18-May-2002 -- When I visited my friend Kristin in northern Minnesota, this was the nearest unvisited confluence. We made plans several days in advance, but knew very little of the terrain at the location of the confluence. Intending to reach our goal at all costs, we brought Kristin's kayak and packed spare clothing in case things got a little messy.
The weather was beautiful the day we drove north, with scenery to match. Customs was a breeze, and once into Canada I stopped and found a topo map of the area and determined that the spot was indeed on dry ground. A major rural highway ran nearby as well, so I expected no problems.
Sparkling lakes and rocky cliffs lined the road as we made our way north. We stopped at a local restaurant and had an oversize lunch; our waitress had an appropriate Canadian accent. The daytrip was turning out just as planned. Kristin, her dog Luna, and I were enjoying the ride.
Just when the highway neared the confluence, a small gravel road led to the right. It couldn't have been placed much better, and I turned onto the road moving us less than a mile from our destination. The road turned out to be the driveway to a campground and we followed the twists and turns for about a mile. At one spot, we found ourselves less than a quarter mile from the confluence, but I kept going, looking for a better entry point.
We reached the campground office, so I stopped so that I might ask for permission to go in the woods in search of our arbitrary intersection. I'd brought along the landowner letter both in English and French for this occasion. A truck pulled up and a man got out, asking if he could help me.
Trying to cause as little confusion as possible, I asked the man if it was alright for us to go in the woods to take some pictures. I showed him the letter and briefly described the Project. Without much interest in the letter, the man told me someone had been out there a couple years earlier from Quebec for the same thing. I told him I didn't know about anyone from Quebec coming out there, but that I was interested in going to the location as well.
"You know this is private property," he told me. "Yes," I told him, "that's why I'm asking permission."
This is when he inquired where I was from. Kristin's truck we were driving has Minnesota plates on it. We both grew up in Minnesota, but I've lived in the Memphis, Tennessee area for about five years. Not wanting to explain my life story, I simply told him I was from Minnesota.
"You don't sound like you're from Minnesota," he accused me with a suspicious look in his eyes.
I told him I'd been in the south for a few years. He nodded, pleased that he had been correct, but this only made him more suspicious.
"Are you going home after this?" was his next question.
"Yes," I told him, "we're taking a few pictures then heading home."
With a shrug, he told us to be careful and got back in his truck.
Free to search the neaby woods, we turned around and found a wide area in the campground driveway to park the truck. The confluence was less than a half mile from here.
The walk was very easy. The terrain was mostly flat, and there was virtually no undergrowth. Simply a pleasant walk in the woods. On the way, we saw about a dozen surprisingly large piles of animal droppings. The only thing we could guess was that it was from moose.
We located the confluence and took the required pictures. Then, like I'd told the man, we returned to our truck for the drive home.