Monday, November 25, 2013

The Rock Sports Complex for Snowboarding, Skiing & Tubing

It's the first day of real snow falling, and I'm sure everyone is already thinking about the winter ahead.  If we have snow, it's always a good idea to make the best of it.  If it sticks around, conditions might be good enough for skiing and snowboarding.  So dust off that equipment!

The Rock Sports Complex is the new name for what you may have known as Crystal Ridge, but it's much more than just a name change.  The new ownership has built new facilities, improved restrooms, rebuilt the chairlift, added new snow guns, and built terrain features.  The snow guns and towers make snow using the same type of equipment used by the 2014 Winter Olympics.  Snow guns cover the hill, which allow them to make a 3-4’ base in about a week.  They have already been making snow over the past week due to the frigid temperatures we're having.  

The complex offers all types of downhill snow sports. You will find traditional ski and snowboard runs, but there will be some interesting bumps and ramps added to make it more interesting for those who are ready for more challenges.  They have rental skis, boots, and snowboards.  A session pass is $30 or you can buy a season pass, which also allows you discounts and special offers for resorts in Colorado as well.

If you prefer to sit while you go down the hills, you will find 16 runs of family tubing with a magic carpet, which brings you back to the top for more efficient tubing fun. That sure beats dragging the tube back up by yourself.

If you want lessons for yourself or the kids, be sure to sign up for them by December 30.  For a fee, you can attend weekly sessions in the evenings, or take a weekend course. These are designed for first timers or beginners to snowboarding or skiing and run for 5 weeks. 

If you want to ski, but have kids that prefer tubing, sign them up for the Tubing Adventure club where they will enjoy the time on the hill with friends, have hot chocolate breaks, and be supervised. This is most appropriate for school age kids.

Even if you don't ski, snowboard, or tube, you can go to the Rock Complex for some free winter hiking. The Rock is very close to Whitnall Park, so you can access trails to the park.  Whatever your skill level, or interest, there is bound to be something for you at THE ROCK!
Here's a map from their website with the layout

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Holiday Lights in Milwaukee

Tonight is the beginning of 6 weeks of colorful holiday lights in 3 parks in downtown Milwaukee.  Called the Holiday Light Festival, it features a kick-off tonight with lights and fireworks.

Cathedral Square will have decorated trees from 60 different schools.  2000 students participate by making their own ornaments.  There is also a mailbox for Santa in the park.  You don't need a stamp, but be sure to put a return address on your letter to Santa, and you will receive a reply!

Pere Marquette will have a display featuring electric elves getting their last minute holiday work done.

Zeidler Union Square will have the musical bears featuring the giant red teddy.

You can walk the city, or see it from the Jingle Bus.  Details here:
November 22 – December 29
Thursdays – Sundays | 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Shops of Grand Avenue – Center Court
275 W. Wisconsin Avenue
Narrated by Milwaukee Downtown’s Public Service Ambassadors, this 40-minute tour acquaints riders with downtown landmarks and the most decorated scenes. Even better, rides are just $1 per person!
Hop aboard at the Warming House location in The Shops of Grand Avenue. Passengers will board and purchase tickets from the mall’s Center Court – 275 W. Wisconsin Avenue. Tickets are sold on a first-come, first-served basis each night beginning at 5:30 pm.
Awaiting riders will enjoy a Shops of Grand Avenue holiday favorite, an 18-piece animatronic symphony orchestra of bears, holiday shops, and free cookies and hot cocoa compliments of Wild Flour Bakery. Kids will also receive a holiday coloring book. Please consider bringing nonperishable food items to donate to our Hunger Task Force collection.
Tours operate Thursdays through Sundays, November 22 through December 29 from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm.* The last bus departs at 8:20 pm, so get there early to reserve your seat!
Discounted parking is available for $3 in The Shops of Grand Avenue west parking garage until 10:00 pm when you present your T-Mobile Jingle Bus ticket stub. Enter the west structure from 2nd Street between Michigan Street and Wisconsin Avenue. For additional info on the Jingle Bus, contact Milwaukee Downtown, BID #21 at 414.220.4700.
*The Jingle Bus will operate from Pere Marquette Park on November 21 as part of the Milwaukee Holiday Lights Festival Kick-Off Extravaganza. Please also note the Jingle Bus will not operate on Thanksgiving.
The parade will be on Saturday:
87th Annual Milwaukee Holiday Parade
presented by Johnson Controls
Sat, November 23 | 9:30 am to 11 am
Downtown Milwaukee
262.377.5935 |
A cherished holiday tradition featuring approximately 100 units, including marching bands, floats, giant helium balloons, local personalities, costumed characters, live animals, specialty vehicles and, of course, Santa Claus! Live coverage on FOX 6. Discounted parking available at The Shops of Grand Avenue for $3 until 5:30 p.m.
For more holiday events, check the Milwaukee Downtown link.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

101 Things to do in Milwaukee Parks- the book is out!

It's been almost a year since I started this blog, and I really enjoy doing it.  About one month ago I was saying to a friend that I had accumulated so many wonderful stories from the people I met in the parks, and had a lot of great photos. I just didn't know what to do with all that.  She suggested a book.  So for the past month, I've been putting it all together.  It's now available on Amazon in both a paperback and a kindle edition.  I have to say the journey has been fantastic.  I love getting out in the parks and meeting people.  I hope you are finding time to do the same.

As I wrote the book, I became aware of even more fantastic fun you can have in our parks system, and the outdoors here in Milwaukee.  Much of it is free.  I started out by brainstorming 101 things, and found that as I talked to people, I had about 150!  I had to do some serious editing, and combined a lot of things under one category in order to be true to the title.  I hope you'll give it a read and see if there are some surprises in there for you.

If you'd like to purchase the Kindle edition, or the Paperback version, they are both available right now.  If you buy the paperback, you can download the Kindle edition for free.  And if you select the Kindle version, there's a free preview that shows you the first few entries.  This is the season where the weather tends to be iffy and it can be tough to enjoy the outdoors, but that doesn't mean you can't do a little reading to prepare for the winter season that is ahead!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Skateboarding in Milwaukee

I've been over to Estabrook Park lately enjoying the fall colors and watching salmon run, and it was hard not to notice how popular the skateboard park has become.  No matter what time of day you go on a weekend, there's a steady flow of skateboarders.  On weekday afternoons, there's also some activity.  It's great to see but then on the other hand, it's kind of sad that in spite of there being a demand for a skate park, and the battle for several years to have it made an official skate park, nothing has happened there.  I'm impressed that the people who use it have been keeping it up and building new ramps, rails, a pole jam,  and bringing in their own brooms to keep it clean.  It's really a self made project, and obviously very useable in the current state.  Still, I keep hope alive that someday it will be what they all dream of it being.  My son was amazed at the talent we've seen here lately.  He's bound and determined to figure out how to do what they do...I guess I'm in trouble now.

So tell me where are the skate parks?  Is it a dying concept?  Well, not really. West Allis has plans for a skate park that could be built at Radtke Park at 84th & National.  Although they thought it would be built this year, the bids came in more than double what they expected.  They had no alternative but to hold on to the plan and bid it out again, which I learned they are doing now.  The price tag?  Anywhere from $300,000-600,000 depending on who you ask.  Definitely not a cheap undertaking.  

 I saw a couple of small ramps at the north end of Kilbourn Reservoir Park that I assume are used by skateboarders and BMX bikes.  And there’s been some discussion about putting in a skate park at Milwaukee county's Humboldt Park.  If it is approved and built, you will find it near the wading pool at the southwest corner of the park.

I read about the nice skate park Oak Creek had, so I stopped over there this week to check it out.  It's a beautiful skate park with wooden structures at Abendschein Park, 1311 E. Drexel Ave., Oak Creek. If you're a skateboarder, maybe you want to visit it before the snow falls. 

Saturday, November 9, 2013

The General is BACK!

I admit, sadly, I had never heard of Thaddeus Kosciuszko before I saw his statue at the park named after him- Kosciuszko Park.  He was a national hero both in the US and in Poland because of his success during military battles.  He worked with Benjamin Franklin and was a friend to Thomas Jefferson.  He has statues in many other cities, all of them quite different.  When this statue was erected and dedicated by the Polish Archbishop, Francesco Symon,  in 1905, there were more than 60,000 people!  It was a big event for the south side of Milwaukee.

If you saw this statue a few years ago, you would have seen a green colored dingy piece of work.  Luckily, there was a fundraising campaign to have the statue repaired and it was sent away for many months, leaving an empty spot at Kosciuszko Park.  The cost was estimated at $150,000.  You can see how much work it was to restore it at this link, which has a lot of photos from the process.  Milwaukee Public Television is trying to raise enough money to air a documentary about the process.  If you'd like to help out with a donation, go to the documentary website.  UPDATE 2/1/14- the documentary aired on PBS this month, but you can still view it on youtube.

Now, as you can see from my photo, it is back.  There's some new landscaping, and the geese have already shown they approve.  I had to wade through about a hundred geese to get to the statue, so if you go see it, watch your shoes.

The statue is beautiful.  I have never seen one quite so pristine.  It will be rededicated on Monday, November 11 at noon.  This is a special day because it is Veteran's Day here, and Independence Day in Poland.  If you're able to attend, it will likely be an interesting time to view the statue and hear more about the project.