28-Sep-2006 -- I was in Vermont for a summit on the integration of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) into the curriculum of private liberal arts colleges throughout the world. This was part of the National Institute in Technology in Liberal Education project, which now includes over 100 colleges globally. Hence, a confluence visit seemed like the perfect complement to our conversations about how to effectively incorporate GIS and GPS into the college curriculum. This was our third summit for the project, and I had visited confluences in Georgia and Maryland in conjunction with our previous two summits.
After landing at the Burlington Airport at 2pm, I had plenty of daylight, and thus I headed straight north from the rental car counter on Interstate Highway 89 toward the Canadian border. I had not visited Vermont since I was 4 years old, and it was a pleasure to be winding northward toward Canada. Indeed, it almost felt like I was in Canada, given the plethora of French-language radio stations. Vermont is small but wonderfully diverse in cultures and landscapes. I was a bit surprised to find that the majority of the trees had not changed color yet, but they were nonetheless beautiful, and every now and then a jagged outcrop of what looked like the Precambrian Canadian shield made an appearance.
After exiting at Swanton, things became even more interesting, as they typically do once one leaves the freeway. I drove northeast on State Highway 78 to Highgate Center, and then northeast on State Highway 207, Gore Road. I passed the ammunition store that the previous visitor mentioned. Just after Tarte Road, I passed a daycare center, and stopped adjacent to a field. There was no decent place to pull over, so I traveled north, pulled over, and then hiked back a few hundred meters to 45 North. Halfway to the Pole! It was good to be back. I had visited 45 North in Minnesota and South Dakota, and even had the good fortune of hiking to 45 South several times with my New Zealand colleagues. Prominently displayed on the fence next to the road was a "No Tresspassing" sign with only 35 meters to go. I took photographs and debated with myself for awhile, then decided to make a dash for it, meaning no harm to the field.
In two minutes I found the spot and was amazed at the number of satellites I was picking up there in the open field. The confluence lies on hummocky ground covered with tall grasses. It was a bit marshy but well worth it. I had magnificent views everywhere but to the west, where the road was. To the north was a beautiful field of sunflowers, and I could see Canadian hills not more than a few kilometers away. Lake Champlain lay to the west and Montreal not far to the northwest. The predominant land use was farming and some livestock raising, although much of the landscape was still forested. The feeling I had at this confluence, with the steady wind billowing the grass in great waves, was like being out on the open ocean. Indeed, way up here in the northeastern USA, at the edge of Canada, I felt like I was on the bridge of a vessel, peering forward into the unknown.
Although I had visited 45 North before, this was my first visit to 73 West, and my first confluence in New England. I have a few large holes on my USA map where I have no confluence, and New England was one of them, so it felt good to be here. The temperature was 55 F (13 C) and it was really quite windy, as heard in the movie I filmed. I had a difficult time holding onto the confluence sign. Sure enough, it portended a change in the weather: It rained half of the following day. I saw no animals and no people, although a few cars drove by on Gore Road.
It was still only 3pm and I had quite a bit of daylight left. I took some photographs of the signs to Canada at Morses Line a few kilometers away, enjoying a peaceful moment. Then, readers will no doubt not be surprised to hear that I decided to make a dash for 45 North 72 West. A beautiful afternoon of memories in New England!