Mount Rushmore at sunrise. Photo by Steve Martaindale

“The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry,” goes the line adapted from Robert Burns.

“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans,” said John Lennon.

“Man plans, God laughs,” according to a Yiddish proverb (Mann traoch, Gott Lauch).

In the last post, one week ago, I laid out our 9-month-old plans for a cruise with six friends from Chile through the Panama Canal to Florida. We had been doing a lot of debating about whether the rising coronavirus threat should cause us to change our plans. We all knew we were taking a chance, but at least three of the four couples, including us, were going anyway.

But things kept happening faster and faster. The South American countries we were to visit started reporting cases of the virus where previously there had been none. The disease was growing exponentially in areas where it already had a foothold.

Within a couple of days, each of our traveling party decided it was no longer prudent to take the trip. Another two or three days later, the cruise line canceled that and its other voyages.

The best-laid plans…

For an additional slap in the face, Leah and I planned to use the cruise as a kickoff for this site. Now, not only is our trip canceled, but our summer plans are in a bit of as-yet unspoken jeopardy.

The National Park Service has closed a very few sites at this point, but it absolutely must substantially shut down Mount Rushmore (where we’re scheduled to work this summer) if the virus behaves like it has in China, Italy and Spain. Especially with this summer’s closure of the Lincoln Borglum Visitor Center, amphitheater and Avenue of Flags for a maintenance project, visitors are crowded outside for a look at the memorial, as well as inside the gift shop and restaurant. There is no way to handle usual crowds with safe social distancing.

Man plans, God laughs.

We will continue to build this site, regardless, but more slowly for now. Meanwhile, since we’re not on a cruise, I plan to concentrate on completing my long-delayed book, “The Reporter and the Apples.”

See what I did there? Plan?

Be safe, isolate yourself before you’re exposed. We can get through this.

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