19-Sep-2011 -- As I was in the area for a GIS education meeting with some of my favorite colleagues, a confluence visit seemed like the perfect capstone before heading to the airport and departing the region. There was only one that I could visit on the way to the Minneapolis airport in time to make my flight, and that was 45 North 94 West. And therefore, on a bright late summer day, just a few days before the Autumnal Equinox, I set out west on US Highway 12, leaving the MSP urban area behind to wind through some truly beautiful south-central Minnesota countryside. During the first part of my trip was occupied by a conference call. That ended just as I was leaving the urban area of Minneapolis behind.
At Delano, I drove straight west along County Road 30 SE, which made a few jogs to the south past a few fields of grapevines, but was otherwise in pasture, soybeans, and corn. I continued on County Road 30 SW to Ferman Avenue, turning south, passing a beautiful small rural cemetery on the east side of the road. Ferman Avenue was a dirt road but in good condition. A few hills existed in this area but much flat glacial-scoured land abounded. I turned west on 105th Street SW and gathered supplies. I drove a short distance to the west, stopping in the hollow on the road to the north of the confluence. I had never been to this part of Minnesota before and I was thoroughly enjoying it.
I made sure to park a short distance away, rather than due north of the confluence, always preferring at least some walking to reach these points. The field was currently planted in soybeans, and it looked like they were just about ready to be harvested. Therefore, I took great care stepping through the plants to avoid damaging them. Fortunately, it was no more than 20 feet into the field, or 6 meters, before I was at the point, and the lack of trees made for a minimal confluence dance. The best view was toward the west, toward the county park, owing to a hill to the east. The temperature stood at approximately 75 F (24C), really a perfect day in Minnesota, under clear blue skies. I saw a few birds but no animals. The confluence lies in a small hollow near the northern boundary of the field, and in the northwest quadrant of the field.
I had stood on 45 North a number of times, from Vermont on the east, west to Minnesota, into South Dakota at 45 North 100 West, and all the way over to the western part of the continent in Oregon. This was my second Minnesota confluence. This was also my second confluence visit of the month, and it would be my last visit of the summer, occurring just before the autumnal equinox. Amazingly, in my over 200 confluence visits, I had stood on 94 West only one other time, in 2004, in western Missouri.
The best part was yet to come. After leaving the confluence, I visited Johnson County Park and spent some quality minutes beside the beautiful but poorly named Dog Lake. County parks are one of the real gems on the landscapes; here, I had the whole park to myself. There were a few picnic tables, a few benches, and a small swimming beach. The lake was pretty sizeable and even contained some unspoiled wetlands on the periphery. The park occupied the northern shore of the lake. It was a beautiful spot and an absolutely perfect day. I filmed a few videos there. To cap things off, I took some farmland photographs and listened to Brule on the way to the Minneapolis St Paul airport. I also spotted one of the largest flocks of birds I had ever seen but could not get a photograph in time. No worries!
The whole trip only took a few hours and was well worth it for peace of mind and getting onto the landscape. I would like to return someday to this point and the park. I am sure that the area was also quite lovely in the winter. It was difficult to describe, but the entire visit to 45 North 94 West was one of the most peaceful and wonderful times I have ever had visiting a confluence.