9.07.2014

White Bear Lake, MN

With a normal thought process of trying to collect "firsts" during each year, I decided to head out to White Bear Lake (WBL) to meet a friend (who in this post will be called, "the woman"). I'd never been to WBL before and it sounded like a nice way to spend an almost-end-of-summer Thursday night. WBL is about 20 miles northeast of the Twin Cities. In rush hour traffic, it's not a fun drive and takes about an hour or so, but the good news is that by late evening, the commute trims down to 30-40 minutes.

I began solo, milling about the lake front before meeting up with the woman who'd invited me out. This seemed like as good a start as any in WBL...




...a unique pair of spots, one called Tally's Lakeside and one called C.G. Hooks. They provide dock support, boat rides, food, drinks, and ice cream to locals and visitors alike... sort of a jack-of-all-trades on WBL. They had a very BBQ-heavy menu with some really good looking options (if you like meat, smoked meat, BBQ'd meat, and bacon... who doesn't?). They had tons of kitsch and cold beer too. Right off the bat, I like the relaxed vibe of the lake, Tally's, and WBL as a whole.

Once the woman and I had met-up, we quickly decided to head out for a lakeside walk. The city has paths around much, but not all, of the lake. They were easy to access, and with my tour guide by my side, we set out. The path is not challenging, but gives great views of the lakeside homes and the lake itself. Here's a couple "house faces" I snapped along the way...

I feel like this house's awning makes a good "mustache"
On the leg out, we walked ~1.75 miles in a relatively short time and at a relatively brisk pace. It was a hot, humid night, so this added even more to the "exercise" we were earning. As we turned around to go back, we decided to walk through downtown. We wound up down a short between-buildings alley to find Big Wood Brewery. I was happy to head down into this local basement brewery and sit for a spell. By this point, I was damp with sweat from walking in the hot humid air and needed a break. Big Wood seemed and literally felt pretty cool, but only four gulps into my procured custom wheat beer did the woman mention that she wasn't feeling well and it would probably be best if we got moving. What can you say to a lady in distress but, "Ok"? So, I did. We got out of there and wound our way back to our starting point of the docks.

She was feeling better by this time and we decided to get some ice cream (also part of C.G. Hooks offerings), sit on the boat slips that fill up this end of the lake, and dip our feet in. And we did just that...

"sittin' on the dock of the bay..."
...as we sat, we finished our ice cream and talked about how nice a quick dip in the lake could feel after a long, hot walk, on this stormy summer night, now lit with the waxing gibbous moon and stars. And you maybe wondering, "Why are you just talking about taking a dip, why not do it?!"

Well, the common sense response was three fold:
1. We had no swim suits
2. We were on the boat docks, not a public swimming beach or landing
3. Even if we went in, we had no way of drying off afterwards and still had to drive home
And it could be four-fold if you listen to your mothers:
4. We had not waited an hour after eating our ice cream to go swimming

However, I think much more common, common sense took hold over the next 30-45 minutes of general chit-chat and discussion (which was not all about the swim potential literally in front of us). In essence, the MN summer is a very short season, and despite the somewhat minor issues listed above, swimming in the summer, in a local lake, with one other person, plus an added element of danger or incarceration, is just plain ole fun.

By about 9pm, the woman went in. Mind you, this isn't as scandalous as it could have been as she was mostly clothed. She jumped in in her maxi skirt and camisole top. I still hadn't convinced myself at this point, and I also thought being a "lookout" on the dry dock might be a wise decision. It turned out to be so, and I was also able to help pull her out of the water and back onto the dock once she'd had enough (maybe 15 minutes of lake time). Once out, she had to begin the process of wringing out as much of the water as she could and start to warm up. So, we sat and talked a bit more.

Of course, once she was out, I began to see this as a challenge to my manhood. How could I let her go in and but remain dry myself? I finally broke down and said to her, "The only reason I want to go in now is because you already did." She laughed. Then I started taking off my clothes. Again, this was not a full Monty as I kept my boxers on. Who needs a swimming and public indecency fine?

Once down to my skivvies, I slipped from the dock into the water. Boy oh boy, I have no real way to tell how cold all bodies of water are in MN. This lake was not as cold as Lake Superior late summer, but it was not as refreshing as I'd hoped, it was downright cold. I tread water in hopes of my body becoming accustomed to the cold (read, going numb), but it didn't seem to help. Then, a good-sized sailboat began coming back into the slip near me. So, I decided I'd better get out and start drying off before the drive home. I was able to sit on the dock and let the boat pass us, with them seemingly none-the-wiser about our late-night water pursuits.

Once out, it was clear the cooling but humid September summer air wasn't going to keep me warm or dry me off that fast. We had to get dressed and get moving. Faced with the prospect of driving home in wet boxers with jeans, I decided I needed to 86 the boxers right there and just commando home in my jeans. She was nice enough to turn around and block the rest of the dock view, while I mooned the whole lake. Boy oh boy, did the dry clothes feel good and start to bring up my body temp.

We walked coyly past the boat crew that had come in and made our way to our dry, warm cars. Not a bad way to meet a new someone, a new someplace, and a new some lake.

WBL, C.G. Hooks, Tally's Dockside, Big Wood - I will be back!

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