Tuesday, May 19, 2009

North Pole Surprise

I visited North Pole Lodge No. 16 in North Pole, Alaska last night with the Deputy Grand Master, RW Johnnie Wallace. This was intended to be a surprise visitation and I had asked the District Deputy, VW John Johnson to see if he could encourage members from nearby lodges to also show up unannounced. As it turned out, word leaked out that the Grand Master was visiting. The brethren were on their guard and had actually practiced the opening and closing ritual before the meeting. My compliments to WB Mickey Harper and the brethren of North Pole Lodge for excellent ritual and floor work and a wonderful evening.

I brought greetings from one of North Pole’s own sojourning members who was unable to attend. RW Ed Weisser (PGM of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania and member of North Pole #16) reported in an email that he often visits Pennsylvania Lodges wearing his Alaskan Past Master’s apron and signs the Tyler’s register as a member of #16. He said he enjoys telling those lodges about his Alaska Lodge and the Grand Lodge of Alaska. RW Weisser also noted that he made 42 surprise visits to his lodges when he was Grand Master of Pennsylvania. He said that when the lodges in his jurisdiction learned that he was doing surprise visits, their ritual and floor work improved substantially.

In addition to the DGM and me, there were three Past Grand Masters of the Grand Lodge of Alaska present, MW Lloyd Triggs, MW Gene Freeman, and MW Sam Medsker. WB Keith Herve (PM North Pole #16) who now lives in Florida was traveling in Alaska and also showed up for the visit. A great time was had by all.

Alaska is a very large jurisdiction and the distances between lodges is great. The drive from my home to the lodge yesterday evening was nearly 350 miles one-way and nearly seven hours on the road. That alone should have surprised the brethren of North Pole. However, it was not a hardship to drive to the lodge yesterday and return home today. The weather was absolutely beautiful with temperatures in the upper 60s to lower 70s. Beth and I had sunshine the whole trip with gorgeous views of Mt. McKinley and numerous wildlife sightings, including eagles, trumpeter swans, coyotes, caribou, and moose. I always tell visitors that the best time to come to Alaska is late May to early June. The second best time would be early February to attend the Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge of Alaska.

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