Unique Streets: 106
Miles Walked: 62.3
Street Names are listed at the bottom since there are so many!
Railroad spikes, coins, bones, pottery, a dust devil of lottery tickets in a trailer park…I’ve found many strange things while walking the streets of Pittsburgh. Whether or not I pick these items up depends on how long I’ve been walking. If I’ve just started, I probably won’t pick something up unless it’s a coin showing its head side up or a lucky loose railroad tie. Lottery tickets call me to scan their codes in the app to see if they are winners. “If you don’t check me, I was definitely a winner!” The problem is that once I pick something up, it’s mine until I find a public trash can. It can be risky.
The longer I walk, the more tired I get, and that means I am that much more likely to do risky things. I don’t exactly know why this is but I’m sure there is some article in Psychology Today about it. If there isn’t, someone who knows more than me should write it. My own reasoning about the psychology behind it has to do with caution fatigue and the increasing familiarity of a place. These were two things I hadn’t really thought much about before the Coronavirus came to town. I spent months of looking out the same windows and pacing the same route on the warping vinyl floors. The familiarity of my surroundings became stifling. The danger outdoors is nonexistent to the naked eye so why are we acting so carefully? A recipe for risky behavior was forming. The thrill of the unknown is calling. I must walk. Ennui GO.
Two weeks of quarantine and the untamed outside demanded my exit. At the end of March and beginning of April, I walked most of Westwood. Then I took on Spring Hill-City View for a picnic on an abandoned street (Vallette Street) with the kids. I’m sure people were thinking we should be at home, not out in the scary world. While on that picnic, we were further away from another single soul than we are when we are sitting in our own living room. I started to get antsy about the general idea of quarantine and annoyed with the patronizing posts about selfishness from some of my facebook friends. If being outdoors in solitude is selfish, then I guess I am and I’m ok with that.
At the beginning of May, I walked Beechview and Brookline with a friend. He has asthma and said he would probably die if he got coronavirus. Yet, here he was, tired of the fear, walking outside 6 feet away from a friend.
Caution fatigue does have its limits and it has no effect on phobias. Deep seated primal fears get worse with age, not less frightening. He absolutely refused to walk on an elevated railroad bridge with me despite my gentle goading.
Instead of walking on that bridge, I found railroad spikes for the corners of my house. I carried them 6.23 miles.
A few days later, I walked from the North Side to Downtown and back again.
I found no open port-a-potties and an alarming lack of people walking the city streets in the middle of a workday. The UPMC building seemed to loom higher over an abandoned Grant Street, unburdened by the weight of hundreds of workers.
I found the bottom half of a mannequin in a man-made lake in the strip district.
Later, I would find a picture of these same naked paint-specked legs on facebook. Did they walk out of the lake in search of their own unfamiliar place? Even the plastic body parts are bored.
In Marshall-Shadeland/Brighton Heights/Woods Run I found toothbrushes hanging from a rack on the second floor of an exterior wall of a house. The brushes hung under a medicine cabinet void and next to a powerless GFCI plug. Nearby, a shower head and bathtub faucet poked out into the thin high air.
Did the people that live in the rest of the missing house find another place to hang their replacement toothbrushes? Are they tired of those new walls yet?
In Belmar I found some grocery store sushi and the geese police. Geese are not allowed to trespass in the reservoir. I am also not allowed near there as I would find out. The security guard at the PGH20 water treatment plant found my presence on city-property troublesome and told me to walk 5 feet on the other side of the railroad tracks. At least he didn’t see me pick up the fourth railroad spike I needed to fully protect my house.
Off of Brighton Road in Marshall-Shadeland I found out that Highwood Cemetery has quite a few unkempt graves in the wooded hillside.
While scooting down the dusty hill to see an obsidian obelisk, I dropped my water bottle into a pile of poison ivy. My caution fatigue during that walk wasn’t up to the point where I would fish it out.
It remains there and I think I might return in January to see if I can rescue it.
June began and I found CMU’s campus to be abandoned except for a crowd of chipmunks, fat off the mast year of acorns.
I found dozens of masks and latex gloves littering the ground like leaves on a mid-fall day. Does fear of a deadly virus stop once you leave a store and reach the asphalt? Visit the parking lot of any Giant Eagle or Shop n Save if you don’t believe me.
In New Homestead I found that no one cares about correct street names. Is it Panorama Way or Spike Way? What’s the difference between ignorance and indifference? Is this the only neighborhood where the UPMC building can’t be seen? I heard it was taller these days. Oh, there it is.
In Sheraden I found two trees on either side of a sidewalk. At just above human height, they were bound together to form a roof over the entrance to the William Sheraden homestead.
I found old streets (Stadium and Strickler) on a hillside covered in weeds. I was far enough into my walk that I was no longer afraid of walking under the 6-foot-high knotweed. I found fire hydrants and empty Busch Light cases in the shade there.
In Swisshelm Park I found a pile of pens on the curb and a pond with the largest tadpole I’ve ever seen.
In Lincoln Place, Johnny and I found a pay phone and streets with letters for names “C, D, F, R, S, T, I, K” What’s that spell?
In Polish Hill I found dirt roads and Pittsburgh Protractors. I found gritty graffiti sprayed from a nozzle of raw emotion and frustration. “Live Free” “ACAB” “Fuck Trumpf” “Detroitsburgh” “Stop the Alt Right” “Tired” … Me too.
In Squirrel Hill South, once again I found the ground littered with masks. It doesn’t matter how long I’ve been walking; I am not picking those up. I may be selfish for leaving my house during a pandemic, but I’m not throw my disgusting face covering on the ground like a pig, selfish. On Westland Drive my faith in the beauty of humanity was restored when I found no less than 50 cairns on either side of the road.
I was close to my car but my aversion to risk was lessening. I decided to take a Frick Park trail back to where I’d parked instead of backtracking and taking a shortcut. I must have added 30 extra minutes to my 7.37-mile walk. I kept going, telling myself that the long way was always worth it.
The area where I was walking used to be a slag dump site for the Duquesne Steel Company. I wasn’t there but I am assuming that it was a wholly unpleasant place to be 100 years ago. Now, you can find million-dollar townhomes atop the hill of industrial waste. Talk about caution fatigue. My trip down the trail was for the most part uneventful until I found a tan brick with the number 24 stamped into it.
Being that it was my husband’s lucky number, I took the stone to give to him. It is now his to keep.
Back at my car I
sat recovered in the AC, physically drained but emotionally recharged. Sometimes you have to throw caution to the wind in order to find what you didn’t even know you were looking for. How much risk are you willing to take? That answer is different for everybody. If we took the time to understand that, the world would be a better place. Never cast your lucky stone to hurt someone else.
Streets walked: Centralia Street, Hass Street, Prosser Way, Presbury Street, Oltman Street, Acasto Way, Alora Way, Ellopia Street, Oetting Street, Timberland Avenue, Dawn Avenue, Waltham Street, Charm Avenue, Cadet Avenue, London Towne Drive, Fallow Avenue, Linial Avenue, Leavitt Street, Northcrest Drive, Linda Drive, Larose Street, Southcrest Drive, Southcrest Court, Abstract Avenue, Reflectorville Road, Ensign Avenue, Bank Street, Legacy Way, Art Rooney Avenue, Arbuckle Way, Factory Way, Andy Warhol Bridge, Oliver Avenue, Scrip Way, Lemon Way, 6th Avenue, Waterfront Place, David McCullough Bridge, Goodrich Street, S. Commons, Gass Avenue, Reuben Street, Beckham Street, Leonora Street, Stokes Way, Minnie Street, Harbison Place, Rigel Street, Freeport Road, Saint Margaret Drive, East Northern Drive, Hamerschlag Drive, Devonshire Road, Morewood Place, Devon Road, Warwick Terrace, Carriage Road, Parish Lane, Holyrood Road, Dorset Road, Penton Road, Beeler Street, Unger Lane, Gatewood Drive, Olympia Place, Beelermont Place, Wilkins Heights Road, Maple Heights Road, Maple Heights Court, Dunmoyle Street, Dunmoyle Place, Lynne Haven Road, Kipling Road, Annette Way, Robin Way, Albemarle Avenue, Techview Terrace, Revenue Street, Armorhill Avenue, Panorama Street, Ingot Avenue, Marina Street, Shiffler Street, Pepsin Way, Girder Street, Angle Avenue, Mestaland Avenue, Vane Street, Basic Street, Niceville Street, Sweetbay Street, Whitebush Street, Bronze Street, Bench Way, Brownwood Street, Bridgley Way, Frost Way, Brooch Way, Minton Street, George Street, Saratoga Street, Adena Street, Robina Street, Citadel Street, Sheraden Boulevard, Commercial Street, Nightingale Way, Onondago Street, Olivia Street, Ober Street, Uptegraf Street, Philander Street, Love Street, Goodman Street, Whipple Street, Pocono Street, Satyr Way Homestead Street, Cash Way, Nevada Street, Blackhawk Street, Schoyer Avenue, Mechanic Street, Monumental Way, Raymon Street, Oak Grove Street, Overlea Street, Lucilla Street, LeBlanc Street, Windermere Drive, Byron Street, Denver Street, Gomez Way, Coventry Road, Aspen Street, Osceola Street, Powhattan Street, Christopher Columbus Way, Veteran Way, Bloomfield Bridge, Silver Oak Drive, Silver Oak Place, Red Oak Drive, N. Meadowcroft Avenue, McMonagle Avenue, Allender Avenue, Oak Manor Drive, Old Oak Drive, High Oak Drive, Old Oak Court, Perricrest Drive, Pin Oak Place, E. Elmhurst Road, Beechland Street, Barberry Street, Kinley Avenue, Diller Avenue, Diller Place, Scorer Street, Lougean Avenue, Glenhurst Road, Leaside Drive, Oakleaf Drive, Delehanty Street, K Way, H Way, I Way, Delford Street, F Way, D Way, C Way, T Way, S Way Plaport Street Plaport Way, Lindberg Avenue, Little Street, Sunglow Street, Theodore Street, Goldenrod Street, Beaumont Lane, Mount Royal Road, Cosentino Drive, Luster Street, Birchwood Avenue, Beechwood Terrace, Ikon Way, Ibsen Way, Isle Way, Westland Drive, Summerset Drive, Hasley Lane, Crescent Place, Fairstead Lane, Sebak Street, Frick Lane.