25-Apr-2015 -- As I was in the Chicago area for the annual meeting of the Association of American Geographers in Chicago, I couldn't resist a 36 hour visit to nearby Wisconsin. I have a tradition, over 10 years old, of visiting confluence points after the AAG meetings ended, including last year's visit to a freeway off ramp in Florida, a drive to a playa in the Basin and Range area west of Las Vegas in 2009, and starting way back in 2003 with a swampy and spooky walk to the backwoods near New Orleans, Louisiana. This year, there was a confluence that I had been eyeing for quite some time, that of 43 North 89 West, which seemed almost too easy to be true. In an area of glacial terrain, it was unbelievable that this one wasn't in the middle of a lake, or at least a marsh, or a hollow, but rather, in someone's driveway. Fortunately my friend and colleague Barb Wallner was not only willing to visit this, but was very knowledgeable about the history and geography of that region of the state. Thus, after departing Chicago at around 6:00am, I arrived in Milwaukee about 90 minutes later, and we took off from Milwaukee on a cloudy day in mid-spring, but fortunately, no rain was falling.
We left I-94 at Highway 73, driving south to Deerfield, and then south to US Highway 18, then east to the town of Lake Ripley. The lake itself was the major natural feature of the town, and we turned left on Alpine Village Lane, driving slowly as it was still early on Saturday morning. Many of the houses here were built in the manner of Swiss cottages, and it was a pleasant neighborhood. On the north end of the loop that marks the street, we parked and walked the rest of the way, not wanting to turn around in the confluence landowner's driveway and seeking to make as little noise as possible. In less than 10 minutes, we were wandering around the northwest part of the driveway. I was hoping that we wouldn't have to knock and disturb the landowner, and fortunately, after 10 minutes, we were able to zero out our GPS units, take photographs and video, and walk out the way we had come in. On our way out, we found an address of "4290" which seemed ironic that it was so close to the latitude and longitude of this confluence point.
The confluence that day as we found it was at the very beginning of the driveway. We saw no people or animals; the beautiful lake was visible to the east, the skies were gray, and the temperature stood at about 60 F (13 C) with a slight breeze. I have a nice collection of points in Wisconsin - this one, plus one to the east of here with Barb, and an attempt at 44 N 88 W, and then several points in the northwest part of the state along 45 North. This was definitely one of the easiest confluences I have ever visited. I had stood on 43 North numerous times in the past, from Idaho on the west to New Hampshire on the east. I had stood on 89 West a few times before, from Illinois on the north side to Mississippi on the south. This was my first time on 43 North 89 West.
Afterward returning to the vehicle, we stopped to look at the historical marker and beach in Ripley Park, to the north, and then after leaving the town, stopped at Aztalan State Park and Indian Mounds, and then to the observation tower at Lapham Peak, and to the antique store where Barb works, before returning to Milwaukee. We parted ways and on my way to Manitowoc later that morning, the clouds broke and we were heading for our warmest day since I had arrived in the region a week earlier. These had included some bitterly cold days in Chicago, and it was excellent to see springtime arriving in America's Dairyland! The day ended with a wonderful hike along the shoreline at Manitowoc's Silver Lake Park. Get out there and explore the Earth!