05-Jun-2016 -- As I was in the Louisville area for the 2016 Geo 'Ed conference, a gathering of community college instructors in Geographic Information Systems (GIS), a confluence visit seemed particularly appropriate. After doing about 4 hours of work to prepare for the conference on the day before it began, it was time to get out into the field. I drove east out of Louisville on I-64, but it was when I drove south and east out of Shelbyville on two lane roads when things got really beautiful. The day was bright, with white puffy clouds scudding about, and the road dipped and turned through horse properties and wooded hollows. I was soon driving east along the valley of the Salt River. I turned south at Anderson City on Anderson City Road, but actually the area was very rural, with houses dotting the road as it rose in elevation. I parked at my intended destination--the gate at about 1 mile south-southwest of the confluence point. There was not much place to park and not to block the gate. I tried to avoid blocking the gate in case the landowner wanted access.
It was extremely muddy and my shoes soon felt like they were carrying cement. I stuck to the south side of the track, but it was slow going. However, the terrain was beautiful, and as I expected, I was hiking north-northeast after a short time along a high grassy ridge. The only thing that unnerved me were the periodic sounds of someone revving their engine along the road I had just been on, and I hoped nobody was causing mischief with my vehicle back there. I approached some cattle with some apprehension as they all moved toward me, but then I plunged into the forest on the north side of the slope and was alone.
This is where things got more difficult. The slope was steep and slippery, with thorns and tripping hazards--rocks and vines. Moreover, I started to think that I would reach the Salt River before the confluence. Had I planned incorrectly? My doubts about 15 minutes later were laid to rest, when I emerged onto the grassy flat field in the floodplain, as planned. Just about in the middle of this field, I found the confluence point. I saw a few birds and no people. The field was not planted in any sort of crop; the grass might have been cut at some point in the future for hay, I supposed. At this time, it was about waist high where the confluence point lay. I had stood on 38 North many times, from California on the west to Maryland on the east. I had also stood on 85 West several times before, from Michigan on the north to Georgia on the south. I believe this was my first confluence point in Kentucky, so I was very pleased to be here. It was one of the most beautiful confluence points around; ridges of trees all around me, the sun high above. It was a late spring noontime, temperature around 85 degrees F, with a moderate breeze blowing. I was proudly wearing my tie-dyed GIS shirt that one of my favorite GIS using educators had made for me.
It was good to be the first visit to this point in the growing season; as the others were in the winter, and compare the field photographs. Being a bit reluctant to leave this secluded spot, I filmed an additional movie that I would eventually set some harp music to, with the grasses blowing in the breeze. Next, I walked to the west edge of the field, where I filmed a video of the barn being overtaken by vegetation. I hiked south along what I suspected would be a gentler slope, and I was right--it was much easier on this western side. Near the top of the slope, I found some skulls of cattle long since departed this world. Immediately surrounding the skulls was some fresh evidence of a recent visit by a herd of cattle, probably the same herd I had encountered earlier, a short distance from here. It was so plentiful that I am afraid that I stepped in some of this "evidence", which required a later washing of my shoes.
The rest of my journey involved retracing my earlier steps along the ridge. I found the herd of cattle again, this time closer to the road. I was relieved after my concerns, of finding (1) my vehicle, and (2) nobody standing beside my vehicle. The total distance came in at around 3 miles, accounting for my wanderings through the trees and field, and about 100 minutes total. I drove back down the road, listening to the Native American band "Brule", but took a different route back to Louisville. As a geographer, I always favor a "circle" route to see new sights. It was a beautiful day and beautiful spot. Get out there and explore the world!