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On Thursday, Nov. 5, Genie and I headed north from Albert Lea on our annual sabbatical in the north woods. We took two cars as Genie decided to split the sabbatical between two locations (the north woods and Branson, Mo., on a bus from Albert Lea along with Julie Ehlers of Albert Lea).

On our way, we stopped at the smallest town in America that has a McDonald’s, namely Garrison, Minn., with a population of about 210 and declining. The natives blame the decline on the reduced walleye limit (the season was even closed for walleyes this fall). McDonald’s was very busy with deer hunters headed north.

We stayed at the Palace Hotel outside of Cass Lake, Minn. The facility has a snack bar, a non-smoking dining room, a smaller casino with both fast and regular Bingo, once-a-week Neon Bingo where many of the players are in costume, and an 80-room hotel with a swimming pool all under one roof.

The rates are very reasonable. The food is excellent with good-sized portions. The employees all have the ability to make your stay enjoyable and they shine in doing just that.

We attended the Veterans Day complimentary brunch for the veteran and a guest at The Palace. It was just great, even a woven basket ice carving. The highlight was when I got to be the speaker thanking The Palace and the employees for honoring the veteran and their guest with a long, round of applause by all.

We also attended the Nov. 11 Veterans Day activity in the evening at the American Legion in Cass Lake (I am a Legion member).

We attended Trinity Lutheran Church on Hwy. 2 just west of Cass Lake. As usual, the welcome mat was extended to us. After Genie left for Branson, I attended there the next two Sundays. I was even asked to read one Sunday, which I did. One of the male members informed me it was a two-doughnut Sunday as he handed me a second doughnut! Did you know Mr. Larson, the head wrestling coach at NRHEG, has relatives at Trinity?

Thanks Janet, for giving me a complimentary ticket to see the lady boxers at Northern Lights in Walker.

I know you have heard of “catch and release,” but how about “hatch and release?” Codey Dahl, a fifth-grader at Northern Elementary in Bemidji, starts out with about 500 brown trout eggs and the result is about 100 released in a river. My reaction, “Wow.”

Genie and I, along with Grace and Charlie (Trinity members) enjoyed an excellent meal at the Big Fish Supper Club on Hwy. 2 by Bena, Minn. Al and Amy Hemme are the owners. I’ve known Al for many years as a very good deer hunter. Amy did admit Al was a good hunter but she was a lot prettier!

As we left, I counted 10 professional deer hunters either bellied up to the bar or filling their belly with a great steak dinner. They all had one thing in common, the possibility of professional status having “non” added to it.

Did you know that Genie and I are stars on the Ron Schara TV show about the big fish?

The ambience and amenities keep us returning to The Palace as shown by: Dave, Diego, Diane, David, Doug, Don, Dana, Delma, Danny, Dale, Diana, Danielle, Dennis, Dawn, Dan, Dolly and many other Ds; Ethan, Elizabeth, Emily, Edwin, Elroy, and many other Es; Freeman, Frank, Franny and many other Fs.

Thanks to Brennon, Nancy and Jean at White Oaks Casino for helping me remember who is who.

After Genie left, I hunted hard but I’m now in the non-professional deer hunter status. Sorry LeRoy, but I didn’t get that deer I promised you.

The Christmas Hot Line telephone number is 951-262-3062.

In summary, one year closer to getting a deer.

Remember the reason for the Christmas season.


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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