Tag: Milwaukee

Continuing a childhood tradition….

Growing up midway between Chicago and Milwaukee gave us the option of taking advantage of what both cities had to offer. The Milwaukee Zoo, Christmas window shopping on State Street, and in August, the Wisconsin State Fair. Now that we live in the Milwaukee area, I am able to continue this tradition with my son. We’re not big ride people, choosing instead to skip the midway and focus on the barns, the exhibits – and of course the food.

At least the traditional Wisconsin state fair food….the roasted corn and the cream puffs. The chocolate covered bacon, deep fried Milky Ways or deep fried Oreos, just aren’t calling our names. In fact, if you asked the kiddo, he’d tell you that deep fried Oreos sound like one of the grossest things *ever*.

As we toured the animal barns, we noticed these container groups, and living wall.

There are a couple of “rides” that we can’t miss, the Giant slide and the sky ride. First up was the slide. Mom skipped it this year, but kiddo says next year, I must do it. And I will. To ride, you grab a burlap “potao sack”, climb a ton of stairs to the top (getting more nervous with each step), and then fly down!

From there a quick trip through the Wisconsin Products building, and a bit of Cedar Crest ice cream. We fell in love with Cedar Crest while living in southwestern Il. About 15 miles east of downtown St Louis, you’ll find the town of Lebanon, IL. On Main Street is Dr. Jazz Soda Fountain. Oh how, we miss Dr. Jazz (and its owner, Paul). But we still can have the ice cream…in fact this reminds me that we owe Paul a picture of us in front of the cow statue at the Cedar Crest factory up in Manitowoc, WI.

Next up the sky glider. No trip to the fair (or Summerfest for that matter) is complete without a ride on the sky glider. Kiddo and I love it – hubby not so much, in fact I suspect avoiding this ride was the reason behind needing to stay home and cut the grass. Great views of the fair from up here – no doubt we’re in Milwaukee, home of the great beers of MillerCoors!

Perhaps the best part of the sky glider is where you end up……

Kiddo was getting tired, so we grabbed a box to go…because no trip to the fair would be complete without the cream puffs. Even have one for Mom when she arrives tomorrow.

My first real bike "ride" – Miller Lite Ride for the Arts

This weekend I did my first organized bike ride. Until now all of my cycling has been done either solo or with one or two other riders – in fact with the same one or two other riders, my son or my husband. Unless of course, you count time on a compu-trainer with other “real” riders, teaching me that my pace has, well, some room for improvement.

The combination of worrying about pace combined with an uneasiness in having another bike too close to my wheel (defined by within several bike lengths) had me just a tad concerned about an organized ride. At the same time, it is something I want to do – and if I do plan on finishing a triathlon, something I need to get over.

This was the perfect first ride. Many different options for length (5, 12, 25, 65, and 75 miles) with staggered start times, many volunteers along the route to keep you on course, well placed and stocked oases, and as we found excellent rider support.

Hubby was doing ride with me and we choose to do the 25mile distance – one we can easily ride, and knew would not be a challenge. The ride had an early start so the night before we got everything set up, clothes laid out, drink bottles filled and chilled, rack on car, spare tube and tool kits, and road ids set on the counter next to car keys and coffee mugs. I checked the pressure and aired up my bike tires. Morning brought the hint of a beautiful but cool day – perfect riding weather. And the first of our mishaps – two flat tires on my bike. I’d not closed either valve correctly. Oops.

Starting line was the Summerfest main gate, and it was filled with bikes when we arrived.

We choose to hang back and leave behind the initial rush of our group.
About a mile into the ride, shortly after we’d crossed the Milwaukee River, I heard a loud bang. Really loud. Everyone jumped, some nervous laughter, a women commenting that’s why you should always carry a spare tube. Over the next half mile I kept turning around wondering where my husband was in the crowd. Then my phone rang, and I found out. The sound was his back tire exploding with the force of 120psi. I turned around and went back to help. Neither of us had ever actually changed a tire, but we were making an attempt when the SAG vehicle arrived.
The tire wasn’t cooperating and even the SAG guys couldn’t get a small section to stay in the rim. We decided to load up the bikes, and head back to the starting line where Wheels & Sprocket had professional assistance. They quickly got us on our way and we once again started from the Summerfest grounds.
After that, the rest of the ride seemed uneventful, but hugely enjoyable as we headed south along the lake.
Stopped at the halfway oasis and the 20 mile one. At halfway to remove layers and at 20 miles paused for an apple and a refill of water.
The skyline in sight, we knew we were close
As we headed into downtown, we came to the stretch I’d traveled four times: on initial start, heading back to find Steve, on our second start and of course the “race” to the finish.
One last trip over the river and the finish line/Summerfest grounds were in sight.
Once back at Summerfest we enjoyed the after ride party. Re-fueling with Wisconsin greats – brats and of course, the cold, great taste of Miller Lite. What could be better?
While triathlon pace I do not possess, this ride did teach me I can manage in a bike crowd, that clicking in and out of pedals is becoming somewhat second nature, and that organized rides are fun.
Also learned that hanging back and starting well after the others is a good strategy for me. That said, the competitive bit in me was glad to realize our pace wasn’t the worst. We ended up passing the people who were around us when the tire blew – so made up close to 45 minutes on them. Will do this one again, however, will choose a more challenging length in the future!

I spy with my little eye….

Have a new resolution to try and get out of the office for a fast-paced walk over lunch on most days. Not sure why in two years of working from this office I never did that. Is a good little habit I’m bringing back from my Chicago office days.

This week as I was trotting along Martin Drive, out of the corner of my eye, I spotted a pretty little Henry Lauder’s Walking stick (Corylus avellana “Contorta”). The intricacy of the twisted branches slowed my pace a bit, the plant tag and fresh mulch slowed it a bit further. But what stopped me dead in my tracks was the garden I noticed behind the bush, well, behind the low hedge behind the bush.

A charming little urban oasis. Paved seating area up front. Pretty iron arbor with some sort of climber – curious to see that that is when it leaves out. Stone path through what appears to be a herb garden. Lots of garden art, both on the wall and throughout the space. Another seating area in the back with a small statue centered at the rear. Obviously well tended. Someone or someones pride and joy. In a sliver of land between an apartment building and a parking lot. Somewhat a fringe neighborhood, abutting the semi-industrial area of Milwaukee where the Harley Davidson headquarters and Miller Brewery are located.

I’ve driven by the spot probably hundreds of times on the way to and from work. And have never noticed this garden. Now I can’t wait to watch it through the seasons. Funny what slowing down and paying attention to the world around you can bring…………….

Appreciating things close to home and heart…

From reading this blog, you’d think I lived in Chicago. There was a post about bike riding along their lakefront trail, a streetscape post, another streetscape post, and yet another streetscape post. Fact is I live in a suburb of Milwaukee – another city with a great lakefront along beautiful Lake Michigan. This weekend my son (one of the things closest to my heart) and I took advantage of a gorgeous spring day to ride along Milwaukee’s Oak Leaf Trail in the section from the Summerfest grounds, around Lakefront Park and north to Bradford Beach.

First stop was a cruise around Lakefront Park which brought us to the back-side of the now empty Henry Maier Festival Park, aka Summerfest grounds. So odd to see this empty – but the Harley stage and the Miller Lite stage brought a smile to my face – honoring these two icons of our proud city.

Moving onward, the smart (read, sneaky) Mom in me knew that in order to make *my* goal of riding 10 miles that we needed to take the occasional break. Which we did, first stopping at the park in front of Discovery World to play some tunes – on the bench and the pebble waterfall, a quick pause on the promenade by the art museum to watch a couple of spear fishers and finally a stop to check out the kite shop in Veteran’s Park.

McKinley Beach caused us to wonder, how crazy you have to be to be swimming in Lake Michigan in early April. While Bradford Beach brought another hint of summer, and that beach’s strong volleyball tradition.

We enjoyed our stop at what appears to be a new fitness area. I got a kick out of showing the guy you see struggling on the yellow apparatus how an assisted chin-up machine works – I did a couple of sets of squats, assisted chin-ups and back extensions, while my competitive gymnast son gave the p-bars a work-out.

After we left the fitness area, kiddo asked me if he’d ridden 1.5 miles yet. I fessed up and told him, he’d ridden almost five miles. Which led him to proclaim he was going to ride 10 miles this day. We made several laps around Lakefront Park in order to accomplish this goal. What fascinated me was how often he stood to ride, or assumed the bent over determine pose of acceleration. Made me realize the fun of riding as a child – and maybe understand a little the draw of single speeds. Not that I’m going *there* anytime soon – but I get how they might re-connect with the childhood joy of riding.

Once we accomplished the goal of 10 miles, we headed back to the car. With the kiddo telling me his next goal is 15 miles, and then 20. Meanwhile, I was reminded of what a great city I am privileged to live in! Not to mention I am blessed with one great kiddo!

Tis the season….

Great week here in southeastern Wisconsin. The first hints of spring. I’d left for Mexico with the yard covered in snow. In fact, don’t think we’d seen the ground since around the 1st of December. I’d hoped the snow would melt while we were gone – and that prayer was answered. Even better was the bonus week of sunny days, temps in the 50’s. Gave me an opportunity for my first outdoor ride of 2010. Well, not exactly the first, I had a fun ride down in Mexico through the jungles, er, nature park at Tres Rios.

But this week, the bike came out of the basement. It felt great to take off on a ride. I did one of my favorite routes which takes me through two local parks. Fox Brook which has a nice mile long loop around a pond. Did two spins, enjoying the laughter of a little girl on a bike with training wheels riding the opposite direction. She seemed to find me passing by and saying hello quite funny. From there I head over through Mitchell Park and its boardwalk over the Fox River. First lesson of the trip – in the spring be mindful of the water level of the river. At first I considered turning around, but then decided to go for it, and ride on. (thanks to the mom and daughters, I knew the depth. I’m not sure I’d have been brave- or stupid- enough to ride through if I hadn’t)

The second lesson of the ride. Sporadic rides on the trainer over the winter are no substitute for actual riding. Esp. when those trainer rides were few and far between the last few weeks, and not exactly at maximum effort. The hills around here killed me. It will take a few more rides before I tackle my first goal hill (the section of Brookfield Rd driving north from Bluemound to Gephardt).

And as a bonus I got to rock my colorful, spring-y, new Terry bike jersey.

Meanwhile, back at home, it’s also the start of the gardening season. This will be the year I start to tackle this garden. I’m starting to get a vision. Feeling more settled in this house thanks to some changes at work. Ready to move forward, start the heavy and not so fun work of clearing some of the overgrown mess and making my own stamp on the place. There’s signs of spring here too. Daffodils foliage growing through the leaves I’d piled on the beds. Teeny little hosta noses just peeking out of the earth.

On my walk Thursday, I’d taken this picture of the still ice and snow covered pond at Rolling Meadows park to remind me that we weren’t quite at spring yet.

This morning, on the 1st official day of spring, awoke to a reminder from Spring herself, that we still have a way to go before the real outdoor season. But it sure feels good to know we are marching towards just that!

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