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Early Thursday morning, February 19, with the GPS on the HHR Chevrolet set for due north, we headed for the 36th International Eelpout Festival at Walker, Minnesota on Leech Lake. (We have attended about 30.) Our first stop was for a fish sandwich, fries and coffee at McDonald’s in Garrison, Minnesota on the shore of Mille Lacs Lakes. (Garrison is the smallest U.S. town to have a McDonald’s.)

Our next stop was the State Farm Insurance office in Brainerd, Minnesota. Most of you have seen the State Farm Insurance ad on TV featuring “Jake” from State Farm. Brainerd is where Jake has his office. Yes, he was wearing khaki slacks! (For real, the State Farm agent in Brainerd answers to the handle of “Jake.”)

We drove through Walker as most of the 15,000 people were arriving on our way to the Palace Hotel where we stayed for four nights in Cass Lake, Minnesota. (It was estimated $3 million was spent in the area.) Kortni greeted us with a hearty welcome back handshake and a big smile as we checked into the Palace Hotel.

From Walker to Cass Lake we saw three road kill deer in the ditch. Each deer was surrounded by ravens with a huge bird in the middle eating the deer. The bird was all black with a white head and white tail feathers.

Kristin, in security, asked if I was going to mention the old-timers at the Palace in this article, I said yes. She then told me change is normal and I should change. Just like the NCAA Basketball Tournament of the Elite Eight, there are Eight Elite new employees at the Palace that would like to see their name in this article.

Not being one to try and correct a lady, the Elite Eight are as follows: Lowell and Sandy – vault; Brad and Kuna – shipping and receiving; Brian – drop team; Alice – shift manager; Brady – security; Susan – table games.

We attended the Eelpout Festival Friday and Saturday. There were more fish houses than any other year – even Yetti fish houses with white Yetti-dressed sales people. Ice castle fish houses were the most popular with financing on the spot.

An interesting first time we’ve seen it was six small airplanes flew in and lit on the lake. There were also drones at the Polar Plunge.

We attended Trinity Lutheran Church, Cass Lake, on Sunday morning. As usual a warm greeting by four of the church decons (namely Larry Glass, Jane Christianson, Gene Patten and Bev Larson.) Bev is the mother of NRHEG wrestling coach Shawn Larson. Two of the decons even treated us to lunch after church (Grace and Charlie Nason.)

The weather was just great until Saturday afternoon, when it turned cold with a rapidly dropping temperature. Sunday morning low was -30 with a high of -11, and -21 Monday morning as we left.

The hotel has a higher ceiling you can look over that gives a great echo. Excellent sounds as Genie played her good bye song on her flute just before we departed. Awesome.

How cold was it Sunday morning? It was so cold that my teeth froze in place and I couldn’t get my frozen mouth open to sing in church. 


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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