24-May-2003 -- Steve Adams and I continued our first confluence adventure on Saturday, May 24, 2003, after successes the day before at Cotton Center, Texas (34°N, 102°W) and near Kenna, New Mexico (34°N, 104°W). It was 76°F in my room the night before, but a cozy 59°F by morning. Steve (the more sensible one) shut off his A/C about 3 am. He woke first, called my room, and I reluctantly got up for another big day of confluence hunting. We were ready to roll by around 8 am MDT, but we first had to take some pictures of the MINI Cooper at the Blue Swallow Motel. Each room at the Blue Swallow has an adjacent garage space to protect one's vehicle from the elements. I swore I'd never eat again after the gargantuan steak dinner the night before in Portales, but Steve convinced me to indulge in a wonderful gut-bomb breakfast at Denny's. Nourished (and caffeinated), we drove about 20 miles west on I-40 and placed a call to the ranch manager whose property contains 35°N, 104°W. He was expecting us at 9 am-oops! We were running a bit behind, but did make it to the ranch by about 9:45 am local. We were just thrilled to have cell phone coverage (on I-40) without having to pay roaming charges.
We met the ranch manager at his property, some 4.5 miles from the confluence. When he looked out his window and saw a checker-topped MINI, he thought we had taken a taxi out to his place! He also suggested that we ride with him to the confluence, since he feared one of his bulls would try to mate with the MINI Cooper! After a grueling day of driving and confluence hunting the day before, his humor was much appreciated. We verified the section and township for 35°N, 104°W on his ranch map and set off in his truck. The confluence is on a 40,000-acre cattle ranch in some beautiful country in eastern New Mexico. After navigating a series of cattle gates, we arrived at an intersection of ranch roads that was just 0.2 miles from the confluence. From there, we set off on foot across the tabosa grass, with the occasional prickly pear cactus, mesquite bush, and cholla cactus to keep us vigilant.
With our trusty Garmin GPS leading the way, we navigated to the confluence with little trouble. This area is quite flat, perfect for two out-of-shape confluence hunters. We took the perfunctory GPS photos and then snapped shots in eight compass directions (N-NE-E-SE-S-SW-W-NW). The views were, in a word, stunning! What a wonderful way to close out the virgin confluences in the fine state of New Mexico. There were colored mesas in almost every direction, and the light cirrus clouds in an azure sky were the perfect backdrop. We erected a monument at the site, per the wishes of the landowner. It consisted of a tall, metal fencepost with a laminated card commemorating the event. The card has the DCP logo, the latitude and longitude lines, the DCP website, our names, and the date. Steve and I took a picture of the nice ranch manager, and he reciprocated. He looked right at home with the rugged backdrop, while city slickers Steve and I looked truly like fish out of water! We also took a nice picture of a green lizard by a nearby cactus.
We trekked back to the truck and the ranch manager continued checking out our Garmin GPS. I told him it needed to be on his Xmas list, and he didn't disagree. In particular, he noticed that the receiver determined altitude from GPS satellites, and this piqued his interest. He asked our indulgence to measure the altitude at three different locations on his property, because he was not seeing water flow from one area to another like he expected. Steve and I were only too happy to help, as a way to give something back to the more-than-generous ranch manager and landowner. Sure enough, the altitude measurements confirmed that water would have to have flowed seven feet uphill to complete its intended journey. The view from one of these "watering holes" was unreal, 2.5 miles from the confluence. An absolutely gorgeous mesa was in full view, and this picture had to be included on the website despite being unobservable from the exact confluence point.
We headed back to the ranch, hoping that the ranch manager's 16-year-old daughter hadn't absconded the MINI Cooper. Though we were a bit late hitting the road, it was worth every minute, especially given the beautiful scenery that we had been privileged enough to view. We thanked the ranch manager, drove back to I-40, and hit Tucumcari around 11 am MDT or so. We gassed up, bought ice, and then set off on Hwy 54, northeast to Dalhart, Texas and 36°N, 103°W.
Steve and I would like to thank the landowner and the ranch manager for permission to visit the property. They also asked me to mention that future visits to this confluence are discouraged [emphasis the editor's]. Also, thanks to Steve's wife, LeAnn, who supported him in taking a wacky road-trip in the MINI with his old high school buddy.