23-May-2005 -- As I was invited to Lincoln, Nebraska USA for the Nebraska Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Land Information Systems Symposium, a confluence visit seemed the perfect complement. I would be working all week with people from engineering, science, planning, and other fields, examining issues using geospatial tools such as GIS and GPS. I flew to Lincoln on 23 May 2005, and had visited 41 North 96 West by late afternoon. I left that confluence at 4pm, crossing into Iowa on US Highway 34 by 4:20pm. I stopped for a sandwich in Red Oak, Iowa, a picturesque town, and by 5:20pm, I was nearing the confluence site. Just before US Highway 71, I took T Avenue, a gravel road, to the north, and exited the vehicle with 400 meters showing to the site.
I walked to where the fence was open where tractors entered the field. I stepped gingerly to avoid flattening any of the newly planted corn in the field. The rows ran straight east-west. I walked north along the fence to 41 North, then due east along one corn row to the confluence. Given its ease of access, I was amazed that I was the second person at this confluence. I arrived at 5:40pm (in the photograph, my GPS unit is set to mountain time, where I live). The confluence lies in the middle of a field, sloping about 5 degrees to the east. The surrounding terrain is fairly hilly, this being Iowa, the "Land Between the Rivers." The land is crisscrossed by straight section-line roads, running east-west and north-south, spaced every mile. I could see no water, but several farmhouses were in view. I saw no people; just two cars on the road passed while I was in the field. My thermometer read 90 F (32 C) under clear skies and light breezes. This confluence lies in one of the most productive agricultural areas of the world--Iowa. Not far to the west lie the famous loess hills--windblown silt left over from ancient continental glaciation. This had to be one of the most peaceful and beautiful confluences I have visited. However, I have a feeling I say that about every confluence I visit! Such are the thoughts of a geographer, I suppose. I had been to 41 North several times in Wyoming and Nebraska, but this was my first visit to a confluence in Iowa. Perhaps I should take confluence coordinator Gordon Spence's suggestion seriously--I could, conceivably, achieve a confluence in every US state. I am over halfway to that goal. I spent 15 minutes at the confluence, then hiked back to the road and the rental car. As I entered the car, an enormous tractor passed me.
This proved indeed to be the perfect complement to the reason I was in this area. Two confluences in one day is always a special treat. I was reluctant to leave Iowa so soon, and therefore, I stopped for a hike at Viking Lake State Park, just 5 km southwest of the confluence. After a hike along the lakeshore, I left the area. With the sun sinking, I drove back to Nebraska via a different route to take in some different scenery.