Monday, October 30, 2006

UTA Frontrunner - Commuter Rail

After way too long, Salt Lake City and the adjoining areas of the Wasatch Front are finally getting a commuter rail line. When all is said and done, it will run from Davis County (up North) to Provo (and maybe even further South). After Salt Lake City killed the two amazing train stations that it had to it's name, it was time for another one to take the place of the other two (Rio Grande and Union Pacific).
The new inter-modal hub is just the ticket and is pretty cool although if somebody was thinking straight they would have converted one of the existing train stations in all their glory and turned it into the inter-modal hub. Oh well, I can always dream that someone might think in the long-term, right?

Anyway, I was riding out to eat lunch with Gina out at Franklin-Covey and as I was riding over the 400 railway overpass, I looked to my right towards the inter-modal hub and saw a gathering of people around a new Frontrunner train car! They weren't supposed to have those cars for another year! I quickly turned around (dodging traffic of course) and headed over to "investimagate" with the trusty point and shoot camera in tow.

Once I got there I saw that it was a small press conference for the Proposition #3 "Rails and Roads." It was exciting to see and I got to go inside and take a look around the two story rail car. It was quite comfortable and will even be equipped with Wi-Fi capability! It's planned that it will travel at about 85 MPH, so that will help lure people to it because it will be faster than driving. The section from Davis County should be done sometime next year from what I hear with the SLC to Provo section being completed by 2010 or so. Proposition #3 will help speed this along.

Finally, I gotta throw in a couple of pics of the bike and the ride.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Finally got a VW TDI!!

Gina and I finally got a Volkswagen TDI. To be more specific, we got a black Jetta GLS 1.9L TDI. We have been looking for one that we could afford for quite some time now. The problem is the TDI engined cars are hard to find around here, so I mostly looked on ebay, autotrader, and some automotive forums. Finally I decided to just look around on a few of the Craigslist sites for the larger cities. When I checked Dallas I found one that had just been posted only minutes earlier. We quickly called on it and the guy couldn't believe we were so fast! We took the necessary precautions and finally sent him the money, then we had to figure out how to get it home. Shipping it would have cost quite a bit, and after we looked into plane tickets, we found that they were about the same price as shipping it. Gina and I needed a good excuse for a getaway for our 3rd year anniversary too, so that's what we did. We flew to Dallas, picked up the car and drove it 1266 miles home to Salt Lake City. When we got there, I checked the car out with my VAG-COM and laptop and everything checked out. The seller split the cost on a timing belt change with me, so that saved us a bunch in repair costs because it hadn't been done until I told him to do it. I checked the timing with the computer and it was perfect and there were no fault codes. We got in the car and drove away after the final inspection. Filled up at the nearest station and we were on our way.

We drove immediately to the other side (West) of the Dallas-Ft. Worth area and got a hotel. At 5am the next morning we were off to visit Polly (Gina's Aunt) who lives in Lubbock, TX. After the roughly 300 miles to Lubbock, we still had half a tank left, but I was just dying to see what kind of gas mileage we were getting. First half tank was 44MPG. After lunch and a visit with Polly and JoAnn, we were off to Santa Fe. We got to Santa Fe with just a little daylight left so we went into the old town and ate and window shopped a bit, then it was off to our B&B outside the city. It was called Hacienda las Barrancas and it was absolutely beautiful. The stars were amazing as it was a clear night so we sat outside for a bit, then built a fire in our room and went to bed. The next morning we weren't to eager to leave after the wonderful breakfast and great hospitality. We hung out on the property for a while which has amazing views at the end of some short walks. Then it was back in the car to go home. We didn't need to fill up again until Cortez, Colorado. Checking the MPG there, it turns out we averaged about 47 MPG for that tank (mostly 80-85mph).

We hit some crazy hailstorm in Moab but after that it was smooth sailing. The car drove great and feels really solid. It should cut our fuel bill in half, so we are pretty excited. Ahh, the beauty and engineering of a diesel engine! Oh yeah, and it's more fun to drive than the Audi!