21-Feb-2014 -- As I had been about 10 kilometers from this confluence all week, at Elmhurst College, and as my meetings there were focused on geotechnologies in education, it was inevitable that the magnetism of the confluence eventually drew me in. And finally on my way back to O'Hare International Airport to leave the region, I had a window of time to visit a confluence. My original plan had been to awaken while it was still dark and drive and then hike to the field at 42 North 90 West. However, the roads were icy and it was terribly windy, with periods of snow showers. I determined that it was not worth it from a safety standpoint to aim for this point, but to save it for a future visit. My alternative was to visit a point I had visited in the past, but it is still interesting to visit confluences to see what has changed. Also, I had never visited this point in the winter: 42 North 88 West.
This point was very close to where I had been staying while at Elmhurst College. After two conference calls that morning, I departed the hotel where I was staying. I made my way north on State Highway 83, the Kingery Highway, then west on Devon Avenue, north on Carlisle Avenue, and then west on Brantwood Avenue. Fortunately, the streets were largely clear of ice but the region was earning its "windy city" namesake today, most certainly. This was the first time I had approached the confluence from the south rather than from the north and I enjoyed the different perspective. It was trash day, and the trash barrels were merrily heading for Indiana, blowing along the roads in the severe wind, gusts of which I estimate were at about 50 mph.
This was also the first time I had visited the confluence in extreme conditions. Yes, the sun was shining, and one cannot get a feel for how truly frigid it was. Indeed, this had been one of the snowiest winters in Chicago and indeed for much of the eastern 2/3 of the USA. Chicago had received over 70" of snow thus far this season, and it was still only February. I neared the confluence point, but was glad I had walked on the hotel treadmill earlier and did not have to make my usual neighborhood walk. It was simply too miserable and I would have to dodge the trash barrels and tree branches. I reached the confluence at about noon local time. The air temperature was about 20 F but I was not sure what the wind chill worked out to be. It was even too windy for me to get out my hand made confluence sign. I hastily retrieved my camera after my self-portraits for fear that it too would have soon blown away. This time, I found the point on the north side of Brantwood Avenue, and not in a driveway or in a front yard, as I had in the past. This was fortunate as it meant I did not have to walk through any snowdrifts. The neighbor to the southwest had not plowed in what looked like months, but perhaps it had only been days. At any rate, the driveway there was not covered in snow, but rather in ice, at least 1 meter thick. I wondered if it would be April or May before the whole thing was clear. Given the conditions, I spent only 10 minutes at the site, but I must say that it was exhilarating. I saw no birds and the neighborhood was deserted; its residents most likely at work or wisely inside. I had a nice tidy number of Illinois confluence points to my name now spanning a decade of time. It was good to be back, as it had been several years since my last visit.
It was amazing to see the seasonal differences between this visit and my summer and fall visits. I departed to the north, and now was west-northwest of the airport. I made a circling route in a clockwise direction, winding to approach O'Hare Airport from the northeast. Fortunately, my flight took off without delay or mishap and visiting this point was indeed a perfect way to end this geospatial week!