03-Jul-2000 -- Now, every time I take a trip, I check out the US
Census Bureau's Tiger Mapping
Service (I'm not a member of the US government, just a satisfied customer
(at least in this case)) to see if there's a confluence anywhere reasonably close
to the route. I've now got a "confluence pack" consisting of the
GPS, digital camera, compass, and lots of water.
On to the relevant stuff, though. We'd gone from Raleigh, NC to visit relatives
staying in Roanoke, VA. A quick check of the maps revealed this little gem less
than 10 miles off of US 220. A more thorough check of the other maps and
photos revealed a steep, densly wooded hill surrounded by private property for at
least a quarter mile. Would we be able to get this one?
I checked Mapblast for
driving directions. Mapblast claimed there were roads leading all the way there,
with a "Countryside Lane" dropping us virtually on top of the spot.
Following the maps, we motored through southwestern Virginia. It's a very hilly
region, with little state roads snaking all over the rural areas. The land was equal
parts farm and forest, with a few houses clinging to the roads thrown in for good
measure. We made the second to last turn, and started looking for Countryside
Lane. All we saw were gravel driveways. Still resolved to carry this through, we
turned around and headed back down 736. There it was! The sign had been
obscured from the other direction, and without the sign, the road looked like
just another gravel driveway. We turned up Countryside Lane.
The end of Countryside Lane turned out to be someone's driveway, but the
shortest distance to the confluence had passed by just before that, so we parked
on the lane proper and changed into our hiking boots. A steep incline awaited us
on the side of the road. The GPS claimed we were just at the 100 meter mark.
We dove into the forest and started hiking up the hill. Alerted by the noise, a
local dog started barking. He would continue barking until we left. We found a
used shotgun shell. About 30 meteres up the hill, it became apparent that we had
to either call it close enough, or jump the fence and try and get right on top of it.
Because of the dog, the shell casing, the heat, the fence, and the fact that we
were close enough; we called the spot good and snapped some pictures. The
only real bummer was that the thickness of the canopy prevented a good view
of the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains.
Back at the bottom of the hill, we did a quick check for ticks. We found none
(which was later amended to one that decided to start crawling up my leg while I
was driving). Finished for the day, we said goodbye to the barking dog and
headed back to North Carolina.