09-May-2006 -- As I was in California teaching a workshop in Geographic Information Systems at the National Water Quality Monitoring conference, a confluence visit seemed the perfect capstone before returning home. Earlier in the evening, I had visited 38 North 121 West in the Central Valley, and was curious as to whether I could tag 38 North 122 West on the way back to San Jose. The sun was getting pretty low in the western sky as I passed through Antioch and Pittsburg. The fate of my 104th confluence visit lay in the balance.
I exited westbound California State Highway 4 at Willow Pass Road and quickly readied sign and GPS at the exit. It appeared that I would arrive before sundown. I was not certain what sort of security would exist within the Naval Weapons Station which might cut short my visit. Naval Weapons Station Concord is a 12,800-acre site, including the Inland (5,170 acres) and Tidal (7,630 acres) Areas and a radiography facility in Pittsburg. This facility is the major ammunition shipment port of the West Coast for the Department of Navy. The confluence is located on the "Inland" section of the station.
I needn't have worried about security. The No Trespassing signs are still up, but in Fall 2005, the Inland portion of the Station was all but closed. Rumor has it that the Navy wants to hold onto 15% of the 5,170 acres of land that exist here, but the rest is apparently up for grabs. Some want it all saved as open space, while others want to see a combination of parks, homes, an Oakland A's baseball stadium, a national cemetery, high-density housing near the North Concord BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) station, and other uses. With the sun turning the hills golden, I could imagine the area being quite pleasant as open space, but my opinion was definitely tainted at the moment, standing alongside a very busy highway.
Given the above facts, it is entirely conceivable that a confluence hunter will be able, when the fences come down, to stand on the actual spot. It could be in an open meadow, or in someone's front yard. Time will tell.
But here in Spring 2006, the closest proximity to the confluence lies on the east side of Willow Pass Road, well within the rules for distance for an official successful visit. I walked to 38 North, and crossed the road. This was easier said than done, because the traffic not only was heavy, but everyone was barrelling along at a minimum of 60 mph (100 kph). I tried not to think about drive-by shootings, but it did cross my mind. This was surprising, as my spouse is the one who reads more mystery novels in our family.
The confluence lies in the grassy field 50 meters east of the fence. It might be a bit marshy at the spot with a slight slope to the northeast. I could see numerous homes clinging to the hillside to the southeast. The temperature was a mild 80 F (26 C) under clear skies and a steady wind. I saw no pedestrians - everyone was in vehicles. Birds and animals seemed wisely to stay clear of this area.
I had been to 38 North several times, in Utah, Colorado, Virginia, and California. This was my second time on 122 West; my other visit was the popular 37 North 122 West near Santa Cruz, 1 degree to the south.
This was not the spot to linger, and the sun was setting. I continued south, for this was definitely no place to turn around. That was fine, because I found Interstate Highway 680 after driving through Concord, and drove back to San Jose. A perfect ending to my trip to California and the water quality conference!