microconfluence


I’ve been learning to ride a motorcycle for about a year now. Lately, that’s looked like taking my youngest brother’s old dirt bike out to find microconfluences.* This gives me a reason to take longer and longer rides from home, and takes me to spots I wouldn’t have thought of to go. Each of the following three that I found last week took me on the longest ride of my life so far.

They turned out to be on Sunny Sands Drive, the road I used to live on with family friends, the Murdys, when my family moved back to Joshua Tree in the early 1980s. The first microconfluence was so close to their house that I dropped by for a visit, but they weren’t home. It was just off Sunny Sands and Border Avenue:

Sunny Sands Drive. I used to spend evenings on this road with my friend, Chad, as a kid, playing "Don't Break the World," AKA trying to tunnel through big dirt clods without breaking them.

Sunny Sands Drive. I used to spend evenings on this road with my friend, Chad, as a kid, playing “Don’t Break the World,” AKA trying to tunnel through big dirt clods without breaking them.

This was as close as I wanted to get to the spot (34.2x-116.3 or N 34 12′ x W 116 18′), as it was in the driveway of this house. It’s about 200 feet directly in front of me in this photo. You can see the Bartlett Mountains in the background, AKA Rollie‘s Mountain.

The next was east on Sunny Sands all the way into Sunfair, which is technically a neighborhood of Joshua Tree, though we all tend to think of it as it’s own place.

This is looking down into Sunfair from the north tip of the Bunker Mountains. Sunny Sands is the road heading off into the east. The microconfluence is close to where Sunny Sands ends.

This is looking down into Sunfair from the north tip of the Bunker Mountains. Sunny Sands is the road heading off into the east. The microconfluence is close to where Sunny Sands ends. You can see the dry lake to the right, where all the washes in the area empty to. You could call our valley the Sunfair Dry Lake Drainage Basin.

 

The spot, 34.2 x -116.25, or N34 12' x W116 15'

The spot, 34.2 x -116.25, or N34 12′ x W116 15′. The closest mountain is Bunker Mountain. To the right of that is Bartlett Mountain. Beyond them to the left are mountains in Joshua Tree National Park. I believe these are called the Little San Bernardino Mountains. Behind them, just left of center, you can see the peak of San Jacinto Mountain. Reanna and I just took the tram up there last week.

Pano from the spot

Pano from the spot

Screenshot from Maps With Me

The third spot was technically not on Sunny Sands, because of a weird jog in the road. It was on Fairmont:

Looking west towards the spot.

Looking west towards the spot. You can see Pipe’s Canyon, the gap in the mesa in the distance, and the San Bernardino Mountains beyond that, with San Gorgonio. Big Bear and Big Bear Lake are up in those mountains.

You don't want to get too close to people's property in north Joshua Tree. They are probably nice but may have a gun and might not like you taking a photo of their yard. The spot is just outside their fence.

34.2 x -116.35 (N 34 12′ x W 116 21′) is about 100 feet into the desert across the street. You don’t want to get too close to people’s property in north Joshua Tree. They are probably nice but may have a gun and might not like you taking a photo of their yard.

Pano from the spot

Pano from the spot

Screenshot with Maps With Me

Screenshot with Maps With Me

 

*As defined by Charlie Lloyd, a microconfluence is a spot with latitude and longitude even at 100ths of a degree. I’ve been finding microconfluences which are also even at minutes of latitude, which I think of as “minute-microconfluences.” This puts them a few miles apart at my latitude. Links to my microconfluence adventures are here.

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I was in the gym after work on Thursday and realized I’d rather be hiking. I decided to find the minute-microconfluence nearest the entrance of Joshua Tree National Park, which turns out to be N34 6′ x W116 15′ or 34.10 x -116.25. (Altimeter seems to be broken most of the time these days, so I downloaded DMS converter between DMS and decimal coordinates.)

It looked about a mile from the park entrance parking lot, so I parked and headed northeast through open desert from there–an area I’d never walked through.

I got some great vistas on the way.

Sunfair dry lake through a notch

I was impressed with how every patch of soft sand was filled with tracks.

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I thought this trek was taking me over ground people don’t really go, which may be true. The spot, though, turned out to be a few feet from Burro Loop Trail, which I would definitely take over the through-the-desert approach next time.

The area

The area

The spot

The spot

Panorama from the spot

Panorama from the spot

The coordinates on Maps With Me

The coordinates on Maps With Me*

And a couple hundred feet down the trail right next to the spot:

 

On Maps With Me I found I could put a bookmark on the coordinates I was looking for and then get a direction and distance indicator that led me eventually to the spot. It was good enough to be useful.

Reanna and I took a drive into JT National Park after work today, to see the wildflowers before she leaves for a natural building workshop at Quail Springs Permaculture. We parked along the road and hiked a few minutes south to see a microconfluence. It ended up being a fair scramble, too, 3/4 of the way up the pile of rocks behind Reanna here:

pano

It was a bigger challenge to find the exact spot up on steep rocks than in previous, flat spots (here, here, here & here), because of the climbing and being a bit out of breath, but more fun, too. Here’s the spot:

microconfluenceAnd the view from the spot:

pano from microconfluence

And the proof according to Altimeter and Maps With Me:

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photo 4

 

I drove to a nearby microconfluence today, on my lunch break. (Others here, here, and here.) It was beautiful. It’s just north of Rincon and east of Quail Springs in Joshua Tree:

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photo (4)

The area

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The spot

Last week I realized that I’ve been working near a latitude and longitude microconfluence in Twentynine Palms, so I walked over to it on my lunch break.

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Screen shot of Altimeter app

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Screen shot from Maps With Me, showing metric coordinates

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And the microconfluence itself

The spot is in the front yard of a house on the southwest corner of Two Mile Road and Aztec Avenue. You can see the yard through a gap in the “hedge” that I’m shooting through, with a concrete U driveway on the other side of that awesome cinderblock wall.

The funny thing about this adventure was that it took finding three microconfluences on Two Mile Road (the first two are here and here) before realizing that Two Mile Road is right on 34.15 degrees north latitude (34 9′ 0″) all the way from Joshua Tree into Twentynine Palms, even though the road doesn’t go through. (Copper Mountain is in the way.) I didn’t expect such consistency from early Morongo Basin road builders. I see that I can find three more microconfluences just by following the line of Two Mile Road between Joshua Tree and Twentynine Palms, probably climbing part of Copper Mountain in the process.

The purple dots are microconfluences. From left to right, Joshua Tree, Sunfair, Twentynine Palms.

The purple dots are microconfluences. From left to right, Joshua Tree, Sunfair, Twentynine Palms.

The same basic area on Google Maps. JT National Park is south of the highway, Copper Mountain to the north in the middle. Two Mile Road is not paved in JT, so it's hard to see.

The same basic area on Google Maps. JT National Park is south of the highway, Copper Mountain to the north in the middle. Two Mile Road is not paved in JT, so it’s hard to see. I think you can click on this image to see it bigger.

I took the dirt bike out to find my second microconfluence this afternoon. (See my post about the first here and about Charlie Loyd’s proposal of the idea here.) I’ve decided to go after what I’m thinking of as “minute-microconfluences,” which are microconfluences as defined by Charlie (decimal degrees at the hundredths) and also intersections of minute-lines of longitude and latitude. This is partly because they are farther apart and so feel slightly more… well, rare if not important, but mostly because the app I have that reads latitude and longitude in real time does so in the minute-second version. Perhaps this will offend metric purists, but I guess it would be nice to write something important enough to metric purists to cause offense.

I found it just north of Two Mile Road and just east of the cement factory. To the north and east were Sunfair Airport and Sunfair Road, respectively.

34o9' altimeterphoto-4

I found that my minute-second reading app and my decimal reading app disagreed a bit with each other, so I took photos of a fairly large area to be sure I had the actual spot shown:

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Looking just north of west over the spot

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Looking just west of north over the spot. Concrete debris in the background is the north end of the cement factory.

sunset 2014 01 04

The sunset heading home was the best part.

I photographed my first microconfluence today. You may be familiar with the Degree Confluence Project, where people take photos of  the meeting point of lines of latitude and longitude along with the story of finding it.

Charlie Loyd created the microconfluence because he wanted to take part, but all the full degree confluences near him had already been photographed. Microconfluence points (if I’m understanding him correctly) are at the meeting points of 1/100s of latitude and longitude, which are something like 2/3 mile apart. (Distances vary, of course, because the grid is on a curved surface.)

The degree confluences near Joshua Tree have also already been photographed, so I also liked the idea of microconfluences. (Plus, it reminds me of Ethan Mitchell’s blog about finding state border confluences.) Charlie was kind enough to make me a web-based app for it, so I knew one was a few blocks away. I was out on my dirt bike today and found it. I used a different app, called Altimeter, because I pay for phone and data by the datum (and pay way less per month because of it) :

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Then I realized that Charlie was talking about decimal coordinates, not the “minute-second” coordinates that Altimeter uses. Luckily, it turns out that microconfluences with minute coordinates divisible by three are also decimal microconfluences. This is from Maps With Me:

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And here’s the piece of dirt. The tire track on the left is the west edge of Border Avenue, a bit north of Two Mile Road. The little bush is a creosote.  Anti-climactic, you say? Maybe I should mark the spot with a monument of some sort.

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