02-Mar-2013 -- As I was in the area to give presentations and meet with students and faculty at Kansas State University, Haskell Indian Nations University, and the University of Kansas, a confluence visit seemed like the perfect capstone, the last thing to do before heading for the airport and leaving the region. It required driving a bit north of the Kansas City airport to reach, but I had a small window of time in which to do it and was hopeful that I would reach my goal.
I suppose the lack of a road name on most online maps should have clued me in to the fact that the road I would be passing over was not in an ideal condition for a rental car. Compounding the situation was the fact that the area had received two significant snowfalls over the past week. I passed St Joseph Missouri and exited I-29 just north of the Honey Creek Recreation Area, intending to take the frontage road to the northwest. The road was completely snowed under and had not been plowed. Therefore, I struck out due north on a very hilly road, which fortunately at least had been driven on since the snow had fallen. It was quite muddy and slippery, but I made my way without mishap to the next section line road running east-west, also unnamed. I headed west on it until it curved to the north at the next section line. So far, all was well, though I was losing precious time by driving so slowly. After a few snowy but scenic miles, I descended a steep hill into the Lincoln Creek valley, hoping I would be able to drive up and out of the valley a short time later.
I parked just south of the bridge over Lincoln Creek and made haste to gather necessary supplies: GPS receiver, camera, batteries, confluence sign. Fortunately I had remembered to wear my non-work shoes. I had just begun to walk north along the road when a truck approached from the south, coming down the hill. A nice fellow leaned out the window and asked if I was having car trouble and if I needed any help. I explained my mission and asked if he owned the field to the west. He said no but that the owner wouldn't mind me walking out there. He then became quite interested in what I was doing. I showed him the GPS, with its reading so close to 40 North. As we talked, I began to walk north, explaining that we would soon be at 40 North, and he followed at my side. It would have been kind of amusing to someone observing us right then, with me walking along and approaching 40 North latitude with him right beside me, driving slowly. We reached 40, he drove off and waved, and I walked back south to the trail paralleling the creek. The reason was that I thought my footing would be better on the trail rather than in the middle of the field. It would require a bit more walking, but I thought it would save time in the end. It turned out that I was right.
After about 20 minutes walking west and west-southwest along the north side of the creek, with snowdrifts up to my knees in places, I reached the west end of the field, and had crossed the 95th Meridian. I then descended off of the embankment into the field and experienced more snow and mud, but the day was just breaking out of a high cloud cover and it was not too cold; about 25 F (-4 C). In five minutes, I was at the confluence site. The field had been sown with corn in the past, and a few old cobs were poking through the snow, which was only about 6 inches (15 cm) high where the wind had been blowing on it. I was on the confluence site for 10 minutes, marveling at how just west of me, this line of latitude marked the Kansas-Nebraska border. The confluence lies in the middle of the valley north of Lincoln Creek. The longest view was to the northwest and to the east, with the shortest to the south and the embankment and trees in the riparian zone beyond. I saw no people or wildlife.
I had stood on 40 North from California on the west to New Jersey on the east. I had stood on 95 west fewer times over the past 11 years, just twice before, in Iowa one degree north of here, and in Kansas one degree south of here. I was glad to be here, and as is typical on these visits, the sun came out just as I had finished photographing the area. No time to retake these; I tried to skip over the snow as fast as I could back to the embankment and back to the road and vehicle. My total round trip hiking time came in at about an hour. I made it out of the area without incident, the way I had come in, and did not stop until I was at the Kansas City airport. It was indeed a great day to be out in the field, and I hoped that I would return to Missouri someday.