30-Apr-2004 -- Joseph Kerski, Geographer from the US Geological Survey in Denver Colorado USA, Dr. Marsha Alibrandi from the College of Education at North Carolina State University in Raleigh North Carolina USA, and Shannon White, doctoral student in education at North Carolina State University,
successfully visited Latitude 36 North, Longitude 78 West on a magnificent spring afternoon. As Dr Alibrandi had invited me to conduct several days of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) workshops and presentations at North Carolina State University and at the US Geological Survey's North Carolina state office, a confluence visit was the perfect capstone to these events. In
addition, Ms. White had just successfully completed her oral examination that morning for her
Ph.D. that focuses on GIS in Education, and a confluence visit would be a fitting low-stress way to end her day.
We left Raleigh at 4pm and drove east on US 64 through gently rolling eastern North Carolina terrain, turning north at Nashville on State Highway 58. We drove past the confluence to a road that led to a small electrical facility. We walked southeast along the road, and then
east-southeast across the field for approximately .4 kilometers, arriving at the confluence at a
few minutes after 5pm local time. This definitely was the easiest confluence I have visited in
terms of distance and flat terrain.
We had little problem zeroing out the GPS receiver. The view was obscured in most directions by stands of trees; the longest view was to the east, about 2 kilometers. The confluence lies on flat ground. The elevation of the confluence is approximately 207 meters. The temperature was a pleasant 30 degrees C; the skies mostly sunny with a wispy cirrus and even an "x" from jet contrails that seemed to point out our goal. The moon was rising in the east as the sun sank toward the horizon. We saw no animals and no evidence of the construction noted by the previous
The confluence lies in an uncultivated part of an open field that is otherwise sown in a grain that has grown to 40 centimeters high. A small termite mound or else cow dung where termites had now taken residence marks the spot, clearly visible on the ground cover photograph. This is the eastern edge of the Piedmont in North Carolina in a rural area dotted with small towns and farmsteads. The closest farmhouse was to the north, approximately 250 meters away. We spent about 20 minutes at the site, enjoying the beautiful weather, the wildflowers, and the countryside, spotting a ladybug on one of the grain stalks on our way out. We saw someone on an all-terrain vehicle as we were leaving, off to the east, but otherwise saw no humans except for those in vehicles on the highway, a few of whom sounded their car horns at us.
I had previously been to 36 North four times: Two North Carolina visits to 79 and 80 West, a New Mexico ranch trek to 105 West, and a Nevada mountain scramble to 115 West. I marveled at the differences in vegetation and terrain among all of those points. Even the North Carolina visit that was 1 degree west took place in the Duke Forest that was markedly different from this current
visit. We turned off the GPS unit and walked back to the vehicle. After a brief visit to the lovely town of Corinth, we traveled back the way we came, with a wonderful discussion all the way about geography and technology in education.