60k - 80k pending transactions sounds like a normal situation and does not seem extensive.
Currently, Ethereum does ~750k transactions daily. Assuming all transactions are processed at the same rate, the content of the pool is swapped in every 2.5 hours. However, my guess is that automated services send very low fee transactions that are not critical. ...
After poking around blockscout per Ismael's suggestion, I found that the transaction I was looking for was available, so blockscout is definitely a viable option if you don't want to resort to iterating over all transactions.
However, I found that Etherscan provided the same information and I just completely missed it. For future readers, this curl got me ...
"Writing to contracts" is a somewhat confusing term from Etherscan.
It is doing a transaction to a smart contract address and function.
If look Web3.py examples the example that calls the function setVar() is writing to the contract.
from web3.providers.eth_tester import EthereumTesterProvider
from web3 import Web3