26-Feb-2017 -- As I had just arrived in the region to conduct workshops and presentations focused on geotechnologies at four different universities, and as the first one--the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign, was just a 30 minute drive away from 40 North 88 West, a confluence visit seemed like the perfect beginning to my trip. And so, after landing at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, and after a spectacular vista of downtown Chicago from over Lake Michigan in the airplane, I was soon on the road. I was driving southeast on I-294 and then south-southeast on I-57 on a day that was much warmer then the normal for this area, but with a very stiff wind blowing. Fortunately, no major delays occurred on the Chicago area freeways and I was soon leaving the metro area behind.
At I-74, just outside of Champaign Urbana Illinois, I turned east. I exited to the south into a namesake community of mine, St Joseph, though sadly I'm lacking in the saintly qualities, and reviewed my maps, and took a phone call. I traveled east and south on some wonderful section line roads, until I reached the intersection of 2500 East and 800 North. A wonderful rural cemetery with a single tiny stone building exists there on the southwest corner of this intersection. This is the Lost Grove Cemetery. Then, I drove a few hundred meters west on the east-west gravel road and parked. I had been concerned on the drive down that I was going to get my work shoes very muddy, but most of the walk to the north appeared right away to be on grasses, not mud. I parked in a low spot in the road. I gathered supplies, including hat and gloves because it was now becoming quite cold and windy, and set off. After only 12 or so minutes of walking, the last 2 minutes in a muddy field, I arrived at the site. The crops had not yet been planted, I did not believe, but even so I tried to step as lightly as possible to not damage anything. There were no fences on this confluence hike.
It was great to be on 40 North once again. 40 North has a special meaning as it is the line of latitude closest to where I live and also is a "10 degree" line of latitude. I have stood on this line of latitude numerous times, from North Carolina on the east to California on the west. I have also stood on 88 West several times in the past, from Wisconsin on the north to Alabama on the south. I have a nice collection of Illinois confluences now, about 6 or so, including the point one degree north of here, and also, last summer, picking up 41 North 90 West, and a few others from past work trips. This was my first time on 40 North 88 West. This one is surprisingly easy to reach, on a hike that is just about as flat as they come, and again, with no fences, and a short distance from the nearest road. Thus, it was amazing that it had been 13 years since the last visit. I arrived in late afternoon and the temperature was a mild 58 F but with a very brisk wind blowing.
The land here was just emerging from winter; some of the grasses were turning green here at the end of February. I spent only five minutes on the site and returned to the vehicle. But then, after my confluence visit, I drove to the cemetery. I spent another hour and a half in the vicinity. I took a conference call while walking in the cemetery that I had just passed, and then took an hour walk while a spectacular sunset appeared, on the east-west section line road, first west, and then back to my vehicle parked at the cemetery. It was a great few hours spent in the rural lands and I loved every moment.
I then traveled to the University of Illinois campus and got ready for the workshops I was to teach the next day. The days I spent on campus turned out to be wonderful and I enjoyed interacting with students and faculty. The confluence trip was indeed a perfect activity to start off the week.