I loved mint 10 also and came here to get away from unity and the gnome 3 threat, but then I decided to give gnome 3 a whirl and it works nice for me, it still needs some polishing up in the gtk 3 part as from a themers point of view it is limited, but supposedly they are changing that in gnome 3.2 or at least some parts of it.
It can be adaptable and I can see how distros can change it easily to have what they want on it.
But I can understand where your coming from, it all worked nice in the way it was always laid out then they go and change everything on us now everyone has to get used to a new way of doing things, sometimes its a good thing sometimes its not.
I actually like gnome 3 now that I've gotten used to it and fooled around with it quite a bit, the wife loves it also.
If you want to keep mint 10 and it runs good then keep on using it
As long as you don't need any updates that run new software or hardware and it all works good then stick with it, I know some folks keep the same linux edition for years and it does what they need it to do.
Me I didn't want to move from gnome 2 at all, I loved themeing for gnome 2 but now I can do a lot more with the shell then I could ever do with gnome 2 so from a themers point of view gnome 3 is a good thing, as long as they add more stuff in the gtk3 its all good.
As far as navigating goes, I use cairo dock which I also used in gnome 2 so navigating has never been an issue for me.
Unity though, I still don't like it.