15-Jun-2005 -- I belong to Rotary International, an organization of 1.2 million members dedicated to community service throughout the world. When I heard that RI would celebrate its 100th anniversary this year with a convention in Chicago, Illinois, I knew it was time for a road trip. Of course, a confluence visit would be required somewhere along the way.
I contacted fellow Rotarian and confluence hunter Bill Fee to join me and plan the route. We decided to make a stop in Meade, Kansas, where Bill’s grandfather had practiced medicine in the early 20th Century. I was pleased to find that 37N 101W was nearby and unvisited since 2001.
In this part of the world, everywhere you look there are wheat fields and I was not surprised to hear that the State of Kansas is the largest producer of wheat in the US, averaging 22 billion pounds (10.2 million metric tons) per year. This is about 20% of the nation’s output; about half of it is exported. Another industry here is beef processing and there is a large plant in nearby Liberal, Kansas. The name Liberal is not related to politics, but was derived from the town founder’s practice of giving free water to passing travelers in the 1870’s. In Liberal you can see a replica of Dorothy’s house from the Wizard of Oz and visit the fifth largest air museum in the US.
After a long day’s drive we arrived at the confluence site which is located just 354 meters WNW of where US Highway 54 crosses the Oklahoma/Kansas border. We were immediately joined by hordes of mosquitoes looking for an evening meal. We beat a hasty retreat to the car and then to Meade, where we bought some insect repellant and spent the night. We returned to the confluence the next morning, took the cardinal photos and admired the prairie wildflowers. Back in Meade, we visited the Historical Museum, where they have a display of medical items donated by Bill’s grandfather.
We reached Chicago three days later, where we were joined at McCormick Place by 40,000 Rotarians from 167 countries. We heard about Rotary’s progress in eradicating polio, providing clean water and improving literacy throughout the world. It is a privilege to be a part of this organization, because it allows Bill and me to be involved in solving the world’s problems. Check out www.rotary.org for more info.