12-Feb-2001 -- I first visited www.confluence.org in early January 2001. My wife, originally from
Manitoba, and I were surprised to find that none of the confluence points in Manitoba, Canada
had been visited. Where we live, in the Northeast of the United States, it looked like all of
the points had already been visited. The idea of participating in the project became real, when
we found that one of the points, N50 W99, was only about 20 miles north from where she grew up.
The newly released Geode (for the Handspring Visor) arrived via UPS the day before we were
to depart for a 10 day trip to visit the family in Canada. We flew into Winnipeg on February 8, 2001,
in time to see the kickoff of Le Festival du Voyageur. Early Saturday, February 10, 2001, two
days before we visited the confluence of N50 and W99, the temperature at our family's house
dipped to -40°C (-40°F). It could have actually been colder, but the thermometer had
reached its bottom end.
Monday, February 12, 2001,was a bright but cold day. The temperature rose to high of -16°C
(3°F). On the way to get groceries in Portage La Prairie, MB, we figured we would drive by the
confluence to see how difficult it might be to find. Though most of the area’s terrain is flat, there are
bluffs, valleys, gullies, sloughs and large dense stands of aspen. Just in case the confluence looked
possible we packed all the necessary gear: Geode/Visor GPS, 2 Digital Video Cameras, Digital
Still camera, Minolta film camera, Motorola 2-way radios, snowshoes and a hard copy of the
Mapquest.com map linked to this web site.
On the way to the point, my mother-in-law and sister in-law explained to me that there might be
what is known as a "mile-road" that might lead us directly to the point. Originally, the prairie
was laid out using the English measurement system of miles to subdivide the section, township and
range of the land. The newer roads are measured with the metric system.
Driving north on Highway 34 we passed the Trans Canada Highway and then passed under a
railroad line. Right about where the GPS read N50.0 there was a mile-road that headed in the proper
direction. My sister-in-law, who has experience with using GPS in the field (she has captured data
points for the forestry industry in Central Manitoba using professional GPS equipment,) was monitoring
the Geode while I drove closer to the position. The mile-roads seemed to appear right when we needed
Finally we got to a position about 1600 feet from the confluence. The terrain was completely
flat and the confluence looked obtainable. Taking a few steps off the road, I realized that
snowshoes were necessary. Just before we headed out, a man (apparently the owner) drove up in a
pickup truck. We explained we were working on a project involving the Internet. He smiled and
said, "no problem," and drove off. My wife, sister-in-law and I headed out in our
snowshoes to find the point.
(Note: In the photos you can see sparkles on the snow -- this is the sun reflecting off the extra
large snowflakes that covered the ground.)
About halfway, my mother-in-law, Sharon Gowryluk, who was back in the car watching our
sleeping 16 month-old daughter, called on the radio to see if we had the car key. I had forgotten
that I had put it in my back pocket. We were only 600 feet from the point and the sun was
keeping the car warm, so we headed on, while she looked for the key in the car.
As we approached the point, a freight train on the rail line traveled by going west to east. After
circling in our snowshoes a few times, we took several readings at 50N and 99W to within 5
decimal places. At one point when we used the "distance to" feature on the Geode it
read that we were within 7 feet of the point.
After taking the necessary photos, we walked back watching the ground to see if the missing
key had fallen out of a pocket. Back at the car, which was starting to cool down, I remembered
that the key was in my back pocket. Soon we were off to Portage to buy groceries.