07-Mar-2015 -- As I was in the area, and as the focus of my visit was centered around the use of geotechnologies in education, and as I had just presented at the University of North Texas on that very topic, a confluence visit seemed like the perfect capstone. And as it had been 3 months since my last confluence visit before today, I was in a serious state of confluence withdrawal. Fortunately, this very morning, I successfully visited 34 North 99 West, and as I had several more hours before my flight out of DFW airport, I aimed one degree south, to 33 North 99 West. Would I make it in time?
"No guts, no glory," I thought as I meandered on lonely country roads southwest of 34 North 99 West, where I saw my very first javelina, or wild pig, darting out in front of me. This was turning into a real adventure! I loved traveling on roads I had never before traveled. After awhile, I turned south on US 183 and 283, stopping only to take a video at a historical cattle trail marker. As I drove past Seymour, anticipation was building, particularly as I passed through Throckmorton and continued south and then southeast. At Woodson, I traveled due east, because my plan was to approach the confluence from a longer hike from the east, rather than the shorter approach from the northwest. As I turned south on Road 395, I was wondering if it was the wise choice, as the road was quite sandy and I had no wish to get the rental car stuck. However, able to continue on until I crossed the 33rd Parallel, I turned around and parked next to an enormous stand of prickly pear, which I later filmed.
Gathering supplies, including some water, I knew I had about a 45 minute walk ahead of me. I struck out to the west, sticking to the fenceline running east-west dividing a cultivated field to the north and the wildlands of north central Texas to the south. This really did look pretty wild--cactus, mesquite trees, a few other shrubs, rocks, and dirt. I loved it. At the west end of the cultivated field, I followed a four-wheel drive trail through a few hills and hollows, actively grazed by some wonderful tan and white cattle. After this, I climbed a rise, and as the trail had disappeared, had to really be careful where I was stepping. As I neared the confluence point, the ground was at least 80% covered by prickly pear cactus, in large clumps reaching almost as high as my head. I also kept an eye out for snakes. Fortunately, all was well.
The temperature stood at about 60 F under moderate winds and fairly clear skies. I saw no people. It wasn't the easiest point I had visited, nor was it the most difficult. It was great to be here. It was just after noon, in late winter, with the area warming up after a few recent north Texas ice storms. Fortunately, I could zero out the GPS unit without getting needles stuck in my shoes, but boots would have been the better shoe option here. I now had a nice collection of at least 12 confluences in Texas, maybe 15. This was not the first time I had been to 99 West; standing in a field at 30 North 99 West to the south, and a string of points through Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, and South Dakota, ending with a memorable boat ride in North Dakota to 48 North 99 West. I also had been to 33 North many times, from California to Georgia. But this point at 33 North 99 West, had a symmetry of "3" to it; thus I lingered for a moment before departing. But as I did, I had another adventure: I was treated to an enormous flock of sandhill cranes above me, that I created several videos of. This was truly spectacular and I could hear them circling and calling for at least 10 minutes of my hike back, "craning" my neck so I could see them one last time, and then again.
I hiked out largely the way I had come in, filming a land use video once I reached the cultivated field. The field was so different from the unirrigated lands around it that the video just had to be made, I decided. The total round trip hike time came in at about 100 minutes, but I had indeed paused several times take videos. I drove out of the area on the road to Graham, which was wonderful, with all sorts of interesting vegetation, hills, and buildings. From there, I continued on to Jacksboro, which wasn't such a good experience owing to the fact that someone was in my lane at the crest of a hill and nearly hit me head on. A bit shaken, I continued southeast to Fort Worth, leaving the wide open spaces behind, but fortunately without further incident, and reached the airport with plenty of time to do a little work before my flight out of the area. It was indeed a great way to end the week of geospatial discussions.