31-May-2012 -- As I had been at the University of Michigan for several days, and as the focus of my visit had been for the purpose of co-authoring a book on spatial mathematics with an excellent colleague there, a confluence visit seemed like the perfect capstone. Therefore, on my way to the Detroit airport, I had the opportunity to visit 42 North 85 West. No matter that it was in the opposite direction of the airport!
Normally I like to travel on the back roads to and from these confluences, but today I was in need to get to the airport so that I would not miss my flight. Therefore, I took the Interstate Highways: I traveled west on Interstate Highway 94, where the land was a bit hillier than I expected, and then south on I-69. Here, the land flattened a bit but still had a few hills here in the glacial terrain. At Tekonsha, I exited the highway just south of town, and traveled over the gently rolling terrain. The weather was cloudy and drizzly, and I hoped that it would not be pouring rain at the confluence. As this landscape was surveyed according to the Public Land Survey System, I drove due south on Marshall Road, passing section line roads every mile. I passed a very pleasant looking cemetery south of the crossroads community of Girard. I passed a teenager mowing an enormous field with only a standard lawnmower. The predominant land use was agricultural: Some grazing, some crops, with a few stands of trees remaining. This part of the state seemed fairly prosperous, with most farmhouses and other houses well kept. At Bidwell Road, I turned east and parked a few dozen meters past the confluence point. Getting out, the temperature was about 75 F under lightly raining skies. I was about to walk to the tree where I knew the confluence lies, but seeing the open garage, I instead turned and walked to the front door of the house to the southwest. I knocked and a large dog walked over to me on the porch. Fortunately, all seemed safe.
The landowner who answered was familiar with past visitors, and he said he appreciated being notified. I was glad I had done so. He mentioned that someone had been here recently for this purpose, although I did not recall seeing any visits recorded online since 2008. I then asked the landowner if he would like to accompany me to the point. It took all of 1 minute to walk to the confluence, and I asked him to take my picture, which he was kind to do so. Indeed, the point was about 2 meters from the small planted evergreen tree and on the lawn, not far from a large tree. I now had a tidy collection of Michigan confluence points, this being my 6th one. My first was in the Upper Peninsula, back in 2003, and in 2004 I picked up 3 more at 43 North, including one with my best friend Brian Lehmkuhle and then in 2008, one just one degree to the east of this one, at 42 North 84 West.
I only spent a few minutes on site, trying to be respectful of the landowner's time, and we parted ways, bidding each other good day. I then walked north to the vehicle and filmed a movie and took a few more photographs, avoiding photographing the landowner's house out of respect. I then drove across the road to the west and took some west-facing pictures that I could not obtain from the confluence because the owner's house was in the way. I did not want to leave the site, as I knew my travel schedule over the next few months would not allow me to visit any confluence points, possibly until this autumn. But, I needed to get to the airport, and given my flight time, was bound to take the interstate highways back to Detroit. However, it was a good experience once again to get into the countryside, even for a little while, and I reflected on the next steps necessary in the spatial mathematics book that had brought me to Michigan this week.
I drove back north along Marshall Road. Yes, the teenager was still mowing!