It is that time of year when thoughts start, or continue, to pop into heads about summer days at the lake in Minnesota. If you don’t own a lake home and are thinking of buying one, you will notice from now until Memorial Day Weekend that new listings of cottages and cabins start appearing on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) Hot-Sheet. Within the past twenty four hours there have been four new lake homes listings (two on Lake Miltona, one on Lake Mary and the fourth on Lake Union) in Alexandria’s MLS.
Besides thinking of buying a place at the lake or preparing your cottage or cabin for the summer months, it is also time to think of what you are going to do during the summer days. If you don’t have a Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP), I recommend considering buying one. Some people think that they couldn’t do it and would spend all their time climbing out of the water on to the board. That isn’t true, it is even easier than it looks. If you’d like to try before you buy, talk to the Faction in Alexandria. You can rent a board for the day or by the hour. Give Faction a call at 320-762-2573 or visit them most summer days at the parking lot of Zorbaz in Alexandria.
For three years I have been paddling on the lakes in and around Alexandria and love it. It is relaxing and good exercise. Recently my paddling progressed from the lake to the ocean and I can’t wait to try it again. While I was in California this year, I ventured out into the surf of the Pacific Ocean on a SUP. After a disastrous first outing, I learned how to get beyond the wave break and then had many enjoyable trips in front of Hermosa Beach and Manhattan Beach. The waves called me and after observing others on SUPs surf waves along with surfers, I gave it a try on my board. Plenty of time was spent in the Pacific but I did successfully surf a couple waves (nothing to brag about as I tried for many days) and it was exhilarating. A side story. Something else that was exhilarating/hair raising happened one day while paddling beyond the break towards the Hermosa Beach Pier. I saw another SUP-er heading towards me that was equal distance from the shore and he kept looking down and back. When we got close enough to each other to talk, we exchanged hellos. He then said “I am being followed”. I asked “by what” but knew in the back of my mind what he meant. His answer was “a Great White”. I then noticed about 10-15 feet away a large silhouette. It looked to be about 20 feet below. He said it is a juvenile Great White probably 8-10 feet long. In the South Bay it is normal to have juvenile Great Whites visit as there is breeding area north of the area but it was unusual for them to follow you. I was told no other sharks come in that close and the adult Great Whites don’t come into the area. Upon seeing it, I almost fell off my board partly because of shock and also because a large wave rolled below me at the same time. It was my cue to turn around and head the other direction.
For me, stand up paddleboarding is also a great way to keep informed of the shorelines and homes of the many lakes in the area. In the trunk of my car is an inflatable board made by NRS that I can take to any Public Access and have inflated in five minutes, go out for a tour and return and have it in my trunk within five minutes. Love it. From Amelia to Winona, I have been on them all. Regarding inflatable boards, it may seem like it would be a poor experience but NRS’s boards are made of heavy-duty PVC construction and can be inflated to 15 PSI. Strong enough for two adults to stand on it in the lake. I also own a hardboard (pictured at the top of this page) made by BIC that I keep for use at the lake cottage. Hardboards provide better performance but the inflatables are pretty darn good. By the way, yes, it is the same Bic that makes ballpoint pens and disposable razors. I wasn’t aware of it until I was shopping for a board and learned that Outside Magazine rated the Bic ACE-TEC Wing one of their boards of the year in 2013. Apparently Bic has been the leader in windsurfing for over twenty years and within the last twenty diversified into surfboards, kayaks, sailing dinghies for kids and stand up paddleboards. I have been very pleased with it but there are many good boards. My advice is to seek advice on what board and paddle (more advice…don’t skimp on a paddle) would be a good fit for you and/or your family. I’ve said more than once that the money I spent on my first board was the best investment in myself that I have made in a long time. Anyway, this has been a long winded endorsement of stand up paddleboarding if you are looking for something new to do this summer in Alexandria at the lake. Plus, you only have walleyes, northerns, etc. below you.