15-Jun-2003 -- I, Joseph Kerski, Geographer from Colorado USA, and Roger Palmer, science and geography teacher from Texas USA, visited Latitude 30 degrees North, Longitude 99 degrees West in the hills of South Central Texas USA. We were in the middle of teaching a two-week GPS and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) for a group of 45 schoolteachers at Southwest Texas State University in San Marcos. Could there be a more fitting extracurricular yet related activity to this workshop than a visit to a confluence? I think not.
Kerr County lies on the southwestern edge of what is known as the "Texas Hill Country." The hills are covered with live oak and juniper trees. On our way back to San Marcos from visiting 30 North 100 West earlier in the day, we made a side journey to discover if we could add 30 / 99 to achieve our first "two-confluence" day. Fortunately, we were not disappointed, and at the same time had quite a bit of adventure.
We left Interstate Highway 10 at Exit 520 and drove southwest toward Cypress Creek, Texas. This is a rural area of farms and ranches. After passing a restored one-room schoolhouse, we drove south on a hilly road sporting an equal number of modest homes and large refurbished homes with a metal roof. According to the GPS, we needed to be further west, and therefore turned right on the first road to the west. On the top of the next hill, we saw someone in their front yard, and therefore decided to start there. This person introduced us to Phillip, the landowner. Phillip was familiar with GPS and accompanied us to the north, toward the back of his several-acre lot, even helping us negotiate through one of his barbed-wire fences. Unfortunately, we reached his bounding fence before we reached the confluence, and could see that it would be down in the hollow. Phillip warned us against walking on the adjacent property, that of his cousin who likes to practice target shooting. We thanked him and drove back the way we had come. He really was a colorful character.
After stopping at the Pemrock Ranch entrance in the hollow, we noticed a sign stating that "all suspicious persons shall be reported to the sheriff". Not wanting to believe that two geographers could look "suspicious," we donned our equipment and walked westward up the road. The road did not appear to have sustained vehicular traffic over the past few months, and after knocking at the house at the end of the road, we concluded that no one was home. We decided to make a quick run at the confluence. Our route led in a westward direction, underneath the large powerline overhead.
We walked quickly through high native grasses, flowers, trees, and one gate for approximately 1,500 meters. After about 10 minutes, we found a small area devoid of trees, about the size of a tennis court. We quickly took photographs and filmed a short movie. The clearing slopes down to the south, toward the creek. The grasses were amazing; nearly as tall as our waists. The clearing is adjacent to the bottom-land vegetation of cottonwood and other tall trees in the floodplain. The temperature was only 80 degrees F and the weather was quite pleasant. After collecting the points and documentation, we made a quick exit.
I thought that our adventure was over, but after driving in the car for a few minutes, I looked down and noticed that a swarm of fire ants was covering my feet. We pulled over, treating the interstate highway travelers to a small "confluence dance" to shake off any wayward ants. We proceded further east on Interstate 10 without any further excitement.