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On Friday, Nov. 8, Genie and I headed north from Albert Lea on our annual Sabbatical to the North Woods. (Genie calls it “Extended Socializing,” I call it “Deer Hunting.”)

The traffic north of Minneapolis was bumper-to-bumper, as the next day was the opening of Deer Hunting through Sunday Nov. 24 where I hunt, on the shore of Lake Winnie by Bena, Minn.

We stopped at McDonald’s on the shore of Lake Mille Lacs at Garrison, Minn. for a late lunch. The parking lot was filled with vehicles occupied mainly by men in orange clothing headed to the North Woods. An employee asked Genie and a lady in front of us to please let him know if they wanted to use the women’s restroom. This confused us, so we walked back to the restrooms and then we understood. “Women” had an orange jacket hung on the door so as to read “--Men.” I guess you could call it “double or nothing” in regards to restrooms!

Prior to leaving, Santa Claus asked me to help him on his “Naughty or Nice” list of the employees at the Palace, where we stayed at in Cass Lake, Minn. The list results are at the end of this column. (951-262-3062 is the number to listen to Santa.)

While there, we attended Trininty Lutheran Churh on Highway 2 just west of Cass Lake the three Sundays of our Sabbatical. It was understood that as a mebmer of TLC you were expected to be in church if you weren’t a deer hunter, or if you got a deer during the three Sundays of the deer hunting season.

If you’re in the Cass Lake area on a Sunday, attending TLC is a must experience. Wayne, the organist, played a faster, more upbeat tempo of “How Great Thou Art” as we stood facing each other while singing with gusto at the end of one Sunday service. How many Sunday services have you attended where they clapped for the organist and choir?

Socializing kept us busy. Genie attended the “Does Only” champagne brunch at Patrick’s in Longville with Sandy Roscoe, former member of Central Freeborn Lutheran Church, Albert Lea. They both met Brenda Bauer, also former member of Central Freeborn, at Park Rapids for lunch.

We drove to Grand Forks to visit and have lunch with Alex and Jack Knudson, graduates of Albert Lea High School and student at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks.

We drove to Baudette, Minn. for lunch with Carol Edstrom at the Holiday Extravaganza at Lake of the Woods School on the scenic Lady Slipper Highway 11 west of town.

We attended some of the Veterans Day Nov. 11 activities, including the evening meal at the American Legion in Cass Lake.

Genie and I, along with Grace and Charlie, TLC members, took advantage of the Shrimp Special dinner at the Big Fish Supper Club on Highway 2 by Bena, Minn. As we left, I asked how many of the 10 guys dressed in orange bellied up to the bar were good deer hunters – no answer. I asked, how many were no-good deer hunters – no answer. I asked how many were part of the famous Zarn Deer Hunting Group from the Sleepy Eye, Minn. area – no answer. ‘Twas then I knew, there was a deer hunters Liars Club in Sleepy Eye.

Many thanks to Becky for helping us get up-front seats to the band “Gloriana” at the Northern Lights Entertainment Center in Walker, Minn.

Per Larry the Weatherman: summer was on a Monday in 2013 in the Cass Lake Area.

The first Wednesday of deer hunting was a “grouse, pheasant, goose, duck” type of experience – where you are startled and just point the gun and shoot, getting nothing cause the air is full of what you’re hunting. Four deer came walking by in front of me – I was so startled, I just pointed the gun and shot. A doe just walked into the bullet, thus my limit of one deer was satisfied. Thanks to LeRoy and Jeff for helping get the doe into the back of their truck.

The Santa Claus “Nice List” included most of the Palace employees. Sad to say, there were three employees that were a notch below the Nice List, but a notch above the “Naughty List.” 

“So (you three) be good for goodness sake!”

Once again, many, many thanks to all for treating Genie and me like special guests – we feel you are special.

On our way home we stopped at Olivia’s Restaurant in Owatonna. The food was good, the service excellent – plus we got to meet Mr. Olivia (Chef Logan). What a treat!

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Bob is a retired AAL (Aid Association for Lutherans) agent, currently working on his master’s degree in Volunteering. 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. Bob says if you enjoy his column, 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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