16-Nov-2008 -- Where is a logical place for two geographically-minded friends to meet? At a confluence, of course! For a few weeks, Brian and I had tentatively planned to meet while I was in Houston for the National Council for the Social Studies conference. As we were emphasizing GIS to teach history and geography at the conference, a confluence visit seemed particularly appropriate. Brian and I planned a meeting somewhere between Houston and Austin. 30 North 96 West seemed like the perfect location to meet.
I had met people at their homes, schools, or offices, visited confluences. I met my colleague once at the US Air Force Academy and then visited 40 North 104 West in Colorado. Another time, I met Gordon Spence in England and we boated out to 51 North 1 East on the English Channel. The list goes on. Indeed, I once met Brian and Mike in Grand Rapids and we made a waterlogged trek to a confluence in a Michigan field. However, I had never met anyone at or very near a confluence, and so I was eagerly looking forward to this visit. Mostly, though, I was looking forward to seeing Brian, whom I have known most of my life.
Brian and I have always been mentally attuned, and this visit showed that we continued to be, as evidenced by the following: We agreed to meet a few miles from the confluence, at the intersection of Highway 362 and Baethe Road south of Waller, Texas. I was in a rush to get there as it had taken me longer than anticipated to visit 29 North 96 West earlier in the morning. However, the timing could not have been better: I arrived at the intersection just after 10:00am. I had scarcely been at the intersection of the two roads for 90 seconds when I saw Brian pull up behind me in his truck. I was still gazing at my GPS and getting my supplies together when he walked up. It was great to see him again, and we chuckled at our meeting place, way out here in the Texas countryside, and the fact that we arrived at almost exactly the same time.
Once reunited, we made quick plans, as I only had about 2 hours before needing to depart for the Houston airport. I drove west along Baethe Road with Brian following me. We turned south on Cochran Road, and then west on Purvis Road, which was little more than a dead-end lane. I was interested to find out, after reading the previous visit narrative, if a home had been constructed at the confluence site. We did not see it, though as we parked at the end of the road, we did notice a Land For Sale sign to the north. We opted to take the trek through the field at the very end of the road rather than walk north on the driveway where the For Sale sign sat. This turned out to be the wrong way in, but it did allow us to see some authentic Texas "wildlife"--about 20 head of cattle, along with a more scenic route. After we threaded our way through the gate, we traversed the field to the north and then walked along a scenic pond through some shrubbery. Fortunately, it was not thorny, and it was a glorious day. A few days ago, it was muggy and hot, but a cold front had brought cooler temperatures and a bright blue Texas sky. After speaking some reassuring words to the cattle, the confluence still off to the east, we had to scale the barbed wire fence lining the road. This was a bit tricky, but once over, we were on the driveway with less than 100 meters to go. We had no trouble zeroing out the GPS receiver and thus, the confluence dance was minimal.
We found the confluence about 50 meters east of the driveway, which led to the north to a house we could see about a third of a mile away. The confluence lies on flat ground sloping ever so slightly to the east, to a wide gully before the land sloped up to Cochran Road. The land here is just at the edge of the alluvial plain, where it starts to gently roll, and the land use is predominantly farms and ranches. The temperature was a very pleasant 60 F (15.5 C) with light winds. It was much warmer than the time we stood in water-soaked pants in the field in Michigan, even though it was nearly the same time of the year. Aside from the cattle and a few birds, we saw no other animals. I had only stood on 96 West three times before, at 29 North and 32 North in Texas, and 41 North in Nebraska. It is always a pleasure to be on a Ten-Degree line of latitude, and 30 North was no exception. I had stood on 30 North several times before, in Texas and in Louisiana. We had a landowner permission request letter with us but due to our tight schedule, we only spent 10 minutes at the site, posing for nerdy self-portraits.
Next, we walked south through the main gate past the For Sale sign. While entering our vehicles, a truck drove up the driveway but did not stop. We drove out of the area the way we came in, and then drove north to Waller. Here, we spent a brief but wonderful time at a convenience store that doubled as a barbecue--only in Texas! It was indeed an excellent way to wrap up the week. I hope Brian and I can meet at another confluence in the future.