From Costco to Groucho

Aka Finding the Second Door

https://www.strava.com/activities/5110253916
RATS #00393, Mainly in Hays

On this brilliant Sunday morning in April, I explored Hays and took on a few, semi-dangerously busy roads. My excursion up Mifflin Road and down Lebanon Road were fraught with nervous glances to see if I could get to the next bit of sidewalk before a car whizzed by. Nonetheless, the most interesting parts were, as usual, saved for the side streets. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Blooming Dogwoods
Blooming Dogwoods along Costco

I started in the parking lot across from Costco and took the asphalt biking path towards Sandcastle. This is a popular biking and walking path. Further on, anxious bird watchers and curious walkers look for eagles nesting high on a Hays hillside. But I did not go that far. Instead, I circled past the metal recycling facility and made my way under West 8th Avenue toward Mifflin Road.

Old Pittsburgh, of steel and industry, is on rusty display here. A large warehouse, which I assumed was a re-incarnation of a steel factory stretches several city blocks down Mifflin Avenue. I was partially right, GalvTech is a hot-dipped galvanizing facility. However, it didn’t start that way. This plant actually was owned by the Army and produced shells during WWII, the Korean War and Vietnam War. It was mothballed in 1971 and twenty years later was donated for redevelopment. A few years later, GalvTech moved in.

Making my way up Mifflin Avenue, I got a good look at a PNG natural gas junction and low-hanging railroad trestles. The far side is devoid of tracks, with only a steel shell remaining. Those are some massive steel beams!

Crossing under this spur, I came to the main section of Mifflin Road. It is one of those Pittsburgh ravine roads, heavily traveled, but surrounded by high hills and woods. Slate Street juts off of Mifflin for a tenth mile and ends in an idyllic cleft in the woods. This white door looks as incongruous as those in “Behind Her Eyes”. I didn’t go through it.

Near Hays School, teens were out defacing walls again, or did parents do this spray painting? Above the school, Wheeling Street steeply climbs to a dead end, with a good view of the valley below. The narrow brown house for sale has a sign on the siding saying “ENTRANCE UP STEPS” in mailbox-letters, as well as a sign on that bottom door saying “CELLAR”. Was that from the real-estate agent or could the residents just not remember which door to go into?

Past the school, Mifflin Road rises into Lincoln Place. As often seen on dangerous roads, there was a carefully tended memorial. So, instead of returning that way, I crossed over the big Lincoln Place hill and came down Lebanon Road instead. That’s no picnic, either, though wider.

Before coming back to that railroad trestle, I took Doerville Road up into the hills. This was a bit of a Rip Van Winkle Road, going back in time. There are several roads up here, which typically ended in “No Trespassing” signs guarding ramshackle buildings on a cliff. But there were some good views from Granger Street.

Coming back to Mifflin Road, I crossed over to Baldwin Road as it follows Streets Run. That was another surprisingly narrow street, with intermittent sidewalks. A few small streets cross the creek known as Streets Run. I’ve never been in Groucho’s, but I picture it filled with old men grumbling about the weather, politics and “kids these days”.

Finally returning toward Costco, I came across a bus stop for Holy Angels, as well as a church of that name. Then, this inspiring billboard looks a little different through barbed wire.

I finished with more than a half-marathon distance, picturing myself winning. The hallucinations are amazing when you’re dehydrated.

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