Bunkie Miller regularly leads group rides from the Wheel & Sprocket store on N. Santa Monica Blvd., in Fox Point, and enjoys encouraging both new and experienced riders. The Oak Leaf Discovery Tour Passport Program, created by The Park People of Milwaukee County, gave her the route to a more expansive adventure, which she shared with The Active Pursuit.
This adventure grew from a discussion over a beer at the Estabrook Beer Garden. And as my husband says, “any idea only becomes better with beer!”
The idea, shared on a Friday night with yclist Sue Czarniak, grew into a plan to acquire all 14 stamps in our passports on the Oak Leaf Discovery Tour and gained focus at Dan Sipin’s insistence that there was only one right way to do it: all in one day.
We met on a Friday morning, back at Estabrook, gathered our small peleton, fixed a flat tire and set off to circumnavigate the Oak Leaf in a counter-clockwise direction, starting with Lincoln Park, then Brown Deer and Dretzka.
We backtracked to the Little Menomonee River Parkway section of the Oak Leaf Trail and headed to Currie and Hanson. We didn’t let the track construction on the parkway stop us, and we were still smiling!
Our route to Doyne Park took us through Hoyt Park (would have loved to stop for a swim). At the nine-hole golf course on W. Wells St. we searched for the trickiest stamp location to find, and finally discovered it outside the snack shack.
From there, we followed the Hank Aaron State Trial back to the Oak Leaf Trail and Greenfield Park, where we had a very nice chat with the staff in the pro shop. Dan Sipin also discovered that golf bag holders make nice bike stands when you need to lubricate your bike chain.
While the laughter and watery fun of Cool Waters in Greenfield Park tempted, we pressed on toward Whitnall Park and our lunch stop.
No more lollygagging, we started pedaling up the hill to the Wehr Nature Center.
We then began the big trek across town via Rawson Avenue to Grant Park. Things were generally OK, although Rawson isn’t the best biking road. And then the skies opened. Just about at the Franklin/South Milwaukee border, a thunderstorm hit. Initially an awning worked fine. When the hail struck, we took refuge in the entry of the closed restaurant.
For a while, I was thinking this was the end of the adventure and we’d need to start all over again. A call to the spouse got the weather report – it would pass. About an hour later, the rain finally let up. Off on the Oak Creek Parkway (which was overflowing) toward Grant Park.
Not only did Grant Park have a beautiful club house, but Julie King’s husband, Joe, was waiting for us with a rest stop. Joe even took off looking for us in the rain. Excellent treats – banana bread, fruit, Gatorade and water. Thanks Joe. But we needed to get going because we were falling behind with the rain delay. Warnimont was next. Nice lake view!
Off to the Eastside and McKinley Marina. Jesse Kuester was beginning to get weary, but he was still smiling for the camera. He even smiled as we approached Lake Park when I made everyone stop to see the restored waterfall.
Lake Park next, but DISAPPOINTMENT. The stamp has been stolen! Please take this as evidence that we got the Lake Park stamp.
Finally, the end was in sight – the Urban Ecology Center. But again, horror – the door was locked. We arrived at 5:25 and discovered that the UEC closed at 5:00 on Fridays (my old eyes only saw the 7:00 closing during the week). Luckily, a faithful employee was helping unload kayaks and let us in the building. The Urban Ecology Center saved the Excellent Milwaukee County Parks Adventure.
The scorecard reads:
- 81 Miles
- 14 Passport Stamps
- 1 day