29-Apr-2009 -- As (1) I had been invited to the area to conduct presentations and a series of workshops, and as (2) the subject of those presentations and workshops was spatial thinking, GIS, and GPS in education and society, I thought that a confluence visit would be a particularly appropriate start. I would spend four days in Connecticut. The only problem was that I had already visited both confluences in Connecticut, and while they were both in beautiful areas, something my confluence colleague Gordon Spence once recommended to me was ringing in my ears. Gordon said, "Joseph, you should visit a confluence in every state." I had no confluences yet in New York, and the closest one, 42 North 74 West, was not only in reach, but it was in one of my favorite areas, the Hudson River valley. Hence, I felt compelled to make the attempt.
After landing at the Hartford, Connecticut, airport, I drove north on Interstate Highway 91 into Massachusetts, west on Interstate Highway 90 into New York, and south on Interstate Highway 87. I had only been to the Hudson River Valley once before, last year, and it was just as beautiful today. Just to the west lay Bethel, New York, site of the Woodstock festival nearly 40 years before. It was a lovely spring day with the trees only beginning to leaf out. The only thing that was unexpected is that I did not have time to print any maps to bring with me, and I was not certain where to exit Highway 87. This highway was a toll road, which meant very few exits.
I neared the confluence, crossed the 42nd parallel and was forced to keep moving almost to 41.9 North before finding an exit, at the town of Kingston. After paying the toll, I was confronted by a very busy traffic circle. I am always astounded at the amount of traffic in rural areas. Successfully navigating and escaping it, I headed east into the town of Kingston, and then found US 9W heading north. I passed a local ice cream parlor with a great deal of character, like something out of books like "Roadside America," but the traffic was too much to stop. Besides, by this time, I was on a teleconference call with my education team colleagues. Passing through the town of Lake Katrine, I neared 42 North, and took a small road heading west. Crossing the railroad tracks, I headed south to find a dead end. I retraced my route and headed north with the same result. I realized that this was a giant "T" with only the railroad crossing as an outlet. I eventually had to exit the whole subdivision, heading south again on 9W. This time I found Leggs Mills Road to the northwest, heading straight for the confluence, and my hopes rose. I tried to pull over and was honked at, so eventually I settled for starting my hike from Leggs Mills Road, just south of the confluence.
Would you like to purchase a confluence? This one could be yours. When I stopped the vehicle, the first thing I noticed were two large For Sale signs. The entire area bounded by the roads, several square kilometers, was for sale. This was the second confluence I had stood on that was for sale, the first being in western Virginia on the back lot of a home under construction. Here, no construction was visible, and it was difficult to say what sort of zoning applied. The area was rural, but plenty of houses were in the vicinity, so it was conceivable that it could be residential, meaning that someone could be living on the confluence someday. But it could also be located someday in an industrial or commercial facility.
It was an easy walk to the confluence, no more than 5 minutes total. I found the spot on an abandoned irrigation or drainage ditch that was about 1 meter wide and a half meter deep. The confluence was on level ground. It was a lovely spring day; about 75 degrees F with light winds and clear skies. The trees were beginning to blossom. I was proud to note that this was my first confluence in New York. The views were longest to the low hills to the west, just west of Interstate 87. I had stood on 42 North several times, from Massachusetts on the east to Wyoming on the west. This was my second time on 74 West, the first being one degree south of here, last year, in New Jersey. I spent about 10 minutes at the site and then headed back to the vehicle.
Once there, lacking a map, I relied on instinct: I drove west across the bridge over Interstate Highway 87, south to US 209, and eventually back to Interstate 87. I crossed the Hudson River at I-84 to I-684, skirting New York City, and into Connecticut to arrive at Fairfield University just at sundown. The campus was beautiful and I got my bearings for the workshops that would follow for the next few days. Visiting the confluence was indeed the perfect starting place for the geospatial adventures that would soon take place on campus!