30-May-2006 -- As I was in the Washington DC area to visit several organizations key to geographic literacy, such as the National Geographic Society, NASA, and the US Department of Agriculture's geospatial education program, a confluence visit seemed like the perfect way to begin the trip. I arrived at Dulles International Airport in Virginia at 11:30am, and after picking up a vehicle, drove around the Washington Beltway, arriving in Silver Spring, Maryland, by 1215pm. Once there, I heard a song by the Partridge Family on the radio, and figured that was a good sign that this confluence visit would be a success.
As I had visited the confluence during the previous autumn, I knew exactly where it was located. I parked at the Flower Branch Apartments, and walked about 3 minutes to reach the spot. Actually, the spot lies inside the apartments on the west side of the building with the address of 8662 Piney Branch Road. Not much had changed from my last visit except that all the dumpsters were heaped to overflowing. I hoped it was trash day.
I would estimate that at least 4 people live exactly on 39 North 77 West, because 4 floors of apartments are stacked atop the point. One would think that at least one of them sleeps directly on the confluence, awaking every morning, surely feeling refreshed and centered.
The sky was clear; the air breathlessly hot. The day felt more like mid-July than the end of May, with the temperature standing at 95 degrees F (35 C). Birds were chirping, squirrels were scampering, and many people were out despite the heat. Midway through my photographic session, my Geography colleague Ms. Duke telephoned me. It marked the first time that I had received a cell phone call while on a confluence and we chatted amiably about All Things Geospatial. I tried to achieve as close to "zero" on the GPS unit as possible although a few meters from the building, not surprisingly, I lost satellite signal. Several people walked by but nobody talked with me.
In an effort to add some different photographs than those submitted during my first visit, I took some near the apartment complex office. The neighborhood's population is diverse, as evidenced by the numbers of languages evident on the Montgomery County branch library door. It is also active, evident by the numbers of people out and about despite the hot weather. Afterwards, I visited the library and took a different photograph of the confluence, clearly visible from the library's front steps. A perfect way to begin my visit to Washington DC!