Gearing up and getting out

A post about biking with the trailer is in the works, but the truth is, even before last week’s snow and the resulting icy roads, Gabriel and I have been sticking closer to home, with more outings by foot.  That, and quite a lot of car outings for family time over the holidays.

Last Friday, we walked through a pretty snowfall for a family pizza dinner outing.  Not amazing pizza, but good, with a nice atmosphere, and the whole being able to walk there makes it taste better thing going.

Thus far, we’ve been pretty minimalist with Gabriel’s footwear — barefoot or socks (no shoes) exclusively for the first year.  While we were mired in indecision (and Gabriel got closer to walking), trying to find a balance between good shoes that would actually be foot shaped and healthy for his feet and not spending an unreasonable amount of money for shoes that he would outgrow in a few months, my MIL bought a pair of Skidders (I’ve also seen them called Rubberoos).

Foot-shaped, flexible, easy to wear, they’re a kind of hybrid sock-shoe: sock-like fabric top with a thin, flexible, grippy rubber bottom.  They’ve been great for the past few months, and Sir logged some serious miles in them, between walks with me and with his grandpa (up to a half mile!), but they’re not so good for walking outside in wet/cold/snowy conditions.

Though I liked the design of some of the Keen infant/toddler boots, I couldn’t bring myself to drop eighty dollars or more on a pair, so last week (just in time for the snow), I compromised on an okay-for-not-to-frequent-wear pair of snow boots at a kids’ consignment store.  Gabriel had to relearn walking with the new kicks, but he picked it up fairly quickly.

On NewYear’s day, we hit the slopes.  Luckily, the park at the end of our street has a decent little hill.  Walkable sledding hill equals not having to navigate iffy streets in the car, a definite win.


Yes, there may have been as much grass as snow on some parts of the hill, but we take what we can get.

It’s been chilly (by StL standards) since the snow, and I’ve been in hibernation mode, but time outside is unarguably good for Gabriel (and probably good for me too), so we bundled up yesterday morning and ran some errands on foot, picking up a shoe repair and ducking into Home Eco.  We stuck to the sunny, non-icy side of the street, and Gabriel covered some serious distance before accepting a lift in the stroller.

Even in our not-super-cold temps (high teens, low twenties, may feel colder with wind), the right gear — warm footwear, good mittens, and, yes, balaclavas — make outside time much nicer.  An added bonus of the balaclavas — we’re ready to rob banks at the drop of a hat . . .


. . . or ready to encounter slightly sinister looking snowmen.  Happy winter!


Gabriel loves the outdoors, and while we have a great park within easy biking distance, and another smaller park and playground just over a block away, there’s nothing quite as simple as heading outside for a stroll.

Stick (or rock, or acorn) in hand, he’s ready to go.  Sometimes we spend thirty minutes investigating the area within four houses of our apartment.  Other times we make it all the way around the block.  I enjoy the lazy pace of our strolls — pausing, reversing course, stopping to eat smell flowers.

What you notice and take in depends so much on your mode of transportation.  In a car, houses, trees, and entire blocks fly by — gone in a blink, even at relatively low speeds.  On a bike, you’re much more aware of your surroundings, but even then, you roll by, sure to miss some details.  On our wanderings, we’re really part of the fabric of the street, experiencing everything at human speed.

It’s a guaranteed way to shrug off the grumps, and I have a feeling that someone’s smile (and adorable fuzzy coat) has that effect on most everyone we pass.

Find a pile of leaves at the base of a nice tree, sit down with the sun on your face, and settle in to your little nest.  Sometimes its good to have nowhere to go.

Active transportation tastes better

Our housing hunt continues, and, the day after my birthday, we both took the day off and spent the morning running around (in a car unfortunately) with a realtor looking at houses.

We planned to wrap things up by late morning and follow the house tour whirlwind by treating ourselves to lunch.  Due to excellent efficiency (and a few houses that we weren’t able to see), we were finished before eleven — too early for lunch — so we headed home.  After being in and out of the car all morning, a separate car trip just for lunch was the last thing I wanted.

Bicycles were an option, of course, but I really wanted to WALK somewhere.  Unfortunately, we don’t have many options within walking distance (if you discount a few fast food joints, which are not even on our radar).  My criteria for a walkable non-fast food restaurant led us to La Tropicana, a restaurant we’ve been talking about trying for quite some time now.

After a bit of back and forth with the waiter and chef, we ordered some vegetized versions of a couple of their standard menu items.  While I enjoyed the meal, getting to and from the restaurant on my own two feet was truly my favorite part of the outing. It felt both novel and right at the same time, and reminded me of our time in Italy last year.

I’m a little bummed that we’ve lived here for four years and just now ventured into La Tropicana — within weeks of a move that will most likely take us to a different neighborhood.  We don’t eat out often, but having a good choice within walking distance is worth a lot.  I hope we’ll have some walk & dine options in our new neighborhood (location TBD), because walking to a meal is the best seasoning.

These boots were made for walking

But unfortunately, these streets were not!

Saturday afternoon, we walked to an apartment viewing.  I knew it was less than a mile away, and the streets were in no condition for biking (for those of us without studded tires), so we laced up our boots and began the trek.  Unfortunately, the most direct route took us down a major arterial with lots of businesses.

I expected unshoveled sidewalks.  What I didn’t expect were the mounds of piled-up dirty snow and ice we encountered every time we came to the driveway to one of these businesses*.  The snow plows did a great job of clearing the streets and parking lots for drivers, with no regard whatsoever to any other users or means of transportation.  And we were not the only ones navigating the obstacle course, as a major bus route runs along this street, which means more pedestrians.

Despite the less than ideal walking conditions, I’m glad we opted to walk.  The apartment was another bust, which just made me extra glad we didn’t waste gas driving.  After viewing the apartment, we ventured just a bit further and had a lovely, snowy walk in Tower Grove Park — a great way to redeem the outing 🙂

* I don’t have photo evidence of the snow “removal” transgressions, but if there’s snow where you are, just look around when you’re out and about — I’m sure you’ll notice plenty of examples — especially if you’re out on foot!