19-Nov-2004 -- I, Joseph Kerski, had been in Grand Rapids all week for the
National Association for Interpretation (NAI) conference. As over 850 people at the conference were interpreters of flora, fauna, climate, landforms, human-environment interaction, archaeology, and other subjects in state and national parks, museums, and elsewhere, and as I had been co-teaching GPS-topographic mapping workshops all week, a confluence trek seemed particularly appropriate. After completing teaching another workshop on mapping, aerial imagery, and GPS at Michigan State University, I departed the campus in Lansing, driving northeast on Interstate Highway 69. I exited at Durand, drove a short distance east to Durand Road, and north to Michigan State Highway 21. From there, it was only a few kilometers to the west to reach 84 West Longitude.
I parked at the far end of the bean field, away from the farmhouse, at a small shoulder to clear the surprisingly heavy traffic of the highway. I could see many vehicles at the farmhouse, and brought along my landowner permission request. I then walked north to 43 West, only 50 meters, and then due east to 84 West. I was hoping the desired point would not be in the landowners' backyard, and fortunately, I reached 84 West at least 100 meters before the house. Because this was a cleared field without trees, I performed the confluence dance less than one minute to zero out the unit.
I arrived at the confluence at 3:15 pm local time under dark skies and light rain (my GPS unit is set for mountain time, two hours earlier). I made haste with the visit as to not further damage my camera, which was already damaged from my trek in October to 45 North 93 West in a downpour. The temperature was surprisingly warm (11 C, 52 F) for late November. The confluence lies on flat ground in a cultivated bean field. This is central Michigan glaciated terrain, and farming is the predominant land use. I could see at least three farmhouses from the confluence, as well as a large radio communications tower to the southwest. No water bodies were visible, but several large stands of trees were in every direction. I saw no birds or animals; I was the only one foolish enough to stand in the field in the rain, apparently.
I had been to 43 North twice before on the Nebraska-South Dakota border, and this was my second visit to 84 West. My first time to 84 West had been in Costa Rica at 10 North in July 2004. This was my second confluence in Michigan, as during 2003 I visited a wonderful forest at 46 North 88 West. After a 15-minute visit, I walked back through the rain and mud to the vehicle. Total round trip time was less than 35 minutes. Another excellent experience!