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Column: Why I love Albert Lea

Robin Russell is a follower of Jesus Christ, married to her husband, Mark, and a homeschool mom to her four children. She transparently writes at Russell’s Adventures where she shares her love of family and community. She is also the director of social media at RCV Web Services.

Last fall I was driving around town searching out photo opportunities for a few blog posts I had been working on. I was focused on getting the job done, so I could go home to relax. I was not prepared for what I experienced. I want to not only tell you why I love Albert Lea, I want to show you why I love Albert Lea.

My first stop found me at Frank Hall Park to get shots of the play park, Golden Launch Point, the Pelican Breeze, the Ipaddleport and the Blazing Star Trail. I walked across the street to get shots of the basketball courts and pickleball courts.

What I noticed was local Albert Leans out and about enjoying our amazing city together. Some had rented canoes and kayaks from the Ipaddleport station. Fishermen were casting in their lines from along the shore, casting from the fishing pier and trolling the waters in their fishing boats.

Families were grilling, having picnics, children were climbing all over the playground equipment and a group of young men had a basketball game going.

As I walked along the beginning of the Blazing Star Trail bike path, birds whistled and a great blue heron glided over the water calling to another in the distance. Two pelicans bobbed their heads in the water looking for fish, rabbits sat munching on the grass and the wind blew gently through the trees. This is the Albert Lea I am excited to have our four children grow up in.

I got back into our van and proceeded to drive to Fountain Lake as I needed more specific shots of the shores of this lake. As I drove by the Albert Lea City Beach, adults and children were splashing in the water, tossing Frisbees back and forth, while others had a volleyball game going. Others were lucky enough to relax while sunbathing on the shore. Boats were speeding by pulling water-skiers, wake-boarders and inflatable tubes.

As I drove a little further along, families were walking and biking together on the sidewalks around the lake. As I got closer to the Brookside boat launch and Boat House people were waiting in line to take out their boats, while others were waiting to put their boats in the water. A number of people were watering, weeding and tending to their gardens at the local public gardening area where you can rent a plot of land for the summer.

Dog owners were walking their dogs, while others were allowing their dogs freedom to run in the new dog park a short distance down the walking path.

I got into my car again and drove a little further around the lake toward Edgewater Park. Again, groups of people had gathered for picnics, fishing and playing together.

It thrilled my heart to see my neighbors enjoying the city we live in. I loved hearing the laughter, the boat motors and watching community happen right before my eyes. The real heart of our community is our people, family and friends. When we utilize what Albert Lea has to offer together, we all come out a winner.

I fell in love with Albert Lea all over again. I was reminded of the awesome, small-town living where we get to raise our four children — a family-friendly community I am proud to call home!