Last August

Here are a couple of runs to finish out August of 2021. It wasn’t my highest mileage month, by far, with only sixty-one miles recorded and eight street runs. But, there were other life events; a vacation, a wedding, so I’m okay with it.

RATS #00443 in Highland Park and Stanton Heights

This was an evening run to catch a few streets from Highland Park to Stanton Heights. I started by running up from North Highland Avenue to Sheridan Avenue. I circled Sheridan Court, a mid-50’s “modern” housing plan. From there, I dove into the Highland Park.

I traipsed down One Wild at the back of the Pittsburgh Zoo. I had gotten a late start, so it was getting dusky when I saw lights through the trees. A dragon! These cute white and blue creatures! Are they Chinese zodiac lanterns? This was the closest I got to the Lantern Festival.

One Wild Place meets Butler Street just before the large zoo parking lots. In prime summer season, this little stretch is clogged with cars; families going to the zoo; families getting ice cream and dogs; silly commuters trying to make their way through this mess. Now, however, the sun was setting, the zoo lots were empty and the burgers were sold out, leaving stragglers with only malts, floats and sundaes at the Lock & Dam Dog Shop.

Just past this intersection Gallatin Street rises from Butler, crosses Baker Street and steps its way into the tip of Morningside. I took a left on Witherspoon until it becomes Java Way, a little cul-de-sac between small houses. I worked my way through Morningside to Greenwood Street, where steps rise to Stanton Heights.

The dusk had given way to full blown night by the time I made through Stanton Heights to Arcade Way. Looks like high summer is over.

Arcade Way

RATS #00444 in East Liberty

RATS run #00444 was a wet little run in East Liberty. Hudson Place, Armstrong Way, Tyler Way, Kalida Drive and Weldin Way were on my list this night. Following a theme, I got a rather late start; 8 PM, in a downpour. My pictures are all blurry with splotches of light, quite representative of my vision that night.

I really didn’t mind the rain too much and splashing through puddles is, after all, one of my superpowers. However, I scared the bejeebers out of someone on Weldin Way.

Weldin Way is a potholed alley which dead-ends into a parking lot surrounded by dingy apartments. Just before I made my turn down onto Weldin Way, a car turned down the alley. Normally cars are in another dimension – they speed by like I’m a rock. However, with the low light, potholes and rain, this one went slowly, in fact almost as slow as I was going. I kept hoping it would turn off somewhere, but no, it went all the way to the end of Weldin with me only a few yards behind. It parked while I splashed to the end of the lot. As it was a dead-end, I had to go back out. While I gave the car a wide berth, a woman got out of it and screamed just as I ran by. I had totally surprised her. I muttered apologies and ran out of there.

That, my friends is all for August 2021.

Splashing in Spring Garden

RATS #00442 – Spring Garden and Troy Hill

Spring Garden seems to summon the rain. For this run, RATS #00442, I was prepared. I brought a zip-lock bag for my phone just in case, but for a few minutes thought I wouldn’t need it.

I parked on Herr’s Island under the 31st Street Bridge and romped past the tennis courts to the northern end. I could see far-away thunderstorms, but here there were only a few drops. The Rialto Street steps were under construction, so I had to go the long way along the “trail” next to Route 28 and ascend Troy Hill Road. On this roundabout way to Rialto Street I ran by E&C Beer Distributor with its grinning horse. I wonder, did he get a glug-glug of apple cider? Rialto continues off its famous slope into the heart of Troy Hill, where I ran past this house built around 1880.

Mt. Troy Road and Luty Avenue have broad views of Pittsburgh. I believe that’s Lower Lawrenceville and Polish Hill getting rained on. Luty Avenue ended unceremoniously in a weird little hut structure.

Now, a more rational person (probably not a runner) might have thought, “Wow, look at those storms. I should go inside, because it will probably rain here soon.”

My inner dialog was more like “Look at all that rain WAY OVER THERE. It’s probably not going to rain on ME. Besides…how wet could I get?” ( I said these same words earlier this summer and apparently didn’t learn how much clouds hate that.) Coming off of Mt. Troy Road, I sped down Wicklines Street, using the momentum to carry me across Spring Garden Avenue onto High Street. And that’s where it began. A burst of thunder, kids and parents scrambling to get out of the rain, and me, happily running along Spring Garden Avenue.

The rain was pretty heavy, but seemed to taper off as I approached the safe haven of Family Dollar. Since the rain was stopping, I went ahead and slogged up the very steep Mauch Street. It climbs about 100′ in well under one tenth of a mile and Strava shows it with a 43.7% grade! Hmm, that seems dubious.

Nonetheless, I proceeded onto another section of Mt. Troy Road where a curve dips into Pittsburgh briefly. The rain intensified. I thought there might be a place to duck in for a moment. But no, lightning bolts and bursts of thunder surrounded me and there was no place to hide. I sloshed to Fornof Lane and back to Mauch. Finally the rain tapered off. I had planned to go further north along Spring Garden Avenue, but cut things short, heading back down instead. The back-yard ducks seemed pretty happy, though.

As I neared Threadbare Cider, my sense of adventure returned and I explored Tell Street. In days of yore, cats ruled this street. Nearby, someone had even constructed a home for wayward cats; patriotically painted with stars and stripes. I didn’t see the cat house nor the cats this time. A house at the bottom of Tell Street was being renovated, but the houses higher on the hill are digressing, with broken windows and climbing vines.

There’s a gentle set of steps from Tell to Voskamp above. Vines arch between fences, making a tunnel of lovely green. There’s a shy old yellow house on Voskamp Street, keeping back from the street.

I returned to Herr’s Island along the pedestrian trail waterway adjacent to Route 28. Just a pitter-patter of rain now, but the hills were still streaming with water.

Flooded Pedestrian Trail Along Route 28

Short August Runs

Here are a few short runs from August.

RATS #00438 – California-Kirkbride and Marshall-Shadeland

Here’s a little Sunday funday runday. Fivish miles in California-Kirkbride and Marshall-Shadeland. With the bulk of the streets done, it was more about going down back alleys than an expansive opening of an area. Accordingly, while starting in Allegheny West, I made my way up California Avenue. Flowers at the corner of Marshall Avenue and California Avenue were as bright as the day.

Moving up Superior Street, I took a side trip on Seiffert Way to Thelma Way. On Google Maps, it looks like Thelma Way goes through. It doesn’t. Rather it ends in a tangle of weeds and branches. Seiffert Way and Ludene Way were as advertised; short, dead-end alleys. I wonder how many times I’ve used ‘dead-end’ in this blog. At least a thousand. Next stop was Bland Street. How Bland was it?

Really Really Bland

Pushing forward through the myopic, dystopic fog, I came to a ballfield and Unit 56, waiting for orders. Unit 56 looks a little forlorn. Has the Mothership abandoned it? Did no one pick it for the team? How long has it been sitting there, with weeds growing into its brain?

It was all downhill from here, though I had an AMAZING time!

RATS #00439 into Duck Hollow

This run was even shorter than the last. I just wanted to complete a couple of streets in Duck Hollow. Rather late one Tuesday evening I made my way there via a bike trail below Summerset. Trails go off the main one into old slag heaps, although this one was apparently closed.

Duck Hollow has four streets and maybe twenty houses. It is at the confluence of Nine-Mile Run and the Monongahela River. After some research I found a nice Pitt News article about it. Surprisingly enough, I sometimes run with Mike Portogallo whom they interviewed. Small world.

I do have some news! McFarren Street has been rerouted over a new bridge. Perhaps now Duck Hollow residents can get deliveries to their door. My pictures of the Hollow, itself, came out rather fuzzy between my running and the dusky light.

I went in on the new bridge and came out on the old, open grate bridge. The railroad trestle is striking in the twilight.

Finally, I came out onto the parking lot above the Mon. Sure enough, folks of all shapes and sizes were hanging out, enjoying the evening. I enjoyed the view of the river and the Homestead High Level Bridge.

Homestead High Level Bridge

RATS #00440 in Brookline

Another short, evening run; this time in Brookline. July Way, Harex Way and Tariff Way were my goals. July and Harex I got, but Tariff Way continues to frustrate me.

There’s a street sign on Sussex Avenue at it’s intersection with Tariff. I dutifully did that little driveway section which, incidentally, doesn’t even show up on CityStrides or Google Maps. Meanwhile the other section of Tariff Way, off of Thistle Street, goes about twenty yards before arriving at a broad expanse of lawn. I suppose I need to go across the lawn and have a beer at the neighbors for CityStrides to recognize it. Argh!

At any rate, it was a decent little run on a hot summer’s evening. I even got to do the Stebbins Steps, again.

RATS #00441 in Greenfield

This is a Greenfield Re-Run. I was retracing a route which CityStrides hadn’t picked up. While that was initially a bit annoying, it turned out to be a good run with some amazing views. I love this one from the corner of Lydia and Bigelow.

From there I wrapped around a couple of alleys, some which dropped me into backyards, some of which allowed me passage. The grapevine arbor was pretty cool.

Eventually I found my way to Tasso Street, which has two distinct sections joined by the Noah Street steps and the Bud Hammer baseball field. The home team must have won, as heavenly beams of light shone down on the field.

And that was all, 4ish miles on a hot August evening. My watch recorded over 600 feet of elevation in this run. Not sure I believe that.

So, there are a few more runs in August I haven’t recorded here. I’ll get to those in the next blog. Thanks for reading along.

Hail to Pitt!

RATS #00437 from Swisshelm Park to West Oakland

So, this was a rather ambitious run from Swisshelm Park, aka “The Land Beyond Frick Park” to the high reaches of the University of Pittsburgh. Going through Frick, one of my favorite routes is along Nine-Mile Run. It has been significantly cleaned up, but I still wouldn’t splash around in it. In a heavy rain, the upstream sewage systems in sections of Pittsburgh, Wilkinsburg, Edgewood and other communities tends to overflow into the drainage system, which, of course, flows through here.

Nine-Mile Run in Lower Frick

From there, I continued through Squirrel Hill into the Land of the Universities. CMU continues to build like a beaver. It is a place of learning, though, so good advice is everywhere. This wouldn’t be the last crane I saw.

Flossie Way was one of my target “streets”. It’s actually just a little alley in Oakland. ROTC students were gathered in the parking lot, doing drills. Beyond the asphalt was a green drainage swale, to slow runoff before it hits places like Frick Park. (Though that water would never go through that park, it’s already downstream.)

Coming into Pitt’s Upper Campus, I needed to complete “Benedum Square”. It’s a cozy little courtyard in which the engineering students can decompress. One, apparently had worked too hard for so long that he was just a shell of his former self. In seven years or so, I might see his offspring.

Moving up, I got a glimpse of the deconstruction of the Learning Research and Development Building. It’s not often that a building is taken down piece by piece. Further up the hill, I got some close-up views of WQED’s tower. More chances to look up!

I spent some time running in and out of the streets at the top of the hill. The Veteran’s Administration has a big shiny building there. Beyond Pitt’s sparkling athletic fields you can see downtown.

After dodging students moving in, I made my way past the Peterson Event Center. The steps provide a shortcut from the winding roads.

With that I made my way back to Frick Park. This was the first run in awhile and, by the time I got to Frick with 13 miles done, I was pretty beat.