Tour of Missouri

Monday was Labour Day, a holiday here in the US (like in many developed nations) that celebrates the worth of the worker… though we are not too sure just how many Americans would know that… in any case, it was a lovely day to finish up a rather variable long weekend.  We set off for downtown St Louis after Kazuo’s nap and gathered, with many others, in the City Garden to watch some circuits of the first stage of the Tour of Missouri.  The Post Dispatch has posted a great video summarising the day’s events.

City Garden

Having avidly watched a number of Tour de France races over the years, we were not sure why we hadn’t realised that this race was such a big deal.  There are some big names in cycling who make the 612mile trek across Missouri for more cycling glory and so it was exciting to get out and see some live peleton action.

The race was dominated for the first 8 circuits by these three – Moises Aldape (Team Type 1) of Mexico, Tomas Vaitkus (Astana) of Lithuania, and  Chris Anker Sorensen (Team Saxo Bank) of Denmark, who formed a breakaway and were only caught up by the peleton towards the end of the race.  So we didn’t get to see any sprinting action while we were out spectating, but the breakaway three were doing a really tough job.

Breakaway

The peleton sped past us so quickly each time, it was impossible to distinguish any of the riders with any certainty, but inevitably, Team Columbia were dominating the pack from the start.

Peleton

Here they are snaking their way round the final corner to streak eastward on Market St towards the finish line – they made such a striking sight as they swooped round the corner (such a pity my camera is not up to impressing you with this vision!):

Snaking Peleton

We managed to stay for several circuits, but – in order to get the wee guy home and beat the traffic rush – we headed home before the end… so we missed the pile-up where poor Christain Vandevelde broke a finger, and we missed Mark Cavendish’s triumphant sprint across the finish line to win the yellow jersey for the day… but we’d had a lovely time spectating in the sun and were grateful to have seen some top cyclists up close.  Kazuo had a prime vantage point and seemed to really love watching all the action zooming past:

Spectating

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Of Water, the Web and Wimbledon…

This has been a week of wonderful outings and much much cooler weather, so better for all of us to bear.  Having had a very harrassed afternoon at the university pool last Friday, where Kazuo did manage to have his first swim, but also seemed ready to expire from the heat… I was keen to try him out in the water in more reasonable temperatures, and in a slightly more conducive environment.  The chance came last Sunday, a mild but sunny day.  Akira and I packed up all the pool paraphenalia, and drove to the local community pool.  I was pleased to have acquired a crab pool float for Kazuo that had a canopy to keep him shaded from the dreaded sun.  There are not too many things that really get me concerned with Kazuo, he is happy and healthy and there is not much to be wary of right now, but coming from a country under an enormous hole in the ozone layer, the sun really gets me going… and with him still being a little young for sunblock… well, I covered him up as much as was reasonable, but was extra glad for Crabby’s cover.  Here is our serious little guy in Crabby, just checking out the water and all the kids playing around him:Swimming in Crabby

A wonderful successful swimming trip… seems like the water is a hit with Kaz, so you can imagine my consternation when I received a recall email yesterday for the pool float.  Sigh… what to do?  It seems that some of these toys rip at the leghole and babies can fall into the water.  Apparently there have been 31 instances of this across the board of all their pool float toys, no incidents that were injurious or caused a drowning, but  they are still recalling all 40 million toys sold between 2002-2009!!  In my mind this seems excessive… and I am in love with Crabby, he solves my sun neuroses… so I don’t want to part with him, esp since there are no alternatives on the market, this company has it cornered… and I am never going to leave Kaz swimming alone in Crabby, so could catch him should a tear occur… so silly, so extreme, I am assuming that they would not replace him with a better model, this smacks of a going out of business kinda operation.  I guess if I do hold onto him, I am just forfeiting my right to sue if something does happen… weird.

This last week we also had our lovely friend Caroline, from Leeds, come stay.  She bonded with Kazuo over his bottles and was very kind and chatty with him.  We have had a few visitors since Kaz arrived and it is nice to share our slower pace of life with our very understanding guests.  Caroline managed to arrive in time for the opening of the marvellous new City Garden in the downtown area.  St Louis is odd in that the CBD was abandoned in favour of the Clayton area in the 70s and it seems that regeneration of what was once a vibrant city (the 1904 Olympics and 1905 World’s Fair were here!) is a slow-going dream.  But this marvellous space may just help that effort along… a wonderful couple of blocks with art, gardens and fantastic interactive water features that are a hit with the children in a hot summer.  It particularly liked this sculpture by Mimmo Paladino on a little rise at the entrance to the garden:

Art at City Garden

More water was in store for Kazuo.  We explored the water jets in the water play area, and Kazuo was rather bemused.  I take his placid and serious approach to new experiences to be at least approval, since I am sure he would cry if he disliked/was frightened by whatever we were exposing him to.  But cheerful smiles and chuckles of delight are still a way off I guess. Here he is stripped off to his nappy and checking out a middle-sized spray of water… well, I thought it was fun, he will get there I suppose:

City Garden

Having disposed of the cable box, and hopefully this week, the television, we acquired a PC to watch sports on and to speed up life online, since we had been relying on my ancient and slow laptop.  We managed to watch the Federer/Roddick final this morning (a very boring morning for Kazuo as his parents obsessed over every stroke…) and were both on the edge of our seats as the match went into 30 games in the fifth set… as wonderful as it would have been to see underdog Roddick win his first title (we have a preference for the underdog in this house), it was an amazing relief to see Federer make tennis history with his 15th Grand Slam… and with such graceful, elegant tennis.  A great morning.  The computer has also provided an opportunity for Kazuo to have a little foray into cyberspace… I know it won’t happen too often, and is not really the kind of thing we will be encouraging, but Akira has found a cheerful little program called Baby Smash that converts the keyboard into a random letters/geometric pattern generator, and it is really Kaz friendly.  Here he is with Dada, getting ready for some Baby Smash action:

Baby Smash