Unique Streets: 27
Miles Walked: 2.85
Street Names (italicized have been walked on another day): Cox Avenue, Cox Place, Elwell Street, Ollie Street, Mifflinridge Road, Heretick Way, Muldowney Avenue, Dellaglen Avenue, Session Street, Official Way, Motion Way, Baltimore Street, Stock Street, Commission Way, McElhinny Avenue, Antarctic Way, Cooley Way, Rodgers Street, Flight Way, Margray Street, Lauder Street, Arctic Way, Interboro Avenue, Mere Street, Margaret Street, Hillburn Street, Wheeling Street, Ganges Way.
Day 365 of 2019. December 31st. I’ve walked 3,971 Pittsburgh streets in one calendar year. Taking into the consideration the known propensity of my boys to complain, I think I can make it 4,000. We have one more day. Let’s do this.
We bundle up, pack in, and drive to Lincoln Place, a far southeast neighborhood of Pittsburgh. I perch the car on a hill right next to a playground. Play for one minute, walk, and then we can play again. Zip up your jacket. Don’t hit your brother. GEORGE! DON’T HIT YOUR BROTHER! Off we go.
Two streets covered and the wind is already turning our noses red. George refused to put gloves on this morning but at least he has a hat. Johnny never complains about being cold but ALWAYS complains when he has to wear a jacket. I won that battle even if he refuses to zip it up. 27 streets to go.
The streets of Lincoln Place are grouped and named in a way that every other street seems to be named Ollie Street. I am utterly confused by this but try not to let it add to the chaos of this walk. George has found a large stick that is now his friend. He swings it purposefully missing his brother half the time. It breaks and he cries.
“It’s ok buddy, now you have two friends!”
This development helps to distract his 4.5-year-old mind from the increasing grade of the roads and the relentless chill. We get to the top of Muldowney Street and realize we have left Pittsburgh.
The boys raucously run back down bumping into each other at each parabola while zigzagging street. This part is fun. Now we have to go back up but first we have to walk under one of the large electrical towers that bisect this neighborhood. George’s protests ramp up again, so I try to interest him in a small wall in front of someone’s house. The boys love retaining walls. He walks on it for a bit and jumps down abruptly.
“Hold on. I have to do five push-ups.”
He pushes himself off the earth five times before I can get my phone out.
“George, do five more so I can take a picture.”
Hopefully the exertion has warmed him enough to keep walking. We still have 23 streets to walk today. Official Motion Session: the names of the steep streets we walk and also an apropos description of our activity. George’s cries of protest are coming more frequently. But we only have 18 left to go! I tell the boys to wait at the corner while I walk up one block to cover McElhinny Avenue.
We reunite and begin covering more streets. Antarctic, Arctic, Cooley. Did they name these streets for today’s weather?
George keeps asking me for a piggyback ride but doesn’t want to stand on a wall to jump onto my back. I can’t lift him up there and I tell him he’s just going to have to keep walking. He asks if I can just carry him. I am absolutely not carrying a 42 lb. sack of moving potatoes. Johnny offers his back to George and his shorter stature makes climbing on easier. They walk like this for a bit until George’s sticks seems to come to life and hit Johnny in the back of the legs.
Since the streets in this section of Lincoln Place are closer together, we manage to get our count down to 5 in no time. There are two more tiny alleys that we can walk to get close and then the Johnny asks if he can climb a retaining wall. It’s made of cinderblocks and starts out at 1 block high. Soon, using the hill it supports as its guide, it rises to a height of 8 cinder blocks. George insists he get to walk on the wall too.
I let them and joy rises in my throat as I watch my two boys run along this wall together. Then the sticks come out again. I catch George as he jumps into my arms and Johnny walks a bit further along the wall to the end of the street.
We walk the two remaining streets and then we are back at the playground. Even though this walk was not easy for George, I am very proud. He walked 2.65 miles with us on an exceptionally chilly day. But what to do about the last four streets?
We get back in the car and drive down Mifflin Road towards the Mon. At a light, I see a grouping of three streets: Doerrville, Wheeling, Ganges, and Hillburn. I make a quick left and park in a lot on the corner.
“Stay here. I’m locking the door. I’ll be right back!”
I jump out of the car and run around the block. .2 miles in 2:37. DONE! I walked 4,000 streets in one year!
I got home that afternoon and added all my newly collected streets to my spreadsheet. I’d walked McElhinny in July with Johnny. Also, Doerrville wasn’t actually on the side of the road I’d picked. Major Sad Face. Then I realized that 3,998 streets is still a monumental number. Less than 700 streets to walk in 2020!