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the Degree Confluence Project
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United States : Florida

0.6 miles (1.0 km) NNE of Harbour Heights, Charlotte, FL, USA
Approx. altitude: 3 m (9 ft)
([?] maps: Google MapQuest Multimap topo aerial world confnav)
Antipode: 27°S 98°E

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

#2: The obligatory GPS shot #3: Looking north along Pinellas Avenue from the confluence mailbox.

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  27°N 82°W (visit #1)  

#1: Deb in front of the confluence house!

(visited by Mike Blaszczak and Deb Hartline)

27-Dec-1999 -- US-301 was my kind of highway. It's just a little two-lane blacktop that snakes through the woods, around tiny little towns, and isn't highly traveled. I love to see America on these roads: farmers are out moving their tractors from field to field, people who really make this country go are doing the things that spin their lives.

The highway runs straight south, and we followed it until we found a nicer than average gas station. Deb went to the bathroom, and I bought some sodas. While I waited, I examined the map and tried to decide what our long-term strategy would be. When Deb returned, I suggested that we hook-up to I-75 and bust all the way down to the next confluence on the slab. That way, we'd make the best time and also have a good shot at finding a restaurant for lunch.

Around Exit 62 or so, we decided to stop and eat at a Cracker Barrel. Neither of us, as fate would have it, had ever eaten at one of these roadside icons before. We stopped, but had to rattle around a bit to find the restaurant because it was hidden behind a gas station off the highway.

Once inside, I realized it was a country boy's paradise. The restaurant was tied to a little gift shop that did everything it could to seem like an old country store. They had a wide variaety of gifts, from surprisingly expensive porcelain dolls to NASCAR souvenirs. We bought my mom a little lighthouse to thank her for letting us use the truck.

Conveniently, though the crowds were thick, our names were called for our table. We ate our simple lunches and chatted about our trip. The restaurant had those pesky little peg games on the tables: you hop pegs and remove 'em until there are no moves left. Somehow, we couldn't figure it out: we persistently left no less than three pegs. The legend burned into the wood board told us that we rated "stupid" for not being able to clean-up.

I paid, and that was that. We stopped for gas at the Amoco and continued on our way south.

To break-up the time after lunch, we played a license-plate game while we were driving. Deb wrote down all the plates we saw. We found cars with tags from Delaware, Georgia, Florida (of course), Indiana, Connecticut, Ohio, New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Texas, Michigan, Alabama, South Carolina, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Virginia, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Iowa, Kentucky, West Virginia, Massachussetts, New Jersey, Maryland, Missouri, Washington, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Mississippi, and California. We also saw plates from three Canadian provinces: Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec.

Since there were so many Florida plates, we also wrote down all the counties that we saw. Florida used to stamp the county where the car was registered underneath the number on the plate. The newer plates don't have the county stamped anymore, so we were at a bit of a loss for most of the counties. But we did spot Charlotte, Manatee, Pasco, Hernando, Hillsborough, Seminole, Polk, Orange, Broward, Serasota, Lee, Collier, Pinellas, Desoto, Palm Beach, Highlands, Hardee, Osecola, Monroe, and Volusa.

It took us more than three hours to make it past Tampa Bay and down to Port Charlotte. Deb got me off the highway at the right exit, and we rattled around on a couple of local streets before finding the road where the conflunece would be found. It wasn't a bad drive, though there were (as always!) some real fools on the road.

In the little village of Harbor Heights, we found Palm Tree Avenue. Of course, on the map, it was called Palm Tree Avenue. But in real life, it was Pinellas Avenue. All of my travels have tought me one particularly important rule: if the terrain and the map disagree, trust the terrain.

Harbour Heights was very sparsely populated. The houses looked like they had been setting a couple of decades or more on the carefully laid-out streets. But there were a surprising number of undeveloped, overgrown lots. We parked in front of one hoping it would hide the confluence, but we had no such luck: it was right in someone's front yard! On the street, just in front of the driveway, we got a reading of 26 degrees, 59.999 minutes north, by 81 degrees, 59.986 minutes west.

While we stood on the street examining the GPS and thinking of what to do, a dog in the home started barking. Unfortunately, we stood around for so long that the owner came to try to quiet the dog and asked us if she could help with anything. I replied that were were on something of a treasure-hunt, and that we had found what we needed. I apologized for disturbing her.

I felt pretty bad: the dog was really set off, and she might have a hard time quieting him down. I wished I could've explained our quest a little bit, and at least told her the significance of the spot where her front yard -- or, maybe even her living room -- was sitting. But I figured it would be best to leave well enough alone.

We got out of there.

The drive home was pleasant: I took a couple of local roads north until they hit US-17, and we cut through all sorts of little towns before getting onto I-4, and then onto the FL-417 toll road. We were back home before 7 pm, and had a pizza dinner.


 All pictures
#1: Deb in front of the confluence house!
#2: The obligatory GPS shot
#3: Looking north along Pinellas Avenue from the confluence mailbox.
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