I relocated to Clear Lake, Iowa from Rochester, Minnesota in 2010, one month before my daughter was born. Looking back, that was probably the craziest thing I had done to date until I signed myself up to do this for Steve’s site. I’ll get to the reason(s) I run a little later, but I normally cap a single session at around the 3 to 3.5 mile mark so this was really stretching it.
My cause of choice was the Greg Leonard Benefit Fund. Greg is the brother in law of some friends from high school who was diagnosed with ALS last December. The goal was to send he and his family to Disney this summer to enjoy all that the Magic Kingdom has to offer. I know this is a cause near and dear to Steve’s heart so it seemed like a perfect match! The official beginning of my route was across the street, but I wanted to make a quick stop at North Iowa Central Gardens to thank Steve for being an inspiration to do what we can to make the world a better place. So, after a quick shout out, I ran all of a quarter of a block to my first stop.
I started my official run at the Clear Lake Fire Station by the World Trade Center memorial. Local firefighters made the trip to NYC to visit a warehouse full of debris in 2011 and brought back a piece of steel given to them by the 9/11 Families and the Port Authority of NY/NJ. It is a touching tribute to those who lost their lives that day and the unveiling was a spectacular event. The group was escorted by different emergency vehicles in the towns they passed through on the way home with people lining the streets to pay their respects. I have chosen to thank the people who first crossed my path in Clear Lake beginning with my friend Sarah. Her husband Josh is a volunteer firefighter here so it makes sense that she’s first up. Moving to a new town can be a scary ordeal, but she made me feel right at home within the first few months when I met her at swimming lessons. As an added bonus, two of her four kids are exactly the same ages as mine and already knew each other from daycare so they helped to break the ice. Thank you Sarah for being you and letting me be me.
My next stop was the Lake Theatre, which we have really enjoyed since moving to town. Where else can you get popcorn, pop and snacks for the whole family plus tickets for less than $20? This place is great and always has a decent selection of the latest movies throughout the year. This is where Lindsay and I saw Footloose, with only one other person in the audience, which made it possible to sing along as loud as we wanted through every single song. Lindsay had a hand in recruiting Matt back to the area so she was the one who got to field all my questions about why we should move here in the first place. Clearly she excels at her job because we made the leap! Thank you Lindsay for all of the Friday Fun Days we’ve had on the lake, introducing me to your hair-do girl and regularly scheduled family nights at Pizza Ranch.
Next stop, Starboard! This is why I run. Or half the time it’s my excuse why I’m too full to even think about hitting the pavement. Everything here is delicious from the sandwiches, soups and salads to the mouth-watering desserts. We eat here at least a couple of times a week and usually on the weekend too. The outdoor seating in the summer is perfect and the crew is just as fabulous as the food. Thank you Jen and Dude for giving me a reason to run, even if it is just to counteract the calories.
Just down the street is the Sea Wall where everyone gathers to play at the beach or you can get your Starboard lunch to go and watch the boats on the water. The kids love the splash pad and of course the giant Lady of the Lake paddleboat that’s a must if you want a quick tour with a little back story of town thrown in. I want to thank my friend Stephanie even though she’s technically part of my Rochester life. We might actually see each other more now than when we lived in MN. It’s always fun to see old friends and I appreciate that she makes the drive down I-35 to have a pina colada and catch up while the kids have fun playing together. Thank you Stephanie!
After a warm up jog we’re at the site of the last concert given by Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and The Big Bopper. The Surf Ballroom is a definite stop for everyone. You can take a look around at all of the artifacts from each of the artists and there’s just something magical about it from the minute you walk in the door. We absolutely love going to concerts here, and I need to thank my mom for always taking time out to come and entertain the kids so we can get out every now and then. Thank you Mom!
Here we are at the Clear Lake Fisheries Management Station. Fancy name, huh? My son Caleb loves to see the sign “Aquarium Open” so he can take a look at all the big guys swimming in their tanks. He’s headed for 1st grade this year, and I can’t even remember what life was like before him. We moved here when Caleb was in preschool and he has really adapted well to lake living, taking advantage of the beach as well as the fishing. Thank you for being my sweet, mama’s boy. I love you Caleb!
Down the road you can get in a round of golf at Veterans Memorial Golf Course. I haven’t personally tried it out because of an incident in high school where my drive went 90 degrees off the first tee…in front of the ENTIRE boys AND girls golf team…but someday I hope to dust off my clubs and try again. I want to thank Beth for being my first neighborhood friend. She lives around the corner and has a son the same age as Caleb. They like to get together and do boy things so we can catch up on life. Meeting new people can be intimidating and I am so grateful to have met her very shortly after we arrived in town. Thank you Beth for making me feel at home in my new home!
This garage door is on my usual running path and it’s not really a stop, but it’s right across from the golf course. I love it because we’ve been to Maui a few times and it reminds me to relax (aka “hang loose”). I want to thank Jason and Mari for showing us around town with their Aloha spirit. They pointed us towards an area we’d like to live in, a rental while our house was being built and some great home-cooked meals. Thank you Jason and Mari!
McIntosh Beach is a hidden gem with its sandy, instead of rocky, bottomed swimming area. It’s kind of a trek from the last stop and I was tempted to just jump in, but finishing up would have been tough with sand in my shoes. It’s all tucked away and a great place for an afternoon swim. I’d like to thank my friend Kathleen whom I have bonded with over our undying devotion to the Iowa State Cyclones. I love taking in games with her and getting together to let the kids play. Her girls are also exactly the ages of our kids so we’ll be seeing a lot of each other over the next several years. Thank you Kathleen! Go State!
After you’ve worked up an appetite you can stop at The Muskie. It’s seasonal, May – September, and provides one of the only dining experiences on the lake. My daughter Lauren is a huge fan of their cheeseballs with a bowl of ranch the size of your fist. It’s her favorite part of the whole meal. You have to get there early before the crowd or you’ll be waiting awhile, but there is an outdoor beer hut where you can relax and sometimes they have live music to keep you entertained until it’s your turn. I want to thank my ranch loving little girl for the sass she brings to complete our family. I love you Lauren!
I had to take my picture next to these NO signs. It cracks me up because it’s the only restaurant I’ve ever been to with a list of rules a mile long posted on the door and on the menu. In addition to these two there’s also no credit cards, no pushing tables together, no reservations and my personal favorite… please keep your children under control or you will be asked to leave. It always reminds me of the “No soup for you!” episode of Seinfeld.
My last stop, or stops, is where the rubber really meets the road. Over to my right is The Viking and behind me is Sugar and Slice. The Viking is only open from May – September, but it generally marks the beginning of warm weather and the soft serve raspberry yogurt is one of my summer time favorites. Sugar and Slice is open year-round and serves hand dipped ice cream plus pizza along with lots of other goodies. It’s been a really great addition to the area and I’m so thankful my husband Matt is willing to indulge me, on what may sometimes seem like a nightly basis, for a sweet treat. He is my high school “sweetheart” after all and after spending half our lives together he knows I always have room for ice cream. I love you Matt for all that you do for me and the kids to make memories that will last a lifetime.
That concludes my tour of Clear Lake, IA. I hope you enjoyed it and maybe I’ll see you around town! As luck would have it, there is an opportunity coming up to run a 5K or a half marathon that goes all the way around the lake on August 31st. It starts at the Sea Wall and you can get more details at www.seawalltoseawall.com.