Taking the Ride

29 Jul

IMG_4104Well, I’ve ridden the streetcar four times now. Twice on Friday, once Sunday, then again yesterday. The weekend rides were packed – like sardines. News reports anywhere from 60-70K riders through Sunday!

On Friday, I parked on Fourth Avenue, where I lunched @ Delectables. Then I boarded the streetcar and rode to Mercado San Agustin, where I stopped by La Estrella Bakery for some cochitos and sugar cookies (using my Connect in the City card for a 10% discount). I can see myself taking the car to get to the Thursday afternoon Farmer’s Markets in the very near future.

On my later trip, I met up with my friend who was volunteering at a stop that evening. This car was so packed, I had to get off! Upon conclusion of her stint, we strolled over to Congress Street. We were both giddy at the sight of hundreds of people walking the streets. Each restaurant and bar filled (including the just opened Bianco) with patrons. We sauntered over to the pop-up beach park on Fifth to find a live band, kids playing volleyball, hula hoops, badminton and making sand castles. Food trucks lined the edge – foods you might find at a beach park – hot dog trucks, sno cones and more.

We decided we wanted to dine outside to watch the hubbub at Hub. While we sat, we met a lovely couple visiting from California. Janet grew up here. She was thrilled with the streets teeming with life and let us know that, as a child, she saw The Wizard of Oz in 1939 @ the Rialto!  Then we caught the Car to the University District, opting for a leisurely drink on the patio at Pasco, where the waitress was very sweet and attentive.

On Sunday, I started the route @ UMC to travel to Maker House for Sacred Space. The ride took about thirty minutes. Then I walked a couple of blocks to the House. I didn’t have to find a place to park, I didn’t have to use gas, I was green.

What I’ve found on these rides is the enthusiasm & friendliness of people – a sense of community that the Car has brought to Tucsonans. Each time, I’ve had opportunity to educate and inform people about the Streetcar, and all things downtown.  There’s already talk of where it might go next.

How would you used the streetcar? Hope to see you on a future ride!

Enjoy the Ride

26 Jul

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So, I managed to cycle to all FIVE ribbon-cutting ceremonies this morning. The trek began @ the Mercado District, on land where people have inhabited for more than 4000 years. Approximately 150 people were there. Speakers included Mayor Rothschild, Regina Romero and Kira Dixon Weinstein, developer/owner of Mercado San Agustin.

From there, I booked it to the University Medical Center, the end of the streetcar line. UA President Ann Hart praised and welcomed the streetcar and spoke of the collaboration that includes UA. The University has committed to paying 50% of Sun Go card costs to University students to encourage them to ride. I saw many of them on board today.

The UA Pep Band greeted us @ Main Gate Square with musical excitement, where folks from the Marshall Foundation spoke. Louise Marshall, in 1901, saw a future in this place and bought three shares of railway stock. The first building went up in 1922.

On Fourth Avenue, we were hosted by the owners of United Fire and Delectables, currently the President and VP of Fourth Avenue Merchants.

The main event took place downtown at Congress and Fifth Avenue. A color guard and former American Idol singer Crystal Stark sang the national anthem. Dignitaries included folks from the federal government, City Council, Pima County, and state senators and representatives. Speakers included outgoing City Manager and former Police Chief Richard Miranda, UA President Ann Hart, Norvill Carter, from federal DOT, State Senator Steve Farley, former auto retailer and current city cheerleader Steve Christie and former mayor Bob Walkup. Christie shared the most informed and impassioned words and would make a fine elected official. He truly gets it!

Walkup reminded us that the cars are MADE IN THE USA, putting many people to work in the midst of the countries greatest recession.

I’m grateful for the Sun Link Ambassador who, in the heat and humidity, was passing out cold water with a big smile to Tucsonans who came to celebrate. And blessings to Danielle Lerner, KVOA morning co-anchor, who was in the midst of the festivities in the sweltering sun at 5 AM (I saw her on TV before I left on my bike) until the event closed moments after 10. She was still smiling and looked untouched by the heat. A real trooper. Thank you, Danielle!

So many folks have ventured to take a free ride that all eight cars were out today. Even buses got in on the action to handle the overflow. Free rides continue all weekend long. And don’t forget that festivities abound in each region through Sunday. Stop by the Friends booth on Congress and let them know where you want the train to go next. Get a free SunGO card. Go to the Living Streets Alliance booth for more fun.

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We’re almost there

23 Jul

Signs are at the stops. Waste receptacles – trash AND recycling. Sand has come in at 5th and Congress for a beach party and more. The public space has become a pop-up park for the summer!  Cool locally designed and created posters grace our downtown poles.  The street sweepers were out.  Shop owners were beautifying their store fronts.  Rumor has it that a long-awaited restaurant opening may happen this weekend as well!

Don’t forget to stop by the Fox to view Meet Me in St. Louis (and sing The Trolley Song along with Judy!)

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This is it!

21 Jul

IMG_2980The time has come. If, for some reason you haven’t heard, the streetcar celebration takes place this coming weekend. It begins Friday, with a ribbon cutting celebration @ the West End @ Mercado San Agustin. Celebrations take place @ each region along the route on Friday morning. Then, FREE rides begin at 10 AM and last all weekend long.

Are you itching for a ride before then? If you agree to volunteer a 2-hour shift, you can ride Tuesday or Wednesday! Check it out at friendsoftucsonstreetcar.com.  Should I do it?!  Should I wait?!

You can also find details of each event throughout the weekend on the same site. Or visit yesterday’s Arizona Daily Star – a pull out & editorials can be found there.

You know what else is cool? There’s already talk about what’s next! Supporters are seeking private funding to continue the line up to Tucson Mall and down to the airport as the second phase.  Yes!

A Kind of Blu…

4 Jul

While Blu is known for their delectable choices of cheeses, they also serve food (and drink). Menu choices include salads, small bites, cheese and charcuterie plates and sandwiches. I happened by for a summer afternoon bite. I chose the Unexpected panini (camembert, pear, thyme, blue cheese and caramelized onions) and dry Meyer lemon Gus “grown-up” soda for refreshment. They inform you that it may take some time, as they prepare everything fresh from your order. It was worth the wait.  My food and drink were a perfect light and tasty refreshment!

Despite the warm sun of a Tucson June, I opted to sit alfresco. It was pleasant neath the large covered patio of Mercado San Agustin. Others braved the warmth, too, in satisfying conversation regarding all things downtown – the new restaurants & shops and the forthcoming streetcar. It was clear these tables of patrons join my enthusiasm! Yes, I used my connect city card and saved some dough!

No plans for the fourth? Food trucks will join the Mercado restaurants (including a roast pig from Agustin Kitchen) to celebrate the sights of the fireworks from Tumamoc Hill. 5-10 PM tonight!

If I Had a Truck…

20 Jun

 

IMG_3802…I would back it up to the entrance of Gather, load up and take everything home. I blame my friend of thirty years, Tony. He’s always been a thrifter. I didn’t get it. Until I visited his home – filled with character, personality and story – all bought for a song (good thing, since we’re both musicians!) I have thrifted with him on occasion and found his discoveries uncanny – original art, furniture, full sets of china or silver – for unbelievable steals.

Anyway, I happened upon Gather yesterday. Nestled in the warehouses of what once was Arizona Sash, it beams among the newly complete St. Mary’s Road. The roadway is smooth and easy, the aesthetic quite pleasing. If only there were some native trees… Gather is a vintage market that happens from time to time – with all things for your lifestyle – inside your home and out. Seriously, I eyed very many things that I wanted to take home. The store is set up in a visually appealing way and the prices appeal to the Tucson market. I’m going back and will have to make the tough decision of what to bring home with me. Something that will continue to tell my story.

Gather is located @ 657 W. St. Mary’s Road, They are open Thursday through Saturday, 10-6, Sunday 10-3 this weekend and again August 8-10. http://www.gathervintagemarket.com.

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But there’s nothing to do…

17 Jun

So, the cool thing is that I love to patronize businesses that just happen to be along the streetcar route. Some of my favorite eats and shopping happen here, as you can attest to! Well, apparently I’ve been rewarded for my efforts. The merchants of all four areas have gotten together to promote their businesses through the sweltering summer in Tucson.

Folks, the sidewalks have NOT been rolled up. The red carpet has been rolled out. Well, OK, you can be rewarded, too! Grab your Summer in the City discount card for $5 at any of the merchants – over 100 participants – or $7 online (http://www.TucsonSummer.com).

I got mine at Maker House Sunday night and already used it at Maynard’s Market last night for a bite of fresh quiche with gruyere (yum!) accompanied by a pineapple melon agua fresca. Sitting on the back patio and facing the railway, it was a perfect compliment to a warm summer evening. And, hey, I already saved $1.50!

Looking for something to do in the summer? Check out Sacred Space @ Maker House on Sunday nights @ 4:30 PM. Their mission? “To cultivate compassion that leads to social justice so that all beings can thrive.” A great place to rest, find your center and connect with community. You can check them out @ http://www.sacredspacetucson.org.

And, if you already can’t stand the heat, you MUST get out of the kitchen and over to Mercado San Agustin next Tuesday, June 24, for the annual Dia De San Juan Festival. We’re praying for rain, people. You don’t want to miss this annual FREE event – procession, dancing, live music, food, & rodeo! More info on their FB page.

Lastly, don’t forget to come to the grand opening celebration of our streetcar, July 25.  You can RSVP online.  The kiosks are in place, the eight American-made cars continue their testing runs, and the poetry from UA Poetry Center grace the rolling screens at several stops along the route.

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