22-Nov-2013 -- It was 50 years to the day when USA President John F. Kennedy was tragically killed, not far from where I was currently located in southern Oklahoma. Thus I was in a reflective mood as I drove east on US Highway 70. The gray and windy conditions with long periods of sleet and rain seemed to add to the somber nature of the anniversary. Despite the conditions, I had successfully visited 34 North 96 West earlier this afternoon, getting moderately wet in the process. I hoped to reach 34 North 95 West before dark and before the predicted icy conditions set in. I passed through Boswell and stopped for a sandwich in Hugo, which I ate in the vehicle as I continued onward. I was enjoying my first time in this part of the state. I would have liked it better under sunny skies, though, I am sure. Still, I love "corners" of states and countries, and I was nearing the southeastern corner of Oklahoma, a place that one of my favorite authors loved as well, William Least Heat Moon.
As I drove east from Hugo, the rains began again in earnest. And although it was barely 3:00pm, the sky was noticeably becoming quite dark. Would I make it to the point before darkness completely fell? I passed Valliant and Millerton before turning north on the north-south section line Road N6525. The countryside was a bit rolling here just north of the Red River, which marked the Oklahoma-Texas boundary, with small lakes and ponds, and some fair-sized woods amongst the fields. Nobody was on this road. As I drove north, I was feeling a bit sleep deprived after my week of conducting workshops and trainings for GIS Day at two campuses of Texas A&M University. They had gone very well, but today was dark and a nap might be nice. Despite feeling a bit sleepy, I was coherent enough to have one good idea on my drive north: This was to document the confluence visit with only my cell phone, rather than drag my regular camera into the rain. I have already lost one camera to the rain, and that was in a front yard in St Paul at 45 North 93 West, years ago; I did not want to repeat that experience.
There was not much of a shoulder as I stopped just north of the 34th Parallel, but I reasoned that I would not be here long and the confluence was a short distance away. Plus, there was not much traffic--I had passed one car which was traveling south, during my 10 minute drive north of the U.S. highway. I could have called it a successful visit at this point but after having driven so far, the actual point beckoned. The fence here was about 5 strands of barbed wire, stretched very tight, but I managed to crawl under it, becoming quite muddy in the process, but caused no damage to self or fence. The confluence was just a few meters inside the field. The field looked to be planted in alfalfa in the past for grazing. The temperature was about 39 degrees F (3.8 C), with a steady wind and steady rain. I did my best with my GPS and my cell phone, but did not want to have them out in the rain too long. The confluence was on flat ground and the field had obviously been cultivated in the past. I was not sure if it was lying in wait for spring cultivation or whether it would be used for grazing. I saw no birds or animals; all creatures but me seemed to have wisely sought shelter.
I now had a nice tidy sum of confluence points in Oklahoma, beginning with at least 4 in central Oklahoma, plus several along the northern border from my roasting hot expedition this past August, sprinkled with a few in the southern part of the state, from a few years ago and then today. I had visited 34 North several times over the past dozen years, from California on the west to North Carolina on the east, but somehow had only visited 95 West thrice previously--in Iowa (2005), Missouri (2013), and Kansas (2004). This was my first time at 34 North 95 West. The view to the east in particular was lovely and I probably would have enjoyed it more under sunnier conditions. It was actually pretty amazing how much good weather I had enjoyed over these 12 years of confluence hunting. I had encountered very few rainy days; this one was notably rainy, the Minnesota point I mentioned above was obtained in the rain, and last year's slosh through Indiana fields was even wetter. But more often, the weather had been fine - to be sure, plenty of wind, cold, and heat, but mostly under fair conditions. Perhaps I could return here one day. I hoped so as I do love Oklahoma. What's not to love?
After less than 10 minutes on site, I took my leave. Upon leaving, I realized that I could had an easier walk through the gate to the south; that is, no fence, but since that was several hundred meters away, I would have become quite soaked during the walk. As it was, the 10 minutes documenting the point left me dripping. I had planned on camping in a nearby state park and sleeping in the vehicle, but having no blanket, and with the temperature during the night hovering just above freezing with sleeting conditions, now considered that unwise. The darkness fell as I skirted around Idabel, and I drove south on US 259 to I-30 in Texas, and then southwest. At Mt Pleasant, I exited the highway and after rejecting a chain hotel due to its cost, I finally settled on the Budget Inn, off the interstate, and in town. I was glad to find the heater working and passed the night contented with two successful confluence visits that day. In addition, I had practiced what I am always preaching: Get out into the field!