Relocating and restarting after changed life

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thehistorian
Participant
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Hi, my apologies if this isn’t the right place for this post. Five years after losing 150 pounds and becoming an active middle aged man – becoming potential instead of potato – I’m finally going to undertake the trip I’ve longed for. I’m riding across the US this May, starting from outside Pittsburgh and ending in WA and CA. However, there’s one small problem; I need to give up my job and my home to do it. And probably my old car as well.

I plan on relocating after the trip to Pittsburgh, but I have no desire to camp atop a steam grate at the corner of 5th and 6th. I’d like to be able to get a job and a place to live before I take Amtrak back from the west coast, and better yet before I leave May 1. Any suggestions on locations in or around Pittsburgh I should look at, keeping in mind I’ll be car free?

If you are curious, there’s a thread on Bike Forums on my ride, titled “Clyde Crosses Country”, debating the wisdom of my ride.


erok
Keymaster
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i don’t have any advice on housing for you, but pittsburgh is a great place to find cheap housing to get you back on your feet.

can you just rent out or find a house sitter for your current place?

good luck with your trip!


ejwme
Participant
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I have no words of wisdom or advice, but I gotta say – you rock.

Ok, maybe check out the threads on here about PAT bus service cuts and secure routes, and while you’re looking maybe look in places that are along multiple, profitable routes that are safER from service cuts. That will make the occasional bike-free day less painful.

And you rock.


joeframbach
Participant
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Having hiked the Appalachian Trail and meeting dozens of people restarting their lives, I can say with confidence you can do this. But ditch the bug spray, can opener, bottle opener, at least two pairs of shorts, a shirt, the cup (eat out of your pot), the trowel, soap and sponge, and flint/steel. You’re not in the Himalayas, you’ll pass through civilization at least once every 3 days. If your meals are mostly just-add-water (which the pocket rocket is designed for), a cursory washing with water is just fine until you get to town for a more thorough cleaning.


thehistorian
Participant
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erok, I wish I could. I live 300 miles from Pittsburgh, just outside Philadelphia. I also don’t own my home, I share a place with a couple of friends.

My ultimate goal is to form a 501c3 that would promote outdoor activities to the ‘differently abled.’ I have scoliosis myself, but I try not to let it prevent me from doing whatever I want to do. Western PA is a wonderful place, and it would be a great area for such an organization, but it won’t keep a roof over my head, so I need to secure a job to do it. And the roof as well.


thehistorian
Participant
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joeframbach, thanks for the advice. I have no doubt I can do the trip. After all, I’m awesome. I’m more concerned about preventing myself from becoming the next “Into The Wild” case. Or sleeping on the aforesaid steam grate at 5th and 6th.


ieverhart
Participant
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In terms of areas to relocate and live car-free, any neighborhoods developed before World War II will, as a rule, be transit-friendly, and areas developed after 1945 will generally be more car-dependent. Again, as a gross generalization, these older areas will likewise be the most bike-friendly. I’ll concur with Erok and say that finding affordable housing shouldn’t be that hard.


thehistorian
Participant
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ieverhart, so I should focus on the job hunt first? Sorry for the silly questions, but I’ve never done anything like this before. Hmm, does that mean I’m planning my spontaneous actions? If I were 20 I’d be gone in two days. But I’m 45, so I spend six months getting my ducks in a row.


ejwme
Participant
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heh – you’ve already avoided going all Into The Wild by actually asking other human beings for advice and help.

what field are you looking for work in? Or just the “earn a paycheck” field? There’s lots of work of certain kinds in the city, other types can be tough. And you’ll be missing that “I don’t cross rivers” yinzer gene that seems to get in the way of finding good places to work/live for a lot of people here.

And I wanted to pass along this map: http://publictransitguide.info/

For your planning purposes. Location, location, location. Good luck!


Mick
Participant
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ieverhart, so I should focus on the job hunt first?

That would depend a lot on what kind of job you are looking for.

If it were a teaching job? This is the perfect time to look for something starting in September.

If you are a short order cook? September is the perfect time for looking for a job starting in September.

If it’s some bike-oriented, outdoor-oriented, or even differently-abled-oriented job, you could expect the employer to make special accomadations for you.


thehistorian
Participant
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ejwme, good point. A friend of mine keeps busting on me for not thinking out a week beyond the ride end. This whole process forces me to answer the question “what do I want?” When I was 400 pounds the answer was “whatever I can get” or “whatever people give me.” As a man of a more normal weight, those answers don’t work anymore.

I’ve worked in offices for years, but again, that’s not me anymore. Ever since I learned to ride at age 41 – I never rode as a child – I’ve wanted to be outdoors. I’d happily work for an outfitter of some kind, except my bad knees and back would restrict what I can do.

Your obvious question is one I should have given more thought to. I’ll have to get back to you on that.


gimpPAC
Participant
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Me personally, I’d take a look near East Liberty/Garfield/Highland Park for cheap, well-connected to transit housing… The place is growing and my house mate – who works for the community development group – knows the housing stock. PM me your email and I can get you in touch with him if you’d like.

As for jobs, it depends on what you are looking for!

Also for starting non-profits… you might want to talk to a group called Venture Outdoors to see if they would hire someone to start such an initiative…I’m sure there would be grant money to be found to jump start that sort of project!


erok
Keymaster
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yeah, i immediately thought of venture outdoors too.

i guess i didn’t realize from your original post that you’re not that familiar with pittsburgh.

i’d concur that the East End of pittsburgh has a wealth of affordable housing, good transit access, and is the most bikeable.

where near philly are you? i’m originally from the west chester area


thehistorian
Participant
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erok, my family has lived for five generations in the Phoenixville area. I’ve been to Pittsburgh and Western PA a few times over the years. I’ve ridden the GAP and C & O three times, and spent three weeks this summer camping everywhere from Pine Creek Gorge to Mount Davis.

I’ve spent very little time in downtown Pittsburgh, unfortunately.


caitlin
Participant
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most of pittsburgh doesn’t spend much time in downtown pittsburgh.

check out bike pittsburgh’s bike map online: http://bike-pgh.org/campaigns/commuter-bike-maps/ to get a feel for the city outside of downtown.

East End is a great place for bike friendliness but I wouldn’t write off the South Side either, its just a VERY different vibe!

As for jobs, well, assuming you have a bit of a cash cushion, you may be able to live in pgh for a while before it gets desperate. But, subscribe to the Dewey and Kaye Mosaic and get job updates every so often… if you want nonprofit style work: http://www.deweykaye.com/jobswatch/

as for other types of jobs, i have noooo idea, unless you want to wait tables, do some retail, lead crews in the summer for SCA, etc…


erok
Keymaster
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Pheonixville is really close to my parents. they live in Lionville/Chester Springs


thehistorian
Participant
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erok, I’ve ridden to Chester Springs. Nice area.

caitlin, I don’t know how much of a cash cushion I’ll have. I’m looking for a second job and selling most of my stuff to make this trip happen. It’s possible I’ll have little to nothing left over, although worse comes to worse I’ll take the tax hit and close my 401K – not that there’s much to it, mind you.

My parents raised me to find value in all work, so if it means retail to keep a roof over my head while I sort things out, so be it. I draw the line at working for Primanti’s, however.

Also, I’m not moving to Pittsburgh until after my ride, which means I won’t be there until August or September.


Lolly
Participant
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I moved to Pittsburgh somewhat spontaneously last year from DC and found a place to sublet for $250 /mo really easily. That way I could live here and look for jobs and to get to know the city better so that I would know where I wanted to live for a longer.

You could always try couch surfing as a back up for a couple of weeks while looking for places. It’s also a great way to meet people and would be pretty useful to be a member of during your trip.


helen s
Participant
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I has been my understanding that west to east is alwys a preferable cross country ride to better utilize the prevailing wind direction.


Lyle
Participant
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Yeah but you don’t want to do the Rockies in May.


scott
Keymaster
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@helen I rode across the country in 99 from East to West and only faced harsh headwinds on a handful of days. I would say I had tailwinds an equal number of days.


gimpPAC
Participant
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just make sure you have enough for your train ride back to the Burgh too! That’s the other benefit of coming West to East I imagine…you get there and you’re there.


edmonds59
Participant
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You couldn’t have posted at a better place, I’m convinced the brains behind the keyboards on here know a little bit about everything you could possibly imagine.

Awesomeness on your life reboot.

I would say contact REI, there is a store here on the South Side, ask to talk to someone about their outreach programs, tell them what you are doing, tell them about your ideas for differently abled outdoors programs, ask if they might be hiring in September. I think they will at least give you a listen. You never know, they might just be all over it. Just the little bit you have described here has me pretty excited. Take some time and assemble a good pitch. They have stores across the country, you could probably give presentations along the way, though I doubt there’s any $$ in that.

Pittsburgh in general is great, there is so much work in health related fields, you might be able to find someone interested enough in what you’re doing that they could find something for you to do, work-wise.


stefb
Participant
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hey congrats on the big weight loss! that is a huge feat. i would also suggest the east end of town. i live in morningside and really feel like i’m not far away from any part of the city. i would love to ride across the country but i have a house and pets and all of that stuff (which i am sure you understand). i have so much vacation time that i could probably do it, but i don’t think my employers would be so happy. thumbs up to you for just going for it!


Nick D
Participant
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Hey historian! My girlfriend and I met you on the C&O trail on our way to DC a few months ago!


joeframbach
Participant
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Whoa, small world.


edmonds59
Participant
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Also, historian, if you are not familiar with the book “A million miles in a thousand years” by Donald Miller, highly recommend it, winter reading. You are working on a good story.


alnilam
Participant
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You can live just about anywhere between the rivers and in or west of the East End, and have a commute of 40 minutes, tops, to downtown (westmost place you’d be likely to find work IMO). Much of what you’d want to do in Pittsburgh lies in the in-between, so that means wherever you live within those bounds, less than 40 minute rides mostly anywhere.

Outside the rivers, Southside and Northside are great too, but things get less bike-nice as you get east of Millvale along the Allegheny (north river), and if you get as far as Homestead along the Monongahela (south river). At those places, it gets harder to connect to the rest of town, and harder to cross the river.

Someone correct me if you disagree. It’s very possible are people on this very board who commute from Sharpsburg or Homestead every day and will tell me I’m just not trying hard enough, but I’ve always found it unpleasant riding when I go to those places.


thehistorian
Participant
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Hi NickD! Yes, I remember. I was on the way to Oldtown on a day ride.

edmonds59, will do. Just to clarify, I’m not ‘disabled’ according to ADA, but my appearance seems to shock enough cyclists that I might as well be. :-) I’ll approach REI and look for that book.

gimpPAC, I’ve included the Amtrak tickets in my budgeting. My planning for any bike trip rivals Eisenhower’s planning for D-Day, so I have that covered.


thehistorian
Participant
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Hmm, “Northside” is the old Allegheny City, isn’t it? Just curious.


alnilam
Participant
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Yes, annexed by the city of Pittsburgh in a rather sneaky move back in the, uh, early 20th century. I read about it on a restaurant menu, long story. Also native home to Gertrude Stein and Mary Cassatt.


thehistorian
Participant
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Thanks for the tips about Venture Outdoors. I’ll contact them.

And thanks for the many suggestions about neighborhoods and employment opportunities. I have a couple of leads. Of course, we are still five months from my down pedal stroke at Meyersdale, and nine from my arriving at Amtrak’s Pittsburgh terminal. A lot can happen between now and then.

BTW, my trip as of now starts at Meyersdale, heads to McKeesport, and then takes the SVT to the Montour to the Panhandle to East Liverpool, Ohio. Anyone wants to join me for a day or three, please do. I’m camping, legally, where I can.


thehistorian
Participant
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And Allegheny City was home to John L. McCutcheon, chess player. See my article on JLM a few years ago in The Pennswoodpusher, the periodical of the Pennsylvania State Chess Federation. (Sorry, can’t resist blowing my own trumpet. So much for being anonymous.) :-)


ejwme
Participant
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thehistorian – be carefull, you may acquire a sizeable send-off entourage :D I’ll probably join in if it’s a Sunday.


joeframbach
Participant
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Yeah, we could easily gather at least a dozen people to send you off!


edmonds59
Participant
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Mind if I throw out an idea, Histo? Over the winter, put together a 45 or so minute presentation of your life, to date; when you come thru Pgh, we book the meeting room at REI SS and you give a presentation, REI would put it on their events calendar. It would be an opportunity for Bike Pgh’ers to invite someone who might think they’re too old/heavy/whatever to start riding, and put things in perspective.

I think there are plenty of clinics on cold weather riding, hot weather riding, damp weather riding, “understanding your vO2 max”. I think people could use a clinic on just “being a different cyclist”.

And after we would flock the town (pronounced “tahn”, get used to it). Something you would want to do? Does this sound like something Bike Pgh could get behind?


edmonds59
Participant
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Hmm, historian just pm’ed me that his posts stopped showing up. Anyone?


salty
Participant
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is he trying to post links? maybe spam filter (see my other post). people say posting links w/o http:// works.


thehistorian
Participant
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edmonds59, I’d be delighted to speak if Bike Pittsburgh wants me to. Yinz can count on it. It sounds like a topic that needs addressed.


thehistorian
Participant
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Oh, and if you decide to follow up on edmond59’s suggestion, I have a friend with a remarkable story worth sharing. I’m sure I can persuade him to join me.

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