It’s been awhile since I’ve given much thought to the Degree Confluence Project. I featured them in the earlier days of the Twelve Mile Circle, nearly three years ago as I recall. The project has its roots in a time before the complete ubiquity of the Internet, when the web was still capturing public attention and solidifying its potential, when people connected through screeching dial-up modems on telephone lines, when AOL was cutting-edge, and websites were simple and clean so they could be downloaded with limited bandwidth. Indeed, the Degree Confluence Project celebrates its 15th anniversary in 2011. It has a rather elegant premise: "to visit each of the latitude and longitude integer degree intersections in the world, and to take pictures at each location." The project has a single unified purpose and it performs its mission stunningly well. Maybe too well.
I stopped by occasionally to read the latest stories. I noticed that new conquests become more distant and exotic as the years passed. The United States tapped-out long ago except for confluences over water or extreme spots in Alaska and the like. The same can be said for most other nations with even a modicum of infrastructure. North Korea continues to provide plenty of opportunities for exploration, but little other virgin territory remains. Modern-day fortune seekers have picked the confluence bones clean. Places like the 45×90 spot were cliché by the time I arrived.
That’s abundantly true for my tiny corner of the world. The four closest confluences that circle my home are 39°N 78°W, 38°N 78°W, 38°N 77°W, and 39°WN 77°WW. Every one of them has been visited and recorded multiple times. The fourth confluence is an apartment complex in suburban Maryland just outside of the Washington, DC. There’s little challenge left.
I figured I’d let someone else worry about the 1990’s look-and-feel of the website. I focused on content and wondered if I could I rejuvenate some of the original spirit and excitement. I came up with a concept I’ll call the Bull’s Eye.
View Bull’s Eye in a larger map
I drew a box around my four home integer confluences. I placed a dot in the center like the bull’s eye on a target. I suppose this could be termed a half-integer confluence (38.5°N 77.5°W), however I figured the bull’s eye sounded more attractive. It’s the same thing of course, but it’s all in the marketing approach. Whatever someone wants to call it, this new reckoning creates an entirely separate set of places to visit, catalog and photograph.
I hit the search engines to see if anyone else had ever proposed or pursued half-confluence adventures and I found nothing. That has to be due to my lack of searching skills. I can’t believe this is an original notion so I’ll gladly offer proper credit to the true originator should someone provide a link to anywhere this has been proposed previously.
With that caveat, let’s pluck an arrow from our quiver and pierce my nearest bull’s eye.
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That’s a bit distressing. My bull’s eye seems to fall within the boundaries of Marine Corps Base Quantico. Citizens can get onto the base — after all the residents of the Ultimate Gated Community need to be able to reach their homes — however that’s a bit different than traipsing through the woods in search of a specific spot. Imagine trying to justify the half integer confluence concept to skeptical military police officers while seeking permission to enter.
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Still, it’s tempting. I’m guessing the bull’s eye is no more than 200 feet east of Garrisonville Road. A quick dash into the woods could reach the spot, return and drive away before anyone ever noticed. On the other hand, I’m not sure I’d want to start measuring the curtains for my new vacation home in Guantanamo Bay either.
What is your nearest bull’s eye? Is it a better option?