28-May-2023 -- After over 20 years and over 400 confluence visits, the opportunity had come: It had been two years since I had the opportunity to take a multi day trip just for collecting confluence points, seeing the landscape, and meeting local people. My goal was to connect my Minnesota points to the points east and south and west, in Iowa, Wisconsin, and the Dakotas. To fill those gaps would require some planning but could be quite fun and doable. Thus after flying to Sioux Falls two days earlier and visiting 3 points, then 5 points yesterday, and 2 points today, I still had plenty of energy for more fieldwork.
And thus, after visiting 45 North 89 West early this morning, and 45 North 95 West in mid-afternoon, it was late afternoon as I neared the wide open spaces, mostly flat but ever-so-gently rolling terrain near 45 North 96 West. The cloud cover had lifted, and the sun shone ahead of me as I journeyed through Montevideo, Minnesota. I was just reading about the town recently as it was the last stop for Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens before they went to Clear Lake, Iowa, in late January 1959.
I left town to the northwest on US 59, then west on Highway 20 through the beautifully named Lac qui Parle. There was a county park there that I should have stopped at, but I wanted to add one more confluence point to my day's tally before I set up camp. Thus I forged on, driving south, and then east to the parking lot adjacent to the Lac Qui Parle church. This is a beautiful country church with a graveyard to the east of it.
I walked back down the road, to the west, and then at 96 West, walked straight south to the confluence point, carefully avoiding stepping on what looked to be new corn. There were no fences. The clear view was magnificent, with some wonderful cirrus trails, and with he sun lowering to the west. I saw no birds, animals, or people. A few farmhouses are visible from the point; the church is almost hidden in the trees planted around it. On my walk back to the vehicle, I filmed the wind rustling through the grasses--it was like waves upon the ocean. I then continued walking back on the road to the church, and then filmed a very windy afternoon video there in the cemetery.
I reminded myself that this was the very point I was bound for on 1 April - less than 2 months ago - on a very icy morning. About 45 minutes into my journey, I turned around because it was too treacherous on the roads that day, the day after a spring blizzard. Today was a much better day for visiting! It was amazing, though, that my visit was the first one in over 20 years. It is a beautiful spot.
I have stood on 45° north many times in the past but it was always special to stand on a line that is halfway between the equator and the north pole. I have visited 45° north on the West Coast of United States over in Oregon across a line of many points all the way to the East Coast of the United States over in Maine. Each of these points at 45 North that I have visited, and it has to be at least 20 of them, are unique and wonderful. I have also visited 96° west several times in the past from this point on the north end, down to Texas on the south end in someone's backyard. I took my photos and filmed the following video: 45 North 96 West, Minnesota. In the video you can see my Lost? Study Geography - shirt and hear the wind on the Great Plains. Upon departing, I headed north, hoping to visit 46 North 96 West before the end of the day. Would I make it?
When the trip was all said and done, here are the final statistics:
Confluence points attempted: 15.
Confluence points successfully visited: 15.
Points where I met the local landowner = 4 of 15 points.
Miles = 1731, Kilometers = 2785.
Campgrounds = 3.
Windy confluence points: 6 of 15.
Beautiful confluence points: 15 of 15.
Kwik Trip convenience store stops = 5. Casey's = 1. Circle K = 1. Flying J = 1.
Points along 43 North 4
44 North 3
45 North 4
46 North 1
47 North 3
Points visited on Day 1 = 3
Day 2 = 5
Day 3 = 4
Day 4 = 3
Points visited in the morning = 5
afternoon = 7
evening = 3
Points visited in Minnesota = 6
North Dakota = 2
Wisconsin = 3
Iowa = 4
Get out there and explore!