01-Apr-2012 -- As I had participated for the last several days in the National Science Teachers Association convention in Indianapolis, and as I had a string of confluence visits from several NSTA conventions in the past, and as our presence at the NSTA convention included an exhibit and workshops on the integration of GIS and GPS in science education, a confluence visit seemed the perfect capstone. However, the conference turned out to be so busy, with 8,000 educators present, that the only time to visit would prove to be on the way to the airport. It was for these reasons why I was now in central Indiana.
It was kind of ironic that I was back in Noblesville. I had stayed here during a geography education conference back in 1998 for the sole purpose of wanting to stay in a small town. I exited I-69 at Highway 37 and headed north. The past 14 years had brought enormous urban sprawl to this area, northeast of Indianapolis, and as I approached the confluence site, it could have been Anytown USA, with large car lots, shopping centers, office parks, and residential development. Even so, it still seemed like a nice community. There was even a water park under construction about a mile south of the confluence point. I drove east on East 146th Street, through a recently laid out office park and shopping area. Behind and to the east of the shopping center was an office park. I parked at the Vision Center and walked across the street to the west.
First, I approached the confluence from the eastern shore, being passed by a jogger in the process. I took some GPS readings and a photograph of the sign, noting that it apparently was not allowed to boat to the point. Walking around the lake to the south, I passed behind the shopping center adjacent to the wetland on the western edge of lake. I stepped down off of the high ground and onto the marsh. I was indeed closer to the confluence from this, the western shore of the lake than I had been on the eastern shore. I also verified that the confluence point is indeed in the lake. The confluence lies about 3 meters from the edge of the marsh, according to my estimate, and 15 meters from the point at which the marsh becomes wet. So, without a boat, I could have gotten a bit closer, but I was already still wet from an earlier confluence trek during this particular day, and I wanted to dry out before boarding an airplane. I walked out a few paces to get the best reading possible.
It was good to be back on 40 North. I had stood on this line of latitude many times, perhaps 20 times, from New Jersey on the east to California on the west. But this was only the third time I had stood on the 86th Meridian, the other two times being in Michigan and one degree to the south in Indiana. The temperature was a very pleasant 70 F and the sky had cleared up from the earlier rainy weather I had experienced.
I saw some ducks on the lake on its north side. It was difficult to say whether the lake was here naturally or was a reservoir. I suspected that a pond had been here when the area was being farmed, and it was preserved as a part of the office park. I was glad it was here, the last vestiges of rural landscape before the area was completely changed. It made for a pleasant part of the office park: Even though it prohibited me from standing on the confluence, I was glad the lake was here. The winds were light and it was now a fine spring day. Not many people were out and about on a Sunday noontime, understandably. However, the traffic on Highway 37 had been horrendous. I thought it would be interesting to live in the condo development to the south of the lake, because the 86th Meridian passes directly through them. One of them was even for sale! After taking photographs and a movie, I then walked around the lake to the north, so I could say that I had done a complete circuit. Then it was off to the Indianapolis airport. Indeed a fine way to end the week in Indiana and the science teachers convention! I salute everyone I met and their commitment to education.