09-May-2006 -- As I was in California co-teaching a GIS workshop at the National Water Quality Monitoring Conference, a confluence visit seemed quite appropriate. One late afternoon I drove east to the Central Valley from San Jose, through the communities of Tracy and Stockton. I felt just like a regular California commuter. At Stockton I bought some expensive gasoline and drove northeast along California State Highway 26 to Bellota. The Central Valley is one of the prime agricultural areas in the world, producing everything from avocados to walnuts to peaches to raisins and much more. I was driving through evidence of it on Highway 26. Once I left it and drove south along North Escalota Bellota Road, the land use changed markedly to cattle grazing on the rolling grasslands.
Preferring to make a hike to all of the confluences I have visited, rather than driving straight to them, I parked about a half of a kilometer north of the confluence, gathered supplies and hiked to the point just east of the home on the opposite side of the road. It is interesting to see the stages that this home has undergone through the eyes of previous confluence visitors. It was occupied, then vacant, and now showed obvious signs of future occupation. Mounds of sand and dirt were in front of the home, and the garage was being repaneled. Boards were stockpiled and ready to be used. I wondered if the future occupants are aware of the significance of their property.
I crossed the road and took some photographs, taking care as the weather was windy and the road was surprisingly heavily trafficked at high speeds. After a few minutes of photography and movie-making, I slithered under the barbed wire to zero out the GPS unit and took more photographs. The confluence lies 2 meters east of the fence, in a grassy field that was used for grazing cattle. The area typifies so much of What Is California--massive powerlines, fruit growing, and grazing. The confluence site slopes 5 degrees to the east. The temperature was a hot 85 F (30 C) under clear but hazy skies. Due to the haze, I could not see the Sierra Nevada mountains to the east. I saw a few birds and many cattle, but no people except for the drivers of the vehicles.
I had been to 38 North several times, in Virginia, Colorado, and Utah. Two days earlier, I visited 121 West for the first time at 37 North, so today marked my second time on that meridian. I didn't want to linger on the "wrong" side of the fence, so I departed, walking north back to the vehicle. Leaving the area, I drove south to the nearest town, Farmington, passing some vineyards along the way. I then drove west on State Highway 4, pondering whether I could visit 38 North 122 West on the way back to San Jose before the sun set. It certainly was tempting. What do you think I decided to do?