07-Mar-2005 -- As Miguel Pavon and I were in Corpus Christi for a meeting at Del Mar College supporting a Geographic Information Systems education project funded by the National Science Foundation, when our meeting ended, I asked Miguel if he would like to visit the nearest confluence. Fortunately, Miguel is immersed day to day in geographic information at the Texas Natural Resources Information System and at the Texas-Mexico Borderlands Information Center, and on top of that, has an adventurous and geographic spirit, and readily agreed. We left Del Mar College at 4:20pm and were soon on Texas State Highway 624 heading west up the Gulf Coastal Alluvium, a wide, flat plain with not a rock to be seen for miles. We actually were visiting the nearest land-based confluence, because the nearest confluence was just offshore.
We passed through the communities of Bluntzer and Orange Grove while Miguel taught me some tongue-twisters in Spanish. Our goal was to arrive at the confluence with enough daylight to hike back to the vehicle, so we wasted no time. We passed County Highway 307 and a point due south of the confluence. We passed a series of driveways and then a legitimate public road, which, in retrospect, we probably should have taken to make it easier on ourselves. But, like so many other confluence treks I have been on, it is only after one visits the first time that one finds out what the easiest way should be. That is what makes
these treks so interesting—one never quite knows what to expect.
We drove north on County Road 308 and then east on County Road 303. We parked on the road outside of the Cravens' driveway and walked up to their house. Nobody was home
except two small dogs. We walked west and spoke with a teenaged young man who said that the field to the south was owned by "Old Man James." We decided to scale the fence
and walk briskly due south, landowner permission letter in hand. We soon spotted two deer and were heartily enjoying ourselves. We walked first on a seldom-used but fairly clear four-wheel drive trail, but then cut due south toward the confluence. In retrospect, we should have stuck to the trail, because the route soon became so tangled with thorns that we were on our hands and knees. We encountered Penitas Creek, which seemed a bit deep to wade at that point, and crawled to the west in hopes of finding a drier way across. We found a dead armadillo to our right, when I glanced toward Miguel and remarked, "Don't stand up right now." A few centimeters above his head, suspended in the thorny branches, was the biggest beehive I had ever seen. It must have been nearly one meter in length. Remembering that we were in southern Texas, and the bees could have been Africanized honeybees, we stepped gingerly through the branches, realizing that we could not make a fast escape due to the thorns. Such an encounter might end my confluence trekking days for quite awhile! After fording the stream we spotted sunlight on the grassy slopes ahead, and soon emerged into a field.
One really has to respect the Native Americans and the early explorers to this land, battling their way through underbrush like this. I unfortunately was wearing my dress clothes from the college and they were getting quite torn. We encountered one more obstacle about 100 meters from the confluence: Another stream was flowing through a series of wide pools, making for a green oasis in this dry country. We skirted it as much as we could but now were quite thoroughly soaked. At the other side of this wet area lay the confluence. After about 5 minutes of confluence dance, Miguel had the GPS unit zeroed out halfway under a bush. We arrived at the confluence just before 6pm local time.
The confluence lies on flat ground in a field of large bushes, thorns, and oaks, just to the south of the wet area. The confluence lies in a rural area where some land is farmed, other land is ranched, and other land houses people who choose to live in the country but work in
nearby towns. It was a pleasant late winter afternoon, 74 degrees F (23 C), with little wind and sunny skies. I had never been to the 28th parallel before, but I had been to 98 West in Texas a few years ago. It was enjoyable to achieve our goal with Miguel there in the countryside. I now have 5 confluences in Texas. After a few minutes, we traversed the stream and found the four-wheel drive trail again. We took this back to our starting point, and thus avoided the worst of the thorns on the return. One of the homeowners just to the east of the Craven home drove past us, turned around, and waited until we departed. We drove back to Corpus Christi and met with the other members of the GIS project at Del Mar College. The confluence trek proved to be the perfect complement to our meeting.