What’s Next to Your Steps?

https://www.strava.com/activities/4338392163
RATS #00327

In this long journey to cover all of Pittsburgh’s streets, I have found it very difficult to completely search out every nook and cranny of a neighborhood on just one run; sometimes it takes two, or three, or even more runs. In the older neighborhoods, especially, there are often small streets, alleys and steps which somehow eluded my attention on the first go rounds. Eventually, however, I have to go back and do them. This was one of those “go-back” runs. I’m also going back in time for this run which happened three weeks ago.

I got started down in Bloomfield, not far from Sonny’s. I like those cats. Before long, I was scaling the Cedarville steps next to Sanchioli’s Bakery.

This first stage, which finished Bloomfield, took me down Juniper Street, while the next stage required me to go over the Bloomfield Bridge. Luckily, the Ella Street steps provided the necessary lift. I’ve done these steps before, but only now did I notice the “Try” messages on the way up. Up there, perched on a corner of the concrete, a tiny chair set took in the afternoon sun.

Crossing over to Polish Hill, I came to the Apollo Street Steps, incongruously placed next to an auto repair shop. I wonder how much business that shop gets, perched as it is underneath a bridge on a small street well off the main road.

Now I was in the midst of Polish Hill. I needed to get to Hancock Street and made my way through this warren of houses built on top of each other, small streets and dead-ends, while avoiding drunk pumpkins and admiring Little Libraries

Eventually, I found it, Hancock Street. I also got more “Boat Theory” evidence along the way (see this blog). Hancock Street steps took me up to busy Bigelow Boulevard and Bethoven Way, a small alley. Now Polish Hill was complete, too.

As you approach Bigelow from the streets all fall away steeply. Bigelow is a busy, rather ugly roadway, but there is a pedestrian walkway under it, decorated with old-school graffiti. Not a place to linger on a dark night.

Continuing up into the Upper Hill, I came across another incarnation of Hancock Street, still going uphill. The corner lot with the flag is also strewn with “Polish Only” parking signs.

As much as I had climbed from Herron Avenue, I still had a way to go to get to stage three, the Upper Hill. I took the Orion Street Steps. It’s a fairly impressive set of steps with a great view on top.

View from Orion Street Steps
Orion Street Steps

I continued around the Upper Hill, surprised to see a cemetery there, “Minersville Cemetery”. It actually has a Facebook page these days and was the subject of an article by Diana Nelson Jones back in 2017. Diana interviewed me for an article earlier this year. On the backside of the cemetery, Shawnee Street comes down in a nice set of sidewalk steps.

I found the World’s Greatest Candy Bar! Across Herron Avenue, Granite Street falls off of Orbin as steps. You can see Pitt’s athletic bubble on the hill rising in the background.

From here, I found my way back to Bloomfield. A solid ten miles done. Bloomfield and Polish Hill completed.

You Can See Forever From Lincoln Place

https://www.strava.com/activities/4273084037
RATS #00322 – in Lincoln Place

This run took me back to Lincoln Place – that southernmost of all Pittsburgh’s neighborhoods. I had prepared for a cold, wet run but was treated to a stunningly beautiful Fall day.

Starting at the Shop ‘n Save down by Brown’s Mobile Home Park, I quickly made it to quiet suburban streets off of Mifflin Road. The trees were in their full glory.

Here and there were small shops, like Velma’s Place. I did run into a group of ultra runners, discussing their latest 500 mile run.

Overall, though, there wasn’t a whole lot to see here. However, Muldowney Road rises high off of Mifflin Road and affords views of the UPMC Building and the Oxford Building, over six miles away as the crow flies.

High-voltage power lines were a constant presence along the route. Also came across a huge Penn-American water tower.

That was about it. I had struggled to get myself out the door, but was truly rewarded with fine, sunny weather and neat views.

Let It Be, Brookline

https://www.strava.com/activities/3442124900
RATS #00237 – Brookline

PLAN “BROOKLINE EVENING B”

  • Insure I was covered by the local artillery
  • Circumnavigate S Scroll Way via Starkamp and Glenarm
  • At 18:23 storm the Repeal Way barricade
  • Perform reconnaissance and establish elevation gradients
  • Avoid vicious dogs and those aggressive small humans on bikes

That was the plan, as texted to me in a secure message by the Mothership. I had no choice but to execute the plan. I parked my vehicle, disguised as a dusty Honda and made it to the first checkpoint: A triangular park containing a “Canon de 155 C Modele 1917 Schneider”. I verified the serial number.

Brookline’s 155mm Schneider Howitzer in their Memorial Park

Now covered by the local artillery, I trotted over to Starkamp Street and around Eathan Avenue and Glenarm Avenue. I was a bit early for stair storming, so I took a couple of pics while I waited. At 18:23 on the dot, I raced up the Repeal Way Steps. Squirrels scurried and sparrows screeched as sparks flew from my heels.

Heart pounding, but no enemy in sight, I was free to scout the area. Clearly the local population was devious; giving steep, hilly, cobblestone streets, monikers such as “Flatbush”.

Flatbush – anything but flat

Continuing my scouting and keeping an eye out for those ferocious canines, I came on a street so steep, so rugged, I nearly lost it. Drawing upon my extensive training, I pushed up the hill, perspiration and expletives exploding from me at every step. Running out of breath, I finally shouted “Holy Mary, Mother of God!!” and looked up. There she was.

….Let it be, let it be…

I swore I heard a Beetle’s song in the background. Humbled and blessed, I relaxed and took in the area. Wide streets and alleys rumbled across the green lawns and flowing gardens. Steps took me though meadows of freshly cut grass. Free lending libraries opened my mind.

I reported to the Mothership that there were no enemies here, only playful pooches and energetic families. With that, I rambled some more, eventually getting back to that dusty Honda.

19:15 Signing Off

Hightide in Beechview

RATS #00216 – Beechview

Happy Easter! Normally, I would be finishing up a brunch with family and friends this morning. However, in the current state of things, I figured I’d blog a little and later try to find a chocolate egg around the house. Happy to have all the good in my life as it is.

So, I ran this route last week on a brilliant evening in Beechview. If you’ve followed my blog for anytime, you’ll know that Beechview is a friendly neighborhood with broad streets and booming hills. What you may not have known, is that in the last ice-age, Beechview was actually beachfront property. (How do you think they got the name?) In those days, everyone got around by boat, paddling from hilltop to hilltop. I came across a relic of the old days here, not far from a spanking new gas grill.

Continuing the fiction, it then happened that the seas began to recede. In those days, it wasn’t too convenient to lug your boat up to the house, so everyone made steps to get down to the water. You can see these steps all over.

Security was a concern, so residents bred vicious animals which required pets before passing. Most of them are pretty quick and shy these days, but every now and then an alpha guardian still stands his ground.

Beechview Guardian

But the seas indeed, have receded, leaving Beechview high and dry. The only waves you see are the undulating hills frothed with houses.

Nautical Miles

RATS #00204 Crossing the Equator – South Pacific to North Pacific

For this excursion, I did a few nautical miles, going from South Pacific to North Pacific, crossing over a land bridge and coming back down the North Atlantic and South Atlantic.

Along the way I saw what I took to be the Customs House, in its official red.

I had to walk the plank up these North Pacific Stairs.

North Pacific becomes steps

Slithered past a great green sea monster.

Sea Serpent Mural along North Pacific

Made it to island houses perched on the mountain top.

And finally came to the lighthouse, doubling as a water tower.

(It kinda looks like a spaceship frozen in place during take-off. )

The return trip was swathed in misty, swirling clouds and intermittent rain, as the North Atlantic often is. Approaching my car Captain John Parker hailed me in Friendship and I saluted back. Social distancing even on the oceans.