Why I love Albert Lea

Published 10:46 am Friday, November 25, 2016

Why I love Albert Lea by Amy Wasson

I began dating my now husband, Jeff Miller, who had lived in the Albert Lea area since he was a teenager. As a runner, he quickly introduced me to his favorite areas to run in Albert Lea, and I would bike or run with him as he showed me the town. The bike trail out to the state park, the run around Fountain Lake and the friendly people quickly endeared me to what later became my home.

I work for a company in the Twin Cities and telecommute full time from home. At one point, my husband and I tried to relocate closer to the Cities, but I am glad we never did. Over the years, I have come to appreciate and love this community and all it has to offer.

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Feeling a sense of community

When people ask me what I love about Albert Lea, I can quickly come up with a list, including:

• A welcoming, open and united multi-church community

• A great medical facility just two miles from my home

• Easy access to kayaking, canoeing and paddleboarding on area lakes

• Availability and frequency of plays, musical events and art shows throughout the year

• A focus on healthy living from the Blue Zones Project

The upgraded downtown area is a something I always show to visitors and reveals a real commitment to the success of our community and its people. There are great things going on in this town, and I enjoy seeing people coming together to make it a better place to live and work.

Finding hidden gems

I love running in and around Albert Lea. As my runs have extended in length (and with our occasional Sunday drives), I have been able to explore new areas in Albert Lea. Frequently, I have stumbled across (pun intended) some hidden gems. Repurposed railroad beds, expanded bike paths, seldom-used parks and the nature preserve off Oregon Street have become some of my favorite places to run and to explore with my husband and our dogs.

Eating and shopping

After living in larger communities for most of my adult life, I thought I would miss the variety of eating and shopping places cities usually have. However, from the Asian Market to Crescendo, from big box stores to specialty shops downtown, nearly everything I may be in the mood for or want is here. We make a point of checking out different restaurants on our weekly date nights and shop locally whenever possible.

Fantastic people

Most of all, the people here are fantastic. Shortly after I married Jeff and moved to Albert Lea, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. For the next year, as I went through and recovered from surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation treatments, I felt as if the entire community was helping us out. People I barely knew called, wrote and helped us with so many things. As I recovered, I was given the opportunity to speak at various events to help others who were facing the same struggles. I was not forgotten or alone, even in the dead of winter when no one wants to leave the comfort of their homes.

This small town provides me with a sense of community I have not enjoyed in other places I’ve lived. I love knowing my doctors and nurses on a first-name basis and bumping into them at social events, stopping during a run with my friend Sandy to greet people we know, knowing my pharmacist by name, and chatting with neighbors while out for a walk or over a glass of wine.

For big reasons and the many little reasons, I love living in Albert Lea.

Amy Wasson works as an attorney-writer for Thomson Reuters. She and her husband, Jeff Miller, live in Albert Lea and enjoy spending time with his two grown children; their granddaughter, Charlee, and their dogs.