24-Aug-2012 -- As I was in the middle of BioBlitz, a two-day event that brought together 100 scientists, 400 students, and 4,500 of the general public to document the biodiversity of Rocky Mountain National Park, a confluence visit seemed the perfect complement. The reason it was so perfect is because I had been collecting macroinvertebrate field data all day with students at BioBlitz, and the confluence project is another citizen science field collection project with a geographic focus. What could be better?
Ten Years After: It was a whole decade ago that I last visited this confluence. At the time, I noted the rapid urbanization that was occurring here. What had transpired during that decade? As I neared the spot, I could plainly see the evidence all around me: A children's hospital had opened up a half mile to the east, on the north side of the road, while further east, across Interstate Highway 25, a town center had opened with at least 30 stores and restaurants. These developments came as no surprise, as I routinely pass by this confluence at least several times per month. I parked in the dirt at the northeast corner of the intersection of County Road 7 and Baseline Road. Baseline Road is only 8 meters north of Latitude 40 and marked the old line between the Nebraska and Kansas Territories before Colorado became a state. Just west of here, in Boulder, a very nice granite marker sliced in two at the latitude line marks the significance of this line of latitude. The latitude line also marks the baseline of the 6th Principal Meridian and Baseline, from which much of Colorado, as well as Kansas, Nebraska, and other states, were surveyed.
I walked carefully from the vehicle to the west across County Road 7. It was rush hour on a Friday, and the roads in the area are all fairly high speed roads, so caution is needed here. I then waited for a break in traffic and crossed Baseline Road, and then found the confluence in the field to the south, on flat ground, just where I had found it a decade earlier. It was about 85 degrees and the sun was setting in a spectacular fashion. I saw no other people on foot and no animals with one notable exception: As I approached the confluence, a large group of prairie dogs ran away from me in the distance. The confluence lies very close to a prairie dog hole. No doubt the family of prairie dogs living in this particular set of tunnels feels very centered. I thought the confluence field might have been developed into an office or residential park over the past decade, but for once, the winds of change had not blown here: The field was still exactly as I had left it in 2002: Devoid of any planted crop, lying in bare soil. I was at the confluence in 10 minutes from the vehicle, though I took longer to get a sense of the surroundings.
After five to ten minutes on site, I then, carefully, crossed the road to the north and took a few more photographs of the numerous "for sale" signs that forecast the future of this area. The confluence location, if developed, could be in the backyard of a house or condo or in an office park. Or, perhaps the road would be widened yet again and it will in the future be on the shoulder of the road, or perhaps on a high speed rail line. After visiting the confluence and speculating about the future, I crossed back to the north, then east across County Road 7 just a short distance to the east, on the way back to the vehicle, the sunset became even more magnificent. Therefore, I took some photographs that I turned into a movie. I paused there for awhile as it was, despite the development and the traffic, still Colorado, and still beautiful. It was good to be back. Perhaps I will visit in another 10 years.