16-Feb-2017 -- As I was newly arrived in the area to give a series of workshops at Oklahoma State University, and as the workshops focused on geospatial technologies, beginning this trip with a confluence visit was a natural fit. In addition, I was suffering from a bit of confluence withdrawal, as it had been two months since my Mojave Desert trek to 35 North 118 West. Furthermore, it had been a few years since my trek to a point in far southeastern Oklahoma, and I was eager to get back on to these wide open spaces, even though I knew this point would actually be in Kansas. And, I loved Kansas too.
And thus, immediately after arriving at the Oklahoma City airport found me heading due north up Interstate Highway 35 toward the Kansas line. The day was bright and clear, temperature nearly perfect for getting outside, about 58 degrees F, and not too windy. After crossing the Kansas state line, I took the first exit and headed east toward Arkansas City, Kansas. It is so named because this is where the Arkansas River exits Kansas and heads into Oklahoma. It should be noted that the town and river here are pronounced "Ar-Kansas" instead of "Ar-Kan-saw." Once on the south end of Arkansas City, I headed east and then south on section line roads until I was on State Line Road, which is an east-west road that runs right along the Kansas-Oklahoma border, itself a real treat for a geographer. Ahead of me in the low part of this dirt road was a vehicle that pulled into the driveway of the home where I intended to ask permission to walk out onto their field. It turned out to be the mail deliverer. After chatting with her for a moment, she departed, and I went up and knocked on the front door of the house. At least two large dogs were there, but fortunately, inside. I had a letter asking permission with me but after nobody answered, I quickly walked east up a farm trail and then cut north to the point, which I reached in about 7 minutes. I was a bit concerned that the point would be in the very wet gully, and I was wearing my work clothes, but the point ended up on dry land.
I found the point just about 1 meter south of a gully that had some water and muddy soil in it, in a lowish point in the terrain. The longest view was to the north, into the field beyond the gully, containing a windmill. A hill of grass lay to the east, and another rise blocked some of the view to the south. It was a peaceful spot; I saw no birds and no people. It was midday in the last month of the winter; no snow was visible; the land was waking up to springtime. This was an area of low rolling hills, but with many flat areas; steeped in history of Native Americans and European settlers, of people who had endured much before and after the Dust Bowl, and the Great Plains land here was still as beautiful as ever. There was some oil and natural gas extraction in the area, farming, and ranching. I had stood on 37 North numerous times, from California on the west to Virginia on the east, and it was good to be here, especially since 37 North lay only 60 meters or so north of the state line. It showed how accurate those 19th Century surveyors actually were. I had also stood on 97 West numerous times over the past 15 years, from South Dakota on the north to Texas on the south end. This was my first time to 37 North 97 West, adding to at least 10 points in Kansas, perhaps 12. I spent only 10 minutes at the site as I had work to get done before my Oklahoma State University presentations.
I walked back in a more direct route back to the track, then paralleling the road, and then on the road itself. Back at the house, I looked to see if there was anyone home that I could talk with, but the residents were still out. Once back at the vehicle, I drove due west along the state line, which for me as a geographer, was a great thrill, until I came to a section of old US Highway 77. North of the line, the road was still in use, though its prime days had long gone, evidenced by the abandoned gas station and garage on the corner, and the road was completely abandoned to the south, in Oklahoma. A few hundred meters to the west was the new section of highway. There, on the southwest corner of the intersection with the new highway, I found a wonderful set of stone markers about Oklahoma and about Indian Territory. Therefore, I stopped and filmed a few videos there. This was a glorious and unexpected end to my visit. From there, I proceeded south on US Highway 77 through Ponca City and all the way to Stillwater, where I had a wonderful few days with students, faculty, and staff. Go Cowboys!