Visit #28, Grand Forks Red River Lions Club, Monday evening December 12, 2011

How pleasant to be able to drive only a few miles across town and spend time with the Grand Forks Red River Lions at their Christmas party. Everyone was dressed up and in wonderful spirits. Over the years I’ve visited this group so many times that I feel it’s my Lions home away from home. It’s always special to be greeted by PDGs Duane Preabt and Al Kahlbaugh.

With maestra Donna Iszler at the keyboard we sang numerous holiday carols. Of course, there were Lion favorite’s too. The club is developing a tradition of singing “Don’t You Hear Those Lions Roar” punctuated by Lion Grant’s (Kahlbaugh) loud and realistic roar.

After a great dinner each person shared their favorite holiday memory and the group enjoyed a rousing gift exchange with multiple “steals” and good-natured banter. Santa (?) gave me a unique switch-blade mustache comb. Hmm, perhaps perfect for re-gifting to my brother. Our thanks also for my speaker’s gift and Brenda’s 2011 Lions Christmas tree ornament (which she has oohed and ahhed about to me more than once).

The evening was an enjoyable relaxing time; it went too fast.

Mileage for the visit: 0
Mileage for the week: 0
Mileage for the month: 262
Mileage for the year: 6,668

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Visit #27, Carrington, Wednesday evening December 7, 2011

It’s been almost a full month since our last visit…nearly forgot how to do this, ha, ha. I’ve been looking forward to this since it was scheduled back in August; one of two in conjunction with holiday parties. After gassing the Subaru Forrester we were on the road to Carrington right at 3 p.m. The GPS woman navigator accepted our chosen route almost immediately and had little to say the remainder of the trip. The first twenty miles involved Brenda balancing a bowl of freshly popped popcorn on her lap and my grabbing handfuls when traffic allowed—mandatory afternoon snack, you understand.

We checked into our motel and had about an hour to relax and get dressed. We arrived at the meeting location a few minutes early to find about twenty Lion revelers enjoying happy hour. We joined the celebration. It’s wonderful to be invited to participate in club celebrations and social events. In addition to all the good work they do and the awards they win, it’s nice to see that the Carrington Lions are also friends and genuinely enjoy each other’s company.

What a great meal–and the best part—guests got to go first! I’m betting this will be the only time during the year we’ll have fried shrimp for dinner. For those who don’t know, North Dakota is typically beef and pork country. Someone must have told the Carrington planners about my predilection toward ice cream. The dessert was fantastic. We enjoyed the “What’s in the stocking?” and “Christmas Song Titles” games as well as Mary Ann Zwinger’s surprise thrift store gifts for everyone. Lion President Ken was particularly thrilled with his boxer shorts.

After my DG comments I had the distinct privilege of inducting a new Carrington Lion and assisting with award of two prestigious Melvin Jones Fellowships. I also brought with me three 2010-2011 LCI “Excellence Awards” for the club and two past leaders. I will proudly wear the Carrington club pin I received at the conclusion of festivities.

The next morning we had a quick, uneventful, sunny drive back to Grand Forks.

Grand Forks to Carrington: 131 (overnight)
Carrington to Grand Forks: 131
Mileage for the visit: 262
Mileage for the week: 262
Mileage for the month: 262
Mileage for the year: 6,668

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Visit #26, Casselton, Wednesday evening November 9, 2011

We arrived in Casselton about 6:30 p.m. just as the club was finishing up the business part of their meeting. Everyone ordered supper and Brenda and I prepared to enjoy the good company. This turned out to be a night with distinguished Lion visitors. Zone Chairman/District Pin Chairman Arlo Anderson was present and brought a Lion friend with him–a past district governor from Minnesota. Both of the guests were given the opportunity and added their remarks to the evening.

Lion Anderson was working hard, but having a difficult time getting Lion Romsdal to buy this year’s ND state pin—a John Deere combine. It seems that Lion Romsdal is associated with a farm implement business that sells numerous brands, but not John Deere!

The club treasurer reported outstanding success with their recently completed gun raffle.

A few minutes into the meeting Club President Darrell Sweet received a phone call. His job is water utility maintenance and this call was reporting a water pipe break in West Fargo. The group speculated that the call was fake and a “setup” just to get him out of listening to the district governor’s presentation. He did check in later by cell phone and reported that he was wet, cold, muddy, and bloody?

It was hard to say goodnight to the Casselton Lions and their interesting guests. There were lots of good stories being swapped after the regular meeting. Our drive home was uneventful and we arrived in time to catch the news on TV.

Wahpeton to Casselton: 72
Casselton to Grand Forks: 95
Mileage for the visit: 167
Mileage for the week: 951
Mileage for the month: 1,635
Mileage for the year: 6,406

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Visit #25, Wahpeton Headwaters, Wednesday noon November 9, 2011

In order to make it to lunch with the Wahpeton Headwaters Lions Brenda and I were on the road before ten in the morning. We found the Prante’s Restaurant without difficulty—NICE place. The women Lions were just arriving from their workplaces for lunch.

The Headwaters group is a great bunch of Lions; very engaged, volunteering and willingly sharing project responsibilities. Their committee reports and minutes are very organized and complete. At this meeting they discussed and planned upcoming junior high and high school dances. They were considering asking the other Wahpeton club to join them on these projects. Typical Lions, they’ve collected a bunch of used eyeglasses and are looking to get them to an appropriate recycling facility.

The club is approaching its 10th anniversary. They generously invited their Peace poster contest entrants to join them for lunch. It was a great experience for those kids to see adult role models dedicating time to helping others.

After lunch we “did” an antique store in Wahpeton. Then it was back to Fargo for an afternoon of shopping (yawn!) en route to an evening meeting in Casselton.

Grand Forks to Wahpeton: 130
Mileage for the visit: 130
Mileage for the week: 784
Mileage for the month: 1,468
Mileage for the year: 6,239

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Visit #24, Wing, Monday evening November 7, 2011

We left Jamestown in time to make the 99-mile drive to Wing. It was dark by the time we arrived, but a full moon helped a little. Not much traffic. We saw a lone doe grazing on the roadside just off I-94 as we headed north.

Once in Wing it wasn’t difficult–in the three-block downtown–to find the Chat ‘n Chew Café. You gotta love that name? I confirmed with the waitress the time of the meeting and she informed me that the bar next door was an unofficial rendezvous point for club members. Not wanting to be left out, Brenda and went and grabbed a table. It wasn’t long before we had half a dozen Lions friends.

Dinner was a great hamburger steak with cream gravy and all the trimmings. It was the first time I’ve ever eaten prune kuchen–pretty tasty.

The club got their business taken care of quickly and efficiently. The tailtwister didn’t have much opportunity to fine anyone because the members have a tradition of “suspending the rules” and fining each other. I got to contribute a few times and got a good-natured ribbing from some of the Lions about being from “the valley” (Red River Valley).

As part of my remarks I explained the district’s tree planting goal and mentioned that 5NW had a substantial lead on us right now. In the course of the conversation I discovered that a Wing Lion is in charge of the Soil Conservation Service tree planting in the local area. He indicated that he’ll be planting about 110,000 in the spring. Does this count as “Lions planting trees”? Time will tell, ha, ha.

After the meeting we drove to Bismarck to spend the night. The next morning we had a relaxing breakfast with 5NW District Governor Pat Vannett and her husband Past District Governor Kevin then returned home.

Edgeley to Wing: 135
Wing to Bismarck: 46 (overnight)
Bismarck to Grand Forks: 268
Mileage for the visit: 449
Mileage for the week: 654
Mileage for the month: 1,338
Mileage for the year: 6,109

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Visit #23, Edgeley, Monday noon November 7, 2011

We left Grand Forks shortly after 8 a.m. and headed for Edgeley. Arrived at the café just before noon and the waitress approached us immediately. This is one of the few clubs where members order lunch off the menu. Brenda and I went for the daily “specials”. I ended up speaking during dinner again; most of the members finished eating while I was orating.

The Edgeley Lions were a good audience. Club President Rick Gutschmidt appreciated receiving the “I Belive” lapel pin from International President Tam.

This meeting was the club treasurer’s last as he was moving to Spearfish, SD. I had to admire his dedication—he brought a new member to the club replace himself! The club voted to provide a supportive donation to the new Mrs. North Dakota, a woman from Edgeley. One of the members cracked me up—he voted “no” on various random motions when the outcome wasn’t in question and grinned from ear to ear when he did it.

The club gave me a full bag of used eyeglasses to drop off at the ND Lions Eye Bank. I had fun figuring out with the tailtwister which Lions Clubs in North Dakota are the oldest—Edgeley is one of them.

We headed out for Jamestown right after the meeting. Spent some time in McDonald’s catching up on email using their free wifi connection. We appreciate them accommodating travelers in this way.

Grand Forks to Edgeley: 205
Mileage for the visit: 205
Mileage for the week: 205
Mileage for the month: 889
Mileage for the year: 5,660

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Visit #22, Strasburg, Thursday evening November 3, 2011

We had lunch at the Medina Café prior to leaving for Linton. How do German sausage, sauerkraut, and knoephla sound? Sometimes I fear that this Lions travel blog is turning into a food blog. Sorry, can’t help it. In the afternoon we loafed along I-94, stopping at every little town between Medina and the Highway 83 exit. It’s enjoyable to see this aspect of the changing American landscape. Near Dawson we witnessed a Bald Eagle soaring high over us. The distinctive white tail and head were easy to discern in the bright sunlight.

With only ten miles to drive, we left the Linton motel for Strasburg at around 6:30 p.m. We had no trouble finding the meeting place–The Blue Room. With that name I was thinking we might run into the ghosts of Frank Sinatra or Sammy Davis Jr. We arrived early enough to participate in the club’s social hour. A cold bottle of beer was helpful in washing the “road dust” out of my throat. One of the first Lions we met was President Dan Roehrich. I was glad to see that Strasburg has its Lions paraphernalia front and center on the head table; there’s no doubt this group is Lions.

Readers may not know that Strasburg was the boyhood home of bandleader Lawrence Welk. As part of my remarks I mentioned that my late grandmother was a huge Welk fan and, with tongue in cheek, that she was looking down on me, standing that evening on “hallowed ground”.

During discussion of new business an idea surfaced to sponsor a fundraising spaghetti supper for the local fire department. There was thought that an event like this could also provide exposure to potential new members who work at the FD.

Next year Strasburg will have its first woman club president.

Both the short drive back to Linton that night and the long trek back to Grand Forks the next day were uneventful.

Medina to Linton: 89
Linton to Strasburg: 10.5
Strasburg to Linton: 10.5 (overnight)
Linton to Grand Forks: 284
Mileage for the visit: 394
Mileage for the week: 684
Mileage for the month: 684
Mileage for the year: 5,455

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