Sunday, February 27, 2005

Lost at the End of the World in Southeastern Minnesota

The other day, Cathy In the Wright identified this site as a Minnesota Organization of Blogs "satellite office" in Pennsylvania. I hadn't thought about it before, but she is right. Most of my links are to NARN/MOB sites, and most of my "echoes" in the so-called "right-wing echo chamber" originate in Minnesota. I discovered blogs by surfing in to sites like Fraters Libertas and Lileks. Are there other bloggers in my area? Sure, but I am rather disinclined to try and hook up with them at this point. There is an organization of Pittsburgh area bloggers that meets occasionally but when I try reading their blogs, I feel like I need a shower. I can relate more to the right-wing and conservative Minnesotans.

Not that Minnesota is unfamiliar territory; I have been there twice. The first time, in 1993, I spent a couple of days in Saint Paul with an unintended detour to the Mall of America. In 1994 I spent a weekend at a secluded cabin on a lake in northern Minnesota. On the way and on the return trip, I took a slow driving tour along the Mississippi River, with some visits to remote villages in the southeastern part of the state. I studied my Delorme Minnesota Atlas and Gazetteer long and hard before leaving so that I could plan an itinerary. One place name that stuck out was BUCK SNORT. What was Buck Snort? Who in the hell would want to go to a place called Buck Snort?

I, that's who. So after having a filling but inexpensive breakfast in a nice locally owned restaurant (the kind with moose heads on the walls) in Chatfield, I drove eastward out of town in the direction of Buck Snort. Just next to Buck Snort was another town called Trout Creek. That sounded nice. So I paid close attention to the topographical atlas and drove right through where I expected these places to be. At a bend in the road, I realized that I had gone too far. Where were these quaint towns? How could I miss them?

I drove until the pavement ended and found myself in the middle of a tall corn field next to a yellow "cow crossing" sign. I turned the car around and slowly made my way back to these ghost towns. Near the bend in the road right before the field stood an old and apparently abandoned building that once served as a general store. No homes were in evidence. I stopped a nice looking picnic shelter alongside a stream just to gather my wits about me. One does that when one feels that one has almost driven to the literal end of the world in a place where one does not expect to find it. A small sign, planted in the ground near the bridge running over the stream, indicated that this was Trout Creek. The cartographers lied. Trout Creek wasn't a town; it was an actual Creek! Still, a really nice-looking creek as my photos reveal:

And the fish were really hopping, too. If only I had acquired a fishing license and taken some fishing gear with me. I had not seen another humanoid life form since I left Chatfield. Those fish would have been all mine, jack!

But one dilemma still remained. As a slogan on a T-shirt that I found in a local shop asked, "Where the hell is BUCKSNORT"? Why, right next to Trout Creek, of course, just as the atlas indicated. And it wasn't a town either. It was the picnic shelter.

All I could think when I took this picture was, "Hey, they misspelled DAMN!" Was it worth it? Was it a wasted trip? Have I regretted it for the last 10 and 1/2 years? No way! How many people can actually boast that they have been to a place called Buck Snort (alternately, Bucksnort; it seems to be rendered both ways)? You can do that when you are young, single and carefree. If I tried to take my wife and four kids to that place today, the whole group would get bored and mutiny. They might even toss me in the creek and take my minivan from me.

Still, Bucksnort was a little touch of paradise compared to what awaited me. Two days later, I experienced Minnesota at its most hellacious. Most people think of Minnesota as a place that gets freezing cold and covered in snow several months a year. Well, I have seen the other side. I also know Minnesota as a swampy, mosquito-infested, burning hellhole. I have seen the loon dive for cover beneath the waters of a placid lake. I have gotten the heck back to the cabin when a lightning storm commenced while I was in a boat on the middle of the lake. But it was worth it.

Beautiful, isn't it? I am going back someday; I don't know when, but I will be back. And I will have the family in tow. If you have been patient enough to read this far, congratulations. Now, here is my parting shot:

No comments: