15-Oct-2000 -- Warm and sunny, Saturday, October 15, 2000 was a classic
"Indian summer" autumn day in mid-Michigan. What better day to mount the Mighty Red
Confluence Explorer (a.k.a. my red ’88 BMW K75S motorcycle) and seek out and document the
exact site of 43° N, 85° W. So, gathering my borrowed Magellan GPS and camera, I hopped on to
and fired up my steed and headed out.
What a great day to ride! It was more like summer than fall, with lots of bright sunshine and warm
temps, up in the mid-70s. Whenever I ride, and time and opportunity permit, I travel the back roads.
This day was perfect for back roading. Departing home in Williamston, MI, I dodged around the north
of the Lansing metropolitan area and picked up Grand River, the "old US 16." Back before
Interstate 94 was constructed, Grand River, then highway US 16, ran across Michigan from Detroit
all the way over to Muskegon. The road in fact date back to Michigan's pioneering days, when it
was known as Grand River Trail. Much of the old US 16 remains, and provides a pleasant trip
through mid-Michigan's land and history.
I rode Grand River all the way through Portland, where approximately 2 miles west of town I
turned north on a county road to take me up Lyons. This is a straight shot north though Michigan
farm land. At Lyons I turned west on to Riverside Drive, which wends gently a mile or two south of
the Grand River. Just southeast of Ionia I turned north again onto a road which has a bridge
crossing the Grand River. Crossing the river placed me on the eastern edge of Ionia. A few turns
and short stretches placed me on Michigan highway 21, heading eastbound and less than 3
miles from the confluence of 43° N, 85° W.
Having done my preparation before embarking, I knew pretty closely where the confluence
was located. The maps showed that the 43° N latitude line was just 500' or so south of M-21
where the 85° W longitude line crossed the road. With the GPS on and displaying through the
top window of my tank bag I approached, then intersected 85° W. How convenient -- just past
this location was a small two-track turn off alongside the road, perfect for pulling the bike over
and parking. Dismounting and using the GPS I walked the short distance out in to open field
to the confluence.
It was a spot that was very representative of the surrounding land. Located in the gently
rolling land which formed the northern part of the Grand River valley (the confluence is only a
mile north of the Grand River), the spot was surrounded by open meadow, an adjoining farm
and a corn field. I snapped my four cardinal direction pictures, plus a picture of the GPS and
another shot of the parked Mighty Red Confluence Explorer to document my visit.
Mounting back up on the bike, I continued east on M-21, winding my east and south
though Westphalia, then a ride eastbound over winding Price Rd. east of US 27, south on
Shepardsville Rd. and east again Round Lake Rd., finally returning home.
So ended my first confluence visit, and it hardly could have been better. Great weather,
a fine ride, and a confluence location which was very much a sample of the land where it