When my wife and I moved to Eau Claire in 1987, we could have lived anywhere in Western Wisconsin, as my job was a salesman on the road. But meeting people here, talking to them at lunch, and just driving around the area convinced us that this is where we wished to live. And we are still here today.
Three years ago the youngest of our three daughters left for college, leaving us alone in the house for the first time in over 20 years. Wanting to perhaps move closer to family in the Cities, we took a close look at comparable cities in Minnesota. We thought the smaller towns of Monticello, Elk River, or Big Lake would appeal to us, as we did want to avoid anywhere close to Minneapolis or St. Paul. But all of these small towns had no appeal; there was no real ‘downtown’ where the locals could gather for events or concerts.
We then thought St. Cloud would be the one. It is a similar population size, similar size university with St. Cloud State, and also on a river; we thought it would be very similar to Eau Claire. But soon we discovered it was not even close! It seemed so spread out, a larger downtown but felt like a huge office park, and we saw nothing similar to Phoenix Park in the downtown area.
Now I am sure that St. Cloud has a Farmer’s Market, an outdoor concert series, a local theater, bike trails, and a library. But are they all within walking distance of one another? All located along a beautiful river? Or rivers as we have here? No comparison to Eau Claire.
I understand that ‘home’ is what you make it. For someone that has lived in St. Cloud for years, no doubt they feel the same as I do about Eau Claire. But just the music coming up in the next few months amazes me; Jazz Fest, Sounds Like Summer Concert Series, Blues night and the EC Municipal Band at Owen Park, then the ‘big’ rock and country shows this summer. Saturday music at the Farmer’s Market. Concerts and events at the State Theater. For those looking to the future, the Confluence Art Center arriving soon.
My wife and I look forward to our Saturday morning routine, which is heading out on our bikes to the YMCA, the library, and the Farmer’s Market. Tune up your bikes and grab your helmets!
Check out the links below, and Dorothy was correct: There’s no place like home!