Sunday, April 13, 2014

Milwaukee Earth Day Events

Earth Day is April 22 and there are lots of activities during the week afterwards.  Pick a place and go pitch in to make Milwaukee more beautiful!  

Cache In Trash Out event for anyone who enjoys geocaching.  I haven't seen a local event set up yet, but I'll add details locally if I see something.  This is for people who want to hunt for geocaches (and we have lots in Milwaukee area) and you pick up trash along the way.

Havenwoods State Forest- Saturday, April 26, 9-noon.  Pick up litter and make the parks cleaner for the Great American Clean-up.  This link is actually the main DNR link and includes events at many other places in the state too.

Clean-up for Friends of the Hank Aaron Trail and Milwaukee River Keepers- Saturday, April 26 from 9-12.  Milwaukee Riverkeeper will be providing bags, gloves, and free t-shirts.  Preregister if possible. Click on either link to find one of the 50 locations, or just meet at Miller park.

Urban Ecology Centers- Saturday, April 26 is a big day at all three sites.  The morning from 9-noon will be a clean-up at all three of the centers, followed by lunch from noon-1:30.  But be sure to click on their link because they have special activities scheduled all month long.

Wehr Nature Center-   Sunday, April 27 from 1-4 at the nature center, there will be naturalist- led hikes and recycled crafts projects.  Kohls' Wild Theater will have a play featuring puppets and music.  I will be there for a book signing of my book, "101 Things to do in Milwaukee Parks".  Authors, Ken Keffer and Stacy Tornio will also be there for the book signing of their nature books for children.  Cost is $3 per person for non-members.

Schlitz Audubon- Sunday, April 27 from 12-4.  Canoeing, guided hikes, ponding, live animals, beach-combing, geocoding, plant sale, and activities in the nature center.  Music will be provided by Lil' Rev.  Cost is $6 child/ $7 adult for non-members.  

Earth Day Project at Washington Park- Saturday, April 26, 8-1.  The Student Conservation Association will meet at Washington Park Urban Ecology Center to complete service projects around the park.  This project is open to all students who applied for the student conservation association's summer program.

Keep Greater Milwaukee Beautiful- Saturday, April 26, 9-12 at Park Clean-up at Hawthorn Glen and other neighborhoods throughout the Milwaukee area.  Click on the link to get the calendar and scroll to find activities near you.  

Green Living Festival at the Domes, Mitchell Park- Saturday, April 26, 9-3. Totally fun family event featuring Kohl's Wild Theater, crafts, food demos, fashion show, and even some chickens!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Easter Events in the Parks

Easter is coming and so are the fun family events.

North Point Lighthouse is hosting their annual Easter Egg Hunt at the Lighthouse, April 12. 9:30-11:30.  Cost is $10 for kids and $5 for adults.  Preregister at the link.  Not only do you get to see the Easter bunny.  You get to climb the tower!  What kid wouldn't enjoy that?!  And most big people too. Should be a fun time, as usual.

Easter Egg-Citement is the big Easter event at Kosciuszko Park Community Center for kids age 12 & under.  You can have a photo with the Easter bunny and snacks.  $3 per child.  Saturday, April 12 at 10 am.

Milwaukee Zoo will host breakfast and lunch with the Bunny.  Saturday, April 12 and Sunday, April 13.  Tickets are $15.  Parking is $12.  Check the link for times and make reservations.  This one sells out fast.

Friends of LaFollette Park are having pancakes & sausage, followed by an egg hunt. Saturday, April 19, breakfast 7:30-10:30. Hunt at 11:00.  Cost is $5/3.

Boerner Botanical Gardens welcomes the Easter Bunny and Miss Sparkle the Clown, Sunday, April 20, 10-2.  Cost is $6 per child, or free for Botanic Garden members.
Metroparent Magazine has a more complete listing of Easter events, including those that are not in the parks.  

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Get the Bikes Out!

The temperature is still unpredictable, but we've had a taste of some sunshine and warmer weather.  Might be a good time now to get out the bikes and prepare for a summer of biking.  To get you in the mood, check out the Wheel & Sprocket Bike Expo.  It only happens once a year.  Admission is FREE!  This year there is a new trade-in program. You can bring your outgrown bikes and trade them in for something newer, larger, different, better, whatever!  2000 bikes.  Loads of accessories.  This is the place to see it all.

It's hard to say what I love most about this event.  Of course, all the people who support the parks are involved.  They have some snazzy exhibits.  There are some fantastic presenters, telling stories of biking adventures, healthy lifestyles, and even how to have more fun in your life.  I will be presenting this year.  Friday at 5 PM, Saturday, and Sunday at noon.  Come and see my slides of what I found in the parks.  I will try to inspire you to get out and try something new this year.  I'll also have a table set up where you can find my book.  Take a look at all the interesting presenters.

While you're there, you might stop by and pick up the new Oak Leaf Discovery Tour passport.  My good friends have been working on this and for the 3rd year, it is better than ever.  There is a map and the trail is broken out into manageable segments for those who want to do more biking.  Information is included for about 21 different parks.  Cost is $5 and you can do this all summer long.  In October you show proof of visiting at least 8 different parks by getting stamps or collecting secret words, and then you can participate in the end of season party with all kinds of great prizes.

Have you ever considered biking across Wisconsin?  Across America?  Here's a link to all the bigger rides at Bike Wisconsin.  This is a great way to do it because they take your stuff and you just concentrate on biking.  My friends in Green Bay, Tracy & Peter Flucke, are planning a bike across America trip this summer and you can follow them at their blog.  Time for us all to get in shape to make it a great biking season!

The Wisconsin Bike Federation is another great source of biking information.  You can go to their Ride On Wisconsin page and find all kinds of great events searchable by zip code, so you could plan a biking vacation with others who live elsewhere in the state, or bike right here near home.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Some Fun to Beat the Cold Weather Blues

The calendar says it's nearly April, and it feels like January outside.  Don't let the cold weather get you down.  There are SO MANY fun events coming up to make you feel warm!!!!  Here's my recommendations for the upcoming week or so.

Saturday Morning, March 29- Milwaukee County Winter Farmer's Market at the Domes.  If you still haven't seen this, get on over and pick up some farm fresh goodness.  You'll find meats, cheeses, syrup, honey, flour, and more.  The last weekend is coming on April 19.  Free Parking.  Free Admission.  This is also the LAST WEEKEND for the gas lamp express train exhibit in the show dome, which is spectacular and a favorite of mine.  The new exhibit will be Irish Spring starting April 12.

Once you've filled up car with goodies, check out the Maple Sugar Days at Wehr Nature Center.  It runs from 1-4 PM on both Saturday and Sunday, March 29-30.  The Urban Ecology Center at Riverside Park is also making syrup from 10- 12.

After that, March 29- Meet the Door County Sled Dogs at Serb Hall.  They were just on the news today, so here's a video clip that has all the details.  $10 adults/$5 children.  They will be there 3-9 PM and won't return to Whitnall Park again until next winter.  My books, "101 Things to do in Milwaukee Parks", and "Omar Meets the Sled Dogs" will be part of the raffle prizes, so give generously to support this non-profit organization, if you are able.

Sunday, March 30- How about Sunday brunch in a park?  The Boerner Botanical Garden, Lake Park Bistro, and Hubbard Park Lodge are all open for a yummy meal.  Of the three, the most kid friendly is Hubbard Park with the family style Lumberjack menu and you don't need a reservation.  Come as you are.  It's casual.  You can  use OpenTable to book a table for brunch in advance at Boerner, to ensure you get a seat. Pick up an annual pass to the Botanic Gardens while you're here, and that will get you in free for the next item.... the beach party at the Domes, plus it's good at the Chicago Botanic Gardens which isn't that far away.

Wednesday, April 2- How about a movie?  Milwaukee Riverkeepers is having a special screening of "Chasing Ice", a National Geographic film that will no doubt have some spectacular scenery, and a very important message about global warming.  You can see a preview and sign up at this link for Riverkeeper.  The movie will be shown at 1845 N Farwell, Suite 100 at 6:30.  They are even providing snacks!  Great movie/date night idea.

Thursday night, April 3- It's an Elvis themed Beach Party at the Domes, which means it's the last week of Music Under Glass.  6:30-9 PM.  Dress like you're going to the beach, even if it means putting on your snowmobile suit over the top to get in the door.  There will be plenty of good music, a laser light show, and fun especially for the kiddos.  Bring the whole family.  You might want to bring a change of clothes for the younger ones.  The sand does tend to get in places that might be uncomfortable for the trip home.

Saturday, April 5 Washington Park Urban Ecology Center will host a Pancake Breakfast, but you'll want to sign up as soon as you read this, in order to get a space.  The syrup they serve comes from the trees they tapped at Riverside Park and Washington Park.  Additional food is being provided by Outpost Natural Foods.  Non-members pay $9 adults/7 children to get in, but why not buy the annual pass so you can get in for $6/4 AND have the benefit of using all the great stuff in their lending closet all year round- tents, skis, snowshoes, sleds, kayaks, and lots more!

Also that day, April 5, you can take an urban hike with a naturalist at Havenwoods State Forest 10:30-11:30.  Look for signs of spring, or check out some geocaching information and a GPS and look for some hidden treasures.

That should keep you busy this week.  Look forward to some fun and maybe warmer weather will greet us soon!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Party with the Sled Dogs!!!

Bonnie & Rick are the people behind the non-profit group, Door County Sled Dogs
It's no secret that our family loves the sled dogs.  We see them every chance we get. Love them at Whitnall Park.  Love them at the Lakefront.  Love them at the free community events they host.  We don't have a dog of our own, so it's a great opportunity to pet them and get some loving.  If you feel the same way about them, join us at the event coming up Saturday, March 29 from 3-9 at Serb Hall.  I've attached the flyer detailing what you can expect.  We've been over to see the raffle prizes and the games they have in store for attendees, and I can tell you it's going to be fun!

There will be opportunities to interact with as many as 29 different dogs. Bring your camera so you can take photos.  You'll see the sled up close and can ask questions of the mushers who work with the dogs.  Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for children.  Stay as long as you like!

My own son Omar is featured in a new children's book I've just written about meeting the sled dogs.  It's available on Amazon.  Proceeds from book sales will go directly to the Door County Sled Dogs to help feed and care for the rescued dogs.  It's a wonderful non-profit organization with some dedicated volunteers.  They need help from the community to provide the events they have.  I hope you'll find a way to support them.

My new book, with proceeds going to the Door County Sled Dogs

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Park Survey

If you enjoy time in any of the Milwaukee county parks, you should be thrilled to hear that they are looking for YOUR INPUT!

Community meetings are being held throughout the end of March, and if you can attend, that's great. Here's the schedule taken directly from the Parks website.
Public Information Meeting Schedule
Monday, March 24, 6-7:30 p.m.Lincoln Park Blatz Pavilion Upper Level, 1301 W. Hampton Ave.
Tuesday, March 25, 6-7:30 p.m.Lake Park Pavilion Marcia Coles Community Room, 3133 E. Newberry Blvd.
Wednesday, March 26, 6-7:30 p.m.South Shore Pavilion, 2900 South Shore Drive

But if  you can't attend, I strongly encourage you to click on the link here to learn more about the strategic plan and take the park use and interest survey.  They want to know what activities you currently enjoy, how often you use the parks, and what you're interested in seeing added.  This is a win-win situation for everyone.  They will know how better to serve the community needs with the budget they have, and you will be heard.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Maple Syrup Making

The weather is warming up during the day and staying cooler at night, which should be ideal for maple syrup making.  There are several places to see maple sap being collected and watch it boiled to make that delicious syrup you enjoy on your pancakes.  There will also be plenty of fun activities in addition to the sap collection and syrup making.  Remember these are nature centers, so there are animals and nature displays to enjoy.  Take a hike while you're there if weather permits.
sap flows into clear bags attached to maple trees

This Saturday, March 15, the Urban Ecology Center at Riverside Park will host a workshop showing "from sap to syrup" from 10-12.  Cost is $12/$10 for non-members.  You get an even better deal if you are already a member and save $2 off each admission.

The Schlitz Audubon Center has their maple syrup event March 22 from 10-12 and 1-3.  Cost is $12/8 for non-members.  Members again get a better deal $10/6 each.

Wehr Nature Center hosts a maple sugar days event March 29-30 from 1-4.  Cost is $5 per person, payable at the door.  Children under age 2 are free.

There are additional festivals and events scattered throughout the state.  For more information about regional events, check this listing of 2014 maple syrup festivals.