08-Feb-2011 -- As I had flown to Atlanta to gather with a group of colleagues for the GeoTechCenter project, and as the GeoTech Center is all about connecting community colleges for geotechnology workforce development, a confluence visit seemed like the perfect beginning to our meeting. Therefore, after flying into the Atlanta airport, I was soon driving down Interstate Highway 85 toward the southeast. The name of this highway seemed quite appropriate because it matched the longitude of this confluence.
It was a fine winter day in northern Georgia, sun shining but a bit cooler than I expected. When I exited at LaGrange at US Highway 27, I drove to the southeast and immediately was a bit confused. I knew from the satellite imagery that new construction existed in this area, so I suspected the street pattern had been altered. I turned left, or north, on the first available street. I drove up a landscaped four-lane road (Steele Ave, which turned into Prof Bryant Road) with a wide median with old-style lamp poles. Sure enough, it bisected the old east-west road (Highland Avenue) so severely that there was no longer access to the east-west road. In other words, the east-west road had no ramps and no intersection existed. I kept driving and entered the new subdivision, most of which was still under construction, with a fair amount of activity currently occurring. I drove around this subdivision, but as I did not wish to disturb the construction workers and homeowners, I left the way I had come in, preferring to approach the confluence from the "wilds" of the south. I parked back on the main road, gathered supplies, and set off.
I walked past a wetland that was amazing due to the number of southern toads croaking away. I had never heard so many, and upon my way back, I filmed a movie of the wetland and its sounds. To the south of the wetland lay the remains of the east-west road, now bisected by the new four-lane road to the subdivision. The east-west road looked rather forlorn, particularly with the foundations of homes on its north side. One contained front and side steps leading to nowhere, which I photographed on the way back. Some odds and ends lay in the former yards but by and large, they had been cleared out. I continued walking east and came to the end of the road, which was now a swath cut into the forest, with a new large concrete sewer in the middle. The same swath-lined-with-sewers lay to the northeast, and even though I hated to see the trees cut down, it provided an easy way toward the confluence. The trees on either side made my GPS receiver a bit confused, though, and for awhile, I trudged through some nasty thorns to the south. It was a bit muddy and wet.
I then realized that the confluence lay to the north of the swath, on the south end of the enormous graded mountain of dirt that the new houses were being constructed upon. I tried to blaze through the vegetation to the north of the swath, but the thorns prevented my progress. I then walked further northeast to the first break, and doubled back toward the southwest. A similar challenge now confronted me. For awhile, I thought the confluence lay about 2 meters in the thorns, so I spent time getting scratched by the plants that were taller than I was. I reflected at how many of these confluence treks end up in the thorns. But really, this confluence could have been much more difficult than it was. Eventually, I zeroed out the GPS unit, thankfully in the mud that had washed down from the earth mountain to the north, in a few thorns, rather than in the thickest of the thorns just to the south.
The confluence therefore lies on ground sloping slightly to the south, on mud that had flowed from the dirt dumped on the land upon which to build new houses. I saw no animals or birds, and no people after I had circled the new subdivision. Just to the north of the confluence, erosion had etched some deep (3 meter) canyons in the new dirt. The temperature was approximately 50 F under sunny skies. I had stood on 33 north previously in Texas and in California. I had also stood on 85 West in Georgia and in Michigan. This was my first confluence in the Atlanta area since 2005. In 2010, I visited a confluence on the Georgia coast. This confluence is in an area undergoing radical reshaping by humans and it is likely that the confluence will be in the backyard of a house someday or even on a street leading to a paved street in what is now a muddy "swath" through the forest.
I walked out the way I had come in, skirting the thorns to the east, and then doubling back west along the cleared swath. As I walked along, I found something I had not noticed on the way in: A long-abandoned Playskool "Sit n' Spin". This is a child's toy requiring exactly that--sitting and spinning on a mini-merry-go-round. I had not seen one in years and filmed a movie there about geography education--how some things, like toys and technology, change, but that sound geographic education remains the same. I also stopped at the lonely remains of the houses that were on the abandoned street before filming the wetland movie with the loud toad sounds. I photographed some litter that I was sorry to see under a bush that had formerly been in someone's backyard. I arrived back at the vehicle after a round trip of around 90 minutes. It was indeed a fine day for a new confluence!