The Phoenix Nest

Madison / Pittsburgh S.E. KOA, near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Madison / Pittsburgh S.E. KOA, near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

A Target Destination on the Phoenix's Grand Fossil Tour

By Jim Fulton

About This Page

A Message from the Phoenix

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Abstract

I spent a week at Madison / Pittsburgh S.E. KOA, near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I spent three days at Madison / Pittsburgh S.E. KOA, near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in order to visit the Carnegie Museum of Natural History.

Page Prerequisites
Page Specifications
Id Flights_GFT_2018_1002
Title Madison / Pittsburgh S.E. KOA, near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Subtitle A Target Destination on the Phoenix's Grand Fossil Tour
Keywords Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Madison / Pittsburgh S.E. KOA, Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Author Jim Fulton
Author's URL https://fenixnest/Phoenix/
Copyright 2018
Status Development Began: 2018/10/02
Last Revised 2018-10-21

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Arrived 2018/10/2
Day of Tour 437
Nights Stayed 3
Departed 2018/10/5
Map miles from last stop 237
Mileage on arrival 43,996
Actual miles from last stop 346
Accumulated miles for trip 25,479

I spent three days at Madison / Pittsburgh S.E. KOA, near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in order to visit the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. I had planned to spend a whole week, even a month, but as things worked out, I needed to fast-track my return to Seattle.

Page Contents

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Pittsburgh, at least the part I saw on my drive across town, as well as on my visit to Carnegie Museum, was widely dilapidated. The houses and businesses needed substantial maintenance. Bars and cars dominated the commerce along the streets, which wound around in a complicated fashion without seeming to get me to my destination. Civic pride seems to be missing. Not a place I plan to return to.

The Journey to Pittsburgh

It was a rainy drive to Pittsburgh, with loud thunder overhead in my campsite, fortunately after I had set up.

After a litany of problems with Google Maps as a GPS trip router, I invested in CoPilot to guide me from place to place. I tried it out for the first time on this trip. It routed me along US 20 instead of I-90 west of Buffalo. That wasn't too bad, but then it took me along SR 51, through slow traffic and run-down areas east of Pittsburgh, and then couldn't find my destination. Frustrating! But unlike Google Maps, it has options to more closely fit my route to my needs. So I'll have to experiment.

The trip along US 20 was actually quite pretty, despite the gray, often wet skies. Instead of the wheat fields of Kansas and Washington, and the cornfields of Iowa and Nebraska, here they have grapes. Huge vineyards filling the tillable gaps between tree-lined streams. I couldn't see any clusters of grapes on the vines, but here and there were what appeared to be harvesting equipment.

Mother nature has sent her seasonal peddlers through the regions, and trees are beginning to apply the palette of autumn. Some have only dipped their fingers; some, whole arms. Mostly yellow, but here and there the bright reds of Georgia clay. As I turned south toward Pittsburgh, the colors became more somber and rare, as befits the staid truck and grain farmers, rather than the reapers of grapes.

Map of Journey to Pittsburgh

Map to Pittsburgh
Route of Journey to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, from Buffalo, New York

Madison / Pittsburgh S.E. KOA

This KOA was a challenge to get to from the north. Poorly chosen options in my GPS caused it to take me through Pittsburgh, and then routed me along state route 51, winding around narrow, poorly maintained roads during crush hour. It took over an hour to cross town. Then to enter the campground, I had to negotiate a very sharp corner. (If you're going to this KOA, be sure to come in via I-70 to exit 54. The campground is less than a mile from that exit, and you avoid the sharp turn. However, that turn impedes watching for traffic to the right when you leave.)

Once there, I found the campground pleasant. It was hilly and well wooded, but the lanes were still easy to negotiate. My particular site was too short to park my truck directly in front of the trailer, but there was plenty of room to the side.

Getting into Pittsburgh to see the museum was a difficult as getting to the KOA in the first place. There is just no easy route. They all meander slowly through long series of little towns.

Although I liked my time in this park, if I ever return to the area, I will investigate options that might offer easier access.

Photo Gallery for Madison / Pittsburgh S.E. KOA

Madison / Pittsburgh S.E. KOA
Madison / Pittsburgh S.E. KOA
Madison / Pittsburgh S.E. KOA
Madison / Pittsburgh S.E. KOA
Madison / Pittsburgh S.E. KOA
Madison / Pittsburgh S.E. KOA
Madison / Pittsburgh S.E. KOA
Madison / Pittsburgh S.E. KOA
Madison / Pittsburgh S.E. KOA
Madison / Pittsburgh S.E. KOA
Madison / Pittsburgh S.E. KOA
Madison / Pittsburgh S.E. KOA
Madison / Pittsburgh S.E. KOA
Madison / Pittsburgh S.E. KOA
Address 764 Waltz Mill Road
Ruffs Dale PA 15679
Home Page https://koa.com/campgrounds/madison-pittsburgh/
Phone ‭(800) 562-4034‬
Associations
Rate (net US$) $46
Features
Amenities
Sewer Fire-Ring
Picnic Table   Paved Patio
Pull-through   Back-in
  Paved Gravel
 
Site Type
Lane Surface
Site Surface
  Paved Gravel   Grass    
  50 30   20
Playground Swimming   Golf
  Tennis   Waterfront   Other
Power
Play Areas
 
Reviews (as of 2018/9/5)
Reviewer
 
Rating Out of
RV Park Reviews 6.4 Average 10
Good Sam 9 10
KOA 4 5
Tripadvisor 3 5
Phoenix 7 10
Attractiveness 8 10
Friendliness 7 10
Tree Cover 7 10: Dense - 1: Treeless
Site Size 6 10
Ease of Access 7 10
WiFiPhoenix 7 10
Pros
  • Attractive, well-wooded campground, nestled in the Pittsburgh hills
Cons
  • Very sharp turn into campground

Points of Interest

My original plan was to stay here longer and see more of the city. With my revised schedule, the only thing I had time to see was the Carnegie Museum of Natural History.

Carnegie Museum of Natural History

CarnegieWikipedia is a well-reputed museum that provides a good collection of fossils of the Mesozoic and Cenozoic Eras, which is to say fossils of the big monsters that draw kids. Their collection of pre-Mesozoic fossils is quite limited.

The museum seems to have been curated by first-rate science educators, for they have instituted a couple of what I think to be best practices for natural history museums:

  1. Their documentation of the fossils, at least in the section from the Mesozoic Era, follows a consistent, informative three-part pattern:
    1. One panel provides an overview of the species.
    2. A second panel provides a drawing of the species, with significant features annotated.
    3. A third panel describes the provenance of the particular specimen being exhibited, along with special facts about it.
    This documentation technique is highlighted in the first specimen, Anzu wyliei, included in the photos below
  2. In their Cenozoic mammals section, although they didn't follow that informative pattern of documentation, they frequently displayed fossil skeletons with one half built up with plaster to form a model of what the animal might have looked like. This form of visualization is very helpful in understanding the organism.

Sadly, Carnegie also suffered from two worst practices:

  1. The first was poor lighting. Most of the museum was dark, with the specimens being highlighted with high-intensity spot lights. The darkness forced me to rely on my camera's flash, which rarely produces good illumination; and the spotlights produced glare, however hard I tried to avoid them. When will museums learn that indirect lighting, no spots, no open windows, provides the best illumination for visitors with cameras as well as eyes.
  2. The second was clutter. Too many of the specimens were almost hidden in what was probably intended as a "natural setting". Now I am not fond of dioramas, but they have their purpose, which is better served with models of the animals rather than skeletons. Cluttered exhibits make it difficult to study the fossil, and they produce poor photos.

The photos of Anzu wyliei also illustrate the problems of lighting and clutter.

Nonetheless, if you happen to be in Pittsburgh, the Carnegie Museum is well worth your time.

As usual, I've only included a few of the photos that I took at Carnegie, trusting that this winter I'll be able to solve the many impossible problems keeping me from delivering a comprehensive virtual museum.

Photo Gallery for Carnegie Museum of Natural History

Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Anzu wyliei
Late Cretaceous Period
Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Anzu wyliei
Late Cretaceous Period
Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Best Practice: Species Documentation
Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Anzu wyliei
Late Cretaceous Period
Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Anzu wyliei
Late Cretaceous Period
Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Best Practice: Species Illustration
Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Anzu wyliei
Late Cretaceous Period
Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Anzu wyliei
Late Cretaceous Period
Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Best Practice: Specimen Documentation
Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Natural Light Photo of
Anzu wyliei
Late Cretaceous Period
Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Problems in Natural Light Photo of
Anzu wyliei
Late Cretaceous Period
Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Edited Natural Light Photo of
Anzu wyliei
Late Cretaceous Period
Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Problems in Edited Natural Light Photo of
Anzu wyliei
Late Cretaceous Period
Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Flash Photo of
Anzu wyliei
Late Cretaceous Period
Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Problems with Flash Photo of
Anzu wyliei
Late Cretaceous Period
Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Edited Flash Photo of
Anzu wyliei
Late Cretaceous Period
Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Problems with Edited Flash Photo of
Anzu wyliei
Late Cretaceous Period
Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Apatosaurus louisae
Late Jurassic Period
Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Dryosaurus altus & Ceratosaurus nasicornis
Late Jurassic Period
Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Megaloceros giganteus
Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Sinornithosaurus
Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Stenopterygius quadricissus
Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Tyrannosaurus rex
Late Cretaceous Period (68-66 MYA)
Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Xiphactinus audax
Late Cretaceous Period
Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Smilodon fatalis
Sabertooth Cat
Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Smilodon fatalis
Sabertooth Cat
Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Best Practice: Model on Inverse of Skeleton

Story Time.

In the last episode of our story,

Story.

story

TELL SUBSTORY HERE.

 

TELL SUBSTORY HERE.

 

Afterword

BACKGROUND OF STORY

TELL SUBAFTER HERE.

 

For Further Reading

As always this story is based on what I have learned from an eclectic variety of sources, which I list below. In the main these sources are, I believe, scientifically reputable, though their conclusions might have been superseded by later research. On occasion I might draw on sources that I believe to be less than reputable for contrast and dramatic effect, but I will note my judgment in its listing. (You may not share that judgment.) The morals and conclusions I have drawn in the story are my own speculations; I cannot blame them on anyone else:

  • Web Searches:
  • Web Pages:
  • Off the Web:

Because my stories overlap in their topics, so these lists of sources will overlap. It is my plan to build a comprehensive Bibliography for the Phoenix Nest, but since the Nest is constantly growing, that has turned out to be a much more difficult task than I had anticipated. My web skills need to grow.

Onward

After leaving Pittsburgh, my next stop was Indianapolis, Indiana, for a couple days in my rapid transit west.

Comments and Conversation

What follows are comments and conversations I have had with people about this page of The Phoenix Nest.

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