28-Oct-2004 -- I, Joseph Kerski, was in St Paul to give workshops and the keynote address at GeoTech Minnesota, a gathering of geography educators from throughout the region. As 160 educators were assembling to analyze the Earth's land and people using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and GPS, a confluence trek seemed particularly appropriate. It was an additional privilege to be confluence trekking with Charlie Fitzpatrick, from Environmental Systems Research Institute, which is the largest maker of GIS software in the world. Charlie has devoted a large part of his career to helping people all over the world use geographic technologies such as GPS and GIS.
Earlier in the day, we had been at ESRI's St Paul office, and by 230pm local time, were driving south during a ferocious rainstorm from Interstate Highway 694 in North St Paul. We drove south on Division Street North, and then jogged over to 1st Street North, which we followed south. North St Paul is actually northeast of St Paul, the capitol of Minnesota, a first ring suburb comprised mainly of homes built in the 1950s and 1960s. North St Paul's mascot is the Polars, and we passed the giant fake snowman en route to the confluence. We rounded the park on the east and south sides onto Cowern Place East, and found ourselves facing the house that I had seen online many times -- the confluence we were seeking. We made sure we had everything we needed as we parked the vehicle, as the rain was still coming down in sheets. Charlie found out later that the metropolitan area received up to 10 cm of rain that day. We dove out of the vehicle and into the rainstorm.
We crossed the street and arrived at the confluence just after 3 pm local time. Despite the rain, the weather was surprisingly warm (15 C, 60 F) for late October. We took some measurements and determined that THE spot was actually inside the fence of the owner of the house at 1945 Polaris Place. We knocked on the door but the nonresponse and a morning newspaper on the step were indications that nobody was home. We declined to leave the permission request letter, which would be turned into a wad of paper pulp within a few seconds. We determined that the confluence lies between the camper parked on the front lawn of the house and one of the large pine trees, on flat ground covered with planted grass.
To the students in the vicinity who were walking home from school, we must have looked pretty comical, walking back and forth in the pouring rain, one of us with a small device, and another of us taking photographs of the small device. The photographs do not quite capture how hard it was raining. While I have been to confluences in snow, light rain, and wind, this was the first in a downpour. Although we made haste and attempted to protect the camera, I was very sad to report that the digital camera suffered permanent damage. This confluence, while very interesting, was not worth ruining a camera for.
I had been to 45 North once before in South Dakota, but this was my first visit to 93 West and my first confluence in Minnesota. After a 20 minute visit, we were off to the GeoTech Minnesota conference.