Around 2 o’clock on a Sunday afternoon, it was in the mid-30s. Practically a heat wave in Milwaukee. So Mike and I bundled up, hopped on our folding bikes, and pedaled off down the pavement.
The Hank Aaron State Trail, named for baseball legend Hank Aaron, abuts the back of the RV park. The trail follows the Menomonee River from Lake Michigan west about 13.5 miles. We’d never really explored it.
Right by the park, the trail’s not the prettiest, even in the spring when everything’s in bloom. But it holds some surprises. Roughly three miles in, we discovered the Valley Passage mural. Technically known as the Menomonee Valley Passage mural, it was painted in 2011 by artist Chad Brady.
The colorful mural is designed to represent the Miller Park area, Potawatomi Casino, the Brewers, The Milwaukee Road, bridges, buildings, birds, deer, Native Americans, fish, the Menomonee River, trees, manufacturing and canoeing.
The trail also goes through the Milwaukee Soldiers Home National Historic Landmark District, which is one of three remaining original Soldiers Homes in the country. Since 1867, the homes have provided refuge and recuperation for physically and mentally disabled soldiers – starting with those who had survived the Civil War. Three of the buildings are being restored, but amazingly, the rest are still being used to care for veterans today.
You just never know what you’re going to find in your own backyard.