17-Nov-2018 -- As I had been in Michigan all week, and as the purpose of my visit was to support the use of geotechnology and spatial thinking throughout education, and as this week was Geography Awareness Week and GIS Day, I could not resist getting out in the field to add to my growing set of Michigan confluence points. And so, awakening two hours before dawn, en route to the Detroit airport from Central Michigan University, I set out for 45 North 84 West. Never mind that it was in the complete opposite direction from the direction! The life of a geographer.
As the day dawned, the snow began. Even before I reached I-75, the highways froze over and driving became treacherous. Even worse was that I followed some turn-by-turn directions on my phone which took me on some county unpaved roads for quite a distance, from Grayling all the way to Avery. I had left in plenty of time, but after hours driving 20 mph, would I make it? The snow stopped. I pressed on, traveling north on State 33 to State 32. It was beautiful terrain, mostly forest, intriguing side roads, and snow. Turning west, I parked just before reaching the driveway northwest of the confluence point. Spying the cross-country ski trail leading south-southwest, I gathered supplies and followed it, reaching 84 North sooner than I expected. I took pictures before plunging into the forest to the east, just in case I could never zero out the GPS unit. I climbed a low hill and descended toward the southeast. Decaying trees and rocks hidden in the six inches or so of snow The forest thinned a bit, allowing me to zero out the unit and achieved centered bliss, halfway to the North Pole.
It was a late autumn midday, temperature about 25 F (-4 C) under, now, partly cloudy skies and fortunately little wind here in the trees. I saw no animals, birds, or people. The confluence lies in an area with some younger trees; perhaps the whole area had been cut in the past. I have stood on 45 North several times in the past, from Oregon on the west to Maine on the east, but 45, being halfway to the pole, always yields an extra-spatial thrill. I have also stood on 84 West several times in the past, from Michigan on the north to Georgia on the south, and further on down in Costa Rica at 10 North 84 West. Thanks to my trips to Michigan over the past 15 years, I have a nice tidy collection of Michigan confluence points, even including one in the Upper Peninsula. It was a peaceful place with just a hint of noise from the state highway. I was reluctant to depart, but arriving here had taken so many hours that I needed to, in order to make my airplane flight. Even so, on the way out I filmed a video where I sang the Simon and Garfunkel song with the line, "Michigan seems like a dream to me now."
I wandered on the hill and walked to the north, ending up on the driveway just a bit east of the road, and then walked back to the vehicle. My round trip hike was probably 40 minutes, but really, the confluence is quite close to the road. Given my rather harrowing drive up here, I drove south a different way, sticking to State Highway 33 most of the way. Snow showers continued but it was on the whole, much better. As I neared I-75, I was near 44 North 84 West. Would I have enough time to visit? I decided to make an attempt!