Yesterday was the church staff party at a cottage on Big Star Lake, and around lunchtime my friend, Erin, picked me up and we began our hour and a half drive north. I had been given detailed directions to the location of the cottage, so I figured finding the place would be a breeze, and for the first hour and twenty-eight minutes it was. A couple confusing turns here and there, but overall I thought we were doing well, besides, we weren’t using a GPS and the directions were typed in a font small enough to make your eyes cross. We were off the highway and in sight of the lake when I read one of the last directions: “turn right at the Snug Harbor sign.” I smiled at the adjective.
“Snug,” I said. “That’s cute, it reminds me of Winnie-the-Pooh.”
“Why?” asked Erin.
“Oh, I guess it just sounds cuddly, you know; snug, snuggly. It sounds like a teddy bear.”
“Isn’t there a fabric softener or something with that name?”
With visions of the Hundred Acre Wood and clean laundry filling my head, I looked for the sign reading Snug Harbor, almost expecting Snuggle the Bear himself to welcome us in. The image faded quickly as we drove mile after mile with no sign of Snug Harbor. As the rows of trees continued to pass us by, Erin finally slowed down.
“I think we’ve gone too far,” she said, “It was only supposed to be two miles down the road until that sign.”
We turned around and drove the opposite way, this time driving a little slower in hope of spotting the sign we had obviously missed. Still no Snug Harbor. We pulled over and I reread the directions. The same words “turn right at the Snug Harbor sign” glared up at me, and this time I envisioned snug as an itchy sweater that was too tight.
When in doubt, call the pastor; so Erin did just that, knowing he and his family had been staying at the cottage the past several days. All Erin got out of him was “it’s on a sign nailed to a tree” before her phone lost reception. There we were, on the side of the road, tired, stiff, and needing to use the restroom, with only one clue to guide us out of our pitiful predicament. We began yet another trip down the winding street. The “it’s on a sign nailed to a tree,” was not necessarily the most specific hint, considering we were in the middle of a forest, but at least it gave us something to do, so we lurched down the road, stopping at every street to examine the surrounding trees.
“We should have brought binoculars,” I said.
“We’ll have to remember that for next year.”
Finally, dozens of lurches later, our eyes sore from squinting, we spotted a sign about the size of a toenail stuck on the side of a tree. There it was. Snug Harbor. The sign was brown, camouflaging it perfectly into the bark, its scrawny letters barely readable from our distance. Sighing with relief and annoyance, we turned onto the road just in time to see Pastor Krogh’s vehicle driving to our rescue. We followed him the rest of the way to the cottage, happy to see everyone, as well as use the facilities.
Erin and I are now lobbying for a new sign for Snug Harbor, complete with bold lettering and flashing lights. Apparently we weren’t the only ones misguided, and we’d like to be welcomed back next year with a sign a bit more, well, visible. If that doesn’t work out, we’ll play I Spy again, but at least we’ll know what to look for.