12-Apr-2014 -- As I was in the area for the annual meeting of the Association of American Geographers (AAG), an event that attracted 7,000 geographers, and as I had visited a confluence point for nearly every AAG conference since 2003, including a desert hike to reach a point in Nevada, a bicycle ride to a point outside Washington DC, a drive to a wooded point northeast of Seattle, and other treks to many other locations immediately after the conferences, it was high on my priority all week to somehow visit a confluence while this year's annual meeting took place in Tampa, Florida. I did not have any illusions about breaking away during the conference, as I was quite busy teaching workshops, giving presentations, working in the Esri exhibit, participating in meetings, and learning so much from wonderful long-time colleagues and making new friends from around the world. I knew the only opportunity was to be on the day I left the state.
And so, I left the hotel where I had been staying at 6:00am in a taxi, which left me at the rental car facility at the Tampa International Airport (TPA). It was a bit earlier than the rental car facility actually opened, but by just before 7, I was on my way, looking forward to crossing the mouth of Tampa Bay over a spectacular stayed cable bridge just as the dawn broke, which I filmed and is located here. I then took Interstate Highway 75, thoroughly enjoying my first time in southwest Florida, farther south than I had ever been before, in the state.
After about 90 minutes, I was winding through the streets of Port Charlotte, and Harbour Heights more specifically, although "Heights" was a bit of a misnomer, as all the land here was very near sea level. I drove north on Pinellas Drive, which was a north-south street that was just a few meters east of the 82nd Meridian. I parked a hundred meters or so to the north of where I knew the property containing the confluence lay, gathered supplies, and walked back. As I entered the driveway, I could hear and see a dog barking loudly; I tried to explain my intentions and waved my GPS and sign, to which the landowner responded, but the barking drowned out most of the words on both sides. I promised I would be brief and spent about 7 minutes taking photographs and a video. I found the confluence in the front yard of the house, just south of the driveway, and out of courtesy for the owners, I did not take any photographs of the house. It was a pleasant April morning, about 70 F under a bit of haze and light clouds. It was my farthest south confluence in the northern hemisphere since Costa Rica a decade ago and Puerto Rico in 2009. In all of my travels, I had never before stood on 82 West Longitude, nor on 27 North Latitude, and was grateful to be here.
As I walked back to the vehicle on pavement, I marveled how easy this confluence was, when the odds were greatly in favor of a confluence in southern Florida to be in a marsh or open lake or wetland or tangled woodland, or in some other difficult to reach area. Even a few hundred meters away from this confluence point was laden with all sorts of brambles and soggy ground, not to mention snakes and crocodiles, and other creatures. I really had it quite easy with this one. This one has to rank in my top 10 easiest confluence points; also on this list would be the one in the middle of the road in upstate New York. I even had a coffee a few minutes later from a convenience store on the north end of town, as if to prove how easy it was. It being now only mid-morning, I set my sights on 28 North 82 West, one degree to the north, en route to the Tampa airport. OK, it was not directly on the way, but to a geographer, everything is on the way to everywhere else!