Duck, Duck, Banjo?


photo (8)


Rave: Duck, Duck, Banjo?: The Engineer and I Do Pittsburgh

Back in March, we were supposed to go to Mexico, maybe Costa Rica or Puerto Rico — one of those beach vacations — but before we knew it, it was summer, and tuition would soon be due, so The Engineer and I decided to downsize our getaway. Then we downsized again, and the trip became two days in Pittsburgh.

The National Aviary ( was great, with over 500 species of free flying birds. (If you visit, you might want to wear a hat.) I got to feed two pelicans and had a Fairy Bluebird eat a worm from my hand, which was fortunate since the worm was quite lively and kept trying to make a break for freedom.Fairy bluebird

The Pittsburgh Banjo Club ( ) was delightful. They’re a mixed group, ranging in age from under twelve to well-past retirement age, and when they play, it’s obvious they’re having a great time. Directly in front of us was a player with the most ornate instrument I’ve ever seen, gold-plated with mother-of-pearl inlay and a riverboat scene on the back. He was one of several pickers who played completely by ear. Nary a sheet of music in sight! (Listen to them play on their website above.)

On the night we visited, about twenty Swiss men and women dropped by for the show. They were entertainers in their own right, in town for a yodeling performance. When the banjo club leader asked for a demonstration, three of the group bounded on stage and shared a song. I know yodeling seems, I don’t know, kind of old-school hokey, but their harmony was amazing, especially when the play-by-ear banjo players joined in to accompany them.

The Banjo Club has donated over $90,000 to Pittsburgh charities. They practice at the Elks Lodge every Wednesday from 8-11 pm. The Lodge opens their doors to the public on these nights, so it’s like a free concert. If you’re ever in Pittsburgh on a Wednesday night, I highly recommend you visit Elks Lodge #339.

On Thursday, we were going to do an open-top bus tour, but several people told us about the Ducky Tours. ( These are land/water tours of downtown in converted World War II amphibious vehicles.  The Engineer and I are standing in front of one at the top of the page, and below is a photo of one arriving back at base. During the hour ride, tour leaders share information about the history of Pittsburgh as well as a flotilla of ducky jokes that just quacked me up (sorry, I couldn’t stop myself).

photo (9)The second duck in our tour was this one, created by Florentijn Hofman for a world-wide tour. I guess it’s gone now, so we were lucky to see it when we did. (Go here for more info:  photo (7)
Of course, it wouldn’t be a getaway without a visit to a brewery or two. We chose Penn Brewery (mainly because we passed it on the way to our hotel) and the Church Brew Works because I thought a brewery in a deconsecrated church would be unique as well as beautiful. It was both as the photos below demonstrate. Visit if you can. (

On the 8th Day...Man Created Beer

On the 8th Day…Man Created Beer (Photo credit: Theaterwiz)

the brewery church

the brewery church (Photo credit: Frabuleuse)


About kymlucas

"Taking care not to take love too seriously." Writer of smart, fresh, contemporary romance and women's fiction. Blogging about writing, reading, and more recently, dealing with the ins and outs of breast cancer.
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7 Responses to Duck, Duck, Banjo?

  1. I agree about Pittsburgh being hard to get around. If you are a native Burgher, though, you find all the back roads and don’t have to sit in traffic. Most of the time.


    • kymlucas says:

      Too old to become a native Burgher though. Guess I’ll just have to enjoy being a tourist and visit again. Or maybe you could show us around next time!

      Kym Lucas Co-Vice President, Northeast Ohio Romance Writers of America Check out my blogs at, I’m also on Twitter @KymLucas1, @KeepingABreast2

      “There’s no problem a library card can’t solve.” — Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown


  2. marylou anderson says:

    Did you get some pics of that Duck? As it turned out, he was more popular than just about anything on display in recent memory including Lord Stanley’s Cup and a Super Bowl Trophy! Glad you got to enjoy the Duckie tours…those boats are pretty strange but they float great! marylou


  3. Cloud says:

    Your fault if I now have to add Pittsburgh to my list 😉 But I will think of taking a hat should I get close to free flying birds (I like them if they stay very far from me). Glad to read you enjoyed the my fellow countrymen/women’s yodeling!


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