We went to Pittsburgh for a few days a few weeks ago. Every time I go there I leave inspired and impressed. What a lovely, underrated city. The hills remind one of San Francisco, but without any of that pesky smug. My wife's father lives on the south side slopes in a steelworker's shack to which he's added various decks and a third floor. It overlooks an overgrown forest where similar houses once stood along steep dead-end streets before the city bought them all and let the land go back to nature.

Eleven years ago, the first time I visited Pittsburgh, we went mountain biking in here and I watched my new girlfriend fly over her handlebars as we flew down a steep hill. She told me then she always did her best to impress her dad, and he always pushed her just a bit past where she was comfortable.

The growth that's occurred in those eleven years is amazing. This is truly a wild place now, surrounded by city. I surprised two different sets of whitetail deer while hiking around in here. One was a doe with two healthy-looking fawns. I was too awestruck to snap a good photo before they darted away. I also saw an owl.

If you look carefully you can find signs of the long-gone neighborhood. Bricks exposed in a hillside. Strange-shaped dirt piles. Stone foundations. Telephone poles like dead trees.

The city sprays the staircases up the slopes to keep the vines from overwhelming them.

Sometimes cities shrink. Sometimes neighborhoods get turned into something else. It's nothing to get depressed about.