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Labor Day morning, Sept. 3, Genie and I left from Beaver Lake for our annual one week stay at Arrowhead Lodge in the Big Horn Mountains above Sheridan, Wyo. Our first year of doing this was 1973.

We hopped on I-90 at Albert Lea, set the HHR Chevrolet cruise on 75 and headed west. Our first major stop was Mitchell, South Dakota, to look at the new corn theme on the outside of the Corn Palace. This year’s theme is sports, which features different colors of corn to form participants in different sports.

Our stop for the night was in the Super 8 Motel in Wall, South Dakota. The evening meal at Wall Drug, plus saying “Hi” to T-Rex in the Wall Drug back yard, is a “must-do.” Genie and I were so happy to see T-Rex that we danced to the music in the back yard!

We stayed at the Super 8 in Wall on our way out and way back. When in Wall, you must say hi to a great lady named Donna at the Super 8.

The next morning, Tuesday, we set the cruise control at 80 and headed west on I-90 (South Dakota and Wyoming speed limits are 75 versus 70 in Minnesota). We arrived at our destination, Arrowhead Lodge in the Big Horn Mountains (832 miles from Beaver Lake), Tuesday evening. Richard, a familiar employee of about nine years, with his big black cowboy hat, gave me a big “Howdy, welcome back,” and checked us into our favorite rustic Cabin 3.

Wednesday was a day of rest, to let our bodies get used to the high altitude of 7,700 feet.

Thursday was Porch Day, so we just goofed off around the lodge.

On Friday, we hiked up Black Mountain, an elevation of 9,500 feet. On the way up, it started to thunder and rain, so Genie went as far as the sign that says the top is one more mile, and returned to the car. I continued on to the top, where I performed a random act of kindness by leaving two rolls of T.P. in the outhouse at the top (I did get a little wet).

On Sunday, we attended the Ladies’ Retreat Service at Camp Bethel By Arrowhead Lodge (Genie and I were guests). Most inspiring in a casual setting.

All the Arrowhead employees know how to give Mountain Hospitality: Melissa and Matt as cooks, Karen and Dave in general maintenance, Clay and Pat as waiters, Yuki in housekeeping, Louise as the Older, Keep Things Organized Person and Richard as check-in plus bartender. We thought we could find a bad-service employee, but once again we were wrong.

Arrowhead Lodge is also known as “The Mule Deer Capital of Arkansas.” All the Arkansas Mule Deer male hunters were successful. Their female significant others were successful also, as the balance of every credit card went up while the men were gone.

There were even three non-hunters from Arkansas (Clayton, Wanda and Kristi). They did confess their credit card balances also went up.

As usual the three Wyoming Mountain Brothers (Dan, Frank, and Fred) were at Arrowhead. They fish a lot but never have any fish to prove it.

We watched a huge bull moose rubbing the velvet off his antlers while demolishing an eight-foot pine tree. A man walked up to our car to watch. 

‘Twas then we met Richard and Betty Schroeder from Waseca, Minnesota. Small world, isn’t it, when you’re 832 miles from home and you meet people from 20 miles away!

When the urge hits you, while outdoors, you must know how to construct a “cat-hole.”

There are both black bears and grizzly bears in the Big Horn Mountains. It is strongly urged that when out walking, you carry a can of pepper spray and attach small bells to your clothing. By doing this you can tell the difference between the two, as black bear dung contains nut hulls, berry seeds and other plant residue, while grizzly bear dung contains tiny bells and cans of pepper spray!

Stacey from Belvidere, Vermont, who was celebrating her 45th birthday, and her two friends Tara and Adrianne from Florida, knew the above bear story.

To solve the potential problem, they bought a wooden baseball bat. When a bear was encountered, the one who ran the slowest got the bat!

— — —

Bob is a retired AAL (Aid Association for Lutherans) agent. His wife, Genie, is a retired RN, currently working on her doctor’s degree in volunteering. They have two children, Deb in North Carolina, and Dan in Vermont. This is the Hanson’s 37th summer at Beaver Lake. They leave the lake in mid-October to go south — to Albert Lea — and return in April. Bob says if you enjoy his article, let him know. If you don’t enjoy it, keep on reading, it can get worse. Words of Wisdom: There is always room for God. 

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