Friday, February 27, 2015

Winter Fun at Lake Park

The benches haven't seen many visitors lately
It seems like the cold temps are going to stick around for awhile, so why not get out and make the best of it?  Lake Park is beautiful with all this fresh snow.  You don't really need skis or snowshoes to get around the park, though you can strap them on and take to the golf course.  The Lake Park maintenance crew from Milwaukee County Parks are very good about cleaning the paved trails so you can easily walk along in just your shoes, if you prefer.
You won't need snowshoes, but it's good exercise if you choose

The ice rink is frozen.  Open skate is noon-8 daily.  You'll need to bring your own skates.  The rink is open for hockey from 8-10 PM.  The rink is lit. You can park on the street or near the tennis courts for easy access. Restrooms are available in the building beside the ice rink.  If you're unfamiliar with the park, check out this map and look for number 6.
The outdoor ice rink is open and cleared

You can hike down the ravine to the frozen waterfall, for a pretty sight.  Or maybe you want to check out the lions on the bridges near the lighthouse.  The lighthouse is closed for tours until mid March, but they are hosting a pirate party on March 19, that should be fun. This is a fundraiser celebrating the 150th birthday of Dan Seavey, a pirate of the Great Lakes.   If you know your birds, there are plenty of them coming to the feeders, which are stocked with food by volunteers and park friends.
The stairs to the waterfall may be snow-covered

The lions seem stoic in spite of snow 

The lighthouse can only be seen from the outside until mid March due to renovations

There are always ongoing activities at Lake Park hosted by Lake Park Friends.  Check out their calendar to see what's up.  Indoor yoga is relaxing every Tuesday at 7 AM.  This is held in the building which houses Lake Park Bistro.  Enter to the rear of the building or through the side door and go downstairs.  You'll stretch your body as you watch the sunrise over the lake.  Whatever you choose as your activity, it's bound to be fun.
Yoga every Tuesday with Edie Starrett

Friday, February 6, 2015

Get Your Dog Sled Rides!

Having fresh snow is certainly a benefit when it comes to winter sports, and the best is here for you this weekend.  The Door County Sled Dogs will be giving $15 rides around a trail at Whitnall Park.  That is $15 per person, Saturday and Sunday, and rides start at 11 and go until 1 PM.  Lines usually form right away and they may not have time for everyone who shows up, so it's best to get there early to ensure you get to try this extraordinary experience.

Whitnall Park is a very large park, so maybe you need a bit more direction?  Park at the golf club house at 6751 S. 92nd st., which becomes a wonderful refuge during winter, complete with a roaring fire, drinks and snacks.  You can also rent cross country skis and snowshoes from a vendor at the Clubhouse.  There's a very nice hill right out their back door for sledding too, so bring your sleds and dress for the weather.
Bring your sleds and try the hill

Are you new to dog sledding?  These dogs are all rescues, and though they are called "Door County Sled Dogs", they are very much a part of the Milwaukee tapestry.  They spend summers in Door County and winter here in Milwaukee where they live with a variety of owners.  The main two people behind this effort are Rick & Bonnie (pictured below).  They even have a bus that transports the dogs to area events.  You can read more about all these lovely well behaved dogs, but it's better to just get out and meet them and the volunteers who work with them every day.  Your rides help them to be independent in meeting their food, housing, and veterinary needs.  You can also help in other ways by buying some Sled Dog swag, or making a donation at their website.
Bonnie & Rick with their bus and some of the team
 It truly is a total experience.  While you wait for your turn on the sled, you can pet other dogs and ask questions of the volunteers.  Kids will enjoy having so much attention given them, and adults will likely appreciate the work and skill these dogs give to people who enjoy them.  If you can't make it out for a sled ride, find one of the other meet & greet sessions they host.  The Party with the Sled Dogs event is a great family outing.  Follow them on Facebook for up to the minute changes and events.  You might even consider having them come to one of your own events.  I was lucky enough to have a dog attend my book launch last February at Boswell Books for my book, 101 Things to Do in Milwaukee Parks.  There is another book, Omar Meets the Sled Dogs.  If you purchase this,  all proceeds go to the Sled Dog organization.
Rick, Bonnie and Boo Boo at Boswell 
Omar trying out the musher position

You can meet the dogs and pet them while you wait

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Snowshoes and Fat Tire Bikes

Bring a sled for the younger snowshoers just in case they tire out.  Schlitz Audubon has nice views!
It's going to be a great week for snowshoeing due to the new snow we received over the weekend.  Most of the great places to snowshoe are the same places I mentioned in the last blog about cross country skiing, though you can NOT snow shoe on groomed ski trails.  You can use your snowshoes in any of the county parks and nature centers, as well as the state forest land.  Lots of options!

If you need to borrow snow shoes, there are several places:

Havenwoods State Forest has free rentals for both children and adults.  Get them inside the nature center building during any day they are open.  

The Urban Ecology Center(s) has an equipment closet that is available to members.  As I continue to say- this is a great deal.  Buy an annual membership and use all the great gear they have.

Whitnall Park Concession has snowshoes for $15 per session.

Wehr Nature Center also has snowshoes.

There's a fun race/event for snowshoers that requires registration, called the Yeti Dash.  It's being sponsored by the School District of Cudahy and held in Warnimont Park on February 7 at 9 am.  Let them know if you need snowshoes and they can be provided.  You can "race" alone or in a team of 4.  This is the 2nd year for this event.  Should be entertaining.  You can do a 3K or 5K course.  On the same day, you'll find the South Shore Frosty Hog, sponsored by South Shore Cyclery.  This is also at Warnimont Park.  You can register for $20 which includes food and drink.  It's preferred that you preregister, but you can also do it on the day of the event.  Even if you don't plan to participate, you can go to watch.

Dress in layers and enjoy!
 You can bring your snowshoes to another FREE event on Saturday, Feb. 7 at Brown Deer Park.  They are hosting a Winterfest which includes all sorts of winter fun activities.  I've posted the flier here for more information.  This may be the only time you get to see the Door County Sled dogs outdoors, as we haven't really had much snow this winter.  Go for the activities but enjoy all the great Sprecher food and drinks too.  You'll notice they include fat bike demos.  This is a fun way to extend the cycling season.  If you haven't seen these bikes, you're in for a surprise.  They are quite different than the usual summer tires.  If you have a chance to try it, do so.