28-Feb-2013 -- As I was in the region to conduct presentations and to meet with educators about GIS in education at Kansas State University, Haskell Indian Nations University, and the University of Kansas, I thought a confluence visit would be the perfect addendum to such a geospatial few days. I had just finished my presentations and meetings at Kansas State University and now it was nearly 5:00pm. It had been a great day and I was very impressed with the state of GIS on campus and the enthusiasm and expertise of everyone involved. However, now the day was drawing to an end. So, as is often the case with my visits, the major question now loomed: Would I have enough daylight to make the visit? And would the roads near the confluence be passable given the previous week’s snowstorms?
After a nice walk through the Kansas State University campus, and then through downtown Manhattan, I departed the city, driving southwest on State Highway 18 and then west on I-70 past Fort Riley. I did not stop until I reached the landscape near the confluence point. I drove on the interstate highway to the Chapman exit and proceeded north on North Marshall Street. All indications were positive that the daylight would be enough for a visit, this being nearly March now and two months past the winter solstice, despite the wintry conditions outside. It was, however, a gray and gloomy day. And, as is most often the case with these visits, anything could happen. I drove north to 2800 Ave, which was a section line road, and then east. The roads were in fairly decent shape, snowy and muddy, but passable. However, as I neared the intersection with Red Road, I was in for a shock: The road straight ahead that I had intended to drive on was little more than a track suitable only for a four wheel drive vehicle or a tractor. A bad decision now could mean nightfall and a missed confluence opportunity.
Therefore, I quickly decided to drive south on Red Road and approach the confluence from the south. I drove south, to the point where the road went underneath I-70, which was a big puddle but passable, to 2650 Ave, east to Sage Road, and then north, back over I-70 this time, to just north of 39 North. I parked on the side of the road, careful not to get too far onto the muddy shoulder. After surveying the field to the east, which was a sea of mud, I stopped for a few precious minutes to change out of my work shoes. That was a smart move. I got out supplies and also my hat and gloves, as the temperature was about 20 F with a fairly stiff breeze.
As I walked along to the east and then south through the field of corn, my shoes became heavier and heavier with mud. However, it was quite an enjoyable hike and the total distance was only a few hundred meters at most. I had no difficulty finding satellites. I saw a few birds but no animals and no people. It was the last afternoon of February and the month was departing with gloom and cold. Still, it was great to be here. I had been to 39 North probably more than any other single line of latitude in my confluence treks, but somehow had missed 39 North 97 in my previous treks across Kansas, and therefore it was good to be here. I had been to 97 West from Nebraska to the north to Texas to the south. I spent about 15 minutes on site taking photographs and a video. I particularly enjoyed getting up close and personal with the corn, mud, and snow. This point was long overdue (12 years) for a revisit and I was pleased to perform said duties. It is quite easy to reach and I was amazed that only one other visitor had been here.
Next, I walked out due west so I could complete a "circle" as I am fond of doing, and then along the road north to the vehicle. I then made some airplane reservations on the phone out here, which took about 45 minutes, and that meant that I didn't leave the confluence area until after dark. What a world, I reflected: I was on the phone booking international travel while adjacent to a cornfield in Kansas. I then drove out the way I came without incident, and made my way to my next stops: Lawrence, Kansas: The University of Kansas and Haskell Indian Nations University. It was a great evening out here on the landscape!