20-Sep-2017 -- As I was in the area for the North Dakota GIS conference, and as the focus of the conference was the use of Geographic Information Systems in all sectors of society, and as my keynote address touched on field data collection, mapping, and understanding the world, I thought that a confluence visit would be the most fitting way to bring my days in the state to a close. When the conference ended at 5:00pm, and knowing that I was on the western side of the Central Time Zone, and therefore had at least two more hours of daylight, I left Bismarck State College and made haste to reach 48 North 101 West. I had, about 7 years ago, visited the closest point to Bismarck, that of 47 North 101 West. This point of 48 North 101 West had not been visited since 2005 and I was looking forward to seeing it on *my* first visit.
But I did take the scenic route along State Highway 1804, so named to commemorate the dates that Lewis and Clark and their expedition party were navigating up and down the Missouri River in this area. I was glad I did, because the river bottomlands were beautiful with the cottonwoods in particular blazing with orange and yellow of autumn, which would start the next day at the equinox.
I took 1804 north to US Highway 83, northwest to Highway 200, then north to Highway 41, and then north on 41 past the beautiful town of Turtle Lake, which took me also past some beautiful marshes that were glistening in the setting sun. I was a little nervous about reaching the point before sundown but I needn't have worried. It was after all still summer; albeit the last day. I was reasonably hopeful that I would be able to successfully visit this point, but one never knows for sure until one is actually on site.
South of Velva, I turned west on State Highway 23, and after a few section line roads, turned north on one of the gravel ones. I parked just north of 48 North. It was a scenic spot, with one living and one dead tree in the ravine, the sun getting low, and the land golden. I was a bit dismayed to hear and see some harvesting going on in the general direction of where I would be walking, but set off anyway, hopeful. I saw no animals; just a few birds. I set off walking at a brisk pace to the west, still wearing my work tie and shirt, and hoping I wasn't attracting too much attention as I meant no harm.
In about 20 minutes, I arrived at my destination. The field was perfectly flat with a ravine off to the north.
It fortunately had been harvested so I did not have to be careful about where to step.
I reached the point in very late afternoon local time. With no trees, it was easy to zero out the GPS receiver. The point lies on flat ground, maybe sloping ever so slightly to the north toward the ravine. The ground cover was in soybeans at the time of my visit but they had been harvested. I was treated to an amazing sun-setting sky which was almost perfectly clear; it was one of the most beautiful scenes I have witnessed at a confluence point. The temperature stood at a rather pleasant 61 F; this time of year was about the best time to be out here; because this part of the continent can be blazing hot in summer and freezing cold in winter. I have experienced both extremes on my past treks to this wonderful state. As I expected, it was quite breezy, but certainly not as windy as it could be out here. I always love being at a confluence point. I filmed several videos here with my shadow extending out onto the field and posted them on my video channel geographyuberalles.
I now have amassed about 8 points in North Dakota stretching back to 2002; before this week, it had been 3 years since my last point in the state, and it was great to be back. Not many people have stood on this point; besides the local ranchers and farmers, of course. That was amazing, because it was really among the easiest confluence points of my entire confluence career of 15 years. After seeing so much urban sprawl of late, it was wonderful to be in an area of such low population density. I could see only a few houses in the distance from the point. I had stood on 48 North a few times from Washington on the west to North Dakota on the east. I had also stood on 101 West many times, from North Dakota just one degree south of here down to the Kansas-Oklahoma border on the south, at 37 North.
I walked back out the way I had come in. Nobody harvesting came over to me and I was glad I had not bothered anyone. Then, my adventure continued: On my way back south to Bismarck, the sunset to the west was truly spectacular. Once back in Bismarck, I caught up on the work piling up while I had been at the GIS conference. The next morning, I taught a few GIS classes for my dear colleague and friend at Bismarck State College, which was a real treat. The students were wonderful. This confluence visit was truly a great way to cap off this trip!