Sunday, March 6, 2011

New bus route; ideas from Mark Rivers

Hola! It's been a long time between blog posts (due to my crazy day job), but I want to share a few things I've come across, including a Valley Ride survey that ends TODAY (Sunday, March 6).

Valley Ride expects to bring bus service back to southwest Boise sometime this spring. The proposed route is a good one because:

It reinstates service to the Social Security office for our older and disabled neighbors.

It ties together one shopping and entertainment center (Boise Towne Square) with another (the Edwards cinemas and shopping west of Cole Road).

It provide service to Frank Church High School and the Boise School District offices (as well as one of the best auto mechanic shops in town).

Valley Ride has a survey about the new route. I believe it closes today, but I just heard about it.

In other urbanist news, Mark Rivers of Brix & Company has a new online flipbook, 10 Fresh Ideas for Downtowns in 2011. From comfy sidewalk benches with reading lamps to winter festivals (how about bringing back First Night?) to expanded truck-based commerce (why should taco trucks and bookmobiles have all the fun?), Rivers and crew are thought provoking as always. I still wish Mark would run for mayor; I'm still not surprised that he has no interest, since politics suck.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Bowling in Vegas

It's true that - with the exception of two bad quarters in Reno on November 26 - our Boise State Broncos played a season worthy of going to the Rose Bowl. TCU was just a little better than us, and they're going instead.

But this BSU fan is pleased with the Broncos' consolation prize - and when the "must-see bowl game" lists come out in the next day or two and the final story of this season is written, I'm betting that the Las Vegas Bowl will rank above the Fiesta Bowl and the Cotton Bowl. Forget the BCS and its forced qualifiers. (8-4 UConn in the Fiesta Bowl? Really?!?) Update: Indeed, ESPN ranks the Vegas Bowl #7 out of 35 games, higher than the Fiesta Bowl.

The biggest plus is probably the date. BSU fans hated just about everything about the idea of playing in San Francisco: the goofy name of the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, the idea of driving over Donner Pass to get there (Las Vegas is a mere 15 miles closer, but a bit less of a white-knuckle trip), and especially the prospect of playing 7-5 Boston College.

But the date was the worst aspect: At this point, our guys deserve to have a short break for finals and play their bowl game. By January 9, most fans are going to be bowled out, ready for the Oregon-Auburn BCS title game. (Go Ducks!) People will have been back on the job and students will have been back in school for a week. The Idaho Legislature starts January 10. Aside from being the final holiday buzz kill, that fact alone means many Boiseans would've had a hard time making a bowl trip to the Bay Area.

But on December 22? It's just the fifth day and the fifth game of bowl season, and the Vegas Bowl will be the first Top 20 match-up. Fans nationwide will watch this game, and Boise State fans - even those disappointed by the pick - ought to consider making the drive. There is no cheaper week to visit Vegas, and you can be home in time for Christmas.

My family usually plans trips months ahead, but we made a snap decision Sunday to go to this game. My husband and daughter were already off of work and school, and I can get away from my job, too. My family - all but me - loves Las Vegas. ("This is the only time you'll catch me voluntarily saying, 'Let's go to Vegas,'"I told them.) We nabbed a rental car for under $90 for four days and we see plenty of name-brand Strip hotel rooms in the $50-60 range (with even-cheaper rooms abundantly available). Game tickets are $62 with all fees included; not a bargain, but not much more than a BSU home game. Most of all, we'll be there for the Broncos.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Most memorable Thanksgivings

In thinking a bit this holiday morning about the most memorable Thanksgivings I've had in my life, it shocks me to realize they were all in my 20s.

Two of them came during an ill-advised first marriage in the middle of that decade. My husband and I had a good meal with my small family in Pittsburgh, then we went to see John Mellencamp in concert. It was at the height of Mellencamp's fame - around the "Lonesome Jubilee" - and it was a fine evening listening to him sing anthems of the heartland.

Either a year before or after that, the two of us trekked from Ohio to suburban Washington, D.C., where his eldest brother and family lived in the same cul de sac as a Supreme Court Justice. The sprawling house filled with people; the dinner was fairly exotic; and we all raked leaves outside afterward.

The last Thanksgiving of my 20s was my first out West. I'd wisely left my boy husband by then; my Dad, also on his own since my Mom's death two years before, flew from Pittsburgh to Salt Lake City on Thanksgiving morning. I drove down from Twin Falls to meet him, and we motored on to Moab. We had dinner at a restaurant overlooking the small town, then we spent the weekend exploring Utah's red-rocks country.

That was 21 years ago. I've had plenty of good and even interesting Thanksgivings since then - including one jet-lagged afternoon alone in Australia where I wound up having pasta al fresco and one with vegetarian friends who served lentil loaf and the best pies ever - but none that quite rank up with the trio from my 20s. This will change next year: the plan for 2011 is to fly to San Francisco to spend the holiday with my brother and his partner. It'll be the first Thanksgiving of my 50s and my daughter's last one before college. It's way past time to have a big-city holiday season kickoff.

Meanwhile, I am sure today will be lovely: the new "Harry Potter" movie followed by the buffet at the Owyhee Plaza. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The people on the bus say 'Ride with us'

As an avid bus rider in Boise, I am part of this new video that shows a few reasons why it's cool and cost effective to take transit.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Zipping around Boise

Hooray! Zipcar is coming to Boise! I thought it would take far longer for the car-sharing service to arrive here, but through a partnership with Boise State, it's here now. Zipcar has citywide programs in only 14 cities, but it turns out that it's also on more than 100 campuses nationwide, now including BSU.

Zipcar is starting small in the City of Trees, which is probably a good idea. There are only four Zipcars parked on campus, but I'm sure that if demand is high, they'll add more. Membership is available for $35 for BSU students, faculty, and staff; community members can join for $50 a year.

For those who don't know, Zipcar is perfect for people who do not own a car, or who need an extra vehicle from time to time. Say you only need a car once a week to run some errands, or for a day trip or overnight to McCall. At $8 an hour ($9 on weekends) or $66/day - including insurance, gas, and 180 free miles per 24 hours - it sure beats owning a car for people who only need or want to drive occasionally. Since gas is included, it's probably cheaper than traditional car rental for close-by overnight trips - plus these are sweet rides, like a roomy Scion xB or Toyota Prius.

I'm not sure how often I'll use Zipcar, but as a BSU-area resident with an 11-year old car that I share with my daughter, I plan to become a community member and check it out for some road trips. I predict they're going to need to add more cars before too long!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Art time in the old town tonight

It's going to be a scorcher in Boise today, with an expected high of at least 100. But as the sun dips lower, downtown will be filled with cool activities for August First Thursday. From sky-high, one-night-only galleries at the Aspen Lofts to the spectacle of 30 artists creating a mural in the parking garage at Bannock and Capitol, there's plenty going on.

I'll be at the Pioneer Building with Idaho Indie Works and the Etsy Street Team to sign copies of the 8th edition (just out in June; $15) of Idaho Off the Beaten Path. This is probably the last appearance I'll do for the book this summer, so please plan to stop by!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Ask for local option

I recently got a letter from Idaho Smart Growth with the news that the Governor's Task Force on Modernizing Transportation Funding is investigating funding tools for public transportation. Idaho is one of only three states without a dedicated source of funding for transit.

Does this mean that, at long last, gentlemen ranchers Butch Otter and Mike Moyle are going to climb down off their high horses and confess that, yes, we live in an urban area? Hmmmm, as a veteran of too many years in the local option battle, I'm not placing any bets. But I've submitted my comments (due by September 15) and you can do the same. Here's what I wrote:

Idaho officials talk about local control and being fiscally responsible with tax dollars. That's the very reason the Idaho Legislature and governor MUST , at long last, allow local communities with the option of deciding for ourselves whether we want to pay a little extra in sales tax to have better public transportation, a new bridge, bike paths, or what have you.

Idaho is one of only three states that does not offer a dedicated state or local source of funding for public transportation. Please enact local option authority for Idaho, with no more than a 60 percent pass threshold. As our population ages and we continue to see the costs of our reliance on oil, Idahoans will want more transportation choices.

Thank you.