Saturday was a rest day. We did get out to walk in the morning, but our walk turned into more of a shuffle than a hike. We drove over to Tower Grove Park and attended their farmers market. The Tower Grove market is different from any of the other farmers markets about town. It seems more artisanal than the others. Many of the booths featured products that are available in the stores, but these local providers take this opportunity to showcase their wares to the markets mostly young and hip clientele. There are also plenty of causes represented too. One was a bird rescue organization. They rescue pet birds, who frequently live a long time and then try to find them new owners. We ended up buying fixings for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Acquired was ‘naked’ bacon, black bean humus and orange coconut butter. Breakfast we consumed on the spot. After the market, we did walk a little in the park and found a stand of lotuses that were at peak bloom.
Today or rather tonight is the holiday Día de Muertos, the Mexican holiday that we call the Day of the Dead. Saint Louis Magazine had the hours for the Cherokee Street celebration beginning before noon, but when we biked over there, there was no party to be found. I figured out later that it is more of a nighttime thing than something done during the day. For us, this holiday turned out to be kind of a day of the dud. Anyway, we had a nice luncheon at La Vallesana. Their pork tacos were worth a revisit and we ordered two more. It was a beautiful sunny day that warmed up quite nicely. We enjoyed riding through both Forest and Tower Grove parks. There was plenty of fall foliage to be found and it was nice to have us both out on our bikes together again.
It is a long, deep, whirring, haunting wail that takes you out somewhere beyond the highest Himalaya peaks and at the same time back into your mother’s womb.
Yesterday, at the Festival of Nations, as we walked past the Tibetan booth, we happened upon a little scene playing itself out. One Tibetan was blowing their big horn and it was freaking out this dog. Yes, that is the back of the dog’s head in the picture along with part of its leash. Every time that the horn sounded the dog would bark and start jumping around. The Tibetans loved it, the crowd loved it and seeing that it was the center of attention, the dog liked it too.
I got Anne out on the bicycle today. She was still laid low from her cold on Friday, so this Friday off together was not as much fun as the last one was. I got out on the bike yesterday, but it just wasn’t the same without her. Today, we rode over to Tower Grove Park for its big festival of the year, The Festival of Nations. As you can tell from the photo, there were thousands of people there. There were hundreds of booths too, representing many of the world’s nations. We regularly attend this festival, but I noticed something new this year, in addition to nation-states various ethnicities were also there.
The main draw for me is the food. We started off with Vietnamese pork pot stickers. They were very good. I could have gone for a second round of them. Next up, was a sort of baklava confection from Kurdistan, but instead of normal filo dough, it used something that seemed like shredded wheat. It too was good. I now know how much sweet syrup to put on my next bowl of Shredded Wheat to make it taste good. We rounded things out with two orders of Columbian arapas, one chicken, the other vegetarian, which were kind of meh, except for the salsa that came with them. We also got lemonade with mangos there, which were to die for. I’ll have to try to make some for myself. We took in more than food from the represented cultures. The festival had multiple stages performing simultaneously and in-between bouts of eating, we caught a few acts. On the way out, we saw Bobby at the Model UN booth. She gave us a little bit more intel on Dan’s big party at the house.
A final note about the traffic. It was horrible. Even on a normal Saturday, there is a lot of traffic around Tower Grove, but today it was just insane. Lucky for us, we were on our bicycles and were able to take full advantage of the dedicated bicycle lane running up Tower Grove Avenue. Much of the street was just a parking lot that we just breezed on by.
Anne got back on the bike today after almost a month’s hiatus and with less than a month to go until this year’s MS-150; both of us need to do some more serious training. I think that our stint as a pair of Muppets has mostly worn off. All that being said today was more of a recovery ride, from yesterday’s wee bit of cross training at the Shut-Ins. We were both feeling it today. We got off to kind of a late start and it was already warming up quite nicely when we eventually launched towards Forest Park, which was even at mid-morning still very much its typical Saturday zoo. There were way too many weekend warriors for our tastes, so we bailed from that park and headed over to Tower Grove Park and its farmers market. It was hot enough that we treated ourselves to specialty popsicles. Anne had coffee with cream and I had watermelon. A passing shopper suggested that we try avocado next. This should give you a hint to what a foodie mecca this market has become. On the way out, we happened upon an unusual mobile home. It is a one of a kind and is made primarily from reused materials. I’ll save it until later, because it is a post unto itself. We stopped at the botanical gardens on the way back and spent an hour there. I’ve learned two things in life: 1) don’t poke the bear, 2) do feed the bear. Following rule #2, we stopped at Urban Chestnut, which features indoor bike parking, for a late lunch and then pedaled home. I still need to work on following rule #1.
As if there is any question, Anne won. What a day! We began with a bicycle ride through Forest Park and then Tower Grove Park. Tower Grove’s farmers market was going great guns. I wish that Alice and Chris could see it now. When we took them through it before, it was only the beginning of the season and it hadn’t really got going yet then. Today, there were wall-to-wall vendors, food trucks lining the front drive and the fountain was running. Meaning that any child that could, would get themselves soaked. Kids frolicking in this ancient fountain made this morning stop seem quite magical. It was more than hot enough for a swim today.
Après ride, we did a charity event for the school district’s house, Joe’s Place. This event, was one part trivia night, one part scavenger hunt and one part tests of skills. Overall, we didn’t do that well, but we had our moment and we had fun too. Mainly, we scavenged from one venue to the next, mostly bars. Each stop had its trivia questions and its test of skill and each spot was hosted by one of the many shops in Maplewood. The highlight stop was at the tea room, where Anne successfully guessed the name of all four tea samples that we tasted. Nelson was the judge there and he was frankly amazed. No one else had done that yet. I was less successful with the beer flight tastings, but it goes further. There were two throwing games. On the first one, only one teammate could toss and I threw and only scored one point, still tying for second at the time. On the second venue both of us could toss and Anne beat me there too, at better than 2:1. To add insult to injury, I had to do the dog biscuit challenge. The idea of this game was to maneuver a dog cookie from your forehead into your mouth. I failed, but few teams succeeded. We were team #35 and when I participated only three other teams had been successful. Still, it was all a lot of fun.