02-Nov-2003 -- I, Joseph Kerski, Geographer from Colorado USA, pilgrimaged to Latitude 36 degrees North, Longitude 80 degrees West on a warm autumn Sunday morning. As I was teaching a workshop on mapping, geography, and GPS during the same week at the annual conference of the National Indian Education Association in Greensboro, a confluence visit seemed the perfect fit. This North Carolina confluence would prove to be the easiest trek I have ever experienced. It was a good salve to the
disappointment that I still felt from my five hour tramp through a salt marsh in Utah USA a month earlier in a failed confluence attempt.
I departed my hotel in Greensboro for the confluence site at 7:07 am local time, driving south along Wendover Avenue from Interstate Highway 40 at Greensboro. Along this stretch of road from Greensboro to High Point, North Carolina, suburbanization has nearly engulfed all vestiges of the beautiful rolling piedmont terrain. Office
buildings and housing were popping up in earnest, with For Sale signs abundant in the few remaining lots with older homes and farms. The piedmont has been urbanizing rapidly for decades, and this Greensboro, High Point, Winston-Salem area is one of the focal points for that growth. One of the prominent new features just north of the confluence is the new limited-access highway bypass, US Highway 311. I turned south on Eastchester Drive, north on Centennial Street, and then right into the Watermark at Oak Hollow townhome development.
The development was a pleasant one containing six or seven well-kept units per building, with approximately 20 buildings in all. I drove to the end of the street and
stopped in a guest parking spot. The morning was a perfect 29 degrees C, calm, and clear. I found myself enjoying the summer-like conditions--I had arrived in the region the previous day from Colorado, which was experiencing its first cold snap of the season. I walked due west between the two northwesternmost buildings in the housing development, down the lawn, and paused to admire the beautiful view. A tranquil lake--actually an arm of the Deep River Reservoir--to the northwest was framed by trees and beautiful vines, many of which were in full autumn color. I quickly became wet after tramping through the ground cover of vines and grasses, rounded the dead tree and stump identified by the previous visitor, and
found myself face to face with the confluence at approximately 8:10am.
The confluence lies very close to a broken tree stump, about 40 meters west of the nearest townhome. It is on a gentle slope that angles down to the northwest. The site
is on a mat of vines and grasses that overlay broken trees and twigs, making stepping a bit difficult. Trees of white ash, red maple, and white oak were choked with vines, possibly an invasive species such as kudzu. I startled a rabbit doing the confluence dance and heard beautiful songs from birds visiting the lake. It is rather interesting
to compare my photographs with those taken by the late December visitor, especially in the vegetation.
There is something extra special about visiting a "ten-degree" confluence. With this North Carolina confluence, I have now visited 80 west, 90 west, and 100 west. I have also trekked to two other confluences at this (36 North)
latitude--in New Mexico, 25 degrees west of this spot, and in Nevada, 35 degrees west of this spot. Both were desert landscapes, markedly different from this damp and lush
piedmont environment. I spent about 15 minutes at the site, not as much time as I would have liked, given the beauty and peace of the setting. However, I needed to go
to work at the conference to my post in the information exhibit for the US Geological Survey . As I was leaving, I spoke briefly with a resident, a county building inspector, who was exercising his two dogs, and told him the significance of his "backyard." I walked back to the vehicle and
retraced my route back to Greensboro, arriving at the conference at 8:50am. The confluence visit was a wonderful way to start the day.