08-Nov-2005 -- I hadn’t intended on visiting this site, my 19th confluence, but my new hobby brought me too close to this point to pass it up. Since the virgin confluences in the 48 states are no more, and since I’m monolingual (i.e., American), I decided to tackle a new pursuit—visiting tri-state corners, the unique points where three states coincide. There are sixty-two of these points in the U.S., thirty-eight on land, and I’ve been to five of them already just since May of 2005. As was pointed out by the prior visitor to this confluence, the meeting point of Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Colorado is only a few hundred feet from the DCP point.
This journey began bright and early on Tuesday, November 8, 2005, from my hometown of Wichita, Kansas. A confluence tradition, I opted for the cheapest rental car only to be upgraded (this time) to a sporty Chrysler Seabring—with satellite radio, a must-have in western Kansas and Oklahoma! I don’t think I ever deviated from Channel 7, the 70’s station. I made good time on US-54, enjoying some nice fall foliage along the route, largely brilliant yellow cottonwoods. Despite running a bit late, I couldn’t pass up a quick stop in Greensburg, KS, the home of the "Big Well" (the largest hand-dug well in the world) and (until recently) the largest pallasite meteorite that had ever fallen in the U.S, a whopping 1000 pounds (450 kg). After this brief stop, I tried to make up some time through Meade, KS, but I was pulled over after passing a semi-disguised cop on his right. Despite my California driver’s license, he let me go with a warning, advising me not to pass policemen like that in the future!
My next stop was Elkhart, KS, at a famous eatery called "Jim-n-I’s" on US-56. My iced tea, jalapeno cheeseburger, fries, and slice of coconut cream pie was just as good as it sounds. From Elkhart, it was a mere eight miles to my first tri-state corner, the meeting place of Kansas, Colorado, and Oklahoma. After a brief stop for photo ops and GPS verification, I backtracked to Elkhart and headed southwest on US-56, making good time to Boise City, OK, before taking Hwy 325 to Kenton. The cheapest gasoline in the nation was all around me, for which I was thankful. From Kenton, I took a county road north, past Black Mesa State Park (the highest point in Oklahoma), and to the tri-state corner. I found it with little difficulty mid-afternoon, though my GPS coordinates suggested that the true tri-state corner was really a few tens of feet to the southwest of the marker (Picture 5), even including GPS uncertainties. I think minor surveying errors such as this are quite common.
At this point, I actually paid attention to the GPS readings for the first time. I saw that I was a mere 692 feet (211 m) from a degree confluence point! How could I not pay a quick visit? In short order, I trekked across the desert floor amidst the yucca, cholla, and mesquite and obtained all zeroes on the GPS (Picture 6). I took the requisite vista photos in the four cardinal and four diagonal directions; I chose to display the diagonal directions here because they made for better pictures. With excellent GPS satellite coverage and between nine and ten satellites tracking, I obtained all zeroes with a GPS error of 9 feet (2.7 meters), and an approximate elevation of 4436 feet (1352 meters). From a topographic map, I estimate the true elevation at 4435 feet (1352 meters), so this agreement is excellent.
Well-known fauna of this area include black-tailed prairie dog, bald eagle, porcupine, mule deer, cottontail, rattlesnake, and great blue heron, just to mention a few species. I didn’t have the privilege of seeing any wildlife during this brief stop, but the juxtaposition of fall colors and desert flora (Pictures 7 and 8) was lovely. The cottonwood is the state tree of my home state of Kansas, so it always held special appeal to me, though I’ve rarely seen it in such lovely golden splendor. There also was some interesting geology near Black Mesa State Park (Picture 9), but I was behind schedule for my next destination, my third tri-state corner of the day.
I zipped down the western Oklahoma line to the corner of Texas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico, and then I blazed a trail for Amarillo. The brilliant sunset in the Texas panhandle (Picture 10) put me a bit more behind schedule, but it was worth it. I met up with the "landowners" from http://confluence.org/confluence.php?visitid=6770 who all happen to live in Amarillo. Comparing these two confluences, a mere 69 miles (111 km) apart, it’s truly amazing how diverse and beautiful this country’s landscape is. We had a fantastic reunion, with no prairie dog assassinations this time, thank goodness. They put me up for the night, fed me red wine and appetizers, and even took me out for a fabulous dinner. Confluence hunting has sure allowed me to meet some nice people over the last few years.
After a hearty breakfast the next morning, I headed home to Wichita via Liberal, KS (including a wonderful stop at the Wizard of Oz Museum), Monument Rocks, Castle Rock, and brief visits with my two nonagenarian grandmothers, both living in western Kansas. What an eventful and wonderful two-day, 1200-mile solo roadtrip! The confluence visit was just the icing on the cake.