November Skies 2021

Here are three runs to close out November 2021. RATS run #00478 was a little three miler in Arlington, Mt. Oliver and St. Clair, while #00479 was a seven miler in Crafton Heights and Elliott and #00480 was a four miler in Lincoln Place. All were designed to fill in ends of roads and alleys missed.


RATS run #00478 in Arlington and St. Clair

For RATS run #00478, I started high on the hill next to Arlington Playground. There is a small water park here and a ball field. A good batter might be forgiven if they think they could hit the ball downtown, it seems so close. Leaving the dreams of the field behind, I bounded down Mountain Avenue then made a sharp right onto Parkwood Road.

This section of Parkwood Road ascends a steep hill going into Pittsburgh’s Mt. Oliver. The left side has steep lots speckled with houses. The right side, where the sidewalk is, passes medium and small houses whose back yards drop off quickly. Once I got to Otilla, Parkwood had leveled off, 120 feet above its Mountain Avenue intersection.

Making the left onto Otilla Street, I sought out my first goal, Poco Way. This small alley goes behind five houses on St. Joseph Street and ends. Returning to Otilla, I made a left onto Walde Way en route to Farina Way. Like many of these later “streets”, Farina Way looked like a driveway at first. However, I was pleasantly surprised when it hooked up with Ignatious Way behind leaf-strewn yards. Ignatious intersects with Rectanwald Street and I took Rectanwald’s short flight of broad steps back to Walde.

From here, I scampered down to McManus as it travels behind an elementary school. Steps down, steps up and I was back on Mountain. I went up to Henger to complete a section I had missed. A Jersey barrier blocks the road, but residents have sprayed a message for drug dealers: “Go elsewhere…We Are Watching!”

They must have been listening, because there was no one there. I scampered over the barrier and continued on Henger to the fences. The fences enclose what was once St. Clair Village. From what I’ve read, it became a festering spot for crime and drugs and was subsequently torn down. That was years ago. It is still vacant. Some sections are now used by the Urban Hilltop Farm, but none of the housing has been rebuilt.

From here, I returned to Arlington Playground via Mountain Avenue. It was a rather satisfying run, what with the unexpected passage on Ignatious, clarifying Henger and Poco. Henger even gave me some souvenirs; seedlings stuck to my tights.


RATS Run #00479 in Elliott, Crafton Heights and the West End

RATS run #00479 was a romp in the West. I started at Herschel Park, one of my favorites. I think it’s the unexpected view and the easy access, both getting to Herschel Park and running the western neighborhoods from it. Anyway, for this day, I had more dead-ends to explore. My first one was Coey Way off of Arnold. Coey Way is a rather tame alley which goes directly uphill, behind brick suburban houses to a parking spot.

Then it was off to Corso Way, less than a quarter mile away. However Corso Way seems to be in a different world. To get there, I took Obey Street as it steeply falls off toward Noblestown Road. Just past “Grimes Signs”, Magnus Way on the left, snakes uphill past a couple of houses. When it turns, Corso Way begins. Corso Way, goes about 1/4 mile into the woods. I ran down it, splashing through muddy ruts, six inches deep. At the end, a low slung house or trailer stood, with “Beware of dogs” signs, and a couple of cars parked in front.

I was happy to return out of that alley. I worked my way up Obey Street to Albia Way, just off of Steuban. That was an uneventful alley, mainly for garage access. Now, once I made it to Steuban, I made a left and continued down Middletown Road, looking for a cross-street, Woodlow. Alas, I had made a left when I should have gone right and I had to retrace my steps to find Woodlow.

Woodlow cuts from Steuban Street to Crucible Street through a large housing development in Carnegie Heights. It’s hard to tell if it is one big complex, or several smaller apartment complexes adjacent to each other. Now, rather than one house on the end of a muddy alley, like Corso Way, there were twenty or so multi-unit apartment buildings, where hundreds of people live.

I wrapped around Crucible to Dickens then made the right onto Meadowbrook Way. Much like Poco Way in the previous run, this just curved behind some houses and ended. I took a driveway at the back of Pittsburgh Classical Academy which put me out on Chartiers Avenue.

On an earlier run, later at night, I touched on little Elf Street, off of Chartiers. Today, I wanted to do the whole Elf, so again I tromped down Chartiers, past the grimy Marathon Gas, past Inner City Towing’s junk yard and past the muraled retaining wall. The right onto Nittany took me uphill. Large yards from adjacent streets converge on Nittany. They were kids playing and backyard picnic tables along the high-side of Nittany, where it curves and intersects Elf. Elf, itself, is very small; maybe twenty yards. At its end, a nice, large house sits.

Returning to Corliss Street, I now began my ascent of the back-end of the West End. Just before the Corliss Tunnel, Rupp Street on the right takes you to Danley. A two-hundred foot hill climb later and I came out on Mark Way. The road up, Lakewood Street, had nice views across Corliss Street to houses in Sheraden. There were also several house ruins along the way. From Mark Way I could make out the McKees Rocks Bridge through a break in the trees.

Now I kept to the high road; Lakewood to Lorenz to Valonia. I needed to finish off Lander Street. This section of Pittsburgh never ceases to amaze me, with the views and the houses stuck at crazy angles on the hillsides.

Lander Street, itself, is falling off the hillside. Part is blocked off and the hillside is encroaching on the houses.

From Lander Street I went down the Planet Street steps toward the West End. From South Main, you can see Walbridge Street splitting off with sidewalk steps on the right and a cool flight on the left (which takes you to Kerr Street). I took the sidewalk steps.

Almost back at Herschel Park, I just had East Chestnut to do. Once I found it, running the fifty yards to the end wasn’t too hard. And that was that, seven hilly miles and a many alleys done.


RATS Run #00480 in Lincoln Place

In Lincoln Place, RATS Run #00480 took me.

Longer to picture than to run, was Plaport Way, with its non-intersecting ends.

Cooley Way took me coolly beyond the pavement onto a grassy strip behind large yards.

Cooley Way

But I earned it, a grand view of Lincoln Place from Commission Way.

So, in this abbreviated style, you’ll see that I started at McBride Park and did odds and ends of Lincoln Place. Please pray the Krampus doesn’t get me!


That’s all for November, 2021. Ten of my thirteen runs covered new streets on only 65 miles of running. Finishing these “streets” was becoming getting more and more tedious. Mostly, it is running to the ends of alleys or re-running street sections to make sure CityStrides picks it up. Nonetheless, I’m getting there.

Pets on the Run

To finish off September 2021, here are four runs; two in the Perry North and Brighton Heights areas, one in Fineview and one in the West End. A couple of these included run ins with pets, famous and obscure.


RATS #00451 Brighton Heights

On a Monday evening, after work and dinner, I set out to finish out a few little streets in Brighton Heights. I must admit, this was not a particularly effective or long run. I did find the end of Weltz Way (looking amazingly like a driveway) and fixed my shoes on Cobbler Circle. However, I took a pass on Karwich and Dougan, with dusk coming on strong (spoiler alert, I came back later to finish those).

That little corner of Pittsburgh off of Speck and Haller streets is quite hilly. Crossing Benton to San Pedro, I was rewarded with a nice broad view and deer leaping up the yards.

From here, I went up Brighton to a stub of Jacks Run Road. Turns out, that wasn’t the end I needed, but it got me out of the city for a few minutes. And, NOW, I know where to get dry ice.

Kelly Dry Ice

RATS #00452 Elliot, West End, Crafton Heights

This was another evening run, but this time I started in the West End. I always take the opportunity to run through the green tunnel on my way to check out the city view from the Overlook. Tonight, a cloud seemed ready to overtake Downtown.

But my way headed down the hill. First stop was Cameron Way which, I discovered, has the city’s pinkest concrete mixer, in addition to an old red van plugging the end.

From here, I glided downhill to explore Nittany Street where it hits Chartiers. Each end of Nittany Street has a sharp curve and changes names; one end, “Valle Rue” and the other “Elf”. Continuing, I passed Pittsburgh Classical Academy School and went up Dubois Street. The street continues through a few turns and changes names at each turn: Idola, India, back to Dubois and finally Dickens. The end of Dickens Street is strewn with old appliances and parked cars, which, honestly always feels creepy to me. But, there’s a nice little cut-over to Greenway Drive, which runs around the school again.

Back at Chartiers, I continued to Municipal Street, going up the steep hill. I just needed to do Fierro Way, an alley. Fierro Way quickly ascends behind the houses on the left. The houses mostly front Fallston Street and have little fenced in yards. The Twilight Bark was going on, every dog in each house taking up the howl, growl and bark as I ran up the alley. I was just thinking “I’m glad they’re all fenced in”, when a screen door burst open and a healthy black and white hound bounded up the back-yard steps and started chasing me. I sped up a little, hoping to get beyond the Fido’s territory, but ended up in a cul-de-sac at the end of the alley.

I now realized Fido wasn’t really chasing me, he was just happy to get out of the house. When I scolded him and told him to go home, he turned around, tail between his legs and trotted back. At his yard, he scurried down his steps.

Whew! I was so relieved that I started seeing orange and purple flamingos on my way back to my car.


RATS #00453 in Fineview

This was a Saturday run after City of Bridges’ Saturday group run. During the group run, we ran across the most famous pet of the year, the Steller’s Sea Eagle, Cody. Cody was just chilling in California-Kirkbride after escaping from his cage at the Aviary. My first thought when seeing him was “Is that real?”

We took lots pictures. He was good with selfies, too. Some folks called 311 but there wasn’t much to do except ogle excessively, so we just finished our run. The epilogue is that Cody stayed free for a week or so and was re-captured in Pine Township, just north of the city. Go to the Aviary and you can see him, squawking to the other birds about the day he got away and ran with City of Bridges.

So, after all that excitement, I took a short route through Fineview, starting up Federal Street. Letsche Street scurries becomes a narrow lane in front of a housing development but steps at the end let me back onto Belleau Street. I turned down Sandusky to see the end of Catoma Street. It just dead-ends into bushes, so not much to see there. Lots of houses here are on crazy slopes. Some are well maintained but many have seen better days.

I went past the Fineview Overlook and up Warren Street, where the “Fineview” is spelled out. Off of Warren Street were a couple of stubs of streets. Ural curves around to Pilsen and stops. Several cats scurried about, likely wondering where that big bird was they had heard about.

I expected the next street off of Warren, Pilham, to be similar. However, while it started off badly, it continued around the backs of houses until it came out on Sprain Street.

Sprain grips the edge of the slope. There are a couple of houses on the high-side, while the low-side houses have fallen into disrepair. Sprain emerges onto Compromise, which ends in steps down to Middle Street in East Allegheny.

With this, I simply returned to my starting spot.


RATS #00454 in Brighton Heights and Perry North

This was very similar to RATS #00451 above. I started at my base in Riverview Park, ran south to make sure I finished Kennedy and Leroy Way. Then I headed north to get the correct section of Jack’s Run Road along with Perryview Avenue. It was another evening run, racing the twilight.

Milroy is one of the steepest, curviest roads you can drive on in Pittsburgh, but I just went down partway. After hitting the end of Bothwell, I scurried up Tretow to Watson Boulevard. That street has quite the mix of houses, some grand mansions and some decrepit row-houses.

And now, for the North section. Pretty scary going down Venture Street, while Perryview Ave was surprisingly flat, filled with brick Pittsburgh Four-Squares.

The most interesting section was Roosevelt Street off of Bascom. While it was just a small lane between 50’s style Cape Cods, there were steps leading into lower Riverview Park. Wooden and wonky, they led to a couple of houses at the bottom.


That’s it for September, 2021. I had lots of miles, aided by my 100K, but struggled to make good progress on the streets. Stay tuned for October!

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.

March 2021 Catch-Up

Summary

March 2021 was one of my most productive months in terms of mileage and streets covered. Among my 162 miles and 20,000 feet of elevation gain, I completed 192 more streets in Pittsburgh in 15 RATS runs. I even completed the “Take The Stairs 50k” course I published last year. That course, a small revision of Lamar’s original course, took me on roughly 78 sets of steps throughout the city, but, alas, did not cover any new streets.

Blogging-wise, March was less than stellar. I only published four posts and it has taken me all of April just to get this summary out, touching on three short runs in Carrick, Brookline and West Liberty.


https://www.strava.com/activities/4979989103
Route of RATS #00384 in Brookline

I had grand plans for this run, but was out-of-synch and got frustrated by small ‘streets’ just being driveways into hills. Argh! Just took one picture, before it all went downhill. I did end up with over four miles and several alleys covered.

Brookline Alley
Brookline Alley

RATS run #00386 Around South Side Cemetery
RATS run #00386 Around South Side Cemetery

In this run, I inadvertently circumnavigated South Side Cemetery. I started on Brownsville Road and took the steep West Meyers Street to Oakhurst en route to Newett Street, one of the steeper roads I’ve been on. I took Plateau Street to its dead-end above Volunteers Park, then came back to Newett, expecting to see Plateau on the other side. However, Plateau falls off of Newett so quickly that the other side looked like a driveway which disappeared over the hillside. Once upon it, though, I found my way down Plateau and was pleasantly surprised to find that Volunteers Field was an active hubbub. It looked like a fire department team was practicing on one field, while on another field, a younger group practiced base-running under the tutelage of a barking coach.

Moving on, I dodged cars on my way down Colerain to Noble Road. No sidewalks and not much of a shoulder made it tricky running. Then I peeled off and went down Denise Street. My internal map had Denise going a little way and dead-ending. It seemed to go on forever, but afforded nice views of the T tracks. Returning, I came across some steps which took me to Noble Road.

Once up on Noble, I backtracked a bit and went up Glade Street. The few streets up on that hill are tucked into a corner of the cemeteries looming above. It was a nicer area than I expected. Some kids were playing basketball in the street and others were riding bikes. Along the Montrose Steps I heard a rustling and noticed a deer in the woods. I took a picture and continued to Cloverdale Street. Only after looking at the picture more closely did I realize there were four deer there!

Cloverdale Street completed the southern border of the cemetery, bringing me back to Noble Street. This short, three mile run certainly had a lot to see.


Route of RATS #00387
Route of RATS #00387

This was an evening run in West Liberty to catch some alleys. I caught several in my alley catcher, but some were only paper alleys (here’s looking at you, Mascot Way!) Overall it was a pleasant, hilly run with over 400 feet of elevation in only three miles.


So that was it for March, 2021. I’m still chipping away at the streets. At the end of March I had a little over 800 more to complete. I’ve come a long way considering there are over 4,800 streets in Pittsburgh. I can now see the light at the end of the tunnel.

February Roundup

February was a bit of a slowdown. I only ran 75 miles strewn across eleven runs. Only eight of them earned the coveted RATS badge. However, February was pretty cold, snowy and icy, so any miles were good miles. I’m up to about 80% of the Pittsburgh streets done. Here are this month’s last three routes.

RATS #00370 in Garfield

https://www.strava.com/activities/4850441556
RATS #00370 in Garfield

This was on the periphery of Garfield along Mossfield Street, with a foray onto Brown Way as the sun set. It is a surprisingly rural route, given the dense housing all around.

I made my way to Mora Way. It looks a lot better now that Dumpbusters got a whack at it last year, carting away truckloads of trash and tires. We didn’t get rid of the hill, though!

Once up on Schenley Avenue (which is totally out of place from all the other “Schenley” named parts of the city), I circled back towards the Garfield Hill. I found steps at the end of Breesport. They go up to Fort Pitt playground, though they were crumbling, snow covered and fenced off at the top. Further down North Mathilda, there are some steps falling off the hill near Reno Way. Those seem to be the remnants of a house, as there are no handrails, posts or map evidence of a street there.

I cruised down Brown Way, taking in the evening views.

This neighborhood in undergoing a rapid transformation. Old houses are falling down next to new ones and construction proliferates.

And that was it, three and a half miles done, with a friendly reminder to “Call Your Mom!”, if you are fortunate enough to have her still around.

RATS #00371 – East Liberty, Garfield, Larimer

https://www.strava.com/activities/4861319000
RATS #00371 in Garfield, East Liberty and Larimer

As the weather improved, my runs lengthened. I also have an upcoming 50K, so I need to get more miles in. Today’s run was mainly about East Liberty, although I ventured briefly into Shadyside, Garfield and Larimer to cross off more streets.

East Liberty is also going through construction and destruction. At the site of former housing project, a Whole Foods is going up. On the back streets, you can still see hand-painted business signs.

This jaunt was over eleven miles.

RATS #00372 Beltzhoover

https://www.strava.com/activities/4868729046
RATS #00372 Beltzhoover

This was my fifth run in a row, so I was a bit tired and unmotivated. Nonetheless, it turned out well. Now Beltzhoover is less than pristine. Nearly every street has several “eyesore” houses. The steps are typically crumbling. However, it is a busy area, full of people walking their dogs, going to the store and working on their houses. It is also rather big.

I started along Eat Warrington Avenue, passing the metal vegan place and turning at the wild cat-snake mural next to the beer store. Of course the mural has a Steelers logo on it!

Then it was up and down alleys.

Finishing up, I caught a glimpse of South Hills Junction, where the T-Line goes into the Mount Washington Transit Tunnel.

And that’s it! Looking forward to a warmer and sunnier month!

January 2021 Catch-Up

Summary

January 2021 was a good month for running, by and large. I got seventeen runs in covering new streets. The weather wasn’t too bad and I explored Ridgemont, nearly completed Westwood, as well as continued to make progress around the city, exploring its nooks and crannies. The only setback was a fall one evening resulting in a few scrapes and bruises, but more tragically, a crushed phone. It took me a few days to get back on track after that. Unfortunately, the pics from that run remain on the old phone, with its ruined screen.

RATS #00354 – Point Breeze

https://www.strava.com/activities/4617306198
RATS #00354

A short evening run with a surprising number of steps, RATS #00354 was a night run on the edge of Point Breeze and Squirrel Hill. Solidly dark, the pics are not great. Thank goodness for a strong flashlight.

As I did crop-circles among the cul-de-sacs in Point Breeze, my flashlight illuminated several little libraries.

And that was it, 4.35 miles done.

RATS #00357 – Downtown and the Hill

https://www.strava.com/activities/4637917031
RATS #00357

This was a pretty long Sunday run. I explored a few downtown alleys and then climbed into the Middle Hill. I was chipping away at the portions of the Hill I had not yet done and covered covered eight good miles when it was all said and done.

Trekking up to through the Hill Distrist is old hat now. Lower Hill has seen a good bit of renovations and is dense with townhomes. If you’ve read along, you’ll know that I’m pretty much done with the Upper Hill. That area has some sketchy parts, but also has a number of renovated houses and the pressure of Pitt pushing down onto it. The Middle Hill, in my estimation, is the worst of the three sections, but still with bright spots. It’s cliff high above the Allegheny is dotted with housing projects. Bedford Square is in much better condition than I expected. At the edge of the cliff are several viewing areas with benches. From one such overlook on Memory Lane, you can see out over the Strip District and down the Allegheny River.