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.
I was amazed at how rapidly, once the Denton area was left behind, the population decreased. I had thought that it would decrease to the southwest of Wichita Falls, but here, not far from Denton and the Dallas Fort Worth metroplex, the ranches and farms were sparsely populated, and the towns were small. Proceeding west on Highway 114 to Decatur, I proceeded west to US 281 at Jacksboro. Then it was north to Windthorst, and then in a large circle on State Highway 25 to Electra, where I stopped for petrol and some water and snacks. Electra afforded some wonderful photographic moments, including a graveyard for old oil drilling equipment, but I did not allow myself any time for photographs. I was close to the confluence at long last, and the excitement mounted. Taking state farm road 1811 to Harrold Lane, I drove north for 50 meters on the lane and parked in the dirt.
It was a magnificent clear late winter day, about 55 degrees F, quite a bit warmer after the ice storm in Dallas two days earlier. I walked down the trail I had spotted on the satellite image, passing a large well en route. The terrain was mesquite trees, grass, and some prickly pear cactus. After a 20 minute walk, I drew near to what looked like a plug on top of a water pipe or well. It was bright red and looked like the same item used for city fire hydrants. Turning north, I skirted the south end of a scenic pond, and then walked up the hill to the east, where I located the confluence. It lies on ground sloping just a bit to the southeast, with a fine view to the north in particular. I arrived in mid morning after nearly three hours of driving.
I now had a very nice collection of at least a dozen Texas confluences. This was a fairly easy one to reach, once the long drive was accomplished. I had stood on 34 North from California on the west to North Carolina on the east, and on 99 West from North Dakota on the north to Texas on the south. This was my first time on 34 North 99 West. There is something special about being on "99 West." I saw a few birds but no animals here and no people. I was glad not to find any snakes and still had memories of nearly stepping on a rattlesnake a few degrees west and south of here about 4 months ago. No farm or ranch houses are visible from the confluence; again, the population density is quite low.
I walked out the way I came in, thinking about the Native American and European settlers that had trod here before me. I wondered how many people had actually stood on or near the confluence, long before there was such a thing as the confluence project. 10? 50? I admired the folks who made a living here. It was starkly beautiful in its own way. Because my round trip hike was only about 45 minutes, upon returning to the vehicle, I decided to walk north down the dirt road for about 30 more minutes, filming as I went and singing "Long Lonesome Highway". This completed, I left the area to the southwest, down another road I had never been on. About 10 minutes later, had one more adventure: A wild pig (javelina) darted in front of me on the road--the first one I had ever seen in the field. This one was larger and darker than I had expected it to be. Deciding to press on to 33 North 99 West, I was thoroughly enjoying my time in the rural lands of north Texas.