29-Mar-2014 -- As I had just arrived in Iowa today, landing at the Des Moines airport, and as I would be speaking with some faculty there about geotechnologies, a confluence visit seemed like the perfect starting point. Therefore, I immediately headed west on State Highway 5, then north on I-35 to State Highway 141, whereupon things became quite interesting. I say that because I love the terrain of Iowa, and today was a magnificent day to be in the field. The weather was clear, and fairly warm after the very cold winter that the folks here, as well as most others in the eastern 2/3 of the USA, had experienced this year. You could almost hear the terrain sighing with relief to be finally rid of its burden of snow. I knew, though, that this trek would be muddy, as the snow had only recently melted.
Undaunted, I drove northwest on Highway 141 to its intersection with US Highway 169 just east of Perry. Highway 169 was a straight shot to the north to the town of Ogden, but just a few miles shy of Ogden, I turned east on 250th Street. This street was a dirt road, along a section line, and I followed it to I Avenue, the next north-south section line road to the east. The density of the section line road grid guaranteed that the hike to the confluence point would be no more than a mile, round trip. Just north of I Avenue, I parked, far shy of the 42nd Parallel, but just to get in a bit longer of a hike in. After gathering supplies, I traversed the ditch that ran alongside the road and some long grass, and then hiked north along the edge of the field. The field was extremely muddy, and as soon as I stepped onto it, at just about 42 North, as expected, my shoes became heavier and heavier until it became difficult to walk. I pressed on, walking due east, being careful where I stepped but I did not think the field had been planted in any sort of seed yet.
After a few hundred meters, I came to a place that had not been planted, last season, or perhaps in many years, as it was a low area that was quite spongy, bordered on its south end by head-high tree saplings, perhaps willows. This was easier to cross and I was grateful it was not after a heavy rain, or else it would not have been passable. I descended a slight hill and lost sight of the vehicle. At the east end of this area came another stretch of shorter grass, and finally, near the west end of another tilled field, I found the confluence point. The temperature was about 60 F (15 C) under clear skies and a moderate wind blowing. This was my first Iowa confluence since the 4 that I obtained while teaching GIS and GPS here in 2009, and now I was up to around 6 total points in the state. I had chosen this one today because it was the closest one to the airport that was easily accessible that I had not visited before. I had stood on 42 North many times before, from Wyoming on the west to Massachusetts on the east, but on 94 West only twice before, in a field in Minnesota (which, at is still one of my all time favorite confluence visits and in another field in Missouri. I took photos and a video and was only on site about 10 minutes. I saw no people and no animals. A few far away farmhouses were visible and the views were quite lovely in all directions.
I made a more direct line back to the vehicle, aiming for the road to the north of it so I could shake off some of the mud. On the way, I filmed a walking through the mud video, that I slowed to half speed and a walking through the grass video. The latter of these videos has a wonderful sound that I love listening to of the grass. My round trip time was about 80 minutes. I did not realize it at the time, but a town I have always wanted to visit, Grand Junction Iowa, lay not far away to the west. Unfortunately, I did not realize it until I had left the state, so it would have to wait until my next trip here. After leaving the confluence vicinity, I drove north to the lovely town of Ogden, and then east to Ames, en route to Grinnell College to the east and south. This was indeed a perfect way to start off this visit to Iowa!