Archived Story

A vacation to the big city of Albert Lea

Published 9:53am Monday, August 13, 2012

Column: Something About Nothing

We vacationed in Albert Lea for two weeks.

Technically it wasn’t a vacation as I commuted back and forth to my home in Wells to work, but it felt as if I were on vacation. The purpose of the vacation was to cat sit our two grand kitties. I never understood the purpose of traveling from town to a lake home every night during the summer as some people I knew did. I now understand the reasoning behind their decisions.

Our little vacation in Albert Lea was a time away from the phone in the evenings. I could relax and read a book and not see all the projects or house cleaning staring me in the face as it did at home. Plus, I had the purring of two cute kitties to wake me up in the morning. Plus, I decided to take it easy on the cooking for those two weeks.

It was fun living in a larger community for a couple of weeks. I visited the Albert Lea Farmers Market, and my taste buds fell in love with the scones and bread from the K&K Bakery.

I met a talented artist who makes handcrafted jewelry. Her business name — Lovely’s By Laura -— is as lovely as she is. Her designs caught my eye, and I know I am going to be one of her customers in the future. The produce selection was outstanding and there were many talented people sharing their products. I was surprised that I also could buy gluten-free products at this farmers market. Of course, since I was catsitting I had to buy cat toys, and the farmers market could cover that need, too.

My friends, kids and grandchildren all know that usually I can be seen with a coffee cup in my hand. Of course, I had to visit the new store in Albert Lea, Prairie Wind Coffee. One of my favorite pastimes is to visit coffeehouses and check out their coffee. I wasn’t disappointed. I loved the ambiance of the building, and the coffee and the aroma satisfied my coffee cravings.

Shopping also had to be on my list of things to do on my vacation. As I was checking out Northbridge Mall, I stopped at Grandma’s Kitchen and had the best Maid-Rite I have had since I was a kid in the ’50s. It tasted like the Maid-Rites I used to order at a little diner in my hometown of Wells. While I was there I noticed the pork tenderloin on the menu. The owner assured me it lived up to the D’s Drive-In pork tenderloins that used to be served in Albert Lea. I will check that out in the future.

I was in heaven. I could choose from so many eating establishments over the two weeks, and I did. There were so many choices I can’t name them all.

Since my son in Iowa is a Hy-Vee employee of 18 years working for PDI as a buyer, I knew I must check out the Hy-Vee store. There is always a helpful smile in every aisle. I chose the natural and organic foods section. These were foods I normally could not get in my local food market.  I found rice chips with varying seasonings, organic cereals and sauces and more. I found products and juices to try and that were new to me. It was a healthy grocery shopping trip.

The Albert Lea Tribune office was also on my list to visit. I took the time to stop in and meet with the editor, Tim Engstrom. I had only met Tim once six or so years ago, so I thought it was time to see if I remembered what he looked like. I hate it when you reconnect with someone you haven’t seen in years, and they don’t age. It must mean they live a life well-lived. Tim is one of those people. It was great visiting with him and getting a tour of the paper.

Each day I had the blessing of driving by the lake since it was only a block from where we were staying. I could stop, take a breath, take in the beauty and be thankful that for two weeks I had those views every day.

We take our communities for granted. We focus on what our communities don’t offer and fail to see what they do offer daily. We fail to see what we are lucky to have in our communities. This time around, I didn’t make it on the Pelican Breeze or to the Freeborn County Fair. I didn’t make it to some hiking trails or community theater. There wasn’t time to check out the numerous churches in the area or the specialty shops. I will save those for another cat sitting vacation.

I can’t end this without talking about my grand kitties. I also had time to write so I documented my visit with my grand kitties for their parents in The Cat Chronicles. You can read it on my blog at justalittlefluff.com. It is not a great literary work just a fun piece from the perspective of a cat. It was a joy watching those kitties each day. I miss them waking me up in the morning with a paw on my arm or a kiss on my nose. I miss the purring in the middle of the night and the unconditional love they gave us while we were vacationing in their house. What more could I want from a vacation?

 

Wells resident Julie Seedorf’s column appears every Monday. Send email to her at thecolumn@bevcomm.net.