18-Nov-2014 -- As I was in the Boston area promoting spatial thinking and geotechnologies at the National Council for the Social Studies' annual conference, and as I was staying in Dedham, not too far from the point, a visit to 42 North 71 West seemed like a natural one to fit into such a geo-centric week. I had departed the Esri office in Middleton, north of Boston, in what I thought was plenty of time to visit the point. However, only a month before the winter solstice with an early sunset, and with the typical Boston traffic as I approached the point, I began to wonder, would I have enough daylight to visit the point?
I had been at the Boston Esri office, which was way up north of the city, in Middleton, and I planned to visit the point on my way back to the hotel. However, making a long arc around the west side of Boston took a great deal of time with the traffic. I was losing hope with the sun setting behind me as I exited I-495 onto State Highway 24. I exited Highway 24 at Pleasant Street, my hopes rising again, but falling soon afterward as I sat in traffic on this street, only 2 miles from the point. Once on North Street, I had clear sailing and I drove north to Milebrook Road, and then east for one block.
I arrived at the point right at sundown, so I rushed out of the vehicle as soon as I stopped across the street, a bit east of the confluence point. I snapped as many photos as I could right before the sun set, and once that was done, paused to look more closely at my surroundings. The confluence is in the same spot as I had found it on at least two previous occasions, at the stone wall on the north side of Milebrook Road. The temperature stood at just under freezing, about 30 degrees F, under clear skies, for which I was thankful, as this week just to the east, Buffalo New York was getting buried under yet another of their infamous snowstorms. Someone was in front of the house to the southeast of the confluence, and it was under renovation at the time. Not wanting to make anyone nervous with me pacing around there, I only spent 10 minutes on site before departing for Dedham to the north. I saw no animals or birds and no people other than at the house undergoing renovation, although plenty of neighbors were home, judging from the lights. This was a pleasant street and I was glad to be back. I had stood on 42 North all the way from here through Michigan, Iowa, Nebraska, ending in Wyoming on the west. This point and the one to the north, in New Hampshire, were my only experiences on 71 West, as to the south of here, 71 West passes into the Atlantic Ocean.
As this may have been my last confluence of the year, unless I can get another one in California in December, I reflected upon my journeys. I was thankful for each of them, and had achieved a personal record of 29 confluence points this year. These included some magnificent vistas in Wyoming and Montana, a forest hike in South Dakota, a prairie trek in North Dakota, the hills of Los Angeles, cotton fields in Texas, suburban streets in Tennessee, and many other diverse landscapes. I had also been in all types of weather, from a brisk wind and rain in South Dakota to a frozen field in Illinois, from a hot and humid rice field in Arkansas to a pleasant sunny day in Iowa. It had been a great year of geographic exploration! And I hope to visit a few more points next year!