09-Mar-1998 -- I was planning a trip to Portland, Oregon for early March 1998 to visit my husband who was there on business for two weeks. I decided I wanted to take the opportunity to visit my first
Degree Confluence also -- we'd gotten a camera for the honeymoon and I'd have a rental car while
I was there. So, I looked at the Rand McNally road atlas for North America to see where the
closest confluences to Portland were. I found that Portland was about equidistant from four
points, 46°N 123°W, 46°N 122°W, 45°N 122°W, and 45°N 123°W. The two locations east of Portland
looked like they were in the Cascades, so I ruled them out. I didn't want to go mountain
climbing on my first visit to a Degree Confluence.
Not having a GPS and not caring to obtain one at this point, I decided to use USGS
topographic maps to locate the spot on the Earth's surface. I asked my husband before I left
home if he knew of any stores in Portland that might sell these maps ... it is usually easiest to
look for them in the same region that the maps cover; there are too many to expect a store in
the Capital Region of New York State to have what I wanted. Herald said there was a store that
might have them.
So, on Friday, March 6, 1998, I visited Nature of the Northwest,
(http://www.naturenw.org), where I told a nice employee,
Don, about my quest to visit a Degree Confluence. Looking at maps there, I ruled out 46N x 123W,
which is also in the mountains, rather near St. Helens. Each Degree Confluence in the United
States will have four USGS topo maps for nearby terrain, as one corner of each map will be on
the confluence. I decided to just get two of the four maps adjacent to 45N x 123W, which appeared
to be very near I-5, just north of Salem. I also bought a topographic atlas of Oregon which had
latitudes and longitudes marked.
The Visit - March 9, 1998
I inquired among my friends in Portland for a traveling companion -- I figured it would be
easier if there were at least two people involved so they could take pictures of each other. My
friend Suzanne Raymond wanted to come along with me, and she helped navigate. She turned out to
be a good navigator. We stopped our conversation as we approached Salem, looking for a sign Don
had told me might be on I-5 that marked 45 degrees north. Don had thought it wasn't entirely
accurate, but I wanted a picture to include with the rest from the trip. We did find a highway
sign marking the 45th parallel, on Oregon 99E as we circled around the goal.
Looking at the USGS maps, I realized that their corners are actually slightly offset from the
confluences, and neither of the two I'd gotten actually showed 45N, 123W. It appeared to be
very close to or even on I-5, but I didn't want to pull over on the shoulder to look for it.
Instead, we drove around Keizer, a suburb of Salem, and found a parking lot near the
confluence. We indulged in some mild trespassing, walking down railroad tracks that the map
showed were near the confluence and climbing up a small embankment into a grassy area. We were
just on the other side of a chain-link fence from I-5. I consulted the map to try to determine
which way the confluence was from the grassy area. The best I could tell, it was in the area
near I-5, or maybe right on I-5 to the east of us. We took pictures in all directions,
including up and down, and went back to Portland.