The bitter cold of Milwaukee winters makes it difficult for many to stay active and have any interest in leaving the house to enjoy the outdoors.
Since I joined the Outdoor Leader program at the Urban Ecology Center this summer, I've come to understand that this place can make it possible to have fun outdoors in any weather. I have never considered myself to be a 'winter person,' often opting to stay cuddled up in a blanket on the couch once the temperature drops below 20 degrees.
Want to enjoy an afternoon paddle without the hassle of staging cars and hauling equipment? Our Canoe and Kayak Shuttle Service provides flexible launch and pickup options, complete gear outfitting, and the assistance of our knowledgeable staff – everything you need to have a fun, convenient excursion on the Milwaukee River!
Available to contributing members of the Center who have passed our free water safety course, the Canoe and Kayak Shuttle Service lets you create a customized Friday or Saturday outing by selecting from our available options.
The Canoe and Kayak Shuttle Service is $15 dollars per boat.
From the Rowing Club Boathouse to the public dock is about 2.5 miles. Paddling this distance non-stop at a leisurely pace will take most people about 1.5 - 2 hours. But you may want to stop along the way at one of the many riverside restaurants, or take a mid-paddle break and stretch your legs at Pere-Marquette Park.
To paddle at a leisurely pace from the Boathouse to the harbor and back to the Boathouse is about 5 miles, and will take most people about 4 - 5 hours if you stop to eat, and a bit less if you don’t.
The Urban Ecology Center staff running the shuttle will give you a phone number to call if you need assistance on the day of your paddle. Anytime during your paddle you can call to switch your desired return option. If you miss the last return time, we will still pick you up, but you will be assessed a $25 special pick-up fee.
If there is moderate to heavy precipitation, high winds, or temperatures lower than 60 degrees on the day of your shuttle reservation, an Urban Ecology Center staff person will call you to cancel the shuttle for the day. You will receive a full refund if the shuttle is cancelled due to weather.
Whenever I talk about my job at the Urban Ecology Center, I always mention three things:
Last summer, my eight year old son Benjamin and I borrowed a tandem kayak from the Urban Ecology Center for an overnight camping trip on the Wisconsin River. Thanks to a shuttle service through the Wisconsin Canoe Company, we were able to park our car 18 miles downstream from our starting point. Our goal was to stop at one of the many sandbar islands on the Wisconsin River to pitch our tent and finish the trip in two days. In order to pump Benjamin up for the trip, I talked about our awesome adventure for weeks in advance… little did I know just how exciting it was going to be!
Autumn is upon us, but that doesn't mean you have to stop borrowing summer equipment from the Urban Ecology Center. Members of the Urban Ecology Center have unlimited access to a variety of tools and games to help keep you active all year round. Take advantage of the beautiful weather while it's still here!
We believe in the power of the outdoors. We believe that all work and no play makes us all a little dull and that the antidote for the monotony of routine is to go outside. We believe that paddling, biking, fishing, camping, hiking and/or playing outside are essential elements of a healthy lifestyle. We believe that nature is everywhere- even in the city- and that adventure can literally be found right in your backyard. We believe that fun doesn’t have to be expensive or accessible to only a few lucky people. We believe it so much that we can taste it as fresh as the spring air. We can’t wait to get out of the office, home or car to stretch our legs. Are you with us? Then do we have a deal for you!
When I ask outdoor enthusiasts what they like about the winter, they frequently list their favorite adventure sports: skiing, snowshoeing, sledding, etc. Often I’ll hear a comment along the lines of “the winter weather here is terrible - except that I get to go skiing!” Unfortunately, as the last couple of years have taught us, winter sports that require snow aren’t much fun if it doesn’t snow. What’s an outdoor enthusiast to do if it doesn’t snow significantly until January, or even at all? Or, if you’re not in to the more adventurous sports, does that mean you should stay indoors all winter? Certainly not! This year, I’ve found another way to get outdoors in the cold: take a hike!
Fishing with children is an activity that will never go out of style. There is nothing like the adrenaline rush you get when there is a fish on your line and you are wrestling to reel him in. Once that fish is out of the water flipping and spinning at the end of your pole you feel like a true fisherman. It is definitely an accomplishment. I feel this way because I have seen the look of achievement on so many faces after catching a fish. Once you get past the initial "yuck" and "no ways" when hooking worms, you see a light turn on inside of them as they realize this sport can actually be fun... until you have to take the hook out of the mouth of the fish- then there will be more expressions about how gross it is. This can sometimes be entertaining for the adult sharing in this experience.
The season of cycling is upon us. Here are a few ideas for places to ride, both in and out of the city, for cyclists of all experience levels.
“Melancholy is incompatible with bicycling.” - James E. Starrs
May day, May day… that is right, it is May 1st; the first day of canoe and kayak lending at the Urban Ecology Center. We are fully prepared at all three branches for people to borrow equipment. For those early bird paddlers, here are some recommendations of my favorite places to canoe on the Milwaukee River and beyond.