30-Jun-1999 -- Having recently gotten a GPS for my birthday, I took the
opportunity of a family vacation to visit some more confluences.
On the day we planned to visit the confluence, I recruited my parents, as well
as my uncle Clint, who had not yet visited any confluences. We got in Clint's
rental car and headed south. As navigator, I took the front seat, GPS in hand.
My parents sat in the back; my mother was carding wool in preparation for a
workshop she'd be teaching the following week.
After some time of driving south through the gently rolling hills and farmlands
of southern Michigan, we were getting close. We all agreed to circle the
confluence once in order to find the closest point on a road.
The area was a mixture of farms and some woodlands, but there were also
a lot of new houses being built. It didn't yet qualify as suburbs, to my mind, but
the population was definitely growing.
We found that the closest approach involved driving down a gravel
driveway, hoping the car rental company had not slipped a clause into the
contract forbidding travel on such surfaces. My father was volunteered to
go knock on the door and get permission to park and tromp around looking
for the confluence. The woman who came to the door said it was OK to walk
around on their property, and she thought the farmer next door wouldn't
mind, so long as we didn't damage his corn. When questioned about how
he explained our mission, Ed said he'd told her we were looking for "a spot
on the map".
So we walked through the acre or two of backyard belonging to the
folks whose driveway we'd parked on. It looked like the ground had been
torn up for construction within the last year or two, and then weeds and
wildflowers had been allowed to grow. We found a couple of two-tracks
that eased our way towards the woods at the back of the property. But it
soon became evident that the confluence was in the corn field.
Ed and Clint went in with the GPS, as the two of us least likely to
damage the corn. They walked up and down the rows, the inaccuracy of
the GPS clearly apparent. Finally, they got a reading that declared them
on the confluence. The trick at that point is to ignore the GPS as it swiftly
claims you aren't there anymore.
Once I'd taken a photo of the triumphant pair, they came back out of
the corn field. Kate and I declared ourselves within 100 meters of the
confluence, and had photos of ourselves taken as well.
When we got back to the driveway, the couple was in their pickup,
and Ed went to talk to them again. At first, the man was wondering if we
were interested in buying property, perhaps from his backyard. He was
probably a bit disappointed that we weren't, but seemed interested when
Ed explained about the degree confluence.
Triumphant, we proceeded on to supper. Clint is definitely a convert to
Confluence Visits, and plans to borrow someone's GPS and find a scenic
confluence or two in the Puget Sound area.