01-Apr-2007 -- As I had been in St Louis for 4 days teaching at the National Science Teachers Association convention, a confluence visit seemed like the perfect way to end the trip. We at ESRI operated a large geospatial zone in the NSTA exhibit hall, promoting spatial technologies for the over 8,000 teachers who attended, as well as in our three Geographic Information Systems-based workshops. I selected this confluence as it was reachable from St Louis and had only been visited a few times. Upon the conclusion of these events, I awoke at 4:15am, rented a car, and by 5:10am, was winging my way through the pre-dawn streets of St Louis.
I missed the turn to cross the Mississippi River, but after wandering a few lonely streets through the warehouse district, successfully made my way into southern Illinois. I prefer the back roads, but as it was dark, I drove east-southeast on Interstate Highway 64 and south on Interstate Highway 57 to save time. The timing turned out to be perfect, because the sun rose just as I turned off Interstate Highway 57 onto westbound Illinois State Highway 14. I missed the turnoff to the north on Rend City Road, and so I took the next. I was glad this happened, because otherwise, I would have missed the view from the small cemetery on the southwest corner of the field where the confluence lies.
I was operating on only 3 hours of sleep, but now I was feeling the "confluence jitters" and excited by what I hoped would be a successful visit. I drove north up and down hills to Isaac Walton Road, when I turned east. Immediately, I noticed that it would be a muddy trip, but a brief one, judging from the GPS on the dashboard. Sure enough, after parking, and dashing through a few large puddles and a muddy field strewn with last year's corn cobs, I arrived at the confluence just after 7:00am local time. There were no fences to cross.
The confluence lies on level ground, in the northwest portion of the field. The field is bounded on the east and south by some low hills and the cemetery on the southwest corner. Nothing impeded my view of the satellites and I had no trouble zeroing out the receiver. This is southern Illinois farm country, not quite in the karst terrain further south, but not as flat as the corn belt to the north. I could not determine if the field had been seeded for the 2007 season yet, but I tried to step gingerly. The temperature was a pleasant 52 F (11 C) with light winds. The closest house is the one to the southwest of the confluence, north of the cemetery, but I saw nobody out. Nothing like a confluence visit to get one onto the landscape. Sunday morning was quiet and peaceful here and I was reluctant to depart. It's really wonderful to be out in the country in the early springtime.
I had been to 38 North several times before, in Virginia, Colorado, Utah, and California. I had tried to attain 89 West once before, stumbling around in the dark in a different Illinois field, at 42 North. This was my 5th Illinois confluence, which was pleasant to think about since I don't live here or even nearby. After walking out, I drove back south and then west, through the pleasant town of Christopher. I thought about making a run for 38 North 90 West and would spend awhile getting there, meandering through these two-lane roads and small towns where some folks still wave at you from their vehicles.