20-Mar-2018 -- As I was working in three countries in Europe this month, and now working in Spain, promoting Geographic Information Systems (GIS) in education, and as my colleagues at the Universitat Jaume I were extremely knowledgeable about GIS and all things location, location, location, a confluence visit seemed like the perfect capstone to my visit to their campus. And so, the four of us set out from the university campus on the last day of winter in the northern hemisphere. Thanks to Mike's expert navigation of the back roads, we reached the lane heading to the confluence point in less than 20 minutes. Michael, Fernando, Andrés, and I parked near the end of the lane and felt the centered bliss come over us immediately, as we were already only 11 meters from the confluence point. It was about 1600 (4pm) local time.
According to our phone apps and GPS receivers, the confluence lay at the end of the building just to our west, across the wall on private property. We felt no need to bother the local landowner to trek into this part of their property as we were well within the 100 meter requirement. We took photos and videos and enjoyed the moment; we didn't even leave footprints as we were largely on the pavement. The temperature stood at approximately 12 C (53 F) under clear but quite windy conditions. We were on site about 15 minutes. This is a flat coastal area, not far from the Mediterranean Sea, with land use that is partly urban and partly rural, some planted orchards to be sure but probably most people here commuting to town for their work. I had stood on 40 North numerous times in the past, but all of these visits were in the USA; hence this was a special thrill to be on 40 North but 100 degrees east of where I usually trek. Even better was the fact that we were on the Prime Meridian, 0 degrees Longitude. I had stood on 0 degrees several times in the past, all in the UK, at 51 North, 52 North, and 53 North. This was my first point in Spain and hopefully not my last, as it is an amazing country with beautiful terrain and wonderful people.
We were having such a magnificent time that we decided to continue our adventure: This is one of the few confluence points that has a monument and a park associated with it. So, we felt that our visit would not be complete without a trip to Meridian Park, just a few minutes away by car. Due to fences and gates, one cannot walk from the confluence point to the park, though it is only 170 meters straight line distance. According to our measurement on Google Maps, this monument is 170 meters southwest of the actual confluence point. Why? Because we are measuring off the datum WGS 84. The monument was placed where it is because it was measured using the ED50 (European Datum 1950); see more information here. As we are always telling our students, yes, datums actually matter! Also, this point is steeped in a rich history: French Astronomer Pierre Mechain was found dead from yellow fever while trying to find the Meridian Cero in Castellon. He was buried in the Parque Ribalta; See more information here.
After spending 25 windy minutes at the park, and thoroughly enjoying ourselves amongst the trees and at the magnificent monument there, we had another GIS discussion and then parted ways. It had been a great trip to 3 countries in Europe - Netherlands, Germany, and Spain, and I had visited a confluence in each of them - two by bicycle, and this one largely by car with a few steps of "confluence dance." It was truly wonderful to be making a "spatial" memory with these great colleagues and friends. Que maravilla!