GENERATIONS: Evan Hazard: Owatonna and points south

"The best laid schemes o' Mice an' Men Gang aft agley." (Written by Robert Burns after he had turned over the nest of a tiny field mouse with his plough.) I long thought it was "The best laid plans...," but he wrote "schemes," British for well-th...


“The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men Gang aft agley.”

(Written by Robert Burns after he had turned over the nest of a tiny field mouse with his plough.)  


I long thought it was “The best laid plans…,” but he wrote “schemes,” British for well-thought-out plans of a peaceful sort. A colonel sings of the “Genius of Bismarck devising a plan” in Act I of Gilbert & Sullivan's “Patience,” but Bismarck's plans were military.

Last winter we had peaceful plans:


Groundhog Day 2019, son Brian proposed Plan A: Driving long distances out of state no longer appeals to Dad. But, if Brian and daughter-in-law Kandy take Dad, his credit card, and his gas-saving Prius, the three of us can go south for a couple of weeks. Kandy and Brian can drive, Dad will ride shotgun.

Their initial goal was Albuquerque, N.M., which they had never visited. But Brian's cell indicated Albuquerque (altitude about 6,000') was still plowing snow. We'd seen enough snow here. How about Austin, Texas, at 60 to 70 degrees? They'd been there before, finding it an attractive town, with a varied arts scene and good eateries. Fine, a two-week round trip to Austin. As soon as the dates were settled, Kandy found a promising chamber music concert.

The only site on Dad's reduced bucket list was the Louis Sullivan bank in Owatonna. We'd drive to Owatonna, Sunday, Feb. 24, motel there, visit when the bank was open Monday, then continue on.

Sunday afternoon got windy and we were passing MDOT signs saying “blizzard conditions until 6 pm.” Brian's cell rang: “Sorry, your room is unavailable.” They were full of stranded Iowans and such.

So, Plan B: Reserve rooms in Bloomington. We moteled there; delicious Middle Eastern supper at adjacent Asari's Mediterranean Grill. MDOT map showed no open roads south of Owatonna, so we stayed put for a second night, leaving the rest of Monday free.

On Tuesday, MDOT reported Interstate 35 to Owatonna would be passable, maybe only single lanes open south into Iowa. We left mid-morning, arriving at the Sullivan bank just before noon.  It was gorgeous; if you've not seen it, add it to your bucket list, and ask an employee about access to the balcony. We then stayed on the outskirts of Des Moines. Motel had recycling bins in breakfast area, last ones we saw en route south.

On Wednesday, Feb. 27, the “continental breakfast” featured biscuits and gravy; we were  clearly headed South. There was less snow on the ground, and little or none where I-35 entered Northwest Missouri. Many “Vs” of geese near Lathrop, Mo., all headed roughly north. We saw occasional red-tailed hawks plus the usual crows.

Interstate 35 is a toll road from south of Kansas City almost to the Oklahoma border. At about 5 p.m., noticed rime on the fields and shrubs, found the air temp had dropped to 20 degrees by the time we motelled at Perry, Okla. Glare ice, which the locals may not be used to.


On Thursday, we visited Dale Chihuli blown glass and Ansel Adams photography exhibits at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art; afterward, watched a noisy Stellar's jay in the park outside.  Kandy and I had fun guessing eras of public buildings in Oklahoma City, the state's capitol. Several were Art Deco. From there south lots of vultures, both black and turkey.

In Texas, some trees were leafing out. Near the motel in Arlington, a quince (or maybe pear) tree was in flower. On Friday, March 1, we lunched at a Texas town named West, which features Czech culture and lunched on kolaches at Slovacek's.

We stayed in Austin four nights. More about this sojourn South, maybe next month.  

Evan Hazard is a retired BSU biology professor.

What To Read Next
Get Local