28-Feb-2007 -- I had just arrived in the area for the 2007 annual GeoTech conference held at Bishop Dunne Catholic School in Dallas. A confluence visit seemed like the perfect start to three days of using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and GPS in the educational curriculum. On two previous visits to this conference, I have visited confluences, once with Emily Kerski in 2005, and once with Dr. Bob Coulter in 2004. Today, I selected 32 North 96 West because it had not been visited since 2000 and it seemed doable before I needed to do final assembly on my lessons for the conference.
I arrived at the Dallas Fort Worth airport at 8:40am, and an hour later, I was driving southeast along Interstate Highway 45. The day was singularly cloudy, almost murky, and the landscape's colors of gray and brown seemed to reflect the sky. This was taking longer than I expected. Texas truly is a big place. At Corsicana, I turned east-southeast along US Highway 287. I passed the immense Richland Chambers Reservoir with its eerie flooded tree stumps poking out of the water. Not many people were on the water on this weekday. I crossed the Trinity River, winding its way toward the Gulf of Mexico from Dallas, and saw some of the largest "No Tresspassing" signs I had ever witnessed. I hoped the confluence site wasn't similarly posted, or this would have to be logged as an "attempt." There are some signs that definitely are worth paying attention to.
Turning north on County Road 493, the confuence landscape epitomized what is "Essential Texas" in many a person's mind: Cattle and Oil. Chevron signs, tanks, pumps, and buildings ancient and new dotted the landscape. A herd of cattle grazed by the road, outside of any fencing. I drove past 32 North and parked at the trailer house at the top of the hill. I knocked, but nobody being home, I drove back to 32 North, searching in vain for a safe place to cross the thorny vegetation and barbed wire fence. Finding none, I braved the elements, and it was truly nasty business. One has to admire the Native Americans and settlers that crossed these lands, enduring such vegetation not just on one hedgerow, but for hundreds of miles.
Once through, I made rapid progress, but somehow got off course, and had to double back to the north. Perhaps it was the gray skies, but I found myself discouraged and dismayed by the amount of litter all over the fields here, despite the area's rural setting. I located the confluence after about 10 minutes. The confluence lies on ground sloping 5 degrees to the south, on the eastern side of a field that was about 100 meters across and over a kilometer from north to south. A meter from the confluence was a tangled heap of animal hair and bluish string. The field was clearly used for grazing, but I was thankful that no cattle were on site on this particular day. I saw no people from the confluence, no animals or birds, and no water.
I had been never been to 32 North before. I had been to 96 West once before, in Nebraska. This marked my 8th confluence in Texas. I was thrilled to think that this was my 5th confluence this month. Just four days earlier, I had been standing on 53 North 3 West in Wales, in completely different terrain. What a planet!
After spending only 10 minutes at the confluence, due to the fact that I was clearly on someone's field, I made a hasty exit. Too hasty, perhaps--I snagged my trousers on the fence on the way out. I wonder how many clothing items I have sacrificed on my confluence hunts. As I neared the vehicle, a truck drove into the long driveway leading to the ranch house to the west. I drove out the way I came in, taking a photograph of a dead tree that seemed to capture my mood and the oil facilities. The confluence visit once again proved to be an excellent way to end the month of February and start the week of spatial thinking and technologies.