30-Aug-2013 -- I hereby dub this confluence point "The Field of Sneezes." I had visited 3 confluences on this day and was hoping to achieve 37 North 101 West before dark. I drove into Liberal Kansas from points west, entering town from the north side on US Highway 83, then on the eastern bypass, and driving almost completely around the city to emerge on the southwest side. All of this required over 30 minutes with surprisingly heavy traffic, and the sun was sinking lower. Would I make the confluence before dark? I would have rather stopped for a nice cool drink, as my car has no air conditioning and it was incredibly hot, about 105 F here in late summer. But my spirits lifted as I was on US Highway 54, heading southwest and nearing my goal.
I exited the highway and drove southwest along the Old US 54, approaching the confluence point. However, the road dead-ended with still over a mile to walk. I then got back on the new US 54, which had been improved to a limited access four lane highway here, and continued southwest. I crossed the 101st Meridian. Where could I pull over? This stretch of highway was the first stretch that people who have endured the long traffic lights in Liberal were finally "free." I could sense everyone gunning their engines here and therefore parking was out of the question. Just when I feared parking a long ways off and facing a long hike in the heat, I spied a two lane stretch of road that looked like it had been built in anticipation of the expansion of the highway from the 4 lanes near Liberal on into Oklahoma. The lanes dead-ended but were very near the existing road. Therefore, I made a very careful U-Turn so that I faced northeast. Then when the traffic was clear, I backed up 100 meters so that I was parked on the dead-end lane. Nobody was on this lane, so I felt OK leaving my car there for a short time. Now having a plan, I quickly gathered supplies and set off. It was not easy crossing the highway on foot, but I took great care and was soon stumbling down the ravine and over the railroad track to the north. Adjacent to the railroad was a jumble of thorns and tumbleweeds, and I hoped I made enough thrashing around the underbrush to disperse any snakes that might be lying about.
It was at this point where the sneezing began. I thought at first it was due to the weeds near the railroad, but it continued up the hill, over the meadow to the north, and remained as I tacked to the northeast. I reached the end of one field and crossed into the next. I crested a small ridge that had a great view of the setting sun, which I would have enjoyed more had it not been for the sneezing. After about a 20 minute walk, I neared the confluence point and had no problem zeroing out the GPS receiver given the wide open skies and no trees or buildings to obstruct the signals.
I found the confluence on the east side of the ridge, but still on fairly high ground compared to the surrounding terrain. Despite the lateness of the day, the temperature was still over 100 F (104, I would verify later). The skies were clear and the wind was mercifully fairly light for this part of the country. I felt honored to be here, 8 years after the previous visitor. I had stood on 37 North in California, Missouri, Arizona, Colorado, and over in Tunisia, and to 101 West from North Dakota to just one degree north of here, in Kansas. This was my first time at 37 North 101 West. I spent about 15 minutes on the site, taking videos and photographs, and enjoying the view. I took a different route back to the vehicle, heading due north to the highway and crossing there. It was no easier, and I had to take care with the strands of barbed wire lying about. Still, it was overall one of the easier treks I had taken. After 20 minutes, I arrived back at my vehicle that was thankfully still there, roasting in the sun. I was able to find a state park, Meade, not far away, via my phone, where I could camp and with any luck, even have a shower. It turned out to be a beautiful place to camp, and I made it there before sundown.
There are many confluences I have visited that I would like to return to for their peace, or their beauty. I wish the next person fewer sneezes and safe journeys.