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!

Short March Runs

Here are three short runs I did in mid-March. These were “squeeze-them-in-runs”, where I had only a short time and planned out a very limited route. Though perhaps not as epic as some runs, they still took me to interesting places.


https://www.strava.com/activities/4947105503
Route of RATS run #00381 in West Liberty

This run started at Moore Park along Pioneer Avenue. I had mapped out a shorter, “nearly flat”, route for my girlfriend to run while I tackled the longer hill on Dunster Street.

Dunster is pretty much suburbia up near Pioneer Avenue, with a long straight stretch rolling east. After reaching the sunrise, it drops precipitously. Large lawns spread out and the bottom cross-street, Timberland, ends in trails. (The trails, incidentally, go back up to Moore Park.)

Following Timberland away from its trail end brought me to Edgebrook Avenue. At this point, Ballinger Street ascends as a staircase. This area was a bit more junky. I did spy what must have been an elf playhouse off the stairs. Also, I garnered more evidence for “Boat Theory”, as a speedboat was right next to the stairs.

I continued all the way to Whited Street before turning back. It is a neat area, off the beaten path but literally a quarter mile to Saw Mill Run Boulevard and overlooking the South Busway.

Returning to Moore Park, I had the pleasure of running up Dunster. Turns out that is a Strava Segment (“What a Dunster Fire”) and for the moment, I’m 4th overall! I also had the pleasure of getting some feedback for the “flat” run I had planned for Naomi. Ha! Perhaps it wasn’t as flat as I remembered.


Brook Street Route
RATS #00382, Brook Street in Carrick

Nestled between South Side Cemetery and Saint Georges Cemetery, a handful of streets and an amazing number of houses cling to steep slopes. This run, #00382, was a rare morning run and I just had enough time to do a couple of miles. I parked along Brownsville Road and ran north on that dusty road to Cedricton Street. Between the houses on the left, it was a long way down.

Once at the end of Cedricton, I jigsawed my way over to Brook Street, which flowed downhill, an amazingly far way downhill. There was actually a turn-around at the bottom, where all the views were up, up along fallen vine covered trees. A brook did emerge at the bottom.


https://www.strava.com/activities/4965153998
RATS #00383 in California-Kirkbride

This was a short run I tried to squeeze in before my regular City of Bridges Wednesday night run. I managed to catch Sigel Street, which has recently been repaved then ascended the Hyena Street Steps. No pictures, I suppose I forgot my phone.

Turns out I misjudged my timing as well, for by the time I got back, the COB runners had already left. Whoops! I had the map and tracked after them. However, with a ten minute head start, I only caught up with a couple. At least Modern Cafe was open and I got to enjoy some post-run libations with them.

Rolling on Rolla

https://www.strava.com/activities/4187229338
RATS #00313 – Manchester, California-Kirkbride with a little Perry Hilltop thrown in

This Monday evening run took me through the Northside, into Perry Hilltop and down through California-Kirkbride. The early evening in this area is quite active. There’s still lots of renovations going on in the Mexican War Streets. Kids are playing before dinner and men and women are getting home from work. My route meandered through the Central Northside, with its narrow streets eventually rising up Buena Vista Street.

Buena Vista is flat near West North Avenue, but by the time it passes behind Propel School, it has a 14% slope. It gets as steep as 17% before leveling off in three tenths of a mile. On my way down, I took the picture below, surprised how close Trimont seemed.

Overlook “intersects” Rolla with a nice set of steps. Rolla itself is just a short street from Buena Vista to Yale Street. Yale is blocked off and has been for a number of years, apparently. A cursory internet search didn’t turn up any specific reason, but checking the real estate site revealed that most lots on Yale are owned by the City of Pittsburgh. The other Yale Street in Pittsburgh is in Carrick.

That aside, one end of Rolla Street hits Buena Vista while the other drains down a steep staircase to Irwin Street. Those steps apparently had houses and other steps branching off from it. Towards the bottom, a sidewalk veers off of the steps to the Propel School grounds.

From here, I trotted over to California-Kirkbride. It is not a large area, but has bedeviled me with its grid of streets, for some reason. Ah, I know one reason, some of the “streets” are paper streets, which quickly ruin a planned route. Nonetheless, there’s things going on there recently. Many old houses have been demolished and lots have been landscaped. There are new houses and a little bit of artwork on the lonesome walls. One of the remaining buildings hosts a faded sign for “Clays”, a bar.

At this point, I had done most of my planned route and decided to venture further up California Avenue. I ended up in a land of exits and entries for cars where it intersects Marshall Avenue. Not sure, but do you think I can get to Route 65 or Route 19 from there?

Five signs for Rt 65 and three for Rt19

I finished off exploring by doing Ridgeland Drive. For the day’s final set of steps, I discovered this small set of steps at the end of Ridgeland Place going to Oliver High School and Brighton Road.

From here, I just made my way back to my car. It had been a good run with lots to see.

September 2020 Catch-Up

Summary

September 2020 was a pretty busy month with 124.8 miles run and 12,500 feet of elevation gain, the most since May. I ran often, 23 days with 17 of these covering new streets. I crossed over the 300 run threshold. With any luck, I’ll be done before I hit 400 runs, but that remains to be seen. I can see a flicker of light at the end of this project tunnel!

Unfortunately, my blogging hasn’t kept up with my running, so this catch-up blog will be a veritable book. Oh well, here goes!

RATS #00292

https://www.strava.com/activities/4012388510
RATS #00292 in Squirrel Hill

This was a short run to cover a few errant streets in Squirrel Hill and Schenley Park. I cut through Frick Park, using Iron Gate Trail to vault me over the big hill separating Swisshelm Park and Squirrel Hill. By the time I came back, it was too dark to gallop through the park without a flashlight.

RATS #00293

https://www.strava.com/activities/4016390122
RATS #00293 in Perry Hilltop

This was roughly a 10K to Perry Hilltop from West Park. It got started off with a sparkling sculpture, a yellow-eyed cat and a colorful backyard.

Then, I explored Irwin Avenue, which rises out of Central Northside. Surprisingly, it is blocked off for a few hundred yards and then jumps up to the top of Perry Hilltop on steps.

I zigged-zagged up here a bit, eventually finding my way to North Charles Street. Just before crossing the Swindell Bridge, I cut off to the left on Hazelton, to clear up that dead-end. Further along, up on the hilltop, I got a good view of the Swindell Bridge over I-279 and then wandered down into Fineview. That’s not something you hear much… “DOWN” into Fineview. Everything is steep over here. On one side, you have the ravine down to I-279, on the other the streets fall steeply towards Perrysville Avenue. Tall houses stare down from their perches like vultures.

RATS #00295

https://www.strava.com/activities/4025090610

This was a run cut short by tired knees and mistaken maps. Nonetheless, I made some progress on a few Shadyside alleys and small streets near Ellis School. By the time I got to East Liberty, though, I was done.

RATS #00297

https://www.strava.com/activities/4071163546
RATS #00297 West Liberty and Brookline

This was a gut check run. It was late and I didn’t go far, but I got out there. I did finish off Flatbush Avenue in Brookline, but it was too dark to do much exploring and I didn’t stop long enough to take crisp pictures.

RATS #00298

https://www.strava.com/activities/4075550982
RATS #00298 – Brookline

Another evening run in Brookline. This time, I made a beeline for streets on the left of Whited Street, as you go towards Saw Mill Run Boulevard. I really wasn’t sure what I would find, but found very residential, suburban streets perched on a plateau. There were tweens goofing off in the street, a couple walking their golden retriever and a mom walking up and down the street with a stroller and a chatty three year old; “Mom, why is he running THAT way?”

Coming back along Whited Street is NOT something I would recommend, especially in the darkness. At least, I could see headlights in time to huddle off the road.

RATS #00299

https://www.strava.com/activities/4079580634
RATS #00299

This was a short run in the South Side Flats. Like a vampire, this neighborhood keeps coming back with some little street or alley I’ve missed. I’m really trying to drive a stake through the heart and get this area done. In spite of the short run, there was lots to see. Perhaps my favorite were the pierogie signs around Saint John the Baptist Ukrainian Catholic Church. Downtown Pittsburgh is just across the Monongahela River and the skyscrapers caught the evening sun nicely.

RATS #00301

https://www.strava.com/activities/4094305425
RATS #00301

This was quite an adventure. I checked out one of the lesser known neighborhoods, New Homestead. It is west of West Homestead/Munhall, east of the Glenwood Bridge interchange and south of Sandcastle yet north of Mifflin Road. Looking at the map below, you might notice that there are three disconnected areas of New Homestead. I ran most of the northeast section.

New Homestead

Also looking at the map, you might notice a lack of streets. Okay, a lack of anything. Your observations would be pretty much correct. There’s just a number of long streets dotted with houses and large areas of woods. Deer were everywhere and seemed offended by me disturbing them. I actually parked in West Homestead, above a baseball diamond.

RATS #00302

https://www.strava.com/activities/4103987670
RATS #00302 – Carrick & Overbrook

Run number 302 saw me back in Carrick and Overbrook. Unlike New Homestead, this area is dense with houses and people. Hills, steps, alleys, this run had it all. I don’t remember seeing many deer, though. I was amused by the war memorial in front of Carrick High School. Most memorials of this age have howitzers or bronze soldiers. This one had a bronzed shell. Many lawns were covered in political signs; often with neighbors cheering opposite sides. Just think how fun that block party would be! That cat, however, wasn’t the least ruffled as I run past it, huffing and puffing up the hill.

The Englert Street steps conveniently took me from Saw Mill Run Boulevard up the hill again, while the Dartmore Steps were just a convenience. Unfortunately, the Antenor Way Steps were blocked off, even though they didn’t look too bad.

RATS #00303

https://www.strava.com/activities/4108586048
RATS #00303 – Lawrenceville

Speaking of neighborhoods which keep coming back with uncovered alleys and streets, Lawrenceville takes the cake. This five mile run just went round and round dim back alleys. Interestingly enough, it was busy enough, between restaurants and residents that I felt more comfortable here than in New Homestead.

RATS #00304

https://www.strava.com/activities/4115676785
RATS #00304

This was a nine mile run (not to be confused with the stream of the same name) through Manchester. With this run, I’ve covered all the streets between the railroad and Chateau Street. This is a large, flat area. Mexican War Streets, with their 1890’s row houses gradually transform into sprawling mixed housing, newer three bedroom split levels interspersed with magnificent mansions. Some of the ‘mansions’ have seen better days.

Alleys are where you see the underside of a neighborhood. These show the old warehouse nature of the area. There’s also a major railroad line, below grade, which dominates the eastern fringe of this area.

But there’s a lot going on here. New construction isn’t too surprising given the great location and flat land. People have gardens and little libraries and seem to generally be active. I didn’t expect to see that huge rooster mural or a booming market along Juniata Street, but there it is.

RATS #00306

https://www.strava.com/activities/4125952429
RATS #00306

Once again, I returned to Carrick and Overbrook in the evening. At this point in the month, I was really trying to complete a Strava Challenge (200km), so after doing Yale Street, I just went exploring.

Yale Street is in the same are as RATS #00302. One section has extensive steps leading up into Phillips Park, then it drops precipitously to Dartmore Street. Clawing my way back to Brownsville Road, I needed a couple more miles, so trotted along Carrick Avenue. It was fully dark and I wasn’t 100% sure where I was going. Nontheless, I ‘just needed to bear right’ a couple of times to take me back to Brownsville Road and into Pittsburgh again.

RATS #00307

RATS #00307 – Banksville

Must say, I’m proud of this run. I planned it pretty well and stuck to the plan. It was a little over seven miles in Banksville where it borders Greentree and Mount Lebanon. It is a nice area with long winding streets. However, there weren’t many distinctive things to see. At the start, I did pass a soccer field off of Hillsdale Avenue, where a girl’s soccer game was in progress under the lights. They have a powerful PA system, and for the rest of the run, I could hear the announcers.

That’s All Folks!

So, there you have it. September 2020 in the books. I think this is the longest “Catch-Up” blog I’ve had and I might change things up a bit to avoid this in the future. Maybe a weekly blog?

At any rate, I want to run a bit farther in October and continue to efficiently cover streets. I’ll try to get into Lincoln Place, another outlying neighborhood, as well as continue to finish out the Hill District, Marshall-Shadeland and Carrick.

August 2020 Monthly Catch-Up

Summary

This August was hot with fifteen days of highs above 85; and busy, with a move. While I love this project, sometimes it is a chore. So in August, I’ve been slightly more relaxed about running with friends or just for an adventure, without regard to the streets I’ve covered. I’m keeping my knee problems at bay with a combination of new pair of shoes and using KT tape. (I’m back in a new pair of Altra Escalante 1.5’s.)

I’ve made large strides of progress in the South Hills, including Beltzhoover and Carrick, and continue to fill in the gaps in the North and West sections of Pittsburgh. August’s 97 miles was considerably more than July, and doubled my elevation, increasing it to 11,189 feet. Of the seventeen runs I recorded in August, fifteen covered new streets.

Without further ado, here are the rest of the August runs.

RATS #00279

https://www.strava.com/activities/3909687450
RATS #00279 Allentown & Beltzhoover

Just a short evening run to cover some streets before it got too dark. Looking at the pictures, maybe it was already too dark. Long dim streets filled with kids playing and adults coming home from work.

RATS #00281

https://www.strava.com/activities/3928625534
RATS #00281 – Carrick

Another evening run, this one in Carrick with its busy streets and close houses. Georgia Avenue dead-ends into a ghostly cemetery, especially at dusk.

RATS #00284

https://www.strava.com/activities/3943240703
RUN #00284

Hammering it out with the evening runs in Carrick. This one took me down Overbrook Avenue to Saw Mill Run Boulevard. The uphill slog was epic. Nighttime phone pics + running = streaks.

RATS #00286