02-Oct-2005 -- I was in the Washington DC area for an GIS advisory board meeting for the National Institute for Technology in Liberal Education , an
initiative to bring spatial thinking to 93 liberal arts colleges around the country. A confluence visit seemed like the perfect complement to this meeting. After visiting some wonderful relatives in Delaware, I was en route to Dulles Airport in Virginia, from where I would fly home. I had been given a rental car with an in-vehicle GPS with voice, and it was highly enjoyable to try its features. I drove to Centreville, turned southeast on State Highwasy 304, south on Greenville Road, and then west on Little Eagle Road. I parked at the edge between the forest and the planted field there.
Being from Colorado, a state surveyed according to the public land survey system, I am more accustomed to roads running north-south and east-west. Here in Maryland, a metes and bounds state, the roads, as they do in most parts of the world, pay no attention to the cardinal directions. Therefore, after walking down the road for a few hundred meters, I had to double back in a large "n" shape before finding the confluence. By staying on the road as long as possible, I was trying to minimize tramping on the bean field. Once at the confluence, I was
confronted with an interesting problem--where to set the camera for a self-portrait. I had no tripod with me, and the bean plants were 1 meter high. After taking numerous photos, I finally lay down on the ground and decided I liked that one best. Decisions, decisions.
The confluence of 39 North 76 West lies near the southern end of a planted field of beans, on level ground. This is the eastern shore of Maryland, a geographically distinctive place that was physically and culturally quite different from the rest of Maryland until the Chesapeake Bay Bridge was built a few decades ago. This bridge lies not far from the confluence, 35 km to the west. This is the land of fields and marshes, where people made their living for decades from the land by either fishing or farming. The area is dotted with older farmhouses as well
as with newer homes of those may have been farming part time or have recently opted to live in the country. The countryside is the flat tidewater area near the Chesapeake Bay. Not far from here is Tuckahoe State Park, which would have to wait for a later visit. I spent around 15 minutes at the site filming. I could see two houses, to the north and northeast; both at least 500 meters away. A few birds were present but I saw no ground animals nor standing water. I arrived at 915 am local time (my GPS time is set to Mountain Time). It was a beautiful early autumn morning; summer reluctant to loosen its hold: The thermometer on my GPS bag showed 21 C (70 F). I was wearing a shirt from ESRI, the GIS company.
I have visited 39 North more than any other line of latitude--13 visits. I did not plan it that way, but part of it has to do with the fact that this line of latitude is the closest to where I live. These 13 visits include ones in Colorado, in Kansas, in Missouri, and now 2 in
Maryland. I have also visited 76 West before, in Pennsylvania and an attempt in Virginia. I was reluctant to leave, for this is a beautiful area, but I needed to reach the airport in Virginia soon. I drove out a different way, northwest on Little Eagle Road, where I passed two people on an early morning walk. I soon reached US 301, and then drove west, filled with peace
from spending time in the countryside.