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Photos by Adam Ryan Morris It was a sunny Saturday in July, just another day in Milwaukee…  My son suggested kayaking on the Milwaukee River, so we started by visiting the Urban Ecology Center, where members can “borrow” for free as many kayaks (or canoes or bicycles or cross-country skis) as they want. We strapped […]


Photos by Adam Ryan Morris

It was a sunny Saturday in July, just another day in Milwaukee… 

My son suggested kayaking on the Milwaukee River, so we started by visiting the Urban Ecology Center, where members can “borrow” for free as many kayaks (or canoes or bicycles or cross-country skis) as they want. We strapped two kayaks to the tops of our cars. Destination: Lincoln Park. 
Along the way, we were pleasantly interrupted by a parade, a South Side celebration of a Puerto Rican holiday. We paused as floats of blue, white and red rolled toward National Avenue. 
We drove past the Summerfest grounds, where German Fest was in full oom-pah-pah, and skirted the East Side, where the Brady Street Festival was in full bohemian bloom. Reaching Lincoln Park, we put the kayaks into the river. The current was swift, and in no time at all, we were enveloped in verdant forest, an urban wilderness. 
As we approached Estabrook Dam, we paddled to shore then hiked to the park’s beer garden for lunch and a frosty liter. A handful of fellow patrons were dressed in lederhosen and alpine hats, and for a minute, it was Munich.
After kayaking, we stumbled upon a 24-hour bicycle marathon in the Riverwest neighborhood. We stopped at a Colectivo coffee shop to watch the cyclists from the curb and drank complimentary espresso outside. 
That evening, after adding my wife to the mix, we explored two more neighborhood destinations, starting at Central Standard Craft Distillery in Walker’s Point for tastes of locally made whiskey and vodka. Then on to the newly opened Goodkind restaurant in Bay View for a satisfying dinner.
Just another day. 
We packed a lot in, sure. But days like this are not that unusual in Milwaukee. And when they come around, you find yourself caught up in the controlled chaos – the crowds and the motion and the constant buzz – enlivened by the pace and the rhythm of the city, and awed by its endless possibilities. 
This city – any city – has its share of troubles. Without a doubt, the violence and poverty and daily struggles can press hard against our sensibilities and weigh down our sense of hope for the future. But the collective good of a city – expressed by the character of its people and their will to carry on and thrive – outshines the bad. 
This month, to acknowledge the city’s unique identity and spirit, we decided to give our annual Best of Milwaukee issue a twist by compiling an annotated list of “Reasons to Love Milwaukee” (Page 42). We’ve included people, places, events, quirky artifacts – and more than a few things that you would find “only in Milwaukee.” 
Maybe you have your own list of reasons. If not, we give you plenty to consider. 
We also debut a new column this month. “The Rec Department” (Page 28) will be a regular read for all things recreational in southeastern Wisconsin. In this issue, Managing Editor Tim McCormick guides would-be marathon runners on how to find just the right training program before attempting the full 26.2 miles. 
Don’t hesitate to offer feedback on the column, or anything else included on this month’s pages.
Kurt Chandler
kurt.chandler@milwaukeemag.com

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