We were off to a bear sanctuary tonight about an hour from this town in the boundary waters. We had an internet generated map and directions, and I was driving. This is just the type of situation where technology fails me, or I it, depending on your perspective. I glanced at the tiny map quickly and then thrust it into the hands of my navigator. I believed I knew the general direction we were going, and I was happy to leave the specifics to her. The only detail I double checked was how to find the road leading out of town. Off we set on a winding road through national forests, past lakes and over rivers. It was beautiful.
According to the turn-by-turn summary, it was over 20 miles before we were supposed to make a right to stay on the same county road. At 21, 22, and 23 miles, we rationalized that perhaps it wasn't a right turn as much as a bear right. The road was empty and no waypoint towns were mentioned on our little map. We wouldn't actually switch route numbers for another 25 miles, so we barreled along our wilderness way, never even passing a place to pause and confirm our direction. At 50 miles, we finally found a gas station and we stopped to fill up and find out if we may have lost our way. As my mom was off asking directions, my iPhone finally got a signal, and I hastily punched in our destination to plan a route from our current location.
My jaw dropped when I saw that we had gone 180 degrees away from the bear preserve. When I checked the little map, I had assumed that we were traveling east, and I mistook our destination for our departure point. It would take two an a half hours to get to the bears, by which time the preserve would be closed. I cringed, sucked in my breath, and informed the other members of our party, egg-faced.
The upside was that we were only 6 miles from Lake Superior. We spent an hour on the coast at a couple of state parks-- walking a breakwater and visiting a light house. It turned out to be a pleasant, but bearless, evening. Later we were telling the tale at dinner, and I was even able to laugh a little, especially imagining what it would have been like had I stubbornly driven onward, stopping only when the road dead-ended on the shores of Gitchigoomie. Maybe a great lake glittering in my path would have convinced me that I had made a mistake. Maybe.