Favorite places include lake, coffee shop

Published 12:29 pm Thursday, July 11, 2013

Column: A Happy Medium, by Erin Murtaugh

I think that everyone should have at least one place that they could consider a favorite hangout spot. Doing so creates a safe place to go when you need to relax or think something through. I have a bunch of favorite places in Albert Lea that I’d like to share. The only order they’re listed in is the order I’m thinking of them in.

Erin Murtaugh

Erin Murtaugh

My favorite local business to hang out at is Prairie Wind Coffee. The atmosphere there is so friendly and relaxing. You can either sit outside and enjoy the view of Broadway or inside and soak in the historic building. On Thursdays, local musicians can gather and participate in an open mic night. It’s neat to see locals show their talent. The coffee is always fresh, and you’re sure to get friendly, helpful service. I really appreciate that they can remember my order, too.

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Going to Prairie Wind has led me to get to know owner Kirk Foley. If it wasn’t for the shop and Foley, I would have never had my art show in April. Also, last summer I sold my very first piece of art at Prairie Wind. Ever since then, my passion for art has grown.

My next favorite place is hard to describe. I’m not sure where exactly it is. I just know how to get there. I don’t go there often, usually on a beautiful day, though. In short, if you go out past the City Arena and take a few turns you’ll end up at this ginormous hill that overlooks the countryside. It’s breathtaking. When I go, I usually have my camera with me and will snap a couple of photos while I’m up there. I don’t stay for long, but sitting atop the hill is a great little escape.

What can beat hanging out at Grandma and Grandpa’s? Not much, especially when Grandma and Grandpa happen to live on Pickerel Lake. My grandparents have a porch at their house that faces the lake. It’s a great spot to sit and wind down or work on homework. I also enjoy going to visit with them. It always brings me joy to share some laughs with them. My grandma is a master gardener so taking in her gardens during the summer is also great.

Fountain Lake may not be the cleanest lake in the area, but there’s nothing comparable to being out on a boat. Not too long ago, I came across a photo of me with some rubber ducks in our boat. I was about 2 years old and had the biggest smile on my face. Seeing this photo reminded me of how much I really enjoy being out on the water.

I’ve been figure skating since I was 4, so, of course, my time spent at the City Arena is always something I enjoy. The staff is always friendly and quick to help if there’s something going wrong. My coaches are great role models and are some of the most positive people I know. My fellow skaters are like family, and we have the times of our lives when we are together. Being around such great people almost year-round makes the arena one of my favorite places to be. It’s getting tough to grasp the idea that after this spring, I’ll be done with figure skating, but I’ll always be back to visit.

Ah, home sweet home. There’s nothing like being home. My favorite part of being at home is when my dad, sister and I get to all sit around and watch movies together or have a fire in the backyard. Getting to spend time together is special. When I’m not spending time with them, my favorite part of my house is either my bedroom or my “studio.” I really like to nap, so getting home and crashing in bed is one of the best feelings ever. My studio is just a corner of a room in our basement, but it’s got a fireplace and everything I need to make some art. Doing what I love helps me wind down after a crazy day.

If given more thought, I could probably think of more places I enjoy. I’ll stick with these six for now, though, because they are all special to me.

What are your favorite places in Albert Lea?


Albert Lea High School senior Erin Murtaugh’s column appears every Thursday.