The Uphill Slide

There is always something.

A Rainy Day or Not So Rainy Day


It is 3 AM…. I went to bed and laid listening to Spike root around my books lying on the table. Then he jumped in bed to cuddle with me as he does every night. It did not help; no sleep would come to me. Eyes wide open, my mind raced with thoughts I did not want to think. I decided to get up, make some coffee, and write something. I seem to be on some strange semi-reversed schedule going to bed late and sleeping late. On this schedule, I get nothing done.

Friday night I had a slight sore throat, then the full onslaught of a cold on Saturday. I found some pills in the medicine cabinet and started taking them. I slept a lot and ate junk food and drank hot drinks and cold drinks all weekend. Nothing helped the stuffy nose or sore throat. I finished watching all of Longmire’s new season on Netflix. I should have been reading instead of watching television. The books are piling up, and I keep buying new ones on every trip to the thrift store. This morning I was out of cold pills, so I decided to go to the store and walk the South Side Riverfront Trail. I had planned to ride my bike on the next trail visit, but it was raining when I left the house. At least I could use an umbrella when I walked. I stopped at the store, picked up pills and cough syrup, and then drove to the South Side. I stopped at Starbucks and then impulsively changed my plans because I was on the hilly side of Carson Street. I decided to explore the hills above the South Side Flats. I found a road heading upward and hit the trolley-tracked Warrington Avenue in Allentown. I still have trouble determining what neighborhood of Pittsburgh I am in, but it helps when the street signs include the name of the neighborhood or some street art paints the name on a wall. I parked along Warrrington Avenue and took some photos of the tracks and overhead lines still in place for the trolleys should they ever return. I noticed the Alla Famiglia restaurant that I had read is a hidden treasure of Pittsburgh. Jacob took his ex-wife to this restaurant, but he did not rave about it. I think it was the cost that bothered him. However, the reviews on Google and Yelp are mostly all excellent. Perhaps I will splurge one day and visit this family-style Italian restaurant. I walked up and down some typical Pittsburgh hills taking a few photos. I came upon an abandoned Catholic church and across the street from the church was the chained-up Hilltop High School. A sign by the door advertised the building as a ‘fallout shelter’. The street sign at the corner said I was now in Knoxville. Later I was on Beltzhoover Avenue, so I think I was in that neighborhood too. I drove back to South Side Flats and decided this was a good day to walk up PJ McArdle Roadway. I walked up the overgrown path ducking weeds and shrubs hanging over the walk. I heard rustling in a strip of woods along the walk and returned the stare of the small deer in the trees. I took a picture before she took off with the companion I had not noticed. I think of deer in Pittsburgh as ‘fish out of water’, but that is really not true. They are ubiquitous in the wooded areas all around the Pittsburgh neighborhoods. I stopped along the fence protecting pedestrians from a long fall on this path. I watched the sports practice at Cupples Stadium. I took some photos there of practice and the field then walked farther to the bridge. I took more photos of the city from this higher vantage point. St. John the Baptist Ukrainian Catholic Church with its onion domes made a good forefront for photos of the jail and the city. At the end of the walk where McArdle Roadway meets Arlington Avenue, I focused my phone to take photos of graffiti below. I realized I was looking at pitched tents, plastic chairs, clothes and garbage. Obviously, people are living under this roadway. Back down on the Southside Flats, I noticed another pitched tent on a dead end street where tow truck drivers park waiting to be dispatched to a job. These tents are pitched in obscure places not noticed except by walkers or by those loitering parkers. I hope these tenters are able to find warmer shelter for the winter. At the intersection, I turned around to return back to where I had started. About halfway back I came to the crosswalk leading to Windom Street and decided to take a detour. A ‘No Outlet’ sign was posted at the beginning of the street, but I knew there were often steps leading up and down on these terraced hillsides. I walked up the street and stopped to take a few photos from this higher vantage point. There was a set of steps leading up to the next street. When I walked farther I found no steps down but two more sets of steps up. I decided to go up instead of retracing my path. The set of steps I choose were concrete and moss-covered. They were obviously not often used. Halfway up the steps turned at a 90 degree angle to continue through a small wooded area littered with trash. At the end of this wooded area was Newton Street. I walked along the street while trying to decide whether I should return down the other set of steps or walk to the end of this street. I chose to walk out onto Arlington Avenue and return to its intersection with PJ McArdle Roadway. Newton Street was not well-maintained nor a place I would want to live in the winter, but it does have fantastic views of the downtown area. I took more photos as I retraced steps to my car. I decided when I reached my car that I still had enough time for the trail. I crossed over Carson Street to Bingham Street which runs parallel to Carson. I drove past the buildings that had been in my photos from above. This is how I have learned the city: driving but mostly walking. I really should get a city map, although such documents are almost obsolete with maps on our phones and in our cars. I parked along the street and started to walk. When I looked down a street between buildings in the direction of the Monongahela River, I noticed the jail was directly across the river; so I walked that way. I realized that I was exactly where I wanted to be–at the trail. I reached some steps going right down to the river’s edge. There was an iron railing along the steps formed from heavy metal rebar twisted into water-themed designs. At the bottom of the steps, I stood on the platform looking into the river. The river appeared to be shallow at this spot. Sometimes I have this notion of jumping in. Instead I took some photos of the jail including the metal thingamajig standing up out of the water. I climbed the steps back up to the trail and followed the trail past industrial buildings and under the long elevator extending over the trail to either train cars or barges. I walked on the river side of Station Square past the Grand Concourse, the fountain in Bessemer Courtyard jumping up and down to intermittent music, and the Gateway Clipper Fleet. As I reached the Highmark Stadium where Carlow students were practicing. I decided it was time to go back to my car. I had hopefully sweated out my cold bug. Next trip I will bring the bike to ride the trail. I always hate to turn back because I know there is something interesting farther along the trail.


  1. Barb, that was very interesting and I enjoyed reading it. You do a great job in everything you write. Did you miss your calling?

    • Thank you, Mary Ann. I enjoy writing and started writing more because of Jacob’s situation. I found it a great way to get out all those feelings that had no place else to be expressed. Comments from a couple people led me to writing this blog. While our situation is specific, I have learned that many others have struggled to deal with the legal system in this country. The justice system in this country is a crime in itself. As to this post, I have enjoyed one thing about this last year-walking the streets of Pittsburgh. I guess I could call myself a street walker then. I enjoy also taking the pictures all around the neighborhoods. I am amazed at the photos I get with my Android device.

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