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Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Road Trip to Evans City

I had a chance to work four ten-hour days which earned me a “day off” since I had already got my time in. Normally my wife and I try to do something when that happens, but she had work stuff and couldn’t go anywhere. That meant that I had an unsupervised day all to myself. Imagine the possibilities! I certainly had fun figuring out what I wanted to do. I’d like to say that I had to think and do some planning but immediately I knew that I wanted a Primanti Brothers’ sandwich, so I was definitely headed to Pittsburgh.

Now I’m not going to drive two and a half hours to eat somewhere. I mean I would but being a fat guy, I’d feel like people were judging me. I needed some other activity to justify the trip and it was then that I realized I had never checked out the Living Dead Museum in Evans City, just a bit north of Pittsburgh. For those not in the know Evans City is where Night of the Living Dead and The Crazies were shot. This explains why the museum is located there and why it is a destination for Romero nerds like me. I had been in Evans City a few years ago but the place was closed so I missed out on it. It was time to rectify that!

I was up and out of the house by ten. It was a beautiful day which made for a nice drive. I took the interstate out to Pennsylvania but when I got off of that it was nice country roads. Everything was very green, and the birds were chirping. Immediately I was put into a great mood. One that stuck around after I got to the Living Dead Museum. It is five bucks to wander thru what is admittedly a small place. But they have a wonderful documentary playing on a loop that can add some time to your visit. There are also some props as well as a cool timeline of zombie movies that runs along the walls. I’m not going to go into all of the exhibits but will say that I’m glad to have finally checked it out. Plus, they have a few cool things related to The Crazies that I was happy to see.

The historical marker
After the requisite stop at the gift shop where I picked up a couple of cool t-shirts and the novelization of Dawn of the Dead it was time to check out the historical markers. They are tucked over behind the police station near the library in a small patch of ground. There are actually a few that briefly mention the making of the movies and George Romero’s importance as a filmmaker. While mostly Night of the Living Dead, but they do have one for The Crazies. Again, that made me smile.

My own attempt at capturing the shot!
My final stop was to go to the cemetery where the opening scenes of Night of the Living Dead were shot. I’ve heard mixed messages about how the locals take it, but I found that if you are respectful no one will bother you. In the past I’ve briefly just driven past but this time I wanted to dig a little deeper. Well I suppose that sounds bad. Basically, I wanted to find some exact spots where they shot the movie so to that end I spent a bit more time wandering around. Eventually I found the chapel and the headstone where Johnny and Barbara leave the flowers. I took a few pictures and enjoyed the peaceful silence. As I’ve already mentioned it was a beautiful day out and I couldn’t have had better weather for the visit.

UFO time!!!!
On a lark I Googled what to do near me and it suggested I check out a nearby town named Mars. I supposed because of its name the town decided to put a statue of a flying saucer downtown on the square. When I heard that I knew it was a must see for me. Just a short run down the road from Evans City it was worth the drive. This is one of those quirky little towns that is fun to visit, and a lot of the local businesses seem to have adopted the theme and run with it. I recommend stopping in for some coffee at the shop next to the saucer.

It was time for some food! Using my trusty Garmin, I found the closest Primanti Brothers and set off for a great lunch. For those unaware of the awesomeness of this place they have great pizza and even better sandwiches. They are known for piling them up with the normal toppings as well as tossing the fries and cole slaw on as well. If you haven’t had one of these and find yourself in Pittsburgh do yourself a favor and try it. I’ve been slowly working my way thru the menu and this time I got a Pitts-Burger, which was awesome. You know it just isn’t a road trip report without me mentioning food.

Damn I love Primantis
The last stop was at a small comic shop that my good friend Tim Gross of Gross Movie Reviews is always talking about. In addition to movies I spend my time reading comics and playing cards so a shop like Geekadrome is right up my alley. Though I didn’t think things out too clearly when I decided to head down because it took me from the north side of Pittsburgh to the south, which meant driving thru the city. Traffic is a pain in the ass, especially with the construction going on. Though I have a funny story about that.

Warning football talk is coming. I was stuck in traffic… in a tunnel… without movie for five minutes. While sitting the fella in the minivan next to me must have seen my Ohio plates and asked me if I was a Browns fan. I know that I never talk about this stuff here on the site but I’m a Steelers fan, a huge Steelers fan! He could tell from the look I gave him that I was not a fan and we ended up talking Steelers football. Specifically, how the loss of Brown and Bell might be addition by subtraction. I mean they are already causing their new teams some headaches. When we entered the tunnel, we were both pessimistic towards the upcoming season, but by the time we left it I think we were both feeling pretty good about it.

After braving the traffic, I arrived at Geekadrome and chatted with the owner for a few minutes. Bought some Magic Cards and some comics books. I hadn’t seen the Army of Darkness/Bubba Ho-Tep crossover comic before but had to pick a few issues up. Still haven’t read it yet but I’m hoping for good stuff. If you happen to be in Pittsburgh, I highly recommend checking out the store. While a bit smaller he has packed if full of goodies. I know that I’ll be back the next time I’m in town.

Since I was on the south side of Pittsburgh and didn’t want to deal with the traffic again, I headed home a different way and promptly hit another bit of construction/traffic! Though it wasn’t too bad, and I eventually got on some clear roads. This route takes me thru some small towns, including the one I grew up in, so it was a fun drive. Made me feel a bit nostalgic to see the old stomping grounds. I did arrive home about eight thirty at night having spent a bit over ten hours on my road trip. I unloaded my loot and called it a day. A very good day at that.

© Copyright 2019 John Shatzer

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