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How we're making the most of this extremely unusual summer

If this summer had gone as we'd imagined it, this week we'd be witnessing some of the biggest crowds the city has ever seen as part of the Democratic National Convention. It didn't work out that way, of course. Instead we're entering the fifth month of relative isolation as the city continues to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.

Still, summers in Milwaukee are too short and precious to waste, so how are we making the most of this unusual summer? Radio Milwaukee's Ayisha Jaffer, Salam Fatayer, Justin Barney, Kenny Perez, Amelinda Burich, Lucas Seidel and Evan Rytlewski caught up on Slack to share our tips for staying active and enjoying the outdoors. Even in these scary, unprecedented times, it turns out there are plenty of ways to stay occupied when the weather's warm.

Read our conversation below.

Evan: Alright, so this wasn't the summer that any of us imagined. From music festivals to weddings to tailgates, there's a good chance that whatever you were looking forward to the most this summer has been canceled. So what have you all been doing instead?

DJ Kenny Perez: I am appreciating the outdoors these days, especially away from the city and the crowds. Camping, hiking and biking our my new passions!

amelinda: I’ve spent nearly every day out in nature to feel a little freedom.

Justin: Me too!

amelinda: I have even run into Justin on our daily walks.

Justin: I have never been so aware of proximity. Like, I live a couple blocks from the lake in Bay View here and I have gone on LONG walks every day along the lake and every day feels different and new outside and I'm understanding my surroundings in a way that I never really paid attention to before.

amelinda: After walking 4-9 miles a day, I've started to feel the same way. After awhile I felt like I was wearing out the same places, so I researched Atlas Obscura. Has anyone been to the Sculpture Spectacular?

My friends Shea and Kelly and I were feeling bored and looked up places on the Atlas Obscura map and found this one. It was amazing and self guided so you can keep your distance.

Ayisha Jaffer: I’m an avid road tripper so I’ve taken advantage of exploring the southeast and beyond. I’ve camped and kayaked in the Driftless, and up in the north. I’ve explored near my hometown and have kayaked most weekends in Big Bend, I put my skates back on and practiced some old roller derby moves. I’ve never jet-skied, so I did that in Oak Creek and felt like I was in an actual ocean (pretending there were sharks there, there totally are bull sharks in Lake Michigan), and have had some pretty fancy picnics.

Salam: So I’ve been missing a sense of adventure, which is how I typically spend my summers BUT I recently found this app called Zombies, Run! and you basically run or walk in real life but the more you do it you collect supplies and get chased by zombies while listening to your mission via headphones.

amelinda: Haha that sounds amazing

Lucas: Salam is taking the "pandemic" real seriously.

Salam: Please download it so we can save humanity haha

Evan: Wait, is this a huge trend, like sourdough and roller blades? Or just an extremely niche Salam thing?

Salam: I found it from Tik Tok so I know a ton of people are doing it!

Evan: Last week my family had a picnic at Lake Park and we were reminiscing about the days when that park's biggest problem was too many people playing Pokemon Go there. Simpler times.

Salam: I feel like picnics are everywhere! I’ve done it with a few friends. What’s your favorite picnic spot? I love going across north point water tower because it has a beautiful, safe distance view of Bradford Beach.

Justin: I have been walking South Shore park every day and things are good over there. Unlike some of the other beaches there is a lot of room and coastline for everyone to spread out and do their own thing. Plenty of room to picnic. Also, the water is finally warm so I have been swimming almost every day.

Ayisha Jaffer: Where are you swimming Justin? I need more of than in my life.

Justin: Some of my friends have their qualms about the water, but I read in John Gurda's book that the biggest problem with the lake right now is that it is too clean due to muscles. I don't know if that is right or wrong or if I just made that up, but that's my story and I'm sticking to it. I've been jumping in off the path by South Shore. I like to go on the beach like where the path goes up by the seminary cause it's the most secluded.

Salam: If you don’t mind driving for a bit I would recommend Lake Sinissippi in Dodge County for swimming! I rented this beautiful cabin up there.

Justin: Lucas, how are you doing without baseball?

Lucas: To me, it still feels like we are in the longest March of my life. I never realized how much I process the passage of time through sports milestones. I never thought I'd be so invested in labor disputes before but the lack of any sports has done this to me. Thankfully, it's coming back soon enough and I've been able to use a lot of the time and money saved to do some landscaping. Mulch isn't a Miller Park brat but it will do...

Justin: I saw two kids throwing rocks into a garbage can and I stopped to watch for 10 whole minutes and was like, dang, I miss sports.

Salam: Okay real question, any tips to avoid getting quarantine blues? What has helped keep things exciting?

DJ Kenny Perez: Great question! Find like minded people that share your passion, whether it’s in art, music, food, etc.. Have several conversations, be it virtually or old school on the phone. Staying in touch with someone is so important especially if you’re alone. Even though I can’t relate to loneliness with the two incredible people I live with, I can say that talking to a friend or someone different gives me a little spark. Shutting negative energy out is always a good thing... TV off, social media breaks etc. Everyone is doing it.

DJ Kenny Perez: Oh yeah I almost forgot… invest in a hammock!

Lucas: My strategy is to just try and accomplish something every day. If I can reach the end of a day and say that I did X, Y, & Z and those weren't done when the day started -- I consider that a win. It helps the days from bleeding together.

Salam: Absolutely, I also have given myself some leniency in understanding that things are out of my hand but also being intentional with how I am spending my days. I will say I am enjoying the slow down because now I have time to try new things or explore my city.

Ayisha Jaffer: I feel like I’ve gotten to work on the relationships I have and make them more solid. I’ve really loved that global solidarity with my friends and that we have more time for each other. They keep me sane, connecting and sharing our stories.