I’ve now entered an area of higher density and development than, say, southern Saskatchewan. London is the biggest city on my route since my rest day in Winnipeg. It will continue to be this way until Montreal or Quebec City. There’s comfort in knowing that I’m within a short drive of family and friends. That I’m not 50 or 100 km from the next city. That the cell reception is reliable at all times. On the other hand, it will be more urban landscapes than the familiar field and forest tapestry.
I have good reasons to stop here in London. For one, my legs are still aching after yesterday’s wind challenge. It’s also an opportunity to spend more time with Alex’s family. Lynda and I both snoozed well past my usual waking time. I only woke once in the night to have a 2 am snack. This used to be a normal occurrence for me, but has become more frequent with the amount of activity I’ve been doing. Maybe “normal” isn’t the word to describe it, more like a regular occurrence. We ate breakfast and then I had my second breakfast. I feel like a bottomless pit around others who have a more moderate appetite.
Lynda recently relocated from Georgetown to London. She is definitely a people person and, as predicted, she has come to know the entire neighbourhood. I get the sense that she’s happier here. After second breakfast, she toured me through the Blackfriar neighbourhood, now one of the historical areas in the city. We walked along the London equivalent of the seawall and then made our way to their community garden. She is one of 23 gardeners in the area who maintain a plot of land. She has more squash on the go than anyone could possibly eat. We took lots of pauses to chat with neighbours. I think this is what a community is supposed to feel like.
After our community tour, we were ready to branch out and see more parts of the city. Every Saturday, there’s an indoor summer market at the Western Fair Grounds. It reminded me of Granville Island, but without the gouging prices. We explored both levels of shops, filled with food and artisans. I wanted to eat just about everything there. Well, not the artisans. We restrained ourselves to taking away four meat pies and one loaf of Parmesan garlic loaf. When one carb lover is with another carb lover, it’s dangerous.
We hadn’t had our fill of markets. We made a pit stop at the permanent downtown market to drop off supplies to the Growing Chefs program. While downtown, we stopped at a games store to pick up a puzzle. The selection was limited – a total of two puzzles. We opted for the 1000-piece mermaid puzzle and hurried home to get started. We actually spent most of our afternoon straining our eyes to match various fish scales and mermaids tails. We did pretty well over the five hour span of puzzling. By 6 pm, we paused our efforts and met with Lynda’s friend, Grace, who walked with us along Central Avenue to Katie’s place for drinks.
The big event tonight was London Rib Fest in Victoria Park. I can’t say I’m a big ribs fan, so the fascination with ribs and sauces and BBQ grills is lost on me. We approached the park and saw the line of vendors and their tables bending under the weight of their trophies. How do you choose between them? There were some distasteful slogans – “Can you handle a full rack?!” with a big chested woman – which automatically ruled some of them out. Do you go with Whitby’s choice for best sauce or Wasaga Beach’s winner for best overall? We didn’t know, so we went to the only vendor selling Mac and Cheese. They seemed to have the right recipe. Katie and I both ordered a plate of sides and no ribs. An order of Mac and cheese plus cornbread and coleslaw and refried beans for $10? We were sold.
That’s when we parted ways. Katie and Andy stayed to support a Led Zeppelin tribute band. I was more interested in mermaids and sleep. Lynda, Grace, and I headed back to her house to finish the most challenging bits. There would be no sleep until the puzzle was complete. This is a recurring theme when I’ve made puzzles with friends in the past (Robin – all the puzzles we do; Care, Rach, and Ali – remember the Hamilton review?) Who knew that dolphins and sea horses would be so tough? With Grace’s eagle eye, we spent another hour sliding in the last pieces.
All 1000 pieces in place, we disbanded and headed to bed. I’m sure I’ll be up again later to hunt around for snacks. Somehow four meals and a day of snacks will still not be enough for my hunger. Now that I’m around a more normal schedule, I’m aware of how messed up my eating patterns have been. Tomorrow, I’m heading to Hamilton for more family time. My mom thinks I look too skinny so there will be lots of food pushing and I’ll gladly accept.
Start time: 00:00
Finish time: 23:59
Riding time: 0 hours, 0 minutes
Distance: 0 km by bike
Total distance: 4556.63 km
Elevation gain: 0 meters
Total elevation: 21,492 meters
Average speed: snail pace
Number of slices of artisan bread that I ate: 4 + cheese