The Uphill Slide

There is always something.

Sunny Days Are Here Again

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I love the sunny days with warm temperatures promising the return of spring. I love to start a walk with my jacket on and then feel the heat of exertion; I hate carrying my jacket when the sweat begins. I love to feel the sun on my skin; I hate the sun blinding me. I love the glow of a suntan; I hate the sun giving me basal cell carcinoma. The sun and I have a love/hate relationship, but love always wins out. The sun makes me come alive. So on this invigorating revitalizing day, I went for a walk. First though, I had to drive to that walk. My plan was to return to Turtle Creek after a stopover in Homestead to photograph some passing train graffiti. My two passions to photograph now are graffiti and churches. I just love those onion domes of orthodox churches. When I pulled into a parking spot in Homestead, I realized I had no change for the meter. I thought about parking without paying, but I have gotten a ticket in Homestead before.

I drove back to the house, picked up my change purse and headphones so I could catch up on my SERIAL podcasts as I walked. I like to multitask as much as possible; there is never enough time to do all I want. I decided to skip Homestead and go straight to Turtle Creek via Braddock. As I drove into Braddock, I remembered the chess-like pieces atop one of the Braddock churches that I wanted to photograph up-close. I turned left onto Library Street and parked. I shot a few photos of the elegant Carnegie Library and then walked up the street to the old Post Office Building. Walking down a hill brought me to yet another abandoned church with its once beautiful, but now broken stained-glass windows. Pittsburgh has many abandoned churches in its neighborhoods. I came back to Braddock Avenue and headed to my car. A woman crossed the street and approached me holding a camera. She pointed to mine and asked if I was working on something. I said I just take photos. She said she was writing a piece for a newsletter about Braddock and asked if I lived here. I told her I lived in Swissvale, and then corrected myself to say I actually lived in Armstrong County. I told her my son was in jail, and I had stayed in his house in Swissvale on and off for over a year. We talked about the changes in Braddock. I walked back to the library and took a seat on benches across the street. I listened to roosters behind the fence bordering this small park. There is a person-sized glass mosaic butterfly at the forefront of this park. I got up and took a couple of photos of my reflection in the glass of that butterfly. I had spent at least an hour and a half here in Braddock, but there was still time to visit Turtle Creek.

I drove down Braddock Avenue past the Edgar Thompson works billowing out smoke into the air. I pulled up to the three-way stop on the road beneath the George Westinghouse Bridge and then continued down the hill in the direction of Turtle Creek. At a light before the welcome sign to Turtle Creek which also carries an East Pittsburgh message of welcome for travelers coming from the opposite direction, I turned left. I sat at the light facing another onion-domed church. I shot a couple of photos of it, and then I parked and started to walk up the hill to the George Westinghouse Bridge on my left. Halfway up the hill on the right was a set of stone and concrete steps leading to the top of another hill. Who built these steps? These were more than just a simple set of steps to get to the top of the hill. These steps made a statement. They perhaps once overlooked Turtle Creek without the obstruction of buildings. There were steps on each side of a stone wall leading to a landing, then another set of steps to a second walled landing, then steps to the third and last walled landing before turning and turning and continuing up the hill to a graffiti-covered tunnel beneath the roadway. I walked through the tunnel and up the steps to the other side of that roadway, then turned around and walked back down to the bottom of this hill. I crossed the street and walked to the top to the hill and to the short tunnel entry of the George Westinghouse Bridge. I walked through the tunnel and up the middle of the sidewalk. Cars and trucks sped by me with an occasional hello honk. I looked down to the industrial buildings below sitting along the concrete banks of Turtle Creek. I have walked across many Pittsburgh bridges, but this one made my stomach flutter. According to Wikipedia, this bridge placed me 240 feet above Turtle Creek. I looked cautiously over the railing afraid that it might give way at any time. A train pulled out from underneath the bridge and traveled up the tracks. It slowed, then reversed and backed up until it disappeared again back underneath the bridge. I walked to the middle of the bridge and decided I must walk the entire span and back. I might never walk across this bridge again. Once I had walked across and back, I headed down the hill to my car. I decided to walk a little farther though. As I passed the Siemens Building on the right side of the street, I noticed the lion heads with green and gold mosaic tiles adorning the top perimeter of the building. I crossed another street and came to yet another set of steps directly across from that two-sided welcome sign. These steps went underneath elevated railroad tracks and up another hill. I climbed partway until I was level with the elevated tracks. I sat there for a while resting and typing on my phone; then I climbed the remaining steps planning to walk down the street to the bottom of the hill on the other side. I walked past a couple of houses and then saw that this was a dead-end street. I returned to the steps and walked back down. I walked up the street to a set of steeples on a church about a block away. I walked to the side of the church and took some photos of the fraternal twin steeples.

Suddenly I began to feel the ache in my legs and back; my body was suffering from my neglect these past few months. I turned around and walked back to my car. I never made it to Turtle Creek, but I added another piece to my puzzle of the Pittsburgh map. I will someday know all the exits from this maze; then it will be time to move on to another puzzle.

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