23-Oct-2004 -- One hundred degrees west longitude is often referred to as the dividing line between the humid eastern USA and the arid western USA. This is an oversimplification, of course, but one does get an impression along this line of a gradual change to the high arid plains, a thinning out of the trees. I, Joseph Kerski, was in Kansas City all week to attend the 89th annual meeting of the National Council for Geographic Education, the major organization of geography educators for North America. As 550 of us were emphasizing and modeling the teaching and learning of geography during the meeting, and I had conducted a GPS geocaching workshop at the conference, a confluence trek seemed particularly appropriate on my way back to Colorado.
I left Salina, Kansas, at 5:30am, driving west along Interstate Highway 70 to the Voda exit in Trego County. I then drove south along a north-south section line road, and then due east and south along a few other section line roads to a road along 100.017 degrees west longitude. In a small hollow, I parked the vehicle with 400 meters indicated to the confluence. I could see that the confluence lay in a field newly planted with alfalfa or wheat, and to avoid unnecessary tromping on the plants, I walked north along the road until I reached the 39th parallel. I then walked east for 200 meters until I reached the confluence. As this was Great Plains country with few trees and obstructions, it was easy to zero out the unit.
I arrived at the confluence at 8:30 am local time under a clear sky, a moderate wind, and a temperature of 11 degrees C (52 F). It was a beautiful high plains morning. The confluence lies on flat ground in the northwest part of a large field. I saw a few birds but no animals. The predominant land use in this area is farming, and has been for over 100 years, when settlers moved into the area to turn what was termed as the "Great American Desert" into the growing of food and to create a good life for their families. Some of the farmers are gone as farm size has increased with mechanization. Farmhouses here are spread far apart at a density of about 1 for every 8 square kilometers.
I had been to 39 North several times, in Colorado, Kansas, and Missouri, and this was my third visit to 100 West (the others were in Texas and South Dakota). After a 25 minute visit, I retraced my steps back to the vehicle, refreshed from breathing high plains morning air.