August 3, 2009

My First Time in "the Burgh"

Our final stop on the "East-Coast Adventure" was in Harris/Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. We were most excited for this stop for two reasons; none of us had ever been there and we were going to be staying/visiting with our dearfriends, the Jackels. We met the Jackels through one of our former vacations, a Carnival Mediterranean Cruise in the Summer of 2007. Our familes were paired together for dinner, where we shared a wonderful water-side table! The Jackels have two children, Amanda and Anthony, that are exactly mine and my brother's ages- which worked out wonderfully (a two week cruise is not near as fun without friends)! And both of our families were vacationing to celebrate high school graduation for myself and Amanda Jackel! To save you the entire story of our cruise, we ended up becoming great friends (you'd be surprised how close you can grow to others by sharing meals and free-time together). Just this past year the Jackels came down South to visit us on the gorgeous Gulf Coast and before leaving they extended the invitation for us to come up to Pittsburgh in return. One thing led to another and because we were going to be so close to Pittsburgh when visiting Washington D.C., we gave the Jackels a call and asked if we could come visit for the July 4th Holiday. We were all so excited to hear the news that we would be staying with the Jackels and spending the holiday with them that most of our vacation was spent looking forward to making it to their home :) We rented a car and made the drive from our former stop in Philadelphia all the way to a beautiful suburb in Pittsburgh, where the Jackels reside. We spent our first evening catching up over dinner at the famous 'Primanti Bros' (which I had seen featured on the Food network just weeks before) and a wonderfully led walking/driving tour of the city. The Jackels took us all over, giving us great views of the University of Pittsburgh, famous eateries and the beautiful city! They treated us to a ride on "The Incline" which offered great aerial views of the city and its famous bridges. To finish off the night we hit a newly developed area called "The Waterfront" which reminded me very much of our local "Destin Commons." on a much larger scale. The weather was great so we did some light walking, shopping and sat down just outside of Starbucks for a "night-cap," (which is always a Grande Soy Sugar-Free Mint Mocha, for me). We then headed back to the Jackel's home and headed to the backyard where Mr. Jackel started a great fire for us to cozy up to, in order to relax and talk some more before heading off to bed.

The next day was sunny, cool and breezy, for us Floridians, the cool breeze was VERY welcome. Our Pittsburgh friends were begging for warmer days though, haha (I begged mom to leave me there, I've had enough of these 110 degree summers)! We laid around on the patio all morning and enjoyed the pool as it warmed up in the afternoon. By the time lunch rolled around mom and Mrs. Jackel was already busy at work in the kitchen preparing our holiday dinner and we were ALL excited for that. Me-Maw Jackel joined us that afternoon, along with Amanda's super-sweet boyfriend Dan and his family. It was so nice to be with other families for a holiday, being the only members of our family that live outside the state of Illinois, it is very special to spend the holidays with friends and/or family. We had a great dinner including; beef, chicken and shrimp kabobs with risotto, stuffed mushrooms, fresh fruit and apple pie for dessert, YUM! We spent the entire evening watching various fire-works displays by the fire pit (it was so chilly at night), and we wouldn't have had it any other way. Our time together came and left so quickly with the Jackels, we felt so warm and welcomed during our time with them that is was very hard to leave. The next morning we had a delicious Sunday breakfast and said our goodbyes :( I'm already planning to visit the Jackels again next year- I just haven't told them yet :)
I've included some pictures from our time in Pittsburgh for all of you to enjoy!

All of the adults together before the fireworks show!

My younger (yet taller) brother Nick and I just before dinner.

Momma Jackel holding just ONE tray of her delicious kabobs!

"Grillmaster" Jackel

Showing off my patriotic outfit :)