Wednesday, July 28, 2010

TRANSIT REPORT: Cleveland, Ohio

Picture Courtesy of Wikimedia
Hillrhpc under CC-BY-SA license

The main transit agency in Cleveland is the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA). They run a system of buses, heavy rail, and light rail (trolley).

Cleveland now runs a 100% wheelchair accessible bus system. The bus system covers most of the area. There is also a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) that runs in its own dedicated lane from Windemere to Tower City called the HealthLine. This is similar to Kansas City’s MAX service.  You can get a route map here.
Picture courtesy of Wikimedia
Hillrhpc under CC-BY-SA license

The Red Line

The Red Line is Cleveland’s heavy rail system, think like a subway. It runs from the airport to Windemere, northeast of downtown. Only 12 of the line’s 18 stations are barrier free. Most of the inaccessible stations are located in the central part of the city. You can access Indians and Cavalier games from the Tower City station via an accessible walkway.
Picture courtesy of Wikimedia
Hillrhpc under CC-BY-SA license

Blue and Green Lines

Cleveland’s light rail system runs along the waterfront and can be used to visit the Browns’ stadium, the Flats (lots of dining options), and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Both lines serve this area and, with the exception of the Amtrak stop, all waterfront stations are accessible. The Blue Line extends to Warrensville. Only the Shaker Square and Warrensville stations are accessible once the line goes east of Tower City. The Red Line culminates at the Green Station. Only that station and Shaker Square are accessible east of Tower City.

You can get a map of the rail system here.

Downtown Trolley

Two wheelchair accessible bus shuttle services serve the downtown area at 10 minute intervals between 7am and 7pm Monday through Friday. The service is free.

The fare for Cleveland’s transit options is $2.25 for the base fare. Disabled and seniors ride for a dollar.

Copyright 2010 - Darryl Musick

Sunday, July 18, 2010

ROAD FOOD: Ice Cream!

Update:  It's National Ice Cream Day...I didn't know that..
That was the temperature on our back patio on Friday afternoon at 4:00pm.  It's time to think of something cool.  Cold even.  Here are some of the most memorable ice cream parlors we've been to on our travels.
Picture courtesy of Flickr
rellim under CC-BY-SA license
The Sugar Bowl in Scottsdale, Arizona is a true family place.  So much so, it was Bill Keane's favorite place.  You may know him better as the dad who drew The Family Circus comic strip based on his real family.  Not only are there delicious ice cream and treats here, but many original drawings on the walls that Mr. Keane contributed to the restaurant.
Picture courtesy of Flickr
MonicaD under CC-BY-SA license
Superior Dairy in Hanford, California is a sight for sore eyes on one of those blisteringly hot Central Valley days.  The flavors are a bit on the basic side but can be jazzed up with many toppings.  The scoops are huge.  A single scoop here would beat a triple at many places.  It's located on Hanford's main plaza, which is also a jewel.
Dewar's is a 101 year old company located on the corner of California and Eye Streets in Bakersfield, California.  There's also another location on Hageman and Coffee Roads in the northern part of town.  Not only do they make delicious ice cream, but many hand-made candies too.  I'm particularly fond of the caramel chews.  Letty says they make the best pink peppermint and chocolate chip ice cream she's ever had...
...except for the version she made at home (see picture above).
Thrifty Ice Cream is available at most Rite Aid stores along the West Coast.  Many a California adult remembers as a kid visiting Thrifty Drug Stores (now Rite Aid) and buy ice cream cones for a nickel a scoop.  Now around a dollar, it's still suprisingly good for a low priced ice cream.  This basic frozen treat has a lot of fans.
Picture courtesy of Flickr
LadyDucayne under CC-BY license
The west San Gabriel Valley...just east of downtown Los known these days as a very large Asian community.  Great Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, and other Asian tinged restaurants abound.  One thing that has stayed constant over the years is Fosselman's Ice Cream Parlor on Main Street in Alhambra.  The small shop is overwhelmed with crowds some days, but seek it out if you're in the neighborhood...and if they have white chocolate listed as one of their daily flavors, don't pass it up!

Try some of these great ice cream treats next time you're in the neighborhood.  Have an ice cream place you think is the best?  Tell us in the comments below.

Copyright 2010 - Darryl Musick

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

TRANSIT REPORT - Toronto, Ontario, Canada

The Toronto Transit Commission - TTC - serves the city of Toronto with bus, subway, streetcar, and paratransit.  GO Transit provides commuter rail service from the suburbs to the city. 

TTC Subway - Right now, there are 29 stations that provide barrier-free access to subway trains.  That is a little less than half of the stations.  On the TTC website, you can get a list of those stations.  Another 14 stations are planned to be accessible within the next 4 years. 
Picture courtesy of Wikimedia
Ivan Hernandez under CC-BY license

TTC Bus - 92% of the vehicles in the bus fleet are accessible.  By the end of 2011, it is expected that 100% of the fleet will be wheelchair accessible.  Three all-night routes (301, 306, and 352) and one downtown express route (141) are not listed as accessible, the rest are.  You can go to the TTC website to get a list and map of all the bus routes

TTC Streetcar - The Toronto Streetcars are not wheelchair accessible.  The TTC plans to start introducing low-floor accessible streetcars in 2012 with the entire fleet done by 2018.
TTC Wheel-Trans - The TTC's version of paratransit requires an in person interview before approval to ride making it inconvenient for travelers.  Here are the procedures for approval.

The current base fare for all TTC services is $3 (CDN) and a day pass is $10. Seniors 65 or older get a one dollar discount on the base fare, there is no discount for disabled riders.

GO Transit - The commuter rail service provides double-decker trains into downtown Toronto's Union Station from Niagara Falls/Kitchner-Waterloo in the west; Orangeville, Barrie, and Beaverton to the north; Stouffville, Uxbridge, and Peterborough to the northeast; and Oshawa/Newcastle to the east.  All but 10 of the 59 stations in the system are accessible and 6 more are slated to be accessible by the end of 2010.   Fares run from about $4 one way to around $18 one way.  Their website has a fare calculator.

Many nearby towns have their own bus systems that connect with the outer reaches of the TTC or GO systems.  You can find a list with links here.


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Travel Tunes - Week 33

On our trip to Yellowstone a few years ago, we went to the Gallatin County Fair in Bozeman, Montana.  While we were there, we took in a show by a husband and wife country duo who put on a great show.  At one point, the husband said they got a lot of requests to sing El Paso but complained that the song was too long so he was able to get the complete song into a 30 second version.  They started playing and he sang these lyrics: "Down in the West Texas town of El Paso, I fell in love, I got shot, and I died..." 

End of song.

Funny bit, and yes, it does give you pretty much the whole story in one line but the original version is worth listening to, all 5 minutes and 2 seconds of it.

Marty Robbins was born in Glendale, Arizona in 1925.  This is a suburb to the west of Phoenix, better known as the location of the Cardinals new football stadium that's shaped like a rattlesnake.  A product of a broken and disfunctional family, Robbins found comfort hanging with his grandfather and listening to his stories of the old west. 

He went into the navy in World War II and was stationed in the Pacific where he learned to play the guitar and loved Hawaiian music.  After the war, he played gigs around Phoenix which netted him a local TV show.  Success soon followed and he went on to the Grand Ole Opry and a long career in country music.

Robbins also raced and drove in 35 NASCAR races, including 6 top ten finishes, one of which was the 1973 Daytona 500.  He also dabbled in acting and his last film appearance was in Clint Eastwood's Honkytonk Man.  He died of cardiac arrest in December of 1982 at the age of 57.

In the tradition of Sons of the Pioneers, Robbins was one of the best balladeers to come along.  He covered other writers tunes, such as the classic cowboy ballad Cool Water and A Hundred And Sixty Acres, but wrote a few classics of his own such as Big Iron and, of course, El Paso, which he recorded for his 1959 album Gunfighter Ballads And Trail Songs.

El Paso is the story of the cowboy who comes into a cantina in the title town and falls in love with a Mexican girl...I certainly can relate to that.  When another man makes move on his beloved Felina, the cowboy shoots him dead and flees the law.  Hiding out in New Mexico, the cowboy realizes his heartache is worse than death so he heads back to El Paso to find his Felina.  He is spotted and a posse goes out to stop him.  He is shot and dies in Felina's arms.

What makes the song so good is the Spanish guitar work and Robbins lyrics: "I Challenged his right for the love of this maiden.  Down went his hand for the gun that he wore. My challenge was answered in less than a heart-beat; The handsome young stranger lay dead on the floor.  Just for a moment I stood there in silence, Shocked by the foul evil deed I had done," "I see the white puff of smoke from the rifle, I feel the bullet go deep in my chest," "from out of nowhere, Felina has found me...cradled in two loving arms that I'll die for, one little kiss and Felina good bye."

You're going to find yourself driving across a desert someday and this, along with Cool Water, Riders In The Sky, and Desert Skies should be mandatory on your playlist.  Give it a whirl and see if you don't get caught up in the cowboy's sad story.

Below is a video, I think from the 1967 film Road to Nashville but I'm not sure, where Robbins ends the movie with a full rendition of the song.  Enjoy!