Saturday, January 28, 2006
I’ll explain myself for the title. I was trying to copy “Streetcar named Desire”- a movie title with a form of public transportation in it and another movie that I hope to see in the near future. Thursday night I visited the open house/public hearing for the Northstar Commuter Rail Line which would be Minnesota’s first Commuter Rail project. Side note- last night I watched “A Streetcar named Desire” and that movie was weird.
I arrived at the Heywood Office Building of Metro Transit at 4:30 after taking the #19 bus from Seven Corners on the edge of Downtown Minneapolis and University of Minnesota West Bank. The open house didn’t start until 5:30, so I waited in the lobby and chatted with the ladies that were setting up and greeting guests as they arrived for the open house/public hearing. Through my conversations with these ladies, I found out my official title in the world of Transportation advocacy. I am now an official Rail Transit “groupie”. The ladies in the front compared me to a young man who like me was from the University of Minnesota and was a “die hard” for the Hiawatha Line and attended almost all of the public meetings. I am glad that I now possess another title in addition to my self made title of die-hard or true believer.
Once people began to arrive for the open house/public meeting, I began to work the floor and look at the information they had posted on numerous slides in the conference room and talk with the people in the yellow shirts that were helping answering questions and presenting figures. The NCDA or the Northstar Corridor Development Authority did a great job of presenting facts and figures, and even had a rendered animatic of the Northstar Commuter train as it would appear in operation and how the stations would look, similar to the rendering that was done for the Central Corridor a few months ago created by the Central Corridor Partnership. In some of the slides, there were renderings of the bi-level coaches that Northstar will use. I asked one of the guys in yellow, whether he knew that Northstar would buy their locomotives and coaches from Bombardier or from another company and asked him how they would do it. The man explained to me that the process is a lot more complex than just placing an order with a supplier like Bombardier. There is an entire process dedicated to acquiring vehicles that needs to go through the FTA as well and takes up the majority of resources. I assume the Met Council will choose Bombardier because we have already worked with them for the LRVs used on the Hiawatha line and will be used on the Central Corridor as well.
At the open house I ran into some familiar important figures. The first was Mark Fuhrman, the project leader of Northstar. I had met Mark during one of Frank Loetterle’s Fundamentals of Transit Planning a year ago and so we chatted for a few minutes. I told Mark that my studies in Urban and Regional Planning had continued to progress and that this semester I was taking two graduate level classes that related to transportation planning. I also told him about my small internship with Transit for Livable Communities (TLC) the previous semester and the work we did researching for the Central Corridor and how I worked with the Midtown Greenway Coalition and had attended a number of their public meetings and workshops as well. Mark seemed impressed with my activities since the last time we had talked, and I informed him that if he had any work available or possibilities for internships over the summer that he should feel free to contact me. I left my information with his staff, and I hope that is enough to at least get my foot in the door and get credit towards my Urban Studies degree. I also met with Brian Lamb, the general manager for Metro Transit who recognized me as I returned to my chair. I chatted a while with him about my recent activities and expressed my hopes for Northstar in that it puts pressure on other transit projects such as Red Rock and Central Corridor.
Also at the meeting, I met a man from my home town of Brooklyn Park. He asked me if I knew anything about the Northwest BRT line which would run along 81 up into the Northwestern Suburbs. It turns out that he lives near the Crystal Airport and has taken an interest in all of the recent articles about the Crystal Airport in the Brooklyn Park SunPost. Having not been at home, I hadn’t really had the chance to read up on the current development plans, however, my dad sent me the articles and I have since been brought up to date.
The meeting was long but very interesting to attend and see what was going on in the world of Northstar development. Also included in the plans for Northstar, was the mentioning of the potential of the Twins Open Air Stadium located next to the Minneapolis Multimodal station for Northstar and Hiawatha. When Kristen and I took the express bus 766 out to Brooklyn Park we drove past the sight, and it was interesting to observe already the condo/loft conversions underway in those areas. It will be interesting to see what further ramifications investment in transportation infrastructure will have on our Twin Cities. In Friday’s Star Tribune there was an article about an upcoming exhibit on cities and art specifically about the Twin Cities and Minneapolis and the demise of the Milling Industry on the Riverfront being shown sometime in February. I hope to make my next post about predictions on development and what the future may look like for the Twin Cities. However, to predict the future one must understand the past. With that in mind, I picked up two books both by Larry Millet titled Lost Twin Cities & Twin Cities: Then and Now both books that cover in great detail the changes that the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul have gone through over the past decades.
To learn more about Northstar click here. Also be sure to check out my previous post on the Central Corridor if you haven’t already, at the end there are links to many Transportation related sights for the Twin Cities
Until next time, see you all on the train as the smoke rises from the engines!!! WOOT-WOOT!!!!
Andrew “the transit groupie” Wambach
Wednesday, January 25, 2006
The two of us tore into the recipe book checking over ingredients and making sure we followed the instructions. This dish allowed me to use my Food Processor for the first time. What a nifty little tool!! It chopped up all of the onions, Garlic, dill, parsley, and every other ingredient that had chopped next to it in the recipe. Frank and Megan had used it the night before for their dish and Frank told me that it made chopping veggies a lot easier though you had to be careful not to accidentally purée the vegetables.
From start the finish the meal took about an hour including clean up. The result was a delicious soup with chicken, vegetables, and tons of spices to make one heck of wild rice recipe. We tweaked the recipe just a bit for future references by suggesting adding more carrots and more celery to compensate for the 2-pounds of chicken that the recipe called for.
After dinner, the two of us relaxed in the living room and read our studies for the next day. Last night everybody was gone and we had the entire house to ourselves so it was the perfect environment for quiet studying without having to go to the libraries.
I hope that Kristen and I can make this thing of making dinner together a weekly thing on Tuesday nights. That way, we’ll not only have stuff for the two of us, but probably enough leftovers for the other roommates or for me to enjoy later in the week.
That should do it for this post, if anyone has any neat dinner ideas for couples, let me know, Kristen and I would love to try them out and hear about what other couples out there in the world of Bloggerdome are cooking for each other.
Tuesday, January 24, 2006
Gone were the broken down benches and tables that were the best seats in the house replaced by the suburban typical tables and chairs. In addition, Expose does not offer free WI-FI with the purchase of a beverage or even for frequenting their place of business. Instead there is an Internet provider called Netsurf Wireless who has wired all of stadium village for subscription and pay-for use WI-FI. This is stupid because the University Wireless is just a few blocks from Stadium Village and anyone with a laptop and student id can use the service, so what is the incentive for me to take my lappy and get coffee from Expose (that I can get anywhere) and pay for internet service on top of that…No incentive because there are other coffee shops in the area that have filled my need as a consumer.
The First is Espresso Royal. Last Semester, Espresso Royal began hosting their own wireless service due to the large amount of student’s who come here to study and bring their laptops to look up things online, write blogs (like I am), or casually surf the net checking things like their email or looking up worthless things on Facebook (which we all do), all while enjoying a great cup of coffee and a large cookie. Espresso Royal is the perfect model of a well-operated college coffee shop. Old wood floors, large glass windows hinting at the buildings historical role in Dinkeytown as a main street on the edge of Minneapolis and for new Urbanism the perfect Urban Village ripe for development, brick walls, and plenty of chairs and tables ranging from ultra cushy for naps and ultra efficient for studying or typing up that last paper before it is due. All with the smells and noises of a coffee shop and the chatter of the people around you. All of this plus free WI-FI, how can I say no???
The truth is I can’t, but there is another coffee shop along University Avenue that is doing very well too. Last year when the four of us were living at 808 Berry Place Apartments, The Cupcake opened and I never visited it until last semester when I met with a member of the Midtown Greenway for an interview. I got there early, taking the #50 from campus and getting off at Emerald as if I was going home to the apartment 355. Instead I walked a block up to Buford (I believe) and headed into the coffee shop. It’s a very small coffee shop but very charming in the way the counter is presented and has stools and tables in front of the storefront windows, and more seating in the back. Cupcake is housed in what appears to be a mixed use building that houses 2-3 businesses and a pottery studio. The Coffee was pretty good, but their signature is of course their cupcakes, which are a little pricey but worth every penny in taste, this in addition to free WI-FI. With all of the housing development and the coffee shops proximity to the well-established neighborhood of Prospect Park it should do very well and have a pretty regular customer base. Plus, with all the excitement of the possibilities of Light Rail on University Avenue, this coffee shop could receive even more costumers.
That sums up 2 of my favorite coffee shops in the Twin Cities. However, I know there are more out there that I haven’t heard of/tried so I am more than welcome to suggestions of places for a great cup of coffee or for group meetings etc. So I suggest a task to my readers, tell me what your favorite coffee shop is and why?
So until next time, can someone get me a refill on this Peanut Butter Mocha???
Monday, January 23, 2006
I thought that I had a pretty good day, stressful but good. I arrived on campus around 7:30 AM having caught the 87 and then transferring to the 3 at Como and Cleveland Avenue. I even got to campus early enough to see Kristen and give her a couple smooches on the cheek before she headed off to the St. Paul Campus. I got to my 8 Am on time and got a great seat for Professor Adam’s lecture in American Cities II. Made it to Persuasion Theories over at Ford Hall and was able to get my comfy chair in the corner. I even got to eat some Chipotle for Lunch which I haven’t had in a while; it was a nice lunch before heading off to Minitex. Work was ok, I was able to get off at 4 due to the amount of help that we had in the evening. Needing a recharge I hoped on the 3 and went to the Royal for a cup of coffee and to prepare for my first night class of the semester.
At the Royal I got a medium Peanut Butter Mocha with whipped cream and it was one of the best drinks that I have ever had and gave me the boost that I needed for my 6-8:30 class on Private Sector Development. My Professor Warren Hanson is awesome, but this class is going to be a great challenge but after tonight I think I am up to it. I made a mistake by drinking too much coffee and water, and by the time or break for class came at 7:30 PM I thought I was going to be peeing blood or that my kidneys would have simply exploded. Having relieved myself, I talked to the professor about my small internship with TLC that sparked his interest and I explained to him that Transportation Infrastructure and the market for TOD here in the Twin Cities was one of the reasons for taking his class.
Class finished up at 8:30 PM and I headed outside of Blegan Hall in the hopes of catching a Campus Connector home. No luck. I waited and waited along with others freezing our butts off, and then decided to hop on a 3 that had pulled up down at the Anderson Hall bus stop. I rode the three and was listening to my Ipod when I reached Eustis and decided to give it a shot walking up Eustis to Larpenteur and seeing if I could catch a 61 to Lindig or give the bro a call and see if he could give me a lift home. After a hard day of being on campus all day, I didn’t like the prospect of walking the whole way but I could do it if I had to. I called Frank, and he told me that he was elbow deep in Cookie Dough and that he couldn’t come and get me with the little yellow car. I also asked him if he had saved any of the dishes that he and Megan had made for dinner tonight and how had it turned out. Frank told me that all was left was rice. With that I said goodbye and threw the earbuds back into my ears and walked up Eustis and then down Larpenteur in the hopes that a 61 would come up the hill and stop along the way for me. All I saw were cars and more cars and a police officer who wouldn’t give me a ride, but would pull someone over if they were going too fast.
John Denver’s Country Roads got me home the rest of the way and I found myself singing along as my feet moved up and down the sidewalk towards home. When I got home I stepped through the door, took off my shoes, proceeded downstairs and changed my shirt, hung up my coat upstairs and ate a bowl of cereal not acknowledging anyone except for the occasional hello. I was tired and hungry, cold and wet and not in the mood for anybody’s sarcasm.
I think I got the angriest, when Kristen called me and told me that she wouldn’t be joining me tomorrow for dinner at the house. I was really disappointed and it made me sad. I had picked out a recipe form the cookbook that I had gotten for Christmas and thought that it would have been great for Kristen and I to try when everyone else was at work or at class and we would have the place to ourselves for cooking and then studying. When Kristen called I had just eaten my bowl of cereal and I didn’t really have much of a chance to calm down so I reacted with anger because the plans that I had made with Kristen were falling apart and the good day that I thought I had just got worse. I don’t like being put into situations that I am not prepared for or when I lose control. I also had to do some reading to do for tomorrow as well as an eye appointment at Como that I have to wake up for so I told Kristen that I would talk to her about it tomorrow and she could think it over.
Around 10:00 she left me a voicemail explaining herself on her actions and apologizing. This made me feel even worse and then the negative self talk started coming like “you’re a jerk for getting mad like that”, and “what the @#$% is the matter with you, that girl works hard as it is and she doesn’t have to drop everything to be with you, I mean she did spend the entire weekend with you for Christ’s sake” and that’s when I really started to get frustrated.
And so here I am, writing my thoughts about the day, trying to think of what I am going to do tomorrow. I think I’ll still make that dish I was planning, but it’s not going to taste as good without my Kristen with me. I know she isn’t like the Megan’s of A and W, but she is my Kristen and at least one night during the week wouldn’t have hurt her. She could have gotten her things done here, I could have made the two of us some tea or coffee and put on some nice music for reading and I could have caught up on my reading. Oh well, we’ll see how tomorrow goes. Eye Exam, Class from 12:45-2:00 PM. Then I think I am going to go home and work on some schoolwork before getting set for dinner. It will be all me tomorrow, because Pete will be at Work, Frank will be in Red Wing and Kevin will be at Culinary School. So it will be just the Caboose without any other engines.
For Kristen, I am sorry for being disappointed it’s just that I was really looking forward to this. If you change your mind let me know, but I will respect your decision if you decide to go to the library and back to your apartment for dinner.
I love you, Andrew
To the rest of Bloggerdome, feel free to leave some comments. There is no harm in leaving comments as long as they relate to the post that you are commenting on, no weird random #$%^ ok. That goes double for you Megan W!!! If you’re going to make a comment have it make sense in relation to the $%^ing post!!!!
Ye be warned Pirates
Sunday, January 22, 2006
This morning, Kristen and I ventured out to Bruegger's Bagels and picked up a bag of a baker’s dozen of bagels for everybody. In addition to the bagels, we picked up two of Bruegger's Bagels signature cream cheese spreads the Garden Veggie and the new Spicy Chipotle. Returning from the run, Kristen and I made some coffee, ate some bagels, read the Sunday Star Tribune, and visited with the roommates that decided to join us.
After breakfast, Megan and Frank went to the gym while Kristen and I stayed and watched this week’s episode of LOST. I was rather disappointed with this week’s episode of LOST, with Grizzly Adam’s meeting with the survivors and telling them “This is not your island, this is our island”, for which I say “Well tell us how to get the heck off, we never wanted to be here in the first place.” I thought the dialogue of the episode was secretly written by George Lucas, it was that terrible. I fear that LOST’s First Season will have been the best and the second is shaping up to be pretty disappointing. Second Season started out awesome, but unfortunately is starting to head down the tubes. I hope it improves soon. At least I have Battlestar Galactica on Fridays.
Having finished the LOST episode, I took Kristen home and then returned the movies that I had rented the night before. I came home and spent sometime cleaning my bathroom, specifically my bathroom floor that was in much need of attention. Later in the day I returned the Intrigue to the folks who let me barrow it over the weekend. After returning the car, my Mom, my Brother, and myself went to the Applebee’s in Roseville for dinner. Frank and I enjoyed our usual Chicken Fajita Roll ups while our mother had another favorite the orange chicken bowl. I think of the chains in the Twin Cities, Applebee’s has got to be one of the best with always good food on the menu, a friendly staff, and reasonable prices.
During dinner, the three of us discussed the future and what it holds especially for Frank who has began looking into the local housing market. Our lease here at the house on Lindig ends on May 31st and soon we will have to give our 60-day notice so as not to encounter a situation that we faced with 808 Berry Place over a confusion regarding the 60-day notice on a standard lease.
Over the summer I will be living at home in Brooklyn Park with the folks, just like old times, before heading off to Norway most likely in August. Kristen and her roommate Megan Halverson are going to be looking at apartments for next year in St. Louis Park with the hope of paying less and commuting to the University by the park-and-ride off of Louisiana Avenue. I don’t really know what plans Kevin and Pete have for housing, but I am sure they will find something.
Busy day tomorrow, first Monday with an 8 Am Lecture which means I will be up at 5:30-5:45 AM with a big cup of coffee and then catching the bus at 6:30 (I hope). Tomorrow night I also have my first night class at the Humphrey Institute from 6:30-8:30 PM, meaning I will be home late.
Hope everyone has a wonderful/stress free week
Until next time,
Kristen and I took the guided walking tour of the Mill. Our tour guide really knew his stuff and was able to answer some pretty tough questions, including one of mine about the recent decision of the heritage board on the current proposed development for the Pillsbury A Mill on the other side of the river that has been the sight of some major controversy. Recently the Minneapolis Star Tribune released an article about the plans for the redevelopment of the Pillsbury A Mill. To read about it, check out this post from a local blogger: http://tcsidewalks.blogspot.com/2006/01/mpls-pillsbury-mill-towers-shot-down.html.
Our tour guide felt that the refusal by the heritage board shoes a lot of short sidedness on their part considering that the proposal was approved by the two surrounding neighborhoods and the money from the development would go to help preserve the Pillsbury A Mill as well as convert it to housing purposes.
Kristen and I were very impressed by the Mill City Museum partially because it was very interactive. I was also impressed by the enthusiasm of the employees of the Minnesota Historical Society and their knowledge of current events and how they affect Minneapolis as well as the Twin Cities at large. The Mill City is something that the Depot should look at for some ideas to improve on their presentation of information. We both were able to take some great pictures, which hopefully we can get uploaded on flickr and then added to these posts as well as the posts from our week in Duluth. If I can get photoshop on the beast than I can make the pics look better.
The Mill City Museum is a great place to visit and an important piece of the redevelopment of the Minneapolis Riverfront. With the new Guthrie Theater slated for a Spring 2006 opening, it makes for a very exciting time to be an Urban Studies Major at the University of Minnesota. I strongly recommend that if you haven’t been to the museum that you go and experience it for yourself, but be sure to take the guided tour and the interactive flour tour ride.
The rest of the night, Kristen and I ordered some Pizza form Papa Johns, Rented some movies from Blockbuster including Lord of War with Nicholas Cage and Mad Hot Ballroom, and watched Animal House. Lord of War suprised me, I thought it would be the typical run of the mill Nick Cage movie but it was more like the movie Blow in where we see the life of a dealer in illegal activities meet his downfall when all the people in his world start to get hurt and be put in situations that the character never thought would happen. Mad Hot Ballroom was a feel good movie and Animal House is a classic movie that turns out everybody has seen except for me. It was high hilarity and a great movie to finish the night with.
Also a note, Happy Birthday to Megan W, who will be turning 20 tomorrow. Still a youngin' in the group but she’ll be 21 before she knows it. Also congratulations to both Kevin and Megan on their 1-year together, which they celebrated tonight. All of us here at the house on Lindig are extremely happy for them.
That should do it for tonight, tomorrow the plan is to put the nose to the grind stone and work on some reading. Maybe a trip to the royal would be in order or simply curling up on the couch for some well needed reading and nappage.
Gnight Everybody, see u on the flip side
Friday, January 20, 2006
As most of Minnesota knows, TCF bank bought the naming rights to the new stadium with a donation of $35 Million in 2004. The contract is set to expire sometime in February but will likely be renegotiated due to the fact that the Legislative session will be beginning in March. It is my hope that with this post that I can try to convince my readers who are students at the University of Minnesota and residents of the Twin Cities to urge state legislators to do the right thing and buy out TCF’s bid for naming rights and name the stadium what it should be…Memorial Stadium. Or better yet, name it after the only Minnesotan to win the Heisman Trophy, Bruce Smith whose trophy was recently auctioned to an athletic collector.
Minnesota and the University could honor all the veterans from all the wars in Minnesota History from the civil war all the way up to the current War on Terror and the War on Iraq. if we sell it like this, we may get some Republicans to help find some more money so that this stadium can have the proper title and honor Minnesota Veterans instead of TCF owning more and more of the University and student's souls through bank accounts in their U-cards!!!!
The problem is that the legislature doesn’t have the resources or the guts to do what needs to be done. In addition, there are no Alumni of the University that has come forward, at least none that have been published, that could top TCF’s bid. Then again, some fans would argue, “What’s in a name?” or “It doesn’t matter what the name of your stadium is as long as it’s a quality facility?” These claims I disagree with completely. All Big ten colleges, excluding the University of Minnesota, have Memorial Stadiums or stadiums that were built a long time ago and have become famous landmarks of their campus. I am not saying that a stadium makes you have a wining program, but it certainly helps. Look at schools like Michigan and its stadium the “Big House” and Wisconsin’s Camp Randall. If the Gophers get their on-campus stadium, it will help bring more fans (which equals more revenue), more talent, and potentially better bowl games, the possibilities are endless. Who knows, we may even be able to further revitalize Stadium Village in the form of new on-campus housing similar to University Village, new commercial development like restaurants and bars, but most importantly it will create a sense of community for loyal fans of alumni as the home of the Gophers and not the home of the Vikings that we now currently reside.
Speaking of the Vikings and Twins, it will be interesting to see what happens if they too get their stadium wishes. The Twins are probably the most likely after the Gophers, because their stadium will be included with the Minneapolis Multimodal station for the Northstar Commuter Rail and the Hiawatha LRT line. The Vikings may find themselves in an empty stadium that would be all their own and not have to share. However, if the Vikings do leave, then Minneapolis will have a great opportunity to put something great in the resulting open block with access right on the Hiawatha Line. If things come to that though, let’s not hope they screw it up and put something god awful like Cedar Riverside. And by that last comment I do not mean that Cedar Riverside does not come with its benefits of providing affordable housing for many of Minneapolis’s residents, it’s just that it could have been more architecturally pleasing if it had been built at a different time. But that is an issue for an Urban Studies essay and not a blog.
Thanks for reading and feel free to drop any comments, I’ll be sure to read them.
Rah Rah Rah for Ski-U-Mah
Minnesota, Minnesota, Yeah Gophers!!!
I just remembered that if I go to Norway in the fall, I am going to miss Gopher Football…
Oh well, guess I’ll just have to chat with the fam about it and watch lots of ESPN.
When we hit the transit way, I asked her if she, as a transit driver/operator, would support a project such as the Central Corridor. I tried to emphasize that the goal of the project would be to provide faster service between Minneapolis and St. Paul and effectively reduce the number of buses operating on Washington Avenue during peak hours. This would reduce the amount of 50’s and 16’s during peak hours and thus eliminating a route that the Campus Connectors contend with for space along a short distance of Washington Avenue, by running it underneath them in the form of underground LRT.
Little did I know about the fury that was about to be unleashed upon me by this operator. Apparently this operator drives Hiawatha everyday and is furious about the amount of time that everybody has to spend at a light waiting for a train to go by. This delay has made her pretty biased and she feels that the Hiawatha line is and I quote “ A complete and utter waste of time and should have never been built.” This in light of the fact that the Hiawatha line is one of the most successful LRT systems in the nation exceeding Ridership and recently having its 10 Millionth customer in November of 2005, years before its projected goal.
This isn’t the first time that I have heard/read complaints from people (mostly motorists) about signaling between autos and the Right-Of-Way ROW of the LRV. There was a major public outcry from motorists along Hiawatha when the LRT first opened regarding crossing times at intersections. Some of the problems were caused by a lack of funding for better signaling equipment that would have put the project even further over budget but would have decreased problems and future costs of improving signaling which we have had to do in the subsequent months/years of service. Having not seen any articles in the Star Tribune, Pioneer Press, or other major new sources in the Twin Cities with negative opinions about LRT, I thought things had improved along Hiawatha, but I guess I had to hear from the people that know best, Transit operators.
I have to admit that the reaction that I got surprised me. You see, I was banking on the assumption that this operator would support similar investments in her field which is delivering precious cargo (human beings, mostly college students) around the twin Cities campuses; especially when these investments are intended to make her job easier by having less metro transit busses. However, I may have angered her by mentioning that bus service (her job) would potentially be reduced. However, I didn’t say or do I suspect that Campus Connectors will reduce there service if LRT is added to the Central Corridor since the University buses only operate on a small segment of Washington Avenue before turning at Oak Street towards the Huron lots and the University Transit Way.
Anyway, there has been a lot in the print media in the Twin Cities about transportation issues. In fact there are some important open houses/public meetings coming up regarding the Northstar Commuter Rail Line. For those interested here are the following dates and times:
January 25, 2006
5:30 p.m. Open House/7 p.m. Public Hearing
Coon Rapids Civic Center, Room B,11155 Robinson Drive NW Coon Rapids
January 26, 2006
5 p.m. Open House/6:30 p.m. Public Hearing
Metro Transit's Fred T. Heywood Office Building,560 Sixth Avenue North Minneapolis
January 30, 2006
6 p.m. Open House/7:30 p.m. Public Hearing
Big Lake High School Cafeteria, 501 Minnesota Avenue Big Lake
The closest one to the University is the meeting on the 26th at the Heywood office building of Metro Transit. For those students interested in things transportation related, I hope you attend. In addition there is a meeting Monday night at St. Thomas on a LRT summit in which the new Mayor of St. Paul, Chris Coleman, will be meeting and presenting with other transit supporters and politicians. I can not make it to this meeting because I have a night class, but strongly recommend others and getting involved with local affairs (as the daily puts it) “affect U”. U being you personally and the University of Minnesota community and the region.
That’s all I got for today
Kristen and I will be checking out the Mill City Museum tomorrow in the afternoon for their guided walking tour of the Washburn A Mill. I will try to get some good pictures and maybe pick up a few postcards, and tell all about it.
Until next time,
Sunday, January 15, 2006
This morning all of us woke up around 11:00 AM and enjoyed some coffee and tasty breakfast assembled by Kevin’s parents Tom and Shelly. Breakfast consisted of fluffy waffles, scrambled eggs, and sausage links that just as yesterday all quickly disappeared. With breakfast consumed, we all began cleaning up and packing in preparation for the great departure back to the Twin Cities. Frank was able to convince all of us into some great group photos that I hope turned out well. I will have to link them as soon as Frank posts them on his Flickr page.
After signing guest books and saying our goodbyes, we hit the road. In fact, we are on the road right now and just stopped for some gas, refreshments, and correct directions after not taking 33 South off of 53 South. Hopefully the road we are on now will get us hooked up again with 35 South bound and onto home.
I always find it interesting the daydreaming that can occur as a passenger on long road trips. Sometimes when I see large open vistas along the road, I imagine them being the site of large battles between Human Soldiers and the Machines like in the Terminator films, or large walking tripods from alien invaders patrolling the landscapes for human survivors like in War of the Worlds and many other science fiction stories. In drives to our lake cabin on Tuluby, I would often imagine Dinosaurs from Jurassic Park living in the woods along highway 113. The T-Rex would jump out into the middle of the road and snatch up an unsuspecting deer before it collided into our car and that the only animal we had to stop for was the heard of Brachiosaurs going to Bad Medicine Lake for a drink.
Lately I imagine myself in a high-speed bullet train (like the one pictured above) enjoying a flick, checking my email, or getting a drink from the dining car. I look out the window and watch the terrain and scenery change as we travel from the dense urban centers of Minneapolis and St. Paul to the small towns we pass through on our journey to wherever adventure calls our names. The other fantasy of mine, is being in the cockpit of an advanced atmospheric/interstellar fighter or interceptor that is flying over an abandoned Earth, devoid of human life. All that remains is the built infrastructure of radial railways, highways, and surviving structures a thousand years after a great war. I am a pilot from a great vessel known as the Battlestar Galactica or the Pride of Hiigara from the game Homeworld 2 who has only heard of Earth as the legend of the “13th tribe” of humans that left our home system thousands of years ago.
Sorry for the “geek out”. Battlestar Galactica on the Sci-Fi channel is one of my favorite shows on right now. I like the ideology that the show follows of “life here, began out there”-to quote the original series from the 1970’s and that somewhere in the depths of space there is another race of humans or "brothers of man". I think that’s why I like Science Fiction that involves entities such as “The First Ones” from Babylon Five, “The Ancients” or “Gate Builders” from Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis, or terms such as “The Forerunners” or “Progenitors” that are used in many Science Fiction books. These entities are often referred to as the Universe’s first beings and the oldest, wisest, and most powerful races ever created that have been there since the beginning, but have evolved beyond our universe and await us to join them “Beyond the Rim” to quote Babylon 5. I like these explanations of the Creator and the Universe and our eventual role that we as the human race may someday play. The Universe is far too large for Earth to be the only planet with "intelligent life", and if it is only us it sure would be a waste of an awful lot of space.
I know I kind of went off topic for a while, but this was fun to write about and plus I am in a car and can’t go anywhere or even nap. Plus, since WI-FI isn’t available on all of major US Highways yet, there is not much that I can do with the lappy, so I shall sign off and ponder about which photos I would like to add to this post before I publish it on “Aint Nothin’ But A Drew Thing”.
Until next time,
“SO SAY WE ALL”
Dedicated to the last remaining Battlestar…The Galactica. May we some day build a kick ass warship to be humanities last hope in the battle against evil and oppression.
Now Frank, Kevin, and the Megans are chilling in the hot tub while the KU and I are sitting in the cabin thinking out loud and talking about our plans for the coming Spring Semester that starts on Tuesday. So I thought this would be a great time to write about the hopes and resolutions for the year 2006.
So without further adieu here it is, Andrew’s Resolutions for 2006
1. Pay my credit card bill on time every time: paying your bill keeps you out of Credit card debt which I definitely don’t need right now in my young adult life.
2. Pay my cell phone bill and switch to Verizon wireless-I could probably do this at Best Buy and use the gift card that my grandma gave me for Christmas. Sprint is terrible in St. Paul and I have had the most dropped calls with them at the worse times.
3. Be nicer to Kristen. Let her decide what she wants to do for a career and not put pressure on her to do things that she doesn’t want to do. If she wants to do family social science, then support her; don’t tell her that what she is doing is a waste of time. Love and support her and make sure that above all things that SHE IS HAPPY and happy with what she is studying. This is one of my most important resolutions, because Kristen is the love of my life and I don’t know what I would do if I lost her.
4. Make time in my schedule to go to the Rec Center and work out a little each week, either that or start up biking to work and school once the weather improves and work on getting my weight back down to what it was this Summer from all the biking I was doing from Minitex and back. I know this is the most clichéd of the resolutions but I think if I can make it a priority I can make it work.
5. To spend more time studying and less time playing video games. I need to get my grades up this coming semester, this is no joke. My performance last semester was not my best and I know that I can do better yet it is always funny how it comes back to this dilemma each year.
6. Finish my paperwork for study abroad to for Norway. The deadline will come faster than I know it and I will want to make sure that I have all my affairs settled before getting on the plane to Norway in August. I might also consider buying a new Ipod or12’ Apple Ibook G4 or G5 laptop. I have the lappy that Frank took Australia which I am sure will work fine, but if I happen to fall on a large sum of money it may be a purchase that I simply can’t refuse.
7. Acquire an internship over the summer before heading to Norway for fall semester of 2006. I hope that I can find an internship either working with the Ramsey County Regional Rail Authority (RCRRA) to continue to work on the central corridor, a potentially paid internship continuing with Transit for Livable Communities (TLC), or to work for the Planning and Zoning Department of the city of Brooklyn Park internship that would be paid and fulfill a requirement of my degree program with Urban Studies and CLA.
8. Reset my circadian rhythm so that I go to bed in the evening and wake up in the morning on time ready for the day. If I can do this then I won’t skip on class by sleeping in and have more energy by getting full nights sleep.
Eight is great as I recall and not bad for the amount of things that I hope to accomplish before Spring Semester ends and summer begins. Most people usually have like one or two resolutions, but I guess I need a little more work.
I started this list around 12:45 PM and finished it at 1:24 Am the next day. In that amount of time, a lot happened. Kristen and I got our turn together relaxing in the hot tub, then joined the others eating some veggies and dip in the kitchen and visiting with Kevin’s folks. After drying off, Frank and I offered to pick up some beer since we were starting to run out. So we headed into Eveleth, just a few miles from Kevin’s cabin, and found Maggie’s Liquor store, which was recommended by Shelly (Kevin’s mother) as one of the best liquor store nearby. Both Frank and myself got compliments about our snowboarding coats that we got extra cheap at American Eagle by one of the local shop owners who was an absolute hoot. When we got back, we had some wine, had a little conversation, and continued to munch on finger food in anticipation for Kevin’s Salmon dish.
While we were waiting, all of us enjoyed a game of Apples to Apples. Kevin’s folks had never played it before and had a wonderful time. Frank’s Megan was able to pull off a victory when it was down to the wire with Kristen, Shelly, and Megan all posing three green cards and needing one more for the win. While we were playing, Kevin’s grandmother Mary arrived and joined us for dinner. She was really sweet and I am really glad I had the opportunity to meet her. It is not very often that you get the opportunity to meet your roommate’s relatives. She reminded me a lot of my Grandmother Virginia, and reminded me of how from time to time I see myself thinking of her and wishing I could have gotten to learn more about her from herself.
Dinner was fantastic. Kevin prepared a Teriyaki Broiled Salmon with a pineapple cantaloupe salsa and couscous. Dessert consisted of a Toll House Pie prepared by Kevin’s mom topped off by a scoop of vanilla ice cream. This reminded of family gatherings on my mother’s side and how my grandma Marie will always serve pie along with a scoop of ice cream.
I probably had way too much to drink of wine and beer this evening and I hope that I wasn’t a total embarrassment. After some more hot tubing and visiting, we all played another game of Trivial pursuit Pop Culture edition that Megan W picked up. This time it was the guys versus the girl and it came down to a close win for the guys. Questions were a lot harder the first time we played this morning, but it still made for some interesting moments. Now Kevin’s parents have gone to bed, and all of us are sitting in the living room debating about what to do with the rest of the evening, talking about useless information found in Megan W’s Glamour, and me finishing this post with Kristen correcting my grammar and spelling errors but quickly telling me “I am ready for bed.” So with that, I think I am going to sign off on this one and I’ll pick it up again back at the house in Lindig.
Andrew and Kristen too
Saturday, January 14, 2006
Kevin invited all of us for a weekend get away at his parent’s cabin before school starts on Tuesday. The drive was the same as the last time for most of the way. Kristen often found ourselves saying “weren’t we here a week ago?” or “Man, this sure looks familiar”. Megan, Frank, Kristen, and myself all piled into the “little yellow car” AKA the Mazda Protégé 5 for the drive from St. Paul to Duluth. Frank and I provided most of the entertainment along the drive including Frank pulling away from our gas station and food stop in Hinckley without me and me having to chase down the car, throw open the door, and jump in all the while hanging onto my Sobe. At another point during the drive, I had a laugh attack much to the amusement of Kristen, Frank, and myself.
We made it to Kevin’s cabin around 10:00 PM and were greeted by Kevin’s two dogs and Kevin. We were introduced to Kevin’s parents Tom and Shelly (I hope this is correct) who quickly supplied us with delicious wine of both red and white variety and gave a tour of the finished cabin as well as the work in progress in the basement. They have a very lovely second home with Tamarack panels and heated tile flooring for starters as well as a nice loft overlooking the main level. The cabin also goes down pretty far, in fact, I had to ask Tom if I was going down into a bomb shelter that he had disguised as a cabin.
Kevin and his Dad gave us quite a bit of information on the energy efficiencies of this house and informed us that it was one of the most energy efficient houses in the state due to some of the engineering technologies that I could not even begin to describe after being only told once. After the tour, we all settled in to chitchatting and consuming more wine. Kevin’s Dad and I hit off talking about trains and the potential of LRT in Downtown Duluth as well as a high-speed rail connection between Minneapolis/St.Paul and Duluth. I also told him about my studies at the University of Minnesota and how I hoped to one day be an Urban/Regional Planner or work for Bombardier.
Once the conversations had dwindled Frank, Kevin, and I decided to jump in the hot tub that we all had heard so much about at Berry Place and at Lindig. Let me tell you, it was fabulous. So warm and relaxing and yet you could let yourself cool off just by sitting up and then get warm again immersing yourself in the jets.
After we got out the ladies decided to do a little hot tubing and then around 2 Am we all decided to get ready for bed and hit the sack. Don’t know what we have in store for tomorrow, but I will be sure to write about it when the day is through.
Until next time,
It’s great to be back in Duluth and Goodnight
Friday, January 13, 2006
The week before I was working 10-4. This involved waking up around 8:30-9:00 and catching the #87 bus at Larpanteur and Lindig around 9:30 AM. From there you either transfer to the Campus Connectors at the St. Paul Student Center or you continue to Como and Cleveland to transfer to the #3 bus all the way to Minneapolis and the West Bank.
There are two buses that offer service to Roseville/Falcon Heights. These are the #87 and the #61 buses. The #87 is a North South-route that runs from Roseville/Rosedale Center to downtown St. Paul. Meanwhile, the #61 serves both Minneapolis and St. Paul via Hennepin Avenue that turns into Larpanteur. The drawback of both of these bus lines is the frequency of their service, one every 30 minutes. 30 MINUTES COME ON!!!!!!! This is not forgiving at all, especially with the #87. If you miss it, then you have to wait. Later in the day I think the #87 switches to coming every hour and so your best chance is to be there on time, walk, bike, or invent a Jet Bike.
A jet bike I could park near the bus stop and have a camouflage system so that no one can take my jet bike. If anyone has recently seen the movie The Island with Ewan McGregor where they have these little jet bikes cruising around downtown Los Angeles smashing into trams in the sky. I don’t know when these would be invented, but if hover technology is ever perfected, you know Sea-Doo and Artic Cat would jump on the new technology or perhaps a new company would utilize this new form of transportation.
Imagine cruising over the snow in the winter when it’s too deep for a snowmobile, or being able to fly your jet bike around town and land at small community airports. Of course because of 9/11 the government would create stricter “no fly zones” around cities and communities or that these jet bikes had to stay below a certain altitude as to avoid commercial airlines.
I will try to find a pick from that movie and post it with this blog so that people know what I am talking about. Hopefully my aero science engineer friend Erik can get to work on making this fantasy a reality.
Until next time,
Friday, January 06, 2006
Kristen and I had to be about if not the first people at the mountain, because the people working hadn’t even finished opening up there. We did get there a little early (9:30-9:45 AM) but we were really close by and wanted to get to the hill as early as we could. We made an appointment for a ski lesson at 10:00 AM, however, the lesson was pushed back when our instructor got locked out of her car and couldn’t get her equipment.
While we waited for our instructor, Kristen and I got our lift tickets taken care of and our ski boots and ski rentals all squared away. It was neat how the boots just strap on, however, they were really uncomfortable and hard on the calves. This was my first time with downhill skiing equipment or ski equipment in general since the last time I went Cross-Country Skiing with my folks when I was younger.
Having acquired our equipment, the two of us decided to familiarize ourselves with getting in and out of the skis and the basics of skiing such as how to move, how to break, turn, all of the things that our instructor would cover when we had our lesson.
We spent quite a while on the bunny hill, mostly because of me. I felt really confident being in that practice area, and probably would have benefited from a few more tries at perfecting my turning before hitting the four pipe or juggler Joe runs. Our instructor was impressed by our abilities for first timers; she was used to teaching little kids with little or no experience what so ever and appreciated the change.
From the practice area we set out for our first run down four pipe, the main drag of Spirit Mountain. Kristen handled her first run perfectly; I on the other hand, was having troubles slowing down and turning and ended up going down the hill way to fast. After going over a jump, I panicked and fell to my side to stop myself and start over. My instructor told me that my turns needed to be more gradual instead of the sharp turns I was doing, and that I needed to use my wedge to slow myself down.
It is really interesting how all of that good advice goes right out of your head when you are screaming down the mountain at lord knows what speeds, and all you are saying to yourself is “Oh crap this is way to fast, how do I get off??”
Juggler Joe was a fun run and was a great opportunity to practice turning. Kristen took the opportunity to work on turning using her polls and not just her hips, although I think she may have strained a muscle or two in the process.
After our lesson, we took a little break in the chalet and ate some cliff bars and washed them down with some much needed water. It was nice to get out of those boots for a while. Then we headed back out to do a few runs on our own. We didn’t last long.
My legs had been killing me since the lesson and my confidence faded as the strength in my leg muscles failed. On the runs that Kristen and I did, I had a number of big wipeouts that didn’t so much hurt me physically but they hurt my pride and they made me more discouraged. I know that the advice is to not let it bother you, but to me it did and it is something that I will need to work on. On my last run down four pipe I ended up going down way to fast, over a jump, losing control and falling pretty hard. Hard enough that both skis detached and I ended up laying on my stomach with a bunch of snow down my back. That’s when I lost it and was ready to go home.
Kristen agreed, though I feel that I let her down by us not staying out longer. There will be other ski trips in the future, and the two of us may even head out down hill skiing with my Dad in February. I am just really glad that I have a girlfriend who loves being in the outdoors and doesn’t mind putting up with a bruised caboose.
On the way back to the hotel, we stopped at the gas station and we picked up a six-pack of beer to enjoy later in the evening. When we got back to the hotel, we jumped into the hot tub and relaxed for a while and chatted about our likes and dislikes and what we would do differently the next time.
For dinner we ordered up some pizza (god I have eaten way too much of this food lately) and spent the rest of the evening recovering from our adventures on the hill. We channel surfed from the Rose Bowl, MTV’s Next, and other miscellaneous junk on television. Tired from the day we crawled into bed and watched Shrek on the lappy before falling asleep.
Thursday morning we checked out of our hotel and found the nearest Perkins for some breakfast before the drive home. Kristen and I both enjoyed several cups of coffee and water and our usual for me the Tremendous Twelve and for Kristen the Grannies Country Omelet. Having filled up on food and gasoline for the car, we struck out on South I-35 for Minneapolis and home. The drive home went a lot faster than the drive to Duluth and we didn’t stop once. Kristen’s CDs and the radio provided a lot of entertainment.
I am really glad that Kristen and I got the chance to spend some time together and do some adventuring. Hopefully with the success of this adventure we can plan a more extravagant vacation in the future. There are still plenty of places and things that Kristen and I haven’t experienced and would love to try such as Base jumping, Ski diving, camping, etc.
Thus ends the four day Duluth adventure, I end with these final words…
Thank you Duluth!!!!!!
(Duluth replies…) “Thanks for spending your money here!!!”
Wednesday, January 04, 2006
Although the museum had an impressive collection of locomotives, there were pieces of their collection that we didn’t get to tour. For example, the Depot had a historic Streetcar in their collection that I would have loved to tour and even read the plaques about. As a Transportation Major at the University of Minnesota, Streetcars and Regional/Intercontinental transportation systems are an interest to me. There were a number of passenger trains that were out in their yard that I would have liked to have seen. Both Kristen and I enjoyed the snow plowing trains used to clear snow from the tracks in the mountains. I understand that the museum has mostly a local focus with its exhibits that served the iron and taconite mines of Duluth and the importance of the railroads for transporting these resources.
The big disappointment was that the museum hadn’t changed since the first time I saw it many years ago. Also the employees at the Depot where not very interested in answering questions or to thrilled about their jobs. I would have enjoyed seeing a section of the museum that focused on the future of railroading be it freight or passenger including Duluth’s and the museums position on the development of transportation possibilities for the future of Minnesota. For example, how would they react to a high-speed rail connection from Minneapolis/St. Paul and onward to Chicago? Or their reaction to the partnership between Amtrak and Bombardier?
As for the other museums in the Depot, they were equally disappointing and have nothing on Minneapolis and St. Paul museums. In fact, at the end of this adventure, the KU and I are hoping to finally see the Mill City Museum in Minneapolis or catch a show at the Science Museum’s Omni Theater in St. Paul.
After checking out the Depot, we proceeded to the lake front and enjoyed lunch at Little Angie’s, a sweet Mexican joint recommended by the coffee makers at the Caribou Coffee down the street from the restaurant. Kristen and I were very pleased with the food and service of Little Angie’s and would definitely eat there again.
After lunch we enjoyed a walk along the lakefront, took a few pictures, and hopped in the car to drive the North Shore scenic route along Highway 61 to Two Harbors. We had hoped to see “the Light House”, however, the one in Two Harbors was not the famous lighthouse of Duluth. With the scenic drive under our belt, we headed back to the hotel to recover from lunch and figure out the rest of the evening.
Kristen and I did some relaxing in the hot tub and swam around in the pool, and later in the evening enjoyed dinner at the Blackwoods restaurant up the road from our hotel. We were also a little bad and picked up some ice cream at the Super America to enjoy back at the hotel.
Tomorrow morning we are hitting the slopes of Spirit Mountain. This will be my first time at a major ski hill and my first time downhill skiing. Kristen has been downhill skiing before, but is still excited to go skiing with me. I hope the slopes are nice to us, and I am sure the hot tub will feel great on the sore muscles in the evening.
Wish us luck at Spirit Mountain!!!!
Until next time when I post all bruised and battered from the battle with the mountain
Monday, January 02, 2006
We arrived at our hotel at about 2:45 PM, and decided to see if we could check in early. Our original check in time was set for 3:00 PM, but with the lack of people at the hotel, they didn’t seem to mind letting us check in early. After settling in to our room, Kristen and I began looking at travel guides and we talked to one of our friends Erik over IM asking him where to eat and what to see.
After deciding on dinner, Kristen and I decided to check out the pool and the hot tub. The pool was nice, however, it was rather cold in my opinion so we jumped over to the hot top after being in the pool for only a few minutes. The hot tub was very relaxing and much needed,
We cleaned up by running through the shower, got dressed, and headed to downtown Duluth for dinner. Erik had recommended Sammy’s Pizza as a great place with some of the best pizza in town. It was very tasty, but I think the next time we’ll be getting the deep dish crust.
After dinner we settled into an evening of channel surfing, relaxing, and preparing for tomorrow. The plan for tomorrow is to check out the Depot in Downtown Duluth, which houses the famous train museum. I am very excited, but I will tell all about it tomorrow.
Until then, gnight!!
Sunday, January 01, 2006
Saturday started out with Kristen and I waking up, throwing on our snow pants, and heading outside to play in the freshly fallen snow that hit the Twin Cities Friday night with 2-4 inches of snow. On the ride home Friday afternoon on the 3B, I saw many people playing and building Snowmen along Como Avenue and gave me the drive to go out and play in the snow. The KU and I started by trying to roll the snow, however the snow had other plans. Although the snow was compactable, it wasn’t sticky enough to roll and have the balls accumulate more snow. So we started building on the base and attempting to form our snowman by shoveling snow upwards. After a while working to no avail, Kristen dared me to tackle our creation and see if I could knock it over. So I gave a running start and tackled the mound, however, I flipped over the obelisk that was our snowman and ended up lying on my back starring up at the sky. Kristen came over laughing at me, and all I did was laugh back. My roommate Pete had built a snow fort in Mid-November, and so I wanted to add onto his or build an opposing fort so that we could have a snowball fight.
Kristen and I used the recycling bin to form the blocks of snow as Pete had. After forming a couple of blocks, we were cold, tired, and hungry. So we trudged into the house and ate some wonderful French toast made and Bacon made by Frank and the Megatron. After refueling, we enlisted the help of Pete and Megan Weyenberg, to start building and playing with the snow in the backyard. Our fort in the backyard quickly turned into a igloo, which Kristen, Pete, and myself worked on until dark. Kristen took a bunch of pictures and hopefully I will be able to add some photos to this post soon.
New Years eve consisted of attending Rory and April’s New Years Eve party over at 808 Berry Place. April, Rory’s fiancée, has consistently thrown great parties with delicious orderves, finger food, and tasty drinks. The roommates and the roommates’ girlfriends all made the easy drive from the house on Lindig to our old residence of Berry Place. We all had a great visit with April and her roommates, as well as hear all the juicy details of Rory and April’s engagement and plans for their wedding in April that we are all looking forward to attending.
New Years Eve ended with the traditional act of watching the ball drop in Times Square at midnight followed by the downing of champagne and extravagant toasts from everybody at the party. Kristen and I went home and after attempting to watch a movie, quickly fall asleep.
Sunday, New Years day, my brother Frank, Kristen, and myself drove out to the family’s house in Brooklyn Park to enjoy our annual New years day tradition of cooking Chinese food. My mom made Egg Rolls, Shrimp Toast (our favorite appetizer), and Sesame Chicken all our favorites. We finished the evening with some phenomenal Cranberry Cake made from my Mom and Grandma’s secret family recipe, served with the signature butter sauce.
Talk about a fattening evening. Tomorrow, Kristen and I are making the drive to Duluth for our little vacation over Winter Break. The next post will be the first in a four part series about our adventure in Duluth.
I hope everyone had a wonderful New Year celebration. I would love to hear about some of people’s exploits.