20-Feb-2005 -- International Confluence Day Observance – 2005
To mark the ninth anniversary of the Degree Confluence Project, I headed 71.4 miles southwest from my home to visit my first CP in the state of Mississippi.
Although my attempt last year to begin a world-wide tradition of everyone on the planet taking a holiday each February 20th to visit a confluence had not been completely successful [as best I can determine, I was the only participant!], I was bolstered this year when my spouse agreed to join me in the quest. I was energized to realize if we could double that 2004 participant number in 2005, and then double it again every subsequent February 20th, by the project’s 35th anniversary in 2031, 134,217,728 people would be making the annual pilgrimage to visit a CP on 2/20. What a movement!
The day began with a heavy rain in north Mississippi. Water was standing in the fields as we headed south on the Natchez Trace Parkway. However, as we approached the Trace Unit of the Tombigbee National Forest, the rain had stopped and only a high cloud cover remained. Not great conditions for picture-taking, but at least the camera wouldn’t get wet. At Mile Marker 239 we turned west off the Parkway on Mississippi Highway 32, then north on Mississippi Highway 15. The park folder shows this road follows the route of the historic Natchez Trace from Houston about 20 miles back to the north.
At 34 north latitude, we found a gate to a very well used cow pasture. Sizing up the mud, the cow paddies, and remembering the maps and pictures from the previous visit to this location in 2001, my lovely wife decided International Confluence Day 2005 could best be observed in the truck, and said she would stay to meet the farmer if he came to check on his cows. I was on my own for the last 600 yards.
34N 89W lies in a wetland in a briar-filled gentle ravine just below a small man-made lake. Following a pair of truck ruts brought me within 200 yards. Thankfully my rubber boots were just tall enough to keep my feet dry at the bottom of the drainage. The confluence dance was complicated by the necessity to jump from one clump of grass to another as the only points that weren’t submerged. Cell phone service was quite good as I stood at the CP, as my wife was able to call to report the farmer had indeed shown up to either check on his cows or check out the strange truck parked at their gate. After inquiring “Are you broke down?” he left quickly without my wife having to try to explain the intricacies of the Degree Confluence Project.
I encountered a two and a half foot blacksnake on the way back up to the top of the ridge, the major wildlife sighting of the trip. Although I was spattered with mud from the waist down, I received no tears from the many brambles, and on the whole would characterize this visit as “uneventful”. Our timing was excellent, as by the time we reached the town of Pontotoc, the rain had returned with a vengeance, and we were glad to take a break for a late lunch in Tupelo. And begin planning where and how we would celebrate the DCP’s 10th anniversary in 2006.