cardinals survived the storm

cardinals survived the storm

buck at neighbor's backyard feeder
buck at neighbor

Buck at neighbor’s feeder 

a farm on the way to Neilsville
a farm on the way to Neilsville


There's a sidewalk under here somewhere!

There’s a sidewalk under here somewhere! 

Collapsed Metrodome in Minneapolis 

Last weekend my husband, Chuck,  and I were to have driven from home in Wisconsin Rapids (central WI) to Stillwater, MN for a 3 day get-away.  I was really looking forward to a few days relaxation, enjoying the Christmas spirit, food, decorations, etc. in the touristy town of Stillwater, along the Mississippi River south of St. Paul.  We had reservations at a romantic bed and breakfast.  Saturday morning I awoke to 8 new inches of snow on the ground on top of the 5 inches we’d gotten the week before.  It was so pretty! I dressed in a Christmas sweater to attend a luncheon.

I had done a tablescape for one of the tables at our annual hospital auxilliary luncheon and was anxious to get over to the golf club where the luncheon was being held.  It is always a festive event with raffle prizes donated by area businesses, a lovely meal, 40 decorated tables, and local entertainment.  Chuck promised to be ready to leave for Stillwater as soon as I got home from the luncheon. 

When I came out to the parking lot after the luncheon to load my decorations into the car, the snow was falling pretty hard.  However, when I got home, my husband said he wasn’t alarmed.  We had an SUV and would be just fine.  So we left.  That was at two pm.  As we headed west, the snow got worse.  About an hour into the trip I discovered that I hasd forgottn my medicine kit!  I couldn’t get through 3 days without it.  By this time we were pulling into Neilsville and could barely see.  The wind was howling.  After a fruitless search for a pharmacy (my husband is a doctor and could write me a Rx for a few days’ meds) , we decided to push on to Eau Claire where there would be a 24 hour drug store open.

Besides the heavy, blowing snow, it was now dark at 4 pm.  The country road from Neilsville to the interstate 94 entrance in Osseo was deserted.  I was getting scared because the snow seemed to be piling up faster than even our SUV could plow through.  A snow plow passed us going the other direction, so we drove on that side of the road where it was plowed.  “Don’t worry,” my husband said, “We’ll be at the interstate in a few miles and it will be fine after that.”  By 5:30 we came up on Osseo.  We couldn’t believe the sight before our eyes.  Over 75 semi trucks were parked in the parking lots of the Stockman’s Supply, the gas stations, and the four restaurants.  Barrels were across the entrance to the interstate and state police cars were enforcing the closure.  Cars were left stranded in snow banks all over the place.  We looked at each other.  There went our romantic get-away.  Instead, we crept forward past the traffic mess to try to reach the motel on the other side.  I prayed they hadn’t already sold out all their rooms.

At the Osseo Motel, the unplowed parking lot was littered with cars stuckor spinning on the ice.  I got out and walked down the hill from the road to the motel office, the wind nearly picking me up off the ground with each step.  Inside the office, two desk clerks were doing their best for all of us stranded travelers.  I procured one of the last rooms.  The clerk was telling those behind me in line that the town had opened up the high school to house the stranded “refugees” from the storm.  Nobody knew when the interstate would be re-opened but the snow was predicted to stop by 6 am.  Meanwhile my husband had helped move several cars in the parking lot and shovel out some parking spaces.  Looking like the abominable snowman, his beard caked in snow and dragging our suitcase, my darling came through the door of the office.  We were safe. Snowed in at the less than romantic Osseo Motel.

The only food available was at the bar, where the football game and the weather were on the Tvs.  The tables were full, but there was a sense of comeraderie, as there is during most crises, and a young couple offered to share their table with us.  They said the burgers and fries were pretty good.  For the next hour we chatted and ate and made calls to those who needed to know our condition and plans.  Our daughter and son-in-law in St. Paul, once they’d told us that we were crazy, told us that everything in the Twin Cities was shut down tight - not even busses were running.  We agreed to meet Sunday afternoon if the roads were open.   Then we were ready to collapse in bed.  Unfortunately, the room was bare bones, 2 double beds, a small TV, a coat rack with a few bent hangers, and a tiny bathroom.  Despite lousy pillows and hard mattresses, it was warm, although the heater that provided that heat clanked loudly on and whooshed off about everry fifteen minutes all night.  The hamburger did not agree with me and I was up most of the night ,while my exhausted husband snored away.  I didn’t have my night time pills and my ear plugs were…you guessed it…in my medicine kit.  I was glad someone was getting some sleep anyway while I laid there listening to the wind whistling and howling ouside.

In the morning, the sun shone brightly and we could hear the sounds of many snowplows and snowblowers at work.  By the time we got our car ready to go, I still didn’t feel well and they still had not cleared much away in Stillwater, so we decided to head home.  The trip that had taken us 4 hours the day before, now took us the usual one and a half hours!  The B&B kept one night’s fee of our money and we were awfully disappointed, but happy to be back in our own beds Sunday night.  We used the free days to decorate our Christmas tree, wrap some presents, and do the last of our local shopping.  And now, as my mother-in-law always used to say, we had a good story to tell at our next dinner party!  And we sure don’t have to hope for a white Christmas.  We have 25 inches of it!   Above are some photos of the sights we saw during the December blizzard of 2010.