Then we, aaaggh,
went golfing. Beautiful course in Schenley Park. I could see the Steel Bldg. and the Pitt Cathedral. I pretty much kept up my regular golf pace of
divot making. Russ & Jim kept giving me tips but I don't how much, "Don't swim alone," has to do with golfing. This course has you drive
over the road four times. I could see the drivers wince every time I teed off. Finally, I hit the shot of my dreams. About a 35 foot chip in from a
tough lie right into the pin falling into the hole! Or was that a big lie falling from my hole? Either way we celebrated at the Getaway Lounge with
about 12 people until the wee hours.
Friday - Finally got my act together and made it over Janine's house to see her family. They are all geniuses. Showing me award after award that
the kids received and then she has the nerve to flog me in Scrabble! I got stuck with five letters. (Z V U V U)!
My last day! My bags are packed and it's time to go...Greg has his birthday party the night after I leave! Thanks Greg! One more beer may have
killed me. Drove back to Cleveland, it rained. Goodbye rain, trees, and girls with "Dog Pound" t-shirts! I won't be seeing any of them soon! Thank
you everyone! Probably my best trip to the 'Burgh ever! I miss yinz all and hope you'll come and see us! Flights to Phoenix right now $268 R/T.
Love yinz all!
Daniel, Big Dan, Uncle Dan, Godfather Danny, Ru and Hey You