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.

The next cul-de-sac of housing, Somers Drive, is rather utilitarian. At the far end, steps flow up to housing at the end of Chauncy Drive. The UPMC building downtown rose ghost like from the trees.

Now in the middle of the Middle Hill, vacant lots and boarded up buildings dominate the scene. I did run through a rather nice area off of Bently. The street has a nice curve in it, so folks wishing to do a Strava heart art route often run it. Downtown buildings are usually visible, not so far away.

Shortly after Bently Drive, I made my way back downtown. A few more things caught my eye, like this mural and the restaurant which bills itself as Pittsburgh’s Chinatown.

Finally back to Cherry Way, I had to take a pic of the 100+ year old Smithfield Street Bridge.

Smithfield Street Bridge

RATS #00359 – Splat!

https://www.strava.com/activities/4659644088
RATS #00359

Running down Bigelow Boulevard in the dark along a narrow sidewalk, I got some GREAT pictures of the downtown skylights. Unfortunately, they are locked in a cracked phone. For, as I turned away from the Sixth Street ramp, deeming it too dangerous, I tripped and fell flat on my face. My gloves and tights were torn while my hand and chin throbbed. However, there was nothing to be done but to keep moving. So, I did a slow jog and walk for the two miles back to my car. Damn that dry, empty sidewalk!!

RATS #00360 – Spring Hill and City View

https://www.strava.com/activities/4676034699
RATS #00360 in Springhill, Spring Garden and Cityview

After the run-in with the dry sidewalk, I took three days off. I must admit, I’m writing this a month later. It seemed like a cold day, and the Strava data claims it was 24 degrees with an 18 degree wind-chill. That sounds right. Nonetheless, before heading out, I verified that the streets would be wet and the route hilly. No flat, dry sidewalks to trip me up THIS day!

My target area was a squiggley section of Springhill, Cityview and Spring Garden off of East Street. A few months ago, I had come down a closed Gershon Street in the dusk and this was in the same area. It was going to be interesting to see it in daylight. My exploring friend, “Maggie Ess”, is walking all of Pittsburgh (see her blog here) and was in this exact neighborhood the day of my Splat event. I should have run here instead, perhaps? I have to say, between Maggie, Laura, Sherpes Hasher, Alyssa and me, we’ll have Pittsburgh thoroughly documented and vivisected in no time. Then, in ten years, someone will have to do it again to see what has changed.

Anyhoo, I parked over in a public lot near Allegheny City Brewery and trotted over I-279 on my favorite pedestrian walkway, Gerst Way. A short leg along East Street took me to Mt Royal Avenue where a large church building, St. Boniface, claims a swath of flat land. I had thought it semi-abandoned, but a little research shows that it is actually part of Christ Our Savior Parish. Besides the historic nature of the building, the current parish is interesting. Monthly, there’s a Mass in Vietnamese. I didn’t realize Pittsburgh had that large of a Vietnamese population. Many years ago, in a city far away, I visited the church of my baptism and got there early for 10 AM Mass. I patiently waited as the crowded church finished up the Rosary in a foreign language. I naively thought that, once Mass began, it would be in English. I was wrong. It was entirely in Vietnamese. But Mass is Mass and I could follow along.

St. Boniface Church Building
St. Boniface Church

But today, I wasn’t there for Mass. I was there to run streets and explore. Just past St. Boniface was a set of steps on the right. They were blocked off from the bottom, but not seriously. I ventured up them till the treads were largely missing.

Next on the explorers’ bingo card was Bly Street. This little dead-end shoots straight up the hill from Mt. Royal. It quickly ends in the hillside, and comes with those ever popular sidewalk steps.

Squiggling down at from the top of Mt. Royal is Luella Street. Below is a screen-shot of a map I found of Luella in Pitt’s archive. That’s a great resource.

The bottom of Luella intersects Gershon, which is sliding off the hill. Steps conveniently take you up into the neighborhood again.

An abandoned house sits at the end of Heim. It still has a chandelier-ceiling fan combo and skylights, but broken windows and shifting ground has doomed this one.

Further on, a step-alleyway bisects the little rectangular neighborhood.

Now that I’d climbed high on the street and steps, I was rewarded with wide-open spaces and sweeping views.

I spent a good bit of time wandering in and out these roads. Some became private roads before the end. Some took me up to a radio tower.

With this, I headed back to Allegheny City Brewery. In pre-Covid times, I would have stopped and had a beer, but not today.

RATS #00361 – Banksville

A short night run in the Banksville area. It is very suburban. Between that and the darkness, I didn’t have many pictures.

https://www.strava.com/activities/4687028631
RATS #00361

I started in Banksville Park and wound my way along the dark suburban streets. I had to pop out onto Greentree Road for a bit, where the ACE is located.

RATS #00364 – East Liberty & Homewood

https://www.strava.com/activities/4713197236
RATS #00364

Another Sunday morning run, this time in East Liberty. Passing East End Brewery was probably the most interesting thing that happened.

Much of the run was along streets dead-ending into the tracks along the East Busway.

December 2020 Catch-Up

Summary

December 2020 wasn’t too bad in the running sense. Early on, I had missed some days due to quarantining for Covid, but I finished strong and had some long, street eating runs late in the month. The mileage, 79, wasn’t great, but with 8,878 feet of elevation, I once again, gained over 100 feet of elevation per mile. More importantly, for this project, 13 of 15 runs covered new streets and I’ve 99% covered East Hills, completely finished Arlington and continue to make significant progress in Hazelwood, Glenwood, Woods Run, and Brighton Heights neighborhoods.

Without further ado, here are the four remaining runs of December.

RATS #00344