Labor-free Leisure

gallupgallupStaying in town over Labor Day weekend? There are plenty of sights to see and things to do right at home for little to no cost. Here are a few ideas to entertain you and your family during the last few days of summer.

The Matthaei Botanical Gardens are an obvious choice for a serene and beautiful afternoon. If you’re looking for the quirkier side of gardens, be sure to visit before the month is over: pink lawn flamingos, bedecked and bedazzled by local artists, currently populate Matthaei.

One of my favorite things about Ann Arbor is its abundance of art, most of which is free to enjoy. Try a walking tour of downtown galleries, including Ann Arbor Art Center, Jean Paul Slusser, Warren Robbins, and Work Galleries (featuring art from U of M’s School of Art & Design), University of Michigan Museum of Art, Clay Gallery, Barclay Gallery, Selo/Shevel Gallery, and the many others you’re sure to pass by while strolling through the downtown and campus area.

Take a trip to the Kerrytown Farmers’ Market on Saturday between 8am and 3pm for delicious locally produced food.

And get don’t forget the many parks throughout the city. Perhaps a picnic, some frisbee, or simply some outdoor reading is in your future?

Le Tour de France

Riders competing in the world's most prestigious cycling race, Le Tour de France, completed Stage 2 of 21 today, climbing from Bruxelles to Spa in the magnificent country of Belgium (they enter France in Stage 3). The soggy weather caused one major crash that slowed many cyclists in the peloton down, including American Lance Armstrong, who has said this will be his last Tour.

The televised, three week event will test the limits of international riders with over 2200 miles of picturesque -- yet arduous -- French countryside. This year's Tour began on July 3rd, and the champion will be crowned on July 25th. If Le Tour has you excited about bicycle racing then check out the AADL's collection of books and magazines on the sport of cycling.

Free Bowling for Kids & Families

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How often do you get to go bowling when the Kids Bowl Free? You and your kids can take advantage of this offer throughout the summer! Lots of bowling lanes across the state are participating, including Ypsi-Arbor Bowling, Bel Mark Lanes and Colonial Lanes. Need more info? This link will explain it all. Before you go, brush up on your skills by watching this DVD! Personally, I like to use bumpers when I bowl...

Self-Propelled Recreation in the Upper Midwest

Self-propelled recreation is awesome! And the library now carries the magazine Silent Sports: Driving Human-Powered Recreation since 1984 which covers outdoor activities and sports such as bicycling, paddling, running, walking, paddling, triathlons, biathlons, duathlons, adventure racing, inline skating, rock and ice climbing, and when the weather is right, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Whew!

What's really handy is the Calendar of Events in every issue that is organized by month, activity, and location. Locations include Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, and Ontario.

Of course, you can also check-out their website.

Here are just a few of the events listed in Silent Sports coming up in June.

Bicycling:

June Dairy Days Classique Bike Tour in Wisconsin.
Udder Century in Illinois.
Keweenaw Chain Drive Festival in Michigan.

Running:

Sour Grapes Half & Half in Minnesota
Tooth, Fang & Claw Run 10K & Swamp Party and Mackinac Island Lilac Festival Run-Walk in Michigan.
Hog Wild Days 5k Run-Walk in Iowa.

Paddling:

Go With the Flow Yak & Yoga Chestnut Mountain in Illinois.
Huron River Canoe Challenge in Michigan.
Kettle River Paddle Festival in Minnesota.

Multisports:

Bigfoot Triathlon in Wisconsin.
Trinona: The Battle for the Bluff in Minnesota.
Triceratops Tri in Michigan.
Copper Creek Triathlon in Iowa.

A New Look for West Park: Worth the Wait

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Hold the Teddy Bears! The bad news is . . . West Park will be closed March - September 2010. The good news . . major improvements to every aspect of the park. In addition to the nitty gritty stormwater, flood control and bioswale improvements, there will be new pathways, access stairs, bandshell seat walls, basketball court and parking lot. The City is even planning a native prairie and wetland planting with a boardwalk and overlook. Until West reopens, visit nearby Maryfield Wildwood and Waterworks parks. For more info on the improvements to West Park contact Amy Kuras at akuras@a2gov.org or at 734.794.6230, ext 42590.

Planet Rock Climbing 101 for TEENS - Midwinter Break!

Planet Rock 101Planet Rock 101

Friday February 26, 2010: 12:00 pm to 3:00 pm @ Planet Rock @ 82 Aprill Drive

Teens in Grades 6-12 have you tried rock climbing yet? Whether you've never tried it or you're an advanced climber, meet us at Planet Rock, 82 Aprill Dr. (off Jackson Road) for an afternoon of climbing fun! Beginners and beyond are welcome! This is a great thing to do while you're on break from school! NOTE: Parents must sign a waiver before you climb (available electronically or when you arrive at Planet Rock). REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED: Register online, in person at any AADL location, or call 327.8301. This event is FREE of charge.

Pioneer to stage "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee"

Pioneer Theater Guild presents its mid-winter musical -- The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee -- Feb. 12-21 in The Little Theater. This is a one act musical comedy about a spelling bee at Putnam Valley Middle School, where six quirky adolescents compete in a bee organized by three odd adults. Sounds fun. The web page says the show "features spontaneous and hilarious audience participation!" Sounds like even more fun. Check out our CD of the original 2005 Broadway cast recording. The show also is being performed this month at Encore Theatre in Dexter.

Guided Hikes in the Ann Arbor Area

Calvin's father, in the timeless youth graphic novels, Calvin and Hobbes, often insists that outdoor activities with the family will help "build character" in his son, though Calvin himself clearly has other ideas. If you are looking for some similar character-building activities with the family this Saturday, Jan. 30, 2010, consider the Waterloo Recreation Area's investigative program, "The Mystery of the Missing Groundhog", and then head out to the trails on a search for some winter wildlife.

Looking for something closer to Ann Arbor? Check out Saturday's daytime hike, the Winter Woods Walk, through County Farm Park where a guide will lead you on and off the trails looking for plants and wildlife. Or try Leslie Science Center's nocturnal Winter Night Walk which caps off a crisp night trail hike with a lively campfire.

If you can't make these weekend events, check out the following Ann Arbor trail guides from the AADL: Riverwalks Ann Arbor and Footloose in Ann Arbor.

Get your dancing shoes on!

Tuesday, January 26, at 7 p.m. at the Pittsfield Branch, Susan Filipiak, director of Swing City Dance Studio will be teaching basic fundamentals of swing dancing. If you remember the jitterbug and want to brush up on your skills or are starting from scratch, this class is for you. No partner is needed. So get your feet moving and cut a rug.

Slack Off Wisely -- Teen Magazine Update

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Students rejoice! Fall semester is over and the glory of Winter Break has begun. But once the first flush of freedom is exhausted, the reality remains that you have three weeks to fill. After all, there is only so much time you can spend watching cartoons in your PJ's. Fortunately, AADL's teen magazine section is here with suggestions to fill your free hours.

1. Catch up on your guilty pleasures -- Alright, maybe you're not guilty about liking pro wrestling. In any case, WWE Magazine is ready for you, bringing you interviews with ten up-and-coming young stars, including Jack Swagger, Kofi Kingston and Ted DiBiase, Jr., who, by the way, stars in the recently-released DVD The Marine 2.

2. Practice your rock star skills -- Drum! Magazine also gets in on the "let's make a list of cool people" thing with a feature on drummer, composer and all-around great musician Steve Jordan and another on the "Ten Heaviest Drummers of All Time." The magazine's Practice Pad also contains the drum part to Killswitch Engage's "Starting Over." That'll keep you busy.

3. Catch some air -- Of course, for you outdoorsy, active types we have not one, not two, but three magazines about sports involving boards. Thrasher Magazine documents the Emerica team's trip to Paris, in which they lived on a boat and did a lot of cool things. Transworld Skateboarding, provides a sneak peek at Cliche founder Jeremie Daclin's new book, while Transworld Snowboarding's "Photo Issue" features eye popping shots of even more mind boggling stunts. And, of course interviews with lots of cool people.

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