20-Feb-2012 -- 16th Annual International Confluence Day:
An Urban Experience
For the past nine years, February 20th, the anniversary of Alex Jarrett’s initial confluence visit to 43N 72W, has been my biggest holiday of the year. Between 2004 and 2011, I successfully visited confluence points in 17 different states on this special date: AL, MS, GA, IA, MO, KS, NE, TN, AR, NH, VT, NY, CT, MA, OH, IN, and KY.
In the early days of this endeavor, I could knock off a confluence close to home and still make it to work for most of the day. But as I have had to venture farther afield, some of these celebrations have become major trips. Thankfully, in recent years, the federal government has declared a three-day weekend so the entire nation can observe International Confluence Day, giving me a little time off from work to complete the task.
This year I set as my goal two confluence points along the Illinois – Wisconsin border to be #18 & #19, both of them in residential neighborhoods, and both of them almost threadbare, they’ve been visited so many times before. But each entirely do-able, even in the throes of a Chicago-Milwaukee winter.
However, in truth, for several months, my attention has been more focused on a larger trip we have scheduled for later in the year, in which I plan to walk 1,777 miles from Georgia to visit 44N 72E. If we are successful in making it that far, my wife and I plan to go ahead and walk on into Maine, so we can say we have finished the entire Appalachian Trail in one year. We hope to maintain an online journal to document these adventures, and in preparation, I began posting random thoughts and musings back on January 1st. Assuming we haven’t quit by the time you read this, you’re more than welcome to follow along on the Trail Journals website. I will say that writing a daily blog is far more time consuming than I ever imagined it to be, and mixing that in with trying to tie up some loose ends at work before I start hiking, all of a sudden it was ICD weekend and we were on a plane from Nashville to Chicago-Midway.
With clear roads, beautiful weather, and plenty of time, this was as leisurely a confluence hunt as I have ever made. As the town of Woodstock IL was roughly the midpoint of the hypotenuse of our three confluence point triangular route, we decided to detour for a visit. 2012 marks the 20th anniversary of the filming of the movie “Groundhog Day,” with Woodstock playing the part of Punxsutawney PA, and many of the scenes from the film are still easy to spot as you walk around town, even if local folks hadn’t put up little commemorative bronze plaques all over the city.
We waited too long to contact the Royal Victorian Manor and they had no room available. A private residence in 1992, the building played the “Cherry Street Inn” in the movie, but has since then become a B & B in real life. Talk about a merging of the “reel” and the “real.” We had to settle for a picture taken from the porch. But I digress…
We woke up in nearby Brookfield, found a Starbuck’s en route, and quickly arrived at the intersection of S Buchanan, W Dreyer Pl, and S 70th St in West Allis. The scene looked unchanged since the last report made here three months ago, and the large expected ICD crowd was unfortunately nonexistent. A resident did come out to ask why we were taking pictures. She was well aware of the plaque across the street from the spot (which is visible on googlemaps) placed there by Mrs. Tillison’s reading class in 1973. She said the local elementary still walks classes up from the school to see the plaque each spring. This is the first time I have heard of a locality observing a different date for International Confluence Day. If I could find out when it is, I would like to return to take part.
[I should also report that my wife, who for many years held the record for most incomplete DCP visits without every experiencing success, maintained her recent ICD holiday tradition by staying in the car parked 101 yards away…]
Without any further fanfare, it was time to head south one degree to Illinois, and 42N 88W.