OMG the next Toyota Tacoma comes with a snorkel

2019 Toyota Tacom TRD Pro. Source: Toyota

Toyota calls it a Desert Air Intake, but it’s a snorkel. Only available on the top of the line 2019 TRD Pro. As Toyota says:

The most eye-catching of the Tacoma upgrades, no doubt, is the available all-new TRD Desert Air Intake. Designed to sustain consistent off-road performance no matter how silty or dirty the terrain gets, the TRD Desert Air Intake takes the 278-horsepower 3.5L V6 engine’s air intake away from dust that hovers inside the wheel well (where traditional air intakes are located) during off-road operation. This allows for air ingestion to occur in a cleaner space above the windshield, therefore, helping to benefit filter longevity and, ultimately, engine health.

2019 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro. Source: Toyota
2019 Toyota TRD Pro 4Runner, Tundra, and Tacoma. Source: Toyota

 

 

Buy a Jetta, Get a Bike: The 1990s VW x Trek Collab

VW Trek BikeBack in 1996, Volkswagen partnered with Trek bicycles, offering a special VW Jetta Trek edition that came with a Trek mountain bike and a roof rack to put it on. The following year, they also offered a VW Trek Golf. One of those bikes turned at a charity bike store, and, although I’ve never owned a VW, I picked it up because, as it says on the frame, it’s a Limited Edition.

VW Trek Stem

 

The 1996 Jetta Trek Limited Edition Sedan started under $16,000 and came with either a five speed manual or four speed automatic. The VW Trek bike came with 21 speeds and custom seat, handgrips, and special graphics: a dude on a multi-colored rocket, orbiting the VW logo, and holding…something?

VW Trek Head Tube

Details on the bikes are a bit harder to find. The 1996 ones had a steel frame, but this one has an aluminum frame, which may be the 1997 version. The OCLV on the rocket stands for Trek’s patented carbon fiber, but it’s unlikely that there’s any of it on this bike. A few parts had been replaced in the past twenty years, including the saddle (which also would have had that rocket boy logo), but it still has the original VW hand grips.

VW Trek Hand Grip

It’s definitely in better shape than some of the Trek Edition automobiles out there: Junkyard Gem.

Still on the lookout for a Jetta Shepherd edition, though:

 

Restored Wetlands and a Hotel in Iowa

I enter my Iowa City hotel room and open the curtains to check out the view and there’s a flash of green in front of my eyes. It’s an actual, I-kid-you-not hummingbird flying outside my window.

This is not your typical chain hotel just off the highway. This is the Coralville Marriott Hotel, not far from downtown Iowa City, and even closer to the Interstate 80 exit ramp.

With the help of brownfields remediation grants (thank you, Environmental Protection Agency), the town of Coralville has cleaned up and redeveloped several acres of former wasteland. The Marriott Hotel is part of that redevelopment, and outside my window, I can see another component: the Iowa River Landing Wetlands Park. This charming park covers about 12 acres and includes ponds, an elevated walking trail, and wetlands plants.

Iowa River Landing
Iowa River Landing Wetland Park

From the lobby, you walk right out the back door to a large plaza, past a raised bed garden where vegetables are grown for the hotel restaurant, and onto the nature trail. Follow the path through the park (or just walk out the front door of the hotel) and it brings you back to the rest of the redevelopment project: several restaurants, an antique car museum, and a historical society.

Observation Tower
Iowa River Landing Wetlands Park and Observation Tower

There’s one more little gem inside the Marriott. Iowa City is the home of the famed Iowa Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa. Off the hotel lobby is the Iowa Writers Library, a bright room lined with bookshelves full of books by faculty and graduates of the Writers’ Workshop. There’s a fireplace, some comfortable chairs, and even a rolling ladder you can use to reach the books on the top shelves.

Iowa Writers Library
Iowa Writers Library, Coralville Marriot Iowa City

Wondering why it’s called Coralville? About 380 million years ago, during the Devonian Period,  Iowa City and the surrounding area were under the sea. Extensive coral reefs formed in the water, and then became fossilized. Remnants of these reefs can be found throughout the area.

Corals of Coralville
Corals of Coralville