Saturday, September 14, 2013

Market watch

This is a really great time of year for farmers' market shopping. We buy vegetables until our arms hurt from carrying them, or until we run out of cash. We eat still-hot kettle corn. We sample apples with exotic names and have conversations with farmers about "eating apples" and "baking apples" (as if). The flowers are out of control. Even the sub-par Minnesota corn is killing it lately (hey, I'm from Iowa). Today, out of pure curiosity, we bought some ground cherries. Is it a tomato? A gooseberry? What the heck is this thing? It freaks me out a little. I don't know whether to make salsa or put it in a pie (as if).

Shockingly, the ground cherries were not the most surprising thing we ran into at the market.

Apparently somebody (awesome) decided that 11 am on a Saturday was a good time to push a train from Union Depot, through a mass of humanity and vegetables, into the OMF. I don't know who was squealing more, me or the hundred little kids that witnessed this.

Just think, when I come to the market next summer, it'll be on LRT!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Welcome to Saint Paul

Between the dust and noise and stress of building a rail line, there are a handful of days that stick out as milestones. Days when your heart beats fast and you feel overcome with pride for this community. For me those days are (in no particular order) the rail pull, the FFGA signing, the first curbs and then the first asphalt, the first trees to be planted, the opening of the Depot, the first LRV delivered. And today we add one more: the first light rail train on Saint Paul tracks.

I woke up anxious this morning, threw on running shoes and went up to Dunns. I sat there with my bagel and tea, looking west. A train car was on its way, not of its own power (the catenary wires aren't all up yet), but pulled by a fatty truck down the tracks from the Hiawatha rail facility to Lowertown. I waited for a half hour, refreshing twitter every couple minutes. Where is it? Did everyone at the U really sleep through this?

And then a huge clue. A woman walks out to the median of University, sporting a big ole' telephoto lens, and just camps out, looking west.

I ran out the door and walked towards Bedford Street, running into a friend and his son. We walked west, looking down the hill towards Stadium Village. All of the sudden, the train turned onto University at 29th, not at the slow walking pace we expected, but at a pretty fast clip. We jogged back toward Saint Paul. It stopped at the border and honked at us, with happy rail staff on board.

After crossing Berry Street, 206 pulled into the eastbound Westgate platform and the rail workers jumped off. One guy said to me, "I'm dying for a cup of coffee!" as they filed into Dunn Brothers. The question has been: will light rail bring customers? The answer is already yes.

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Thursday, March 14, 2013

Zing Zing Zing (went my heart strings)

After month of seeing them from afar, I finally got my chance to ride a new train - number 203! I hope you can forgive me for my temporary case of vertical video syndrome - it's a serious affliction I'm working through. Besides, I was excited and just happy to have my phone handy.

The sun was shining, birds were chirping. I practically broke into song as it pulled up to the station. Cue Judy.

How excited are they?! These are my people. I would have hung out the door re-enacting this scene if that was even mildly allowable. The folks on my train were less enthused.

Interesting gap going on at the bottom of the door, here. We need those little rubber flaps, stat. Doesn't snow fly in there?

Much more open, with more seating in the middle. I won't miss the little loveseats in the articulated part - too awkward if the train is full.

I got off the train just one stop later at the Dome, and took a couple more photos. As I walked away, a guy ran up to me (also taking pictures with his phone) and exclaimed, "aren't they beautiful? It's so exciting!" I smiled and nodded. Perhaps in hindsight, that guy would have been up for singing with me on the platform. Next time I won't hesitate to ask.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

In Service

People sometimes ask me, "who gets to ride the first train?"

Who? You.

I just missed catching this train after work, but then ran into it downtown. Oh, hey.

Does anyone on the platform even notice? Why are they not cheering?

It's a jolting thing, seeing the new LRVs in service on Hiawatha. The 200s! The type twos! It had been awhile since we first met, although my new cube has a primo view of the turnaround tracks near the Cedar Riverside station. Yep, this is my new friend that visits every morning.

Now if we can just get that catenary finished to Saint Paul...

Friday, January 11, 2013

The other side of the tracks

As of Monday, I now work in the Minneapple. Which means, of course, that I have to cross University to catch a bus...which takes surprisingly long, doesnt it? And like every one else, I've developed a terrible habit of crossing against the light and waiting in the guideway. The traffic signal is too damn long! Humans first.

After five days, I can tell you, it's weird. Seeing LRVs on 5th Street every morning is like swimming through a transity dream sequence - a giant, yellow, this-is-your-life mirage floats past as I try remind myself that, here, it is a terrible habit to cross against the light and wait in the guideway.

I love my new job, but I miss Saint Small. It has beautiful historic streets, downtown parks, a river view, and lots of charm.

And Minneapolis has...the Interchange. It's hard for me to get excited about it after the Depot opening, but it's strangely fitting for this neighborhood. It will be great transit station - as long as it never rains.

They say that a train station is a place where you should be able to fall in love, and I'm not feeling the love here. But we'll see. Woo me, Interchange. Prove me wrong.

Location:Target Field