27-Jan-2005 -- I was in Atlanta for a summit on the integration of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) into the curriculum of liberal arts colleges throughout the USA. A confluence visit seemed like the perfect complement to the summit. I flew to the Atlanta airport from Denver, arriving at noon local time, and by 2:30 I was strolling through suburban lawns of 34 North 84 West. I was not certain that I could reach 34 North 85 West by nightfall, but I was determined to try.
I was on Interstate Highway 85 in a rental car by 3pm local time, heading southwest with what should have been plenty of daylight to reach my goal, but because of suburban sprawl, the Atlanta metropolitan area stretches for nearly 1 whole degree of longitude. I turned west on Interstate Highway 285 and then north amid 8 lanes of traffic on Interstate Highway 75. Traffic finally cleared up near Emerson, where I found myself on pleasant country roads lit by a sinking Georgia sun. I lost a bit of time in the community of Rockmart trying to find Braswell Road that heads due east along the railroad track, but after finding it, I parked just west of the intersection of Knox Mountain and Braswell Roads.
Fortunately, the sun had not set yet, and I quickly fumbled with my things and set off due south, encountering some thorns but fortunately, no dogs or people. I crossed the railroad tracks and made a beeline south through the trees. I then found an old four-wheel drive trail that headed southwest toward the confluence. The confluence turned out to be only 4 meters south of this trail, although I had to do quite a lengthy confluence dance to zero out the GPS unit in the heavy growth of trees. Fortunately, the GPS reception was aided by the fact that the deciduous trees were leafless, as it was mid-winter. This is northwest Georgia pine country, at the southern end of the Appalachian Mountains, and quite scenic. Even this area of the country, however, has been touched by change--only 5 kilometers away, a former rail line has been converted to a hiking and bicycle trail, and some local farming was being replaced by enormous "trophy homes". Fishing is one of the dominant local recreational uses.
It was a fine southern USA winter afternoon--temperature at 19 C with the setting sun slanting through the trees. I reached the confluence at 5:15pm local time (my GPS is set for mountain time). The confluence lies on ground sloping about 8 degrees to the north in a forest. Part of this forest may have been farmed at one time as it looked like second-growth vegetation. The ground was covered with leaves and twigs. No homes can be seen from the confluence. I saw no animals or birds.
I had visited 34 North twice before, once in Georgia a few hours earlier, and once in Georgia2004 in Oklahoma. I had been to 85 West during the Autumn 2004 in Michigan. I took photographs and stood enjoying a peaceful moment there in the trees. As I was filming the movie, this peace was shattered as I clearly heard a vehicle approaching on the trail with sounds that it might be some local young folks out for a ride. Not feeling in the mood to explain myself, although I did have the landowner letter with me, I took off at a run away from the trail, due north, and then east along the railroad tracks to the point due south of my vehicle. After a momentary panic when I could not find the car keys, I took a few photographs of the nearest house and the road, then set off for Atlanta. This was an excellent way to begin our GIS education summit.