2 Jun 2009

Waterfall Exploration

Posted by Teapots Happen

April 14 2007

I was doing some spring cleaning in the yard one Saturday. and decided I needed some more cool rocks – so I rounded up a couple of friends and went rock hunting. I knew of a good place for this, thanks to Binny the albino squirrel.

Earlier that spring, after she was buried, I’d made her a headstone from a gorgeous piece of quartz from a Wisconsin cow pasture.

However, within a week someone had stolen it. Upset by this desecration, I’d set out on a random quest to find a new one that was worthy yet not so tempting to thieves – something more subtly beautiful, but still white, like Binny had been. That intuition-based quest had led me onto some highways, and eventually to Hastings, where we serendipitously randomed into a mostly unused rock quarry – and the perfect grave marker stone.

So when the urge for rocks struck later the following spring, I returned to the quarry with Becky, Mel and her young son Robbie.

After our rock-picking extravaganza was complete, I decided to bring the crew over to the “Hastings waterfall” (aka Vermillion Falls) – one of my favorite local places – a kick ass combination of rust & stone ruins, active industry, and nature.


I (Heart) Vermillion Falls (Nov '97)

I (Heart) Vermillion Falls (Nov '97)

As we arrived, I saw a couple in black clothing walking hand in hand toward the falls, and I reminisced for a bit about trips to the falls with girlfriends in the past  (I’d been coming to them since I was a teenager).

We ran around in the grass of the adjacent park for awhile with Robbie, and then walked toward the falls.

When we were almost there, some guy’s voice said my name. I looked over to see someone I didn’t really recognize – then he introduced himself as “Wackodood” – the screen name of a local explorer who I’d been PMing with recently (about my multiple sclerosis diagnosis), but hadn’t actually met. He’d come with his girlfriend.

The coincidence felt pretty unusual, especially since the topic of synchronicity was being discussed on the urban exploration messageboard we talked on.

“Teapots,” I said, laughing.

That was weird, but then it got weirder – when, as a group, we continued walking toward the falls, and ran into the couple in black I’d noticed earlier … and we discovered that they were Gatsby and Shawna, another couple active on the same little explorer forum.

Three separate groups of explorers from Minneapolis, all simultaneously converged upon the same distant waterfall at the same time – and we were the only people there.

Sometimes you just have to laugh … so we did, and then Gatsby and I crossed the river behind the waterfall and snuck into the ruins of the old tailrace tunnel … lacking a light, we didn’t get very far, but it was a good time.

(And I still have a mossy, fossil-encrusted rock from the waterfall’s mists that day, which I’ve kept alive with a mister bottle and a glass cover ever since.)


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No Responses to “Waterfall Exploration”

  1. “Wackodood’s” side of the tale, from an exploration message board:

    Posted: Sun Apr 15, 2007 3:23 am

    I had a wedding on Saturday morning and I didn’t do much on Friday night.

    But after the wedding Emily and I drove around Hastings and when scouting the falls for stuff who do we run into but Max and a couple of his girly friends. And it wasn’t planned at all, talk about synchronicity! And to make things even weirder, our combined group ran into none other than Gatsby and Shawna, doing the same thing as we were!!! WTF teapots?!!

    But Em and I lost them soon after, doing our own thing and later found ourselves in Redwing exploring that big abandoned soy bean elevator we’ve looked at in the past. It’s totally rad, and I don’t know anyone else who’s done it.

    So, that was pretty much the funnest night of my weekend. Hope your Saturdays were just as good.



  2. Two days ago I was at Vermillion Falls with my friend Mary, hoping to get behind there and into the tailrace tunnel. However, the waterfall was thundering with the burden of the recent rainfall, which had flooded the river upstream – so there was no way to safely make the passage all the way across. So we had a great time climbing around on the waterfall, and IN it.

    Vermillion Falls 8/15/10

    Yesterday a girl I am friends I know through the local urban exploration community sent me a message asking me if I’d been at the Vermillion Waterfall the previous day … turns out that she had been there at the same time and recognized my car.


    teapots happen