09-Nov-2014 -- As I was in the area supporting the use of geotechnologies in education, including presentations and meetings at Texas Tech University, All Saints' School, and Lubbock Independent School District in Lubbock, a confluence visit seemed like the perfect capstone. After a working meeting at what may have been the all-time most wonderful places for a meeting, the Odessa Meteor Crater, I was too close to the confluence in Midland not to make a run for it. After stopping for my all time favorite coffee--hazelnut, at Pilot Travel Centers, I drove east on I-10, exiting at Texas Highway 307, on the southeast side of Midland.
It is always interesting to me to compare my impressions of an area from a satellite image versus when I am actually in the field. This area was quite a bit more rural than I expected. Adhering to my plan, in part based on helpful prior narratives, I drove northeast on Highway 307, looking carefully for the gravel road I knew I would find between the property lines. I found it, and then drove southeast on this lane to the oil drilling station at the road's end. Parking there, I gathered supplies and quickly set out. I walked on the edge between the alfalfa field to the north and the cotton field to the south, arriving at the confluence in less than 10 minutes.
The confluence lies in an field of - I am not certain - tall alfalfa-like plants - sloping ever so slightly to the south. It is about 20 meters northeast of a large and new oil drilling station. It was late morning in late Fall in the Permian Basin, one of the most studied and most productive oil and natural gas regions of the world. The temperature was a pleasant 65 degrees F under clear skies and a good old west Texas steady wind. It was very bright--that is my clearest impression of this confluence. The tall buildings of downtown Midland were visible to the west. I thought about the Native Americans and settlers who roamed these fields over the past centuries. Today, I saw no people or animals, not even in the large lots that were suitable for horses and sheep here. Over these 12 years of confluence hunting, I had stood on 32 north latitude several times, from Georgia's coast on the east to here in Texas, on the west, at 32 North 98 West, 4 degrees east of here. I had also stood on 102 west longitude several times, from Nebraska on the north to this point in Texas on the south. The last point I had stood on in Texas before this one was in the cotton fields one degree to the north of here. The cotton on the Llano Estacado seemed a world away from these oil-and-croplands in the Permian Basin, although there was a cotton field just to the east of the confluence point.
Sighing, I reflected: I have about 14 Texas confluences now from over 10 years of visits. It was amazing that after 11 years of no visits, this point was visited twice in 2014. I was reluctant to depart the area, but I had a long drive back to the Lubbock airport and hoped to visit one more confluence on the way, one degree north of here and one degree west of here. I consoled myself by making a few videos under the theme "The geography of oil and natural hazards extraction" at the two oil pumping stations, and one video about cotton production.
I walked out the way I had come in, and once my videos were finished, departed the area. The neighborhood is characterized by houses on long and large lots, with grazing, farming, and energy extraction predominating as land use. Upon reaching the main road, I drove east on Highway 307 to County Road 1130, then north on a new bypass (Highway 250) around Midland, crossing I-10 and continuing northwesterly, bound, I hoped, for a successful visit to 33 North 101 West. Would I make it and still make my flight out of Lubbock? At this point, I did not know, but I was grateful for the opportunity to be out in the field!