26-Apr-2012 -- As I was working at Murray State University with faculty, administration, and students on the application of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to business and other disciplines, a confluence visit near the end of my time there seemed quite appropriate. I took a conference call at the university in the late afternoon on geography education and now, with the sun lowering in the west, set out to the south from Murray on US Highway 641, crossing into Tennessee at Hazel, and passing through the town of Paris. At Paris, I turned southwest on US Highway 79.
Each town took awhile to pass through, and as I have stated on numerous confluence narratives, rural traffic is always greater than I expect. The thought plagued me: Had I stayed on the conference call too long? Would I run out of daylight? I entered the towns of Henry, McKenzie, and Milan. People were coming home from work. I had never been to this part of Tennessee, though I had been south and southwest of here in Memphis, many years ago. At Milan, I took Highway 104 northwest to Trenton, losing a bit of time as the highway route out of town was not well marked. As I passed through the town of Trenton, with its wonderful center of town courthouse but largely abandoned stores surrounding it, I clung to hope that I would reach the confluence before sundown. West of Trenton, the highway became a four lane bypass. Hope kept growing.
Ten minutes later, I turned off the bypass on the road I suspected was the correct road, and verified it on the map on my smartphone. Continuing on, I passed the place I knew the confluence to be, right where the road curves from heading north to heading west. I stopped at the landowner's house, which was in plain sight of the confluence, where I aimed to ask permission. I got out of the vehicle. A very large off white dog was there, who fortunately was friendly. I say fortunately because it was just the dog and me way out here, a long way from any assistance. After investigating me, the dog was fine with my presence. I knocked on the front door: No answer.
I had been there about 10 minutes when the owner drove up. I explained my mission, and the owner gave me permission. I was just about ready to head out when I invited the owner to come with me. The owner agreed and we had a nice chat. We gathered supplies and walked down the road, zeroing out the confluence, which we found on fairly flat ground, about 20 meters east of the road, just as I suspected from the satellite image, just as the road bends to the west. The temperature stood at a very pleasant 70 F. It was my favorite time of day: Sundown. The longest view was down the hollow to the north, with the second longest to the southwest. I remarked how easy this confluence was, and that I was glad the confluence was not in that low forest. The owner said that there were snakes, thorns, and other nasties in those forests and that the owner never hikes in there. The field was filled with low plants but did not look to be actively farmed at the present time and season. Out of courtesy to the landowner, I did not take photographs of the landowner's house. To see the view to the west, look at the photograph from the 2001 visit, which was the only previous visit here. It was indeed a very beautiful spot, particularly at this peaceful time of sundown. The owner took a picture of my GPS receiver as well at the centered point. I have met such wonderful landowners over the years during these visits.
I ran out of battery power just before filming the movie. I had neglected to bring my camera bag with the spare batteries, so I walked back to the vehicle to retrieve it, and then walked back alone to film the confluence movie. This was my first Tennessee confluence, though I had stood on 37 north numerous times in other states from the Pacific Coast (California) to the Atlantic Coast (Virginia) and even had stood on 89 West several times from Illinois on the north to Mississippi on the south. When I arrived back at the vehicle, I inadvertently set off the car alarm, which made for an embarrassingly loud exit from the premises. I recall setting off the vehicle alarm with my friends at 39 North 91 West in Missouri as well.
I drove back down the lane and then back to Trenton just as dusk was falling. It was a long twilight out here in the country in mid-Spring. Readers of my narratives know that as a geographer, I always strive to return a different way, whether hiking or driving, and so I drove north from Trenton as night fell, through Bradford, Dresden, and then on the wonderfully remote Highway 89 that turned into Highway 381 in Kentucky, lined with dark forests. At one point, a small deer leapt across the highway. I also saw an armadillo, which I had not seen in a long while, since one startled me at the confluence trek I made on the Oklahoma-Texas border. I made it back to Murray safely and it felt good to get into the field as the capstone of my visit to the campus.