13-Mar-2015 -- As I was in the region to visit two colleges, and to talk with the education and geosciences faculty at each about the benefits of using geospatial technologies in teaching, learning, research, and campus administration, a confluence visit seemed like the perfect fit.
After my companion, who was visiting these colleges with me, for possible enrollment there, and I flew into MSP (Minneapolis St Paul), we departed the airport grounds in a rental car. We were just in time to experience the first springlike conditions in the upper midwest. The manufactured snow kept the skiers moving at the ski area about 30 miles south of the airport (yes, there is a ski area in southern Minnesota), but the surroundings were free of snow, perhaps for the first time in several months. The air temperature was nearly 50 degrees already in the late morning. We moved fairly briskly south on Interstate Highway 35 to Owatonna. At Owatonna, we turned east on US Highway 14, which I loved, because it was my first time on this section of road. Always good to travel on new highways and byways.
We continued just past Claremont, and turned south on the section line road, Road 3. It was a fine day in southern Minnesota under mostly sunny skies. At Road O, we turned west on a dirt section line road for one half of a mile, where I was overjoyed to find no fences barring our trek to the south. I parked just east of the 93rd Meridian. I looked at the muddy field and then at my shoes. These work shoes were the only ones I had brought on this trip, to save space in my airplane carry-on backpack. The soil looked like it had recently been turned, getting ready for a spring planting. And, it had recently been freed of its winter burden of snow; so it was completely saturated. "Nothing ventured, nothing gained," I thought, so off I set to the South with GPS in one hand and camera in the other. As my companion wanted to make a good impression with the colleges, she wisely stayed behind. Onward: The first 10, well, make that 3, meters were fine, with the ground lightly covered in corn stalks, but once those ended, I became mired in mud. It was so deep that I almost lost my balance several times. My feet felt like they weighed 20 pounds each. I am sure I looked quite comical from the road, high stepping with phone in hand and GPS in the other. However, after about 10 minutes of this difficult walk, I arrived at the confluence, still in view of the car off to the North.
The terrain here is extremely flat; almost no rolling hills in this part of the state. It was almost as flat as the points I visited last Fall on the Llano Estacado in Texas. The view to the north is perhaps the longest. I saw no birds, animals, or people. It was just before noon local time, late spring, sunny skies, the week before the Vernal Equinox. Over the years, I had amassed a tidy collection of Minnesota confluence points, including 2 on this same meridian to the North of here, and a few in the southwest corner of the state. This meridian: I had stood on 93 North from Minnesota to Iowa. This parallel: I had stood on 44 North a bit more often, from South Dakota on the west to Maine on the East. It was great to be on 44 North 93 West for the first time. This is definitely an easy confluence to visit, and with respect for the landowner, I recommend visiting before the crops are planted or after they are harvested in fall. Filming was a bit tricky; I could not set anything down in the mud, and keeping my balance was difficult. Plus, it was a bit windy. I was on the site for about 10 minutes, after which I trudged back to the vehicle, my shoes gathering more mass with each step.
Once back at the vehicle, I walked down the road, flipping my toes up to shake off some of the mud. I left a long trail of prints on the dry dirt road. Then, I announced "mission accomplished" back at the vehicle. We drove east, then north again, then once on US 14, east to Rochester on this highway, stopping at the Panera Bread there. Apologies to the staff for the mud I scaped off in their bathroom; I tried to tidy after myself but some confluence mud I am sure was evident despite my efforts. We then drove southeast, where the land began rolling as we neared the Mississippi River, into Iowa on US Highway 52, where we stopped to take some geeky photos of ourselves at the sign on the state line. Onward into Iowa! This confluence trek was indeed a great way to begin our visit to this wonderful region of the world.