Taste of Saint Louis

Taste of Saint Louis

On Saturday, we drove downtown and attended the food festival, Taste of Saint Louis. For the past few years, this fair about food fare had relocated out to West County, in Chesterfield. With the completion of the renovation of the Soldiers Memorial, it is now back where it belongs. Vendors are selected from local restaurants and while doing our initial walk through, I was struck by how many of these neighborhoods we haven’t been to for a while. Being out-of-town for three months is the main contributor for this, but I felt the need to revisit them.

We started with a pair of Sambusa from Meskerem Ethiopian Restaurant, one beef and the other lentil. They were both spicy, but good and made me want to checkout again the wide selection of ethnic restaurants along South Grand. We next sampled Chicken teka Masala with rice from Sameem Afghan Restaurant, located in the Grove. The chicken was so tender that you could cut it with a fork. Finally, dessert from Ices Plain & Fancy, located in Tower Grove North. In a twist Anne had their mint chip and I had a Frozen Dude, an adult concoction.

It was a beautiful day, probably the pick day of the weekend. I wish that we could have stayed longer, but time on the parking meter was running out. Feeling comfortably full, we decided that discretion was the better part of valor and left to go home. Too bad, it would have been nice to explore downtown some more. On the way out, Anne stopped to speak with a women’s college soccer team that was in from So-Cal. They had played Mizzou and still had some time to kill before their flight home. I hope that they enjoyed the Taste of Saint Louis as much as we did.  

The Festival of Nations

Brazilian Samba Dancer

The Festival of Nations is always held at this time of year in Tower Grove Park. In the past, the weather has been abominable, usually both hot and humid. Not this year though. You couldn’t ask for better weather than today’s. Anne and I bicycled to the festival, thus avoiding its chronic parking problems. We arrived early enough to beat most of the crowd. We filled up on Jamaican BBQ rib tips that came with a side of cabbage. Properly fueled, we toured the arts and crafts booths. We saw a few things that we could have bought, but in the end, we came up empty-handed. After all of this tough shopping, we replenished ourselves with Nepalese samosas. There may not have been any heat or humidity, but there was still plenty of humanity and as the crowd closed in, we grabbed some lawn space and watched a few of the many musical acts that the festival hosts.

The first act that we saw was a Mexican mariachi band. They had all of the little kids in the audience up and dancing when they played the popular song, Baby Shark Dance, which of course Anne knew all about. Next up was a Filipino dance group. This group seemed representative of many of the performers that we’ve seen over the nineteen years that we have been going to this festival. Focused on maintaining cultural heritage amid America’s melting pot, it featured mainly children, mainly girls, who have been taught some of the ways from the old country. I especially liked what I call the candle dance. I would look it up on the festival’s website, but as you can imagine, it is being slammed now. In this dance two young women, each hold two red candles, with a third balanced on their heads. The question arose as to whether those were real candles or faux LED candles? Zooming in on one, I could see the melting candle wax which then begged the question, after each performance, do they have to pick wax out of their hair? The final act that we saw is the pictured Brazilian samba dancers. The high energy lead dancer stole the show. After them, with feet that had gone to sleep, I unsteadily got to my feet again and we stumbled back to our bikes.

With all of the rancor that is daily being spewed forth from the #RacistInChief, this day’s interlude offered a welcome relief. It felt like a balm, to see so many people, of so many nationalities, celebrating together. People of every race and ethnicity cooking and eating together, singing and dancing together and most importantly talking and being together. Love can conquer hate. So, let’s do it!

Dueling Drive-Ins

Race Pennants

We’ve always gone to Clyde’s. There are two drive-ins in the Soo, Clyde’s and West Pier. Anne’s mom graduated from high school, the same year Clyde did, but of late West Pier has been getting a fair amount of critical acclaim. So, I figured that we should at least try it out. Located in the former Soo Line railroad freight depot, it was a little hard to find at first, but it is located almost beneath the International Bridge, at the west end of tourist row, also-known-as Portage. We arrived at noon to a full lot. It looked like there was limited seating inside and no outside seating, so we ate in the car. It wouldn’t be our first time for that. It was as good as advertised and I should have heeded the warnings about their huge portions. In the end, it is still a close call. I like Clyde’s ambiance, which you can read as the seagulls, but in order to ensure that their diner is really the best, further research is required.

No Rollerblading
No Skateboarding
No Snowboarding

After lunch, we hit the marina to checkout the boats for tomorrow’s Trans-Superior sailboat race. I keep wanting to call it the Trans-Siberian. At the marina, we saw the above warning sign, only in Sault Ste. Siberia. Crews were getting ready for the race. One crew had the tiniest marine toilet that I’ve ever seen, ready for installation. There are two 70′ boats and they’ll go head-to-head and after about 36 hours, one of them will be the winner in Duluth. The other twenty 40′ boats hope to finish in about 48 hours. Then after a night of revelry in Minnesota and a corresponding amount of  time to get back, we’ll likely see them all after their return run. After the marina at Meijer’s we saw what looked like one of the 70′ boat’s twelve man crew. They were loading two pickups full of food for the journey. I hope that that new little toilet is up to it all. 

Ezekiel 4:9

Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, Death Valley

When I first began coming to my in-law’s cabin, I stirred up a breakfast cereal controversy. I liked Cocoa Puffs, which my mother-in-law thought was simply horrid. While maybe not as healthy as the rather bland and tasteless cereals that they preferred, I liked it and in the scheme of things, what is really all that awful about chocolate frosted sugar-bombs anyway?

Take wheat and barley, beans and lentils, millet and spelt; put them in a storage jar and use them to make bread for yourself… – Ezekiel 4:9

Anne and I were in Meijer’s yesterday, working our way through the shopping list, when we came to bran. Harry had asked for it and had just written the word bran. When we got to the cereal aisle, we spied boxes of Food for Life’s Ezekiel 4:9 Sprouted Cereal for sale. Maybe if you find yourself lost in the desert for forty days and forty nights, it might be a good idea to have a bowl of it. I mean, how much more inspirational can you get, then by quoting the Bible, chapter and verse? We thought of getting some for Harry, just to see his reaction, but it cost twice as much, for a box that was half the size of other brands. In the end we decided not to and got raisin bran and not just bran. Hang the expense. 

Today, Anne went to town to do yoga and I went for a bike ride. I rode out to the lighthouse. On the way out, I rode through where the 6 mile construction crew had constricted traffic down to one lane. I almost made it through the mile and a half, before cars began coming the opposite way. I ducked into the closed lane.

I got to the lighthouse just as the Soo Locks Tour Boat, which was doing its regular Wednesday run out to the lighthouse and blew me a master’s salute. On the way back I first stopped at the Dancing Crane for a little latté. I again navigated the construction slalom and again couldn’t make it to the end before the other cars began coming at me. Another cyclist going the opposite direction had just made it through in time.

I stopped at the Bay Mart store in Brimley. Going in, I noticed a sign on the door that read, “Cyclist, please remove your helmet.” Figuring that the sign was for full face masked motorcyclists and not bicyclists, I didn’t take mine off and I thought I detected a look from the clerk, but it must have been something else, because he greeted me warmly with the news that tomorrow they will stripe 6 mile. Plans are to have a bike lane for the entirety of the newly paved road. 

Back to the New Normal

Zion Turkey

Jay and Carl left yesterday, making me the baby again in this geriatric ward, but Anne’s conversation choices are now reduced again to , “What?”, “Huh?” and me. I got myself into a bit of a snit, when after formulating the best ever rendition of my “California” chicken salad, I discovered that we were out of bread. I had to wait until Harry back from the store for more bread. By dinnertime, I was over it though and helped Anne fix fish tacos for dinner. We also finished up the last of the hummingbird cupcakes for dessert. Continuing with this theme of eating, I fixed avocado toast for breakfast today. It being Saturday, Anne’s special day. Of course since I retired, every day is Saturday.

Anne and I had a very productive beach walk. We saw a willet, which is pretty rare around here, but not unheard of. At first we thought that it was a Spotted sandpiper, which is very common on the beach. Then we decided that it was a Solitary sandpiper, which is supposed to also be common around here, but we haven’t seen any. In the end, I decided that it was a willet, because none of those other birds have the distinctive white wing-bar that the willet has. I just couldn’t convince Anne of this, because Lake Superior is outside its normal range. All her research did elicit these different names for a group of sandpipers though: bind, contradiction, fling, hill and time-step.

In addition to seeing the bird, we saw a parade of sorts. This parade was sponsored by the Corps of Engineers. In its vanguard was a tug, the Bill Maier. It was towing not one, but two barges. The first barge had a huge crane on it, while the second one appeared empty. The pilot boat brought up the rear of this entourage. Usually, cranes and empty barges signify channel dredging, but at last report, via the marine App, the Maier has just rounded Whitefish point. This same App is no more help, because it lists its destination as Burns Harbor, IN.

Huevos were the walk’s final attraction. Thousands of huevos were washing up on the beach or so we thought. What we saw were clear, gelatinous, pea-sized globules. They looked like the tiny jellyfish that wash up on Florida beaches, but that could not be what we found here. Then we figured that they were fish eggs or maybe giant brain eating amoebas, but a search of the web determined that these so-called “goo balls” were actually the gelatinous mantle coverings of tiny zooplankton crustaceans called Holopedium gibberum. Adults of this species live inside this layer of goo for protection, with only their limbs sticking out for locomotion and for feeding on other plankton. As part of their natural life cycle, they shed their gelatinous mantle, which floats to shore for us to find. 

We saw this turkey in Zion. It was hanging around the Weeping Rock bus stop. It looks hot. It was a hot day. It was not particularly frightened by me or the other people who were watching it. I think that it was looking for a handout. I had already attached this photo to this post, before we saw any of the day’s sights. So, it will be a day or two, before their photos appear on this blog. Still, it was a pretty amazing beach walk.