Tag Archives: flood

A Note on the Sac and Fox Trail Condition

It was hot, humid, and windy in Cedar Rapids yesterday.  This means that my usual rides are miserable affairs, so I change directions and head south.  The Sac and Fox Trail in southeast Cedar Rapids is one of my respite rides when the heat index climbs toward 100.  There is something about riding under the cover of trees that is just a lot more comfortable.

From the East Post Road trailhead to Otis Road the trail was in great condition.  Save for a few ruts it was otherwise clear sailing.

South of Otis Road the trail was completely covered in stagnant water.  There were no signs or indications that this was the case.  It was also a little odd considering we have not had much rain in the area and the spring snowmelt is long gone.  The Cedar River, which backs up into Indian Creek when it is high, currently stands well below flood stage.

Thankfully the traffic was sparse on Otis Road and I was able to make my way to the trail system downtown without any issue.  I just got roasted riding exposed in the sun for a lot longer than I expected.  Next time.

I might try and ride this same trail in a week or so to see if conditions have improved.  Stay tuned.

Friday Linkage 10/2/2015

The Tesla Model X came out this week and I want one. But, at a starting price of $80K I might be better off looking at used Nissan Leafs costing under $10K. When will the Model 3 come out?

Note, there will be no Friday Linkage next week since I will be spending the week in Los Angeles evaluating suppliers for my job.

On to the links…

Coal Mine Starts Continue To Decline—This is the second step on the journey to the death of coal. If fewer mines are opening than fewer mines will be operating further eroding the ability of the fuel to be effectively and efficiently pulled from the ground. Let’s kick coal while it is down.

Is Cargill Backsliding on its Promise to End Deforestation?—Few large corporations are as hard to pin down on issues than Cargill. As a privately-held firm it is not beholden to the same reporting rules that allow shareholders to extract information from publicly-held firms. Perhaps public pressure can take some of the slack and get Cargill to be a good corporate citizen. I am not holding my breath.

Nearly Half of U.S. Seafood Is Wasted Annually, New Study Shows—Food waste is the single biggest environmental issue that we have control of in our own homes and through our consumption patterns. Every piece of food that we throw away is a wasted opportunity to reduce our impact on the world.

Batteries May Curb Sales by Power Companies, Moody’s Says—If the large scale deployment of energy storage technology is truly able to reduce peak demand power companies may lose a major source of profit. Power becomes very expensive and profitable for power companies when it comes at peak times.

Solar Hit ~7% Of Spain’s Electricity This Summer—Damn, 7% from solar is impressive any way you slice it.

Brazil Doubles Its Solar PV Target To 7 GW By 2024—What is the target in the good ol’ U.S.A.? Right, we do not have a national target for solar.

North Carolina Passes 1 GW Of Installed Solar—That seems like a lot of solar for one state that is not known as a particularly sunny locale.

Fracking has a Big Water Footprint, but That’s Not the Whole Story—The extraction of fossil fuels is a story about water. Without a lot of water it would not be possible.

Electric Buses Could Lead to Significant Savings Even for Smaller Cities—Why the government is not pushing electric buses and garbage trucks I will never understand. These vehicles seem like perfect candidates for conversion.

Saving Electricity—Spend a few minutes going through the various categories to see where you could be saving a lot of watts. Since I cannot get solar panels in the near term—thanks homeowner’s insurance—I am going to try and reduce my rolling twelve month usage below 300 kWh.

‘Thirsty’ Concrete Absorbs 880 Gallons of Water a Minute to Minimize Urban Floods—Why is this stuff not replacing hard concrete and asphalt in southern climes affected by heavy seasonal rains?

What a Difference a Week Makes

What a difference a week of rain makes.  This was the drought picture for the state of Iowa last week per the U.S. Drought Monitor:

IA_dm_130409After a very wet week, this is what things look like this week:

IA_dm_130416The real dramatic change is how much of the state is out of “extreme” drought.  Keep in mind that this picture does not include the rain that we got all through Tuesday night and Wednesday.  Things are really wet right now.

How wet?  Roads are being closed because water is rushing over them.  Streams and creeks have broken their banks and flooded low lying areas.  Heck, Coralville Reservoir’s levels are rising to such a level that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had to assuage everyone’s fears about the flood of 2008 happening again.

If the rains keep coming we are going to swing from extreme drought last year to springtime flooding this year.  Climate change anyone?



My First Visit to the NewBo City Market

The NewBo City Market in downtown Cedar Rapids has been open since October 27th, but travel made it impossible for me to make a visit until this weekend.  On the spur of the moment, my wife and I decided to head downtown and see what was what.

The first surprise was the crowd.  It was a little after 8:30 and people were streaming in.  We had no trouble finding parking near the building, but by the time we would leave in a half hour or so there was no parking to be seen nearby.  Granted, the market is still new and, therefore, there is a novelty attached to it.  However, I would counsel anyone who thinks this is a flash in the pan to remember the success of the Downtown Farmers Market in the summer when thousands of people descend on downtown for much that same reason.  There seems to be a demand for this exact type of retail venue.

First off, I did not even try to get a coffee from Roasters.  Why?  The line was at least ten people deep and Amanda behind the counter was working like a mad woman.  No need to pile one.

My wife, smelling the aroma of griddled bacon, was drawn to La Reyna for a breakfast burrito.  Normally, she would not eat eggs, bacon, potatoes, and cheese together.  Wrap those same ingredients in a tortilla shell at a farmers market and she will suffer even the longest of lines.

I picked up a loaf of bread from Betty & Bobo’s Better Breads.  I would like to display a picture but I turned the delectable baked good into simple toasted grilled cheeses with aged provolone.  Yummy!

My favorite find of the morning was this sun dried tomato fettuccine from Pappardelle’s Pasta:

It should make a wonderful weeknight pasta dish.  The stall from Pappardelle’s had about a dozen different pastas that I wanted to try, but a man has to restrain himself now and again.  Next time.

And turnips.  My father loves turnips.  Go to the grocery store and most of the turnips are wax covered and small.  It’s like peeling a golf ball.  One of the temporary vendors had a crate full of monstrous turnips:

I did not even pick out the biggest ones.

In general I would rate the NewBo City Market a success.  My other indicator that this opening is going well?  There was so much wireless traffic from the iPads with Square payment fobs that vendors had a difficult time completing credit card transactions.  Straight cash homey!

Another anecdotal measure of the market’s success is the number of items that I can think of right now that I would like to try to purchase on my next visit: pasta from Pappardelle’s, bread from Betty & Bobo’s Better Breads, a growler from NewBo Beer & Wine, a sandwich from Greyhound Deli, and so on.  Keep ‘em coming back for more!

Starting to Come Together

Recently, the vendor list for the NewBo City Market was released.  This is the first round of vendors who will have permanent indoor stalls in the market when it opens October 27th.

I am excited to see that Wallace Farms, the source of a lot of my meat products, will have a stall in the market.  I love the monthly buying club, but it is so much easier to menu plan if I know I can get something on a more frequent basis.

The NewBo City Market is starting to feel like it is coming together:

If you build it, they will come:

Okay, I could not help myself.  Anytime I can use a line from Field of Dreams it is going to happen.  Sorry.

It does not look like a lot because there is a lot of equipment surrounding the building and the plaza to be in front is a staging area for the construction, but there is progress.  Trust me.  If you want to see a lot of pictures of the interior and other construction shots check them out here. 

The NewBo City Market is going to serve as a real catalyst for the vitality of this area that was devastated during the 2008 flood.  Already, the Legion Arts’ CSPS Building is open with a ground floor bookstore and coffee shop.  Check out the beautiful restoration job on the historic building next door:

For those of us living in Cedar Rapids the events put on by Legion Arts are a real treasure.

For all of the progress however, signs of the destruction wrought by the flood are never far away.  Next door to the Hose Co. No. 4 building are two abandoned homes:

Down the street, next door to the recently opened Capone’s, is a scene right out of Detroit ruin porn:

These are just two of the examples within a camera shot of the other pictures that I took on a walk with my son.  I know it’s not politically correct, but when I was a kid we used to refer to scenes like this as “looking like Beirut.”

It’s a work in progress, I know, and dealing with FEMA, local governments, and property owners is a tangled mess in the best of circumstances.  Following a catastrophic natural disaster is nothing short of Sisyphean.  However, on a weekday at noon people were streaming into the area to eat lunch which is a harbinger of what this area can become with a little work.  Maybe someone should open a pizzeria like Pizzicletta in Flagstaff.

A nice little touch from my friends at Parlor City:

It’s nice to be able to pump up your tires or tighten a bolt without bringing the tools when you are heading down to New Bo for a few drinks in the evening.  Always better to arrive on two wheels than four.

New Bo City Market

Approximately four years ago—June of 2008—the Cedar River finally crested well above flood stage in an epic disaster that inundated much of downtown and the surrounding neighborhoods.  After three years of often bitter back and forth the wheels of recovery finally seem to be moving in the right direction.  Just to give you an idea:

The new public library, whose predecessor was completely flooded and transferred to a private entity for redevelopment, is finally under way forming a new heart to the urban core.  The city offices are moving back downtown for the first time since the flood as renovated buildings are completed.  Several long gestating projects are underway and demolition of ruined properties has reached well beyond the halfway mark.

There is still a lot of work to do until the city can be considered “healed,” if that is even possible but there are signs of progress.

An opportunity that was “birthed” by the flood was to reimagine a former foods warehouse into something useful to the community at large.  Sure, a warehouse that provides a service has utility but located in a burgeoning entertainment and—dare I say—lifestyle part of town would be a waste of space.  Following the flood, plans were hatched for the New Bo City Market in the New Bohemia district of downtown Cedar Rapids.  Across the Cedar River from the more famous Czech Village, New Bohemia or New Bo was becoming a nightlife and arts destination.

The idea is great—build a facility that can be used year round as a market for local vendors, much like a farmers market but with the benefit of cover, and serve as a center for community events.  Considering that the former warehouse loomed over the neighborhood like a sullen ogre only makes the transformation more of a plus.  Check out the progress and news at the Facebook page for the New Bo City Market or join the Friends of the New Bo City Market group.

Four years ago this is what the area looked like:

The arrow is where the New Bo City Market will be located when it is complete.

So, the immediate are will go from looking like this after the flood in 2008:

To looking something like this in fall of 2012:

If you get a chance, check out the happenings at the New Bo City Market’s Facebook page where new photos are added regularly and the progress of construction is well documented.

Every time I am downtown I take the opportunity to pass by the construction site and see the progress.  Along with the new coffee shop and bookstore going into the CSPS building this area is becoming a real destination.  It helps that Parlor City has somewhere close to 50 beers on tap and many great Iowa beers included in that inventory.  When I need a Toppling Goliath fix, Parlor City is the go to place.