06-Apr-2015 -- As I had just arrived in Iowa for the state Geographic Information Systems (GIS) conference, and as I was the keynote speaker, I needed some Iowa data to support my presentation on geotechnologies and fieldwork. And so, an hour after landing at the Des Moines airport, I found myself driving south on I-35, and then heading west and southwest to find the last point in Iowa along 41 North that was missing from my collection, that of 41 North 94 West. Over the past 12 years, I had visited every point along this line of latitude in this great state, from 91 West to 95 West, except this one. And from the looks of the satellite image, it would not take too long to visit and I could even do so in my work clothes; i.e. no trampings through thorns or wetlands.
There was some road construction along the interstate highway, but I made it to Osceola without too much delay, and then west on US Highway 34. It was a uniformly gray day, which would not make for the greatest of photographs, but it was a harbinger of the weather that would be present all week while I was at the conference. Just south of Murray, Iowa, I turned south, resisting the temptation to take some really nice cemetery photographs, as I was in a bit of a hurry since I had some work to do before the conference began. After two miles on R15 Road, I turned west on the gravel road H37, and proceeded to the driveway where I knew the confluence would be. It is always interesting to compare my perceptions of a place from examining the map and satellite image to physically being on the site. The area was hillier than I had expected, and lower in population density. At the north end of the long gravel driveway, I stopped and got out. Immediately, a mid-sized dog came up to me, unchained, but very fortunately for me, friendly. I told him my business and knocked on the door, leaving my card upon discovering that nobody was home. From there, I walked south on the driveway and made a quick dash to the point across a grassy and hilly slope.
The temperature stood at about 55 F (13 C) under uniformly gray skies; it was early afternoon, just after the Vernal Equinox. A few tree tips had turned green but by and large, the area had yet to awaken from its winter mode. The snows had melted a few weeks beforehand and the ground was warming up. Fortunately it was not raining at the time of my visit. I saw no birds or animals and things were a bit silent under all that gray. I was on site for only 10 minutes in deference to the landowner and also my schedule. The view to the west was the longest; there was a fairly deep gully just to the south of where I stood. This finished my line of confluence points along 41 North in Iowa; I also have visits along 41 North from Utah on the west to New Jersey on the east. However, 94 West was a bit of a rarity for me; I had stood on this meridian before from Minnesota on the north to Missouri on the south, but not south of Missouri. It was great to be here as I enjoy rural lands, and I love Iowa. This is definitely one of the easiest confluences I have visited; the only challenge is that it does require drive time to reach.
After walking to the vehicle, I drove to Osceola. I had one more adventure in the area, doing a reconnaissance to build a story map for a proposed set of trails at Q Pond Park in that town. Along my walk there, I filmed a few videos that I placed on my video channel, including the singing of "Going to Kansas City", the singing of "Convoy", and a discussion about the geography of transportation. Just as I finished my walk, a light rain began to fall. I drove through town, to the east to Chariton, northeast to Knoxville, and north to Pella, where the GIS conference would be held, at the Central College campus. Pella and the campus were both wonderful and even though I was not able to visit another confluence point during my 4 days in Iowa, I highly enjoyed the conference and the landscape. The Iowa GIS community is doing amazing things with geotechnologies in making smart decisions about transportation, natural resources, agriculture, public safety, human health, and much more. This confluence was indeed a great way to begin the week. Happy Trails.