Labor Day morning, Sept. 1, Genie and I left from Albert Lea for our annual one-week stay at Arrowhead Lodge in the Big Horn Mountains above Sheridan, Wyoming. This tradition began in 1973.
We hopped on I-90 at Albert Lea, set the HHR Chevrolet cruise at 75, and headed west.
Our first major stop was Mitchell, S.D., to look at the new corn theme on the outside of the Corn Palace. This year’s theme is, “Remember When?” with various items done in corn. (For example, an old phone, a horse and wagon, and an outhouse were some of the old items.)
Four hundred and 75 miles later we pulled into Wall, S.D., to eat the evening meal at Wall Drug and say hi to my old buddy T. Rex in the Wall Drug back yard. (This stop is a must-do.) T. Rex eats every 12 minutes, completely devouring every 12th person he sees. (We could see the red hair in between his teeth from his latest entrée!)
Our great place to stay the night in Wall is the Super 8 Motel. All the employees are very friendly except the General Manager Lane O’Rourke. (I even have a business card signed “Unfriendly” by her!)
She is the CEO of their ranch. (I hope she lets her hubby and kids read this column.)
Tuesday morning we are on our way with the cruise set at 80. Crossing into Wyoming, the cruise is set at 85. (Minnesota speed limit is 70 compared to 75 in South Dakota and 80 in Wyoming.)
We arrived at our destination, Arrowhead Lodge, 7700 feet elevation, in the Big Horn Mountains Tuesday evening — 815 miles from Albert Lea. With a welcome and a handshake, Richard checked us into our favorite rustic cabin #3. (Per Richard, this was the 10th year in a row he checked us in.) Yuki, Clay, Mike and Dale, all employees from previous years, found us later with hugs and handshakes.
As usual, two Wyoming mountain brothers (Dan and Fred) were there to greet us with their tales of hunting and fishing. Nate (grandson of Dan) was there so most of their stories were believable.
Jim Palmer, graduate of Albert Lea High School, was there along with two deer hunting buddies all from the Mankato, MN area.
Rustic Cabin #15 had the same banner as last year across the front (“Mule Deer Capital of Arkansas”). There were 16 male Arkansas mule deer bowhunters in five cabins. Thirteen of the 16 got a muley. The other three all had good excuses like “a moving tree got in the way,” “the arrow was bent” or “the altitude gravitation force pulled my arrow downward.”
The hunters have formed an exclusive club called “MAMO” (abbreviation for “Muley Arkansas Men Only”). This elite club even has a mascot. The main duty of the mascot is to keep an ample supply of firewood on hand for the campfire ring. The name of the mascot is Sally (a well-behaved retrieving Black Lab).
Their age ranged from 12 to the right side of 70. Jeffery Beshears, age 12, of Damascus, Ark. was the youngest, and also first-time, deer hunter. (Reader, if you’re a deer hunter, remember your first deer hunt and al the excitement.)
A interesting statistic put out by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce was that Arkansas led the U.S. in the percentage increase on credit cards for the Labor Day week. In further analysis it was found that this increase was by “Lady CEOs” who had family members in the MAMO club!
On Sunday morning we attended the Ladies’ Retreat Service at Camp Bethel by Arrrowhead Lodge as guests. Awesome setting, awesome experience. Sunday after dark, Clay and Juki invited us to their fire ring. A full moon, owls hooting, and an occasional bugle from an elk while we were at about 8,000 feet elevation. That was the kind of Sunday that would make an atheist wonder.
When we left Arrowhead Lodge on Tuesday morning, we drove through clouds down the mountain. A snowstorm was predicted for Tuesday evening with up to a foot of snow at Arrowhead lodge. Yes, the prediction came true!
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.