18-Aug-2016 -- As we were in Illinois, and as I had a unbroken string of points along 41° north from just about Wyoming all the way through Nebraska all the way across Iowa, ending just 1° west of here, it seemed like a natural thing to want to go to 41° North 90° West. Plus, the added thrill of being at 90° west - halfway between the Prime Meridian and the International Date Line - never disappoints. And so we found ourselves after a stop at the Pilot Travel Center for some hazelnut coffee, traveling west along Interstate 80, then south along Interstate Highway 180, to Illinois State Highway 29 that continued to the south. It was beautiful terrain, the river off to our left or east, and then we traveled out of the rivers valley, west on Highway 17 at Sparland. We kept meandering west along some marvelous county roads and at one point passed near Wyoming, Illinois (I love state names that double as town names) until we approached the confluence from the northeast.
The previous visitor is correct--It is definitely easier to visit this point in the winter before anything is planted in these fields. I would say late fall after the harvest time would be another good time. We knew this going into the point, but this was our only opportunity to visit. It was late summer and all around us the corn and soybeans were high. It must have been a good year for precipitation. We would just have to take our chances and see what the field would bring. Turning south along the section line road, we were startled to find two vehicles that passed us going the other way within a mile and a half. My prior map investigation had revealed two points from which would be the shortest distance from the road. One was due south of the point, and the other one was northeast of the point. We now aimed for this northeast point. We pulled over on the west side of this north-south road. Unlike what the Google map showed, there was no road to the west from here, only a cleared lane between the cornfields to the north and the south. But, it was the only way to get closer. This was obviously an access route for the tractors that were going to the fields.
The grass in this area started about knee high but then approached waist high, and it was filled with holes, making for uncertain footing. But all in all it was pretty easy-going until the cleared path curved toward the northwest and thus away from the desired destination. At this point I debated--I really dislike walking on or near farmers' carefully planted crops. Then, channeling thoughts of deer running through these fields, I as nimbly as I could high stepped over the soybean plants. Fortunately the distance was not long between the clearing and the line I was aiming for, which was the eastern edge of the cornfield to the west. I reasoned that the eastern edge of the cornfield would avoid having me brushing up against more plants. When I arrived there, I found out that I was right.
Once at the dividing line between corn and soybeans, I then walked due south along this eastern line or edge of corn. The weather was hot -- and while that wasn't too bad or unexpected, as anyone who knows me understands, I dislike bugs. It was definitely bug city out here--big flies, grasshoppers, wasps, and other creatures. In the video, you can hear me blowing them out of my face. Thus, it was less than pleasant. I hiked south until I reached 41° North latitude. At this juncture, the desired point was about 22 meters off to the west on the eastern side of the cornfield. I knew that if I had ventured into the cornfield, I would have lost most GPS satellites, and more importantly, I did not want to traipse upon this farmer's corn. And I was well within the 100 meter rule for this point. I reflected once again that one has to really admire those who work the land, day after day.
It was about 93°F (34 C). After some rains earlier in the day, the sky was bright with just a few puffy clouds. There was a little bit of wind but it was plenty hot enough. It was around noon in late summer. I saw no birds or animals or people. I have quite a few points west of here along 41° North latitude, into California, Utah, Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa, and also some points east of here in Illinois, Indiana, Pennsylvania, New Jersey. This line of latitude is one of the most frequently visited of my 350-ish points over the past 15 years. I've also been on 90° West longitude several times, from Wisconsin from the north of here, and south of here as well, on down to Louisiana. It is always special to be on 90 degrees longitude. I have about six points now in Illinois but have so many around this part of the country in particular, Iowa and Illinois and Missouri, that I am starting to lose track.
I made haste to retrace my steps back the way I came. I arrived back at the vehicle without mishap and no twisting of the ankles--the round trip hike time came to about 40 minutes total. It was a great day to be on the landscape. After we drove south along the north-south road, I spotted another access "lane" in grass, leading to the northwest. That may have worked too but would have made for a longer trek and more cross-plant stepping. Then as we drove west and passed due south of the point, I saw the dividing line between the corn and soybeans once more that I had walked along. In retrospect it might have been a bit easier to just walk along this line, in a due north direction, from this east-west road to the south of the point. But no matter - mission accomplished! Get out there and explore the Earth!