CLEAR LAKE, Iowa - Hot weather often leaves many of us looking for ways to cool off. And with pools closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, for some, it means a trip to the lake.
Now with restrictions being eased across the country, are people rushing out to soak up the sun? In Clear Lake, that answer is yes.
Iowa DNR park ranger Josh Rembe has been working through one of the busiest weekends he's seen. Because of the crowds, and the need to keep everything running, clean and in stock, seasonal staffing schedules have had to be adjusted.
"The campgrounds have been full for the last two weekends. Since Memorial Day weekend kicked off, we've been full. The biggest change we've seen is the increase in the beach use. With the pools closed and no kids sports right now, we're seeing a ton of families and people coming from not just the area, but also from Des Moines, Omaha. I've had a lot of people from Minnesota coming down. The beach this weekend looked like the 4th of July crowd we typically see, which is probably double than the normal crowd."
While social distancing is starting to become old for many, Rembe notes of some distancing along the beach.
"On the beach, you can see people kinda staying away each other, families are together of course, but in terms of being packed together, you can tell I think people are making a conscious effort to stay apart from those they don't know."
All in all, Rembe notes the need for many families to just get outside again.
"With not a lot going on, they are reaching for the outdoors. People are biking, walking, enjoying the beach, picnic areas. It's really good to see. Our biggest issue we're facing right now is parking. We don't have a lot of places for people to park."
On the South Shore of Clear Lake, Cris Brager with PM Park and Tiki Bar has also seen a busy weekend.
"It's probably been the best weather we've had this season. On top of that when we're at 50% occupancy, we have a lot of guests that have to wait, and they are more than willing to wait."
Inside and out, tables are being spaced out, as well as being cleaned and disinfected each time. In addition, to ensure patron and staff safety, staffers have undergone food handling and management, and COVID courses. Also, their Sunday morning breakfast buffet has been cancelled for now. Despite these changes, guests have made it a point to come in.
"Probably the best part of the whole stay at home thing was they realized how much they like restaurants, and they're appreciative of us being to be able to be open."
Brager also owns the Sweet Spot, just up the road from PM Park. Business there has also been positive.
"Apparently, ice cream must be a COVID comfort food!"