This weekend, the Chicago Botanic Garden officially opens the doors to the Regenstein Learning Campus, a beautiful, 7-acre campus built for learners of all ages, with the intention to "facilitate connections between people and the environment." The Rock Daughters™ and I recently had a chance to preview the new Campus and its Learning Center - a 26,700 square-foot building that features 12 indoor and two outdoor classrooms, a nature laboratory, early childhood classrooms, the ITW kitchen and spaces for wellness classes. Outside, The Nature Play Garden, with its rolling hills and series of multisensory gardens, provides areas for hiding, exploring, learning and gathering - a fine place for kids to run around and have infinite adventures. The Campus will be the home of the Joseph Regenstein Jr. School of the Chicago Botanic Garden, offering year-round classes, day camps and programs.
The Clown Prince of Crime will officially arrive in Lake County, Illinois next year as THE JOKER Free Fly Coaster comes to Six Flags Great America in Gurnee for the 2017 season. Continuing a long-running partnership with DC Comics/DC Entertainment, THE JOKER will also be built at parks in New England and Texas, while this year's JUSTICE LEAGUE BATTLE FOR METROPOLIS 4D will be installed at three additional parks and the WONDER WOMAN LASSO OF TRUTH at two. THE JOKER is touted as being "one of the most unique rides in park history," with riders flying high-above the park in "wing cars" that face other riders.
If “wearing many hats” is the metaphor for chronic multi-tasking, my virtual hat rack is full -- something that’s probably fairly obvious to anyone that’s followed my adventures on the social networks these past few years. On the surface, my #1 gig is being a parent - my wife and I raising The Rock Daughters™ with me as the (mostly) work-from-home parent while she maintains a career outside of the home. Thing is, as the years roll on, my travel has increased - the necessity of adventures in far-off locales… places where staying connected might not always be easy. On top of that, one of my lesser-known gigs involves my “other kids” - five of them. I serve as co-manager of the metal band Product of Hate - a gig that’s special to me as the boys are very much like my brothers, though on the artist management side there’s sometimes a “parental” vibe in looking out for their best interests, and part of that is helping to keep them connected to friends and family while out on the road. For their latest U.S. Tour, the AT&T Unite Explore by NETGEAR became a new tool in our arsenal - a Mobile WiFi Hotspot to put #RuggedWiFi* wherever the guys might be, as long as there’s a cell phone signal (4G LTE/4G where available).
Brand unity is something that the folks at Kia Motors USA have really nailed over the past few years. Whether you're driving an entry-level model, or a fully-loaded luxury vehicle, the experience is distinctly Kia, and there's a comfort level in that feeling that's hard to surpass - no matter if you're in a car, crossover or minivan. When I last found myself behind the wheel of their best-selling nameplate, the Kia Optima, it was the 2014 Hybrid model. While we enjoyed that car, the 2016 Optima has been redesigned, and I recently had the opportunity to do a little roadtripping in Florida at the helm of the SX Turbo Edition - the perfect family ride for rockin' the road.
Ah, the weekend! A time to relax after a hard and honest week's work... to sit back and enjoy some quality time with the family. Or not. I don't know about you, but around here, there really isn't any down time. Family time, yes - but down time is non-existent. My wife is at her office Monday-Friday (and sometimes Saturday); I'm either working from home here in Illinois, or out on some crazy adventure (usually in Los Angeles); The Rock Daughters™ have school and preschool, respectively; and sometimes I have to tend to the band that I manage (in fact, a tour starts later this month, and I will join them on the road for a few dates). So the weekend... a time for even more activities, like ballet and tap. Sometimes there's theatre... or baseball... or gymnastics. My point? There is no end to the running, and it's a coffee-fueled affair (Folgers Ambassador - disclosure and all) - with the weekend being a week-ending wrap-up to my normal morning and mid-day routines. When I do relax, it's a prime example of some #CoffeeAndRock.
The Great American Road Trip. It's a time-honored tradition to load up the family and hit the highways in search of fun and adventure. We've done a few of them in recent years, highlighting them right here on THE ROCK FATHER Magazine. In 2014 we hit the road and headed east toward Philadelphia, visiting the birthplace of America before hitting some other locales. In 2015 we headed northwest toward Minneapolis, visiting the Mall of America and Nickelodeon Universe, making some fun stops along the way as we chronicled the whole thing across my social networks. For 2016, I'm not entirely sure where the road will take us, but a few different smaller runs look likely, with Wisconsin Dells in the mix, and perhaps a jaunt across Florida. No matter where you happen to go, it's always best to be prepared, and that's why I'm serving up Five Essentials to Rock the Road!