29-Nov-2006 -- Want to buy a confluence? For $699,900, this one can be all yours. Own your own little piece of centered heaven! Lot 36 in the Shannon Lea at Kennedy Creek subdivision is for sale. If you purchase this lot and home, the confluence will be in your backyard.
I was in Washington DC for the National Council for the Social Studies conference, and since we would be promoting teaching and learning with Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and spatial learning at the conference, a confluence visit seemed like the perfect way to begin the week.
I landed at Washington's Dulles Airport at noon local time, and soon the rental car and I were meandering through Virginia's beautiful Shenandoah Valley. I was en route to a meeting at the University of Virginia on the Virginia Digital History project, and originally thought about visiting 38 North 78 West along the way. Upon further thought, however, I considered 38 North 79 West to be the quicker visit so I would not be late for my meeting in Charlottesville. I drove west on Interstate Highway 66, south on Highway 81, and exited at Mint Spring. I drove through Stuarts Draft, south across the river, and along Howardsville Turnpike, Virginia State Highway 610. This was a narrow road but quite busy with traffic, dotted with a mixture of stately homes, trailers, and small businesses.
Nearing the confluence, I saw a new street but drove past it, thinking that the confluence would be located in a field. It took me a moment to realize that The Field Was No More: It was now part of the new Shannon Lea at Kennedy Creek housing development. I doubled back, drove south on the new street, and parked at the end of it. The construction supervisor asked me if I was looking for something, and I told him my tale. Fortunately, he was quite amiable and interested in the project. I handed him my landowner letter and the description from the previous visitor. I was thankful that instead of shooing me away from the site, he walked with me, and we found it in less than 10 minutes in what will be the backyard of Lot 36. This is on a new street, Jaspers Lane, that according to the subdivision plan, curves to the northwest, and then east. The short street leading to Howardsville Turnpike will be Shannon Lea Drive. I took photographs and a movie, and in a bit, one of the construction workers came over, and planted a wooden stake at the spot.
The confluence lies on level ground, in a low spot behind the slope down from and north of the street. I tried to imagine what the spot would look like a year from now. Will this be in the middle of the backyard gazebo, swimming pool, or garden? According to the subdivision plan, it definitely would be in the backyard, not in a house. The midafternoon temperature stood at 55 F ( 13 C) under cloudy but calm conditions. I saw no animals nor birds, which was understandable due to the construction noise. The region is a beautiful one in western Virgnia, full of ridges and valleys, caves, and karst terrain. Clearings existed for towns, farms, and livestock, but some was still forested. The area retains its rural character and the town of Stuarts Draft still charming. But, sad to say, like many other confluence points that I had visited that were seemingly out of the way of urbanization, this one too was at that moment under its influence. Yet I must say that the supervisor and the construction crew took great pride in their work and were careful about what they were doing. The supervisor knew who had owned the field and its entire history.
I had been to 38 North previously in Colorado, Virginia, and Utah. This was only my second time to stand on 79 West, having done so once in North Carolina. This was my 5th confluence in Virginia, including one attempted off shore but not found. This was my fourth year of confluence hunting in Virginia and I have seen many beautiful landscapes, including the landscape along the Appalachian Trail earlier this year.
I walked to the entrance of the subdivision and gathered some brochures. The subdivision, billed as "Everything You Need In Your Own Backyard," indeed has a treasure in one of the backyards--a confluence. The subdivision will include a pool with waterslide, clubhouse, picnic pavilion, an 8-acre park, tennis courts, and a stocked trout stream. It would definitely be worth returning to document the transformation of the landscape.
Memories of this visit included a teenager's happy face as he did wheelies on a 3-wheel motorized ATV, a sign advertising Pet Photos with Santa, and the wonderful old grocery store that marked the town of Sherando east of the confluence. I was thankful that the confluence ended up on the property where it did instead of the property I passed about 500 meters east, full of an archive of flotsam and jetsam and looking like it was patrolled by guard dogs who knew nothing of confluencing.
I took more photographs, waved at the construction supervisor and crew, and then departed. I drove east to Sherando, north to Lyndhurst, and east on Interstate Highway 64 to the University of Virginia across the Shenandoah Mountains to Charlottesville. Once again, the confluence visit was the perfect way to begin the trip!