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the Degree Confluence Project
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United States : Michigan

3.0 miles (4.8 km) NW of Allendale, Ottawa, MI, USA
Approx. altitude: 179 m (587 ft)
([?] maps: Google MapQuest Multimap topo aerial world confnav)
Antipode: 43°S 94°E

Click on any of the images for the full-sized picture.

#2: Local Michigan campers in middle of winter #3: Monument located on site of confluence #4: Looking north from confluence, with Grand River floodplain in background #5: Wetlands encountered on hike to confluence

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  43°N 86°W (visit #2)  

#1: The confluence, looking west through the cornfield

(visited by Tim Bosscher and Eric Hansen)

10-Feb-2001 -- My colleague from work, Eric Hansen, and I visited the intersection of 43 degrees North, 86 degrees West on Saturday, February 10, 2001. We had attempted to visit the intersection the previous Saturday, but were unsuccessful, due to an inferior GPS unit, and a large and unfriendly dog we encountered. As it turned out, we had been within a few hundred meters of the intersection, although we could not be certain at the time, since we could not acquire sufficient satellite signals on the GPS.

The next week, we tried again, armed with both a better GPS, and a better plan to avoid the local wildlife. Confluence.org lists this site as about nine miles northeast of West Olive, Michigan. Since you have probably never heard of West Olive, Michigan, perhaps the intersection of 43 degrees North, 86 degrees West could better be described as approximately twelve miles west (and two or three miles north) of downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan. Eric and I drove west from Grand Rapids on M-45 until we reached the town of Allendale. At Allendale, we headed north on 68th avenue for about two miles, and then turned to the west on Warner Street. After two miles, we turned north on Pine street, which turned out to be a semi-private drive running through the River Pines Campground.

Since February is the middle of winter in Michigan, we had expected to find the River Pines Campground deserted. What we had forgotten was that at least some of the people who are crazy enough to put up with Michigan’s winter weather are also crazy enough to camp in Michigan in the winter. The campground was half full, even though the temperature was a brisk 20 degrees Fahrenheit (minus six Centigrade), with a stiff breeze blowing. Since this site is only about twenty miles east of the relatively warm water of Lake Michigan, we were experiencing what is known as "lake effect" snowfall, which is produced from the moisture the air picks up as it crosses Lake Michigan.

We drove to the back of the campground, and parked the car in a deserted area. We were approximately three quarters of a mile to the east of the intersection. The campground is called River Pines Campground both because of its pine trees, but also because of its location near the flood plain of the Grand River. Although the ground generally had a frozen crust of ice, frequently we broke through the crust into from four inches to a foot of water and/or mud. We alternately walked through frozen corn fields, forest wetlands, and then corn fields again. At one point, we crossed a small creek, followed by frozen, partially flooded terrain.

We had been looking for a small pond that the satellite photos had shown as being adjacent to the intersection. We never did find the pond. Since the satellite photos were taken in the spring, we assumed that either the satellite photos were showing spring river flooding, or the local farmer had filled it in order to obtain more corn acreage. We emerged from a wooded area and immediately overshot the intersection in the corn field. We were amazed at how easily it was to go past the intersection with a GPS precision of one thousandth of a minute (we quickly translated this into "one long step"). In fact, we found it very difficult to hold the GPS reading directly on 43 degrees North, 86 degrees West long enough to take a photo. We eventually accomplished this on about the sixth or seventh attempt, suffering only moderate frostbite in the process.

As I explained previously, the intersection was in the middle of a frozen cornfield, which was surrounded by woods, and to the north, the Grand River floodplain. This we expected. What we did not expect however, was what we found planted directly on the intersection. As you can see from the photo, we found our company's flag planted directly on the intersection. Truly a case of "floorcare around the world" as our logo used to say. Isn't geography amazing?


 All pictures
#1: The confluence, looking west through the cornfield
#2: Local Michigan campers in middle of winter
#3: Monument located on site of confluence
#4: Looking north from confluence, with Grand River floodplain in background
#5: Wetlands encountered on hike to confluence
#6: GPS reading 43 degrees North, 86 degrees West
ALL: All pictures on one page (broadband access recommended)