Monday, July 10, 2017

Kayaking Group Tours in Milwaukee

If you're looking for an extraordinary way to bond with friends or co-workers outside of the normal channels, kayaking down the river together might be it.  I'm a board member at the Park People of Milwaukee County, and we decided it would be great to gather on the river for a few hours, as most of us only see each other at the monthly meetings.  This was a great respite.

One of our members set up a group kayak tour with the Urban Ecology Center.  All we had to do was show up in comfortable clothing that could stand getting wet a bit.  We had to stand in water to get into the kayak too, so water shoes were helpful. The kayaks and professionals met us at the launch site in Thiensville, with all the gear we needed. They had transported it using a trailer specially made for kayaks. They even did the unloading, though we helped a bit.

One of the Urban Ecology Center professionals was with us throughout the day, acting as leader. She gave a short briefing, helped us gear up, and watched over us as we paddled. There were only a few small mishaps- hats blowing into the water, low lying branches getting in the way, getting stuck on shallow rock ledges. The sun was quite strong though, and I was glad to have sunglasses and sunscreen. A few of our members had never been in a kayak, and they were able to do this, so don't let being a beginner stand in the way. The kayaks are lightweight. They had doubles and singles. My son and I were able to share a kayak, so he could enjoy the scenery even if he didn't paddle.

The scenery along the river is quite nice this time of year. We saw waterfowl- heron, geese, ducks. The greenery makes for some great photos too.  We passed the stone bridge, which I had never seen before.  Very nice.  There's a new small boat launch near Brown Deer Road called Badger Meter River Park.  If you're looking for  launch point, or just a place to get out and have a picnic, check it out. 

Ready to plan your own group tour?  It doesn't have to be kayaking. You can also do biking or a nature walk.  In winter, it could be cross country skiing.  The link for group events is here. The fee will vary depending on the number of hours and the amount of equipment.  Remember once you're a member, you can also use the free rental of equipment, including kayaks, or even try out the shuttle service. Check out these other fun Urban Ecology Center paddling programs this summer. See you on the water!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Outdoor Yoga in Parks 2017

At an international travel blogger conference held in Milwaukee during spring, attendees were offered an opportunity to do yoga inside the Milwaukee Art Museum. It turned out to be one of the highest rated experiences. I said to one of the participants, "this is cool, but just wait until summer! Outdoor yoga in our parks is the BEST!" She was very impressed because it isn't an option in the city where she lives.  Have you tried it yet? I encourage you to do so.  You will need to bring a mat for all of these classes and dress in comfortable loose clothing. It helps to have layers, because weather can be unpredictable.

Here are the current classes available for Summer 2017.

OmTownYogis bring yoga to the parks for the fourth year, and now they've added a special tab for the parks on their website.

This runs July 8-August 26, on Saturdays at three parks from 9-10 AM:  
KLODE PARK (5900 N Lake Drive, Whitefish Bay) 
ATWATER PARK (4000 N Lake Dr, Shorewood)

And on Wednesday evenings from 5 - 6 PM at Hart Park (1150 N 68th St, Wauwatosa - on the river across the street from the bandshell)

6/14 Kim Carpenter of TOSA YOGA CENTER
7/12 Julie Kamikawa of KOLIBRI KIRTAN & YOGA
7/26 Shayna Broadwell of WISCONSIN ATHLETIC CLUB
8/9 Katie Haws of TOSA YOGA CENTER
8/16 Forest Richter of INNER LIGHT YOGA STUDIOS
8/30 Michelle Shultz of GET HOT YOGA

For the yogi who loves a bit more adventure, try the Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP) Yoga at Veterans Park on Tuesday nights, put on by Milwaukee Power Yoga. 
SUP Yoga: Stand Up Paddle Board Yoga Summer Series
Tuesdays, 6:30 - 7:30 p.m. with Kate Dean | June 20th - August 29th 

Like Yoga and Paddling, but separately? Clearwater Outdoors hosts H2O & Body Saturdays, 8-10 AM now through September 16. You'll need to register at the website link. Cost varies depending on whether you're an adventure club member.
Saturday, meet at the Clear Water Outdoor rental Watershed building, corner of Water and St. Paul in the Third Ward at 7:45am for check in. Enjoy an hour of yoga followed by a blissful morning paddle on the Milwaukee River. No experience is necessary - instructors will be on hand to guide you through yoga and the basics of paddling. Space is limited for this popular event. Please bring your own yoga mat.

Kadish Park has one of the very best views of the city of Milwaukee and the riverfront.  To do yoga here, simply join the Meetup Group.  They hold events on various days and times, but once you're in the group, you'll be in the know for everything they plan. I love that this is just a group of passionate yogis who want to share their love of yoga.
This is a casual, beginner oriented group that will focus mainly on basic and a few intermediate poses. A mat or towel is recommended as the grass at Kadish can be a little scratchy. Afterwards we will usually descend the hill and enjoy some drinks and food at one of the nearby restaurant patios along the river. No experience necessary and all ages welcome. Totally free.

If you enjoy farmer's markets and yoga, head over to Cathedral Square where yoga kicks off each Saturday morning at 9 AM. This goes on throughout the season with the last session September 30. This is put on by the Wisconsin Athletic Club.

Each Saturday morning from 8:30-9:30 AM, the Tosa Farmers Market is also happy to provide Yoga at the Market just over the bridge toward Hart Park. The last farmers market is October 14.

Come to Bayshore Mall's Center (at the fountain) Saturdays 8-9:30 for a yoga session put on by Neroli. These are FREE!

Would you like to try Hatha Yoga? Come to the Schlitz Audubon Center for weekly classes which are held outdoors, weather permitting. Every Monday | 5:30pm – 6:45pm

Lisa Lewis, LMT, CYT leads this yoga class designed for all levels of students. Classes are therapeutic in nature, and will be challenging at times. Students are taught to observe their body and breath and to practice within their capacity. Come enjoy spring! When the weather is warm enough class will be held outside. The first class is always free!

Members: $15 drop-in, or $60 for 5 classes, or $100 for 10 classes. (Package expires after 12 weeks.)
Non-members: $20 drop-in, or $66 for 5 classes, or $110 for 10 classes. (Package expires after 6 weeks.)

Try yoga or tai chi at Lynden Sculpture Gardens.
Yoga: A Meditation Practice on Art with Heather Eiden
Sundays, 1:30-3 pm - June 4-25, 2017

Tai Chi for Health Warriors with Angela Laughingheart
Sundays, 9-10:30 am
Session I: June 11-July 2, 2017 - Registration closed.
Session II: July 9-30, 2017
Session III: August 6-27, 2017

Here's a flyer for yoga at the Umbrella Bar at the Rock Complex. Though it says to register at the website, it took some time for me to find out how, so I'll just say to preregister at the punch pass link.

Alice's Garden hosts yoga at nearby Johnson's Park. There's an event June 25, but check the Alice's Garden Facebook page for more events during the summer.

Perhaps my favorite space is Villa Terrace Museum.  Try this at least once this summer. Every Sunday at 8:30 AM, June through October. $10 donation. A different instructor every week.

Atwater Beach has a special annual event focused on surfing. What a super fun event this has been in the past, and a great way to learn about Great Lakes surfing. This day includes beach yoga and it will be August 19. Check the Surfrider web page for more information on the event, which runs from 5:30 AM.  You can also learn to surf, and ride a SUP. Movies round out the fantastic evening.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Benches and Trees Make Great Gifts

Father's Day is coming soon. Are you looking for a unique gift for the dad who has everything?  How about having a tree planted or a bench placed in a park in their honor?  It's easy to do and makes a gift that will last a long time and be enjoyed by many people during all seasons.

Trees are available through the Park People website.  Costs run from $400 through $550, depending on the type of tree you choose.  There are a variety of trees- crabapple, japanese lilac, redbud, evergreens, maple, oak, birch, etc.  The trees are planted during spring and fall.  You get a brass hang tag that will be placed on a branch after planting and can usually choose the site in the park of your choice.  Wouldn't it be great to have a tree you can enjoy with your friends and family for many years to come?

Commemorative benches are also available through the Park People Website.  Prices start at $1900 for a steel bench.  Wooden benches made of fir are available for a couple hundred dollars more.  A brass tag will be placed on the bench. You decide what to write on the tag, and can also choose the park location.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Outdoor Movies, Music, and Festivals in Parks 2017

It's outdoor movie season- Humboldt Park
The Family Flicks Schedule is out!  This is a great way to spend a summer evening with your family or make a date night.  Bring a blanket and some snacks.  Settle down on the lawn with your friends and have a good time with these family friendly titles!  Movies begin at dusk.  You can see the complete line-up of great movies by clicking on the link.  This year 2 additional locations were added.  Here's what we know so far. All movies are shown at no charge:

Veteran's Park at 1010 N Lincoln Memorial Park, sponsored by Guardian Credit Union and Gift of Wings at the Kite Shop.
Sat., June 10 The Jungle Book (PG)
Sat., June 24 Sing (PG)
Fri., July 7 Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (PG-13)
Sat., Aug 19 The LEGO Batman Movie (PG)
Sat., Aug 26 La La Land (PG-13)
Sun., Sept 3 DOUBLE FEATURE: Groundhog Day (PG) and Top Gun (PG)

Film on the Hill at Humboldt Park, 3000 S. Howell Ave, sponsored by the Bay View Neighborhood Association in the bandshell.
Sat., July 22 La La Land (PG-13)
Sat., Aug 5 The LEGO Batman Movie (PG)

Ferch's Beachside Movies on the beach at Grant Park, 100 Oak Creek Parkway, sponsored by Ferch's Grille and Guardian Credit Union
Wed., June 14 Sing (PG)
Wed., July 12 Moana (PG)
Wed., Aug. 23 Zootopia (PG)

The Swing Park is the place to be for Bike-in Movie Nights. Here is the line-up, thanks to generous donors. You can still donate to a Go Fund Me account and get a shout-out before the movie.
June 16 Space Jam
July 21 Princess Bride
Aug 18 Back to the Future 2
Sep 15 The Muppet Movie
Oct 20 E.T.

And for a complete poster of all the entertainment in county parks, download the 2017 Best Entertainment Guide and Summer Movie Guide. Print them out and share with friends and co-workers.

Peck Flicks at the Marcus Center will be back starting in August.  This is at the outdoor stage along the river beside the Marcus Center starting at 7:15, although seating and snack sales begin at 6. Starting in July you'll find family friendly concerts here too. Here's the full schedule of Live at Peck.

Fish Fry and a Flick at Discovery World will not be returning this year, and maybe after seven years, it will not be back again.

Looking for festivals? OnMilwaukee is a great resource for all kinds of happenings.  Here's their summer festival guide.

And for a complete poster of all the entertainment in county parks, download the 2017 Best Entertainment Guide. You can print it out and put in up on your refrigerator.

Have you been to the Rock Sports Complex yet?  Enjoy great views from the umbrella bar and check out the music events. They have added a beer and soda garden for this summer. 

One last place for festivals being held in Milwaukee- the website Everfest.  Lots of information about upcoming street, church, and other festivals.  You may want to bookmark this site for future travel this summer because you can put in a city and it will let you know what's happening for a range of dates.

Looks like it's going to be a great summer for entertainment in Milwaukee!!!

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Sculpture Milwaukee on Wisconsin Avenue Begins Today

It took several years of planning, but philanthropist and art lover, Steve Marcus,  is finally seeing his vision of world class high quality art pieces being plucked down along Wisconsin Avenue for the summer. This is no small feat. He and everyone involved deserves huge applause, especially Russell Bowman who is the curator.  You might recall Bowman was a previous director of our Milwaukee Art Museum and he is the reason we have the Calatrava iconic building today.

We're lucky we get to see it for free, and if all goes well, this could become an annual event. The program is being called Sculpture Milwaukee and it will be intact through mid October. Officially there are 22 pieces, though Wisconsin Avenue has other artwork and architecture that make this a virtual garden of eye candy for the soul.

I took a stroll along the outdoor art museum's corridor today and really enjoyed the unique pieces in so many different forms.  No matter what your taste, there will likely be a piece that speaks to you.
Road construction and parking are currently a problem for the downtown.  If you want the sculptures to yourself, I'd advise getting up early to see the sunrise on the lake at the art museum, then walking Wisconsin Avenue. I didn't arrive until 8:30, so I parked at Juneau Park on the street where you have 2 hours of free parking (it's there, just look for it in between metered parking), because I like a bargain. I walked the entire street, got a coffee, talked to artists, took photos and made it back with time to spare.  You could also park in O'Donnell garage for about $5.

I met the new Wisconsin Avenue Artist in Residence, Mauricio Ramirez, who has been fighting bad weather in painting the ten utility boxes he's been selected to paint.  The project adds a layer of urban art to the project.  Using only spray paint and geometric designs to paint famous people of Milwaukee, it's a challenge that won't go unnoticed.

You might recall a few years ago, the flowers planted along this corridor had a bicycle theme.  Those are gone now, but there are still some very beautiful plantings, incorporated into the whole artistic theme.

There were some boxes that had been removed during the Northwestern Mutual building project, streetside to the construction. These were lamp poles with motion detectors which would generate a flip story as people walked by.  You'll be happy to know these have been put back in place now. Be sure to walk both sides of the Avenue so you see all the details.

If you choose to do the walk during your lunch hour, you'll likely find food trucks in abundance.  Stop by to refuel.

Looking for additional urban hikes?  Look at my posts about the Milwaukee Statue Tour, and Summer Walking Tours.

This is also a great time to hop on the Milwaukee Trolley.  It starts this week-Thursday through Sunday. Rides are only $1.  You can find lots of additional fun ideas in my Milwaukee Bucket List book.  Summer is the best time to enjoy Milwaukee.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Birding in Milwaukee Parks

This past weekend was international migratory bird day, which usually signals the peak for bird migration here in Milwaukee too.  If you are inclined to go look for birds in the parks, this is a great time to be sure you will actually find something.  All you need is a camera with telephoto lens or binoculars, and maybe a little patience.  Not sure where to start?

There's a fantastic resource put out by the DNR and other partners, called the Great Wisconsin Birding & Nature Trail guide, that could be very helpful.  It's actually a mapped auto trail that reaches into every area of the state, and it has viewing guides and maps you can use when you're out.  In our part of the state, parks included are: Discovery World at Pier Wisconsin, Havenwoods State Forest, Lakeshore State Park, Milwaukee Lake Shore Parks, Schlitz Audubon Nature Center, Doctor's Park, Southern Milwaukee County Parks, Oak Creek Parkway, Urban Ecology Center & Milwaukee River Parks, Whitnall Park & Wehr Nature Center.  You can see by the long list, we have a lot of options.

At Havenwoods state forest, you can use binoculars and a guidebook for free.  They have a number of trails that are bird friendly.  You can also get help from the friendly staff.  You may see warblers, kingbirds, herons, and woodcocks as they return to Havenwoods.  Wear boots or shoes that can get wet or muddy.

Lake Park has its own spring birding program featuring warblers walks and bird counts.  Then in the fall, they have duck watching programs at the lake.  You can visit the Birds of Lake Park Facebook page to see when the next warblers walk will be.  In general, they meet every Saturday morning from 8:30 -10 am. Meet at wooden Rustic Bridge over Locust Ravine near the Warming House and tennis courts on the northern end of the park.  This may be the best way to get started.  You'd be with a group of people interested in birds who can give you tips on how to identify birds and what equipment you might need.  They encourage beginners.

Try the Oak Leaf Birding Trail. You can download the interactive map at the county website, or pick up a brochure or county parks map at Wehr Nature Center.

The local chapter of the Audubon Society meets for bird talks & walks at the Schlitz Audubon Center the 2nd Wednesday of every month from 6:30-8 pm.  Nearby Doctor's Park has a variety of migrating song birds at this time of year.

Bird City Wisconsin includes several of our Milwaukee county communities.  Go to their website for information on making your home and yard more bird friendly and sign up for a team to do the Great Wisconsin Birdathon- a bird watching and fundraising event.

So, as you can see, there are plenty of opportunities to join a group or learn more about birding and go out on your own.  Lastly, visit the Facebook page for Estabrook park to see what birds are doing there. 

Monday, May 15, 2017

Plein Air Painters in Parks

We're about half way through the event called Art in the City Plein Air MKE, hosted by the Milwaukee Museum Mile, which includes five area museums on the lakefront. I took a bike ride through the parks and found a few artists working on their projects. There are 60 artists around the city this week painting in the outdoors.

This is an amazing week to be painting outdoors.  Wild flowers, tulips and daffodils are still blooming. Flowering trees are near peak. The annual spring bird migration brings birdsong everywhere.  It's a great time to get out in the parks. If you see an artist, say hi and look at the wonderful pieces they are creating.

Here's the schedule of events left for the week.

May 18 Art In The City Soirée, 6-8:30pm
May 19-21 Public art sales at Saint John’s On The Lake, Fri. 10am-7pm, Sat. 10am-5pm, Sun. 10am-3pm
May 18 Art In The City Soirée:
4:30-6:00pm – First-look members only art sale, hors d’oeuvres, champagne, cash bar, live music by the Chris Hanson Band
6:00-6:30pm – Buy now public art sale, hors d’oeuvres, champagne, cash bar, live music
6:30-7:00pm – Artist awards ceremony
7:00-8:30pm – Buy now public art sale, hors d’oeuvres, cash bar, live music
Proceeds benefit the MMM museums

While visiting the North Point Lighthouse Museum, they were hosting coffee with the painters.  In case you haven't been to the top of the tower lately and would like to see the view before the leaves cover much of the landscape below, drop by any weekend to look at displays and go upstairs.

Villa Terrace is going to be very colorful later in the week when the crabapple trees begin to bloom.  There's a new side flower bed going in today, thanks to donations. The gardens are looking great!