08-Nov-2014 -- As I was in the area supporting the use of geotechnologies in education, including presentations and meetings at Texas Tech University, All Souls' School, and Lubbock Independent School District in Lubbock, a confluence visit seemed like the perfect capstone. After working for three hours on a Saturday morning in the hotel, I departed, visiting the Buddy Holly statue for the last time, and having an excellent conversation with one of the owners at KDAV radio, where Buddy had a job during the 1950s.
Driving south on US Highway 87 from Lubbock, through the cotton fields, I turned west on State Highway 213. KDAV was playing Fats Domino on the radio. I imagined that Buddy himself may have been driving on these same roads nearly 60 years ago, listening to Fats on the radio.
I kept close watch on the GPS as the longitude approached 102 degrees West. It is always interesting for me as a geographer to travel new roads, and this area held a special fascination, as it is on the boundary between the land grid surveyed to the cardinal directions, to the north of the road, and the land grid surveyed in an offset, or tilted, direction, to the south of the road. Look at the map of this area and you will see what I mean. For more, read Dr Hubbard's excellent book "American Boundaries" about boundaries and surveying and mapping.
At Edward Road, just 100 meters shy of 102 degrees west, I turned right onto the dirt road, then made a U-turn so I would be facing south. Gathering a few supplies, I set off, with the GPS giving a distance of 2.75 km or so (about 1.71 miles) to the confluence. I decided to bring my coat just in case but it was already warm, so I tied it around my waist. Crossing the road I had just traveled on and continuing on due south onto the dirt track, I was soon glad that I had not tried to drive on this particular road. Yes, it shows up as a road on most digital maps of the area. However, a bridge was washed out less than 40 meters down the track, and there was no way that a standard vehicle would have made it through the mud and sand there or anywhere. An enormous field of milo grazed by cattle was on my left with an equally enormous cotton field to my right. I was growing a bit weary but pressed on. I came to an east west "road" marked as Road 34 on the maps of the area, and continued due south. About 250 meters from the confluence point, the north-south track curved to the west, and a short time later, I was standing on 102 west longitude. I stepped onto the uncultivated field to the south, watching for snakes and cactus, and after some sidestepping of large and thorny shrubs, arrived at the confluence a few minutes later.
The confluence is on flat ground, no more than 15 meters south of the east-west track, with good views despite the flat terrain in all directions but especially to the southeast, where the Llano Estacado was beginning to drop off in elevation into the Permian Basin. It was a pleasant 58 degrees F (14 C) under sunny skies with a typical west Texas wind blowing. I was glad to be here, and amazed that the point had not been visited in so many years. I had been to 32 north latitude several times, from Texas on the west to a boat dock in Georgia on the east. I had also stood on 102 West Longitude several times in the past, from Nebraska on the north to the Kansas-Oklahoma border on the south. This was my first confluence point in West Texas, although perhaps 30 North 100 West that I visited a decade ago might "count" as well. It was great to get another point in Texas, my first since my trek 8 months before to 32 North 98 West. Now, I had a nice tidy collection of at least 10 confluences in Texas. I stood on the point for about 20 minutes, not wanting to leave, but had a fair sized walk back to the vehicle. I saw no people and few birds the entire time. On the way back, I made some videos of the cotton fields and the cattle, including one animal that got a leg stuck in the fence for several tense seconds. All in all, I feel that I selected the best route and method of attaining this point.
I arrived back at the vehicle a bit windblown but grateful for the opportunity to be in the field. The total hike time came in at just about two hours. I then drove west on 213 a few more miles, and then south on Highway 179 road to Lamesa, and then on to see some wonderful friends and colleagues in Midland. It was indeed great to get out onto the landscape!