18-Jun-2005 -- I was in Columbus to co-teach GeoTech Ohio, an institute for educators emphasizing the use of GPS and GIS in universities, parks, museums, and in K-12 education. A confluence visit seemed to me the perfect way to start a week of investigating the Earth with participants from 8 states.
I had long planned to visit the last remaining confluence in Ohio, that of 39 North 83 West, which required special permission. After sending letters and speaking with the person in charge at the Portsmouth Plant, imagine my dismay to find out that Todd Barber had beat me to the confluence by 3 weeks! Todd had not posted the confluence visit yet, so I had no idea this had happened. Understandably, the Portsmouth contact was unwilling to escort me to the site so soon after Todd's visit. Todd did an admirable job of writing up his complete experience. Therefore, I set my sights on 40 North 84 West. It still got me out on the landscape, and that is the main goal of this project.
I have been blessed to teach with wonderful colleagues over the years. So, here in Ohio, I already had a feeling that Josh Flory, innovative teacher at New Albany Middle School, would assent to the trek. After flying into the Columbus airport, I rented a car and picked up Mr Flory and had a pleasant chat with his grandmother, at 230pm. We took Interstate Highway 70 West to State Highway 235 near Dayton, and drove north. As usual, once we exited the Interstate, we could experience the predominant land use much more readily. This is the southern end of the "Black Swamp"--flat, glaciated terrain. It was primarily mixed farming with an occasional golf course. We crossed US Highway 40, the old "National Road," and 30-year old trailer courts were sprinkled among the 70-year old farmsteads. The terrain is flatter here than the southern part of Ohio, but not as flat as other confluences I have visited in the Dakotas. We passed through the lovely town of New Carlisle and crossed State Highway 41. After crossing 40 North, we looked for a suitable place to pull over, but found none. Finally, we turned around in a driveway of one of the new substantial homes plunked down in farm country, and drove south to just past 40 North, parking on the shoulder. The road was quite busy for a state highway, and we were able to dash across the highway only after waiting there some time.
At 4pm local time, after performing a confluence dance, we determined that the actual spot was over the barbed wire fence about 1 meter into the forest. Mr Flory held out his arm to full extension, but we could not photograph a zero-zero reading. When the reading stood at zero-zero, I could not focus the camera. Finally, I scaled the fence, and as expected, the reception fell off sharply, posing even more of a challenge. We finally achieved our goal and got down to the business of enjoying the site (except for the traffic noise) for about 20 minutes.
The confluence lies 1 meter from the western edge of a mixed forest containing numerous maples. It was a perfect late spring day, temperature 85 F (29 C). We saw a few birds but no animals, and could see no water from the confluence. It was a pleasure to stand on 40 North again. I have been on 40 North in California, Colorado, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and now, Ohio. I had been to 84 West in Costa Rica, in Georgia, and in Michigan. This was Josh's first confluence but being the geographic person he is, I suspect it won't be his last.
As we drove south, I noticed a unique drive-through store constructed of metal that Mr Flory said were quite common in Ohio. One such establishment proclaimed that they featured "Drive-Through Everything." We stopped, photographed, and drove back to New Albany. Along the way, we discussed what would soon become GeoTech Ohio 2005.