A Landing a Day

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Posts Tagged ‘41st Parallel’

Grover, Colorado

Posted by graywacke on February 23, 2013

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now pretty much a two-or-three-times-a-week blog), I have my computer select a random latitude and longitude that puts me somewhere in the continental United States (the lower 48).  I call this “landing.”  I keep track of the watersheds I land in, as well as the town I land near.  I do some internet research to hopefully find something of interest about my landing location.  To find out more about A Landing A Day (like who “Dan” is and what the various numbers and abbreviations mean in the first paragraph), please see “About Landing,” (and “Abbreviations” and “Cryptic Numbers”) above.

 Dan –  I landed in your adopted state (just barely, as you’ll see) – and I’m happy that I did because it’s a USer . . . CO; 66/68 (not by much); 4/10; 3; 154.6.

 Here’s my regional landing map, showing that I was very close to both Wyoming and Nebraska:

 grover landing 1

Zooming closer in, you can see how incredibly close I am to Nebraska (and also see my proximity to Grover):

 grover landing 2

I’ve used my GE shot to highlight the distance to the border:

 grover GE1

Only 1000 feet!!

 Here’s a slightly zoomed-out GE shot, showing that I landed in a largely agricultural area. 

 grover GE2

Before proceeding, I need to share with you something remarkable about today’s landing.  Here are my randomly-selected latitude and longitude, in decimal degrees:

 Latitude:         40.9989226156876  north

Longitude:      104.000102864153  west

 AYKM?  Look how incredibly close I came to landing at exactly 41N, 104W!!

 After some Excel spreadsheet manipulations, I was able to ascertain that, of my 1989 landings to date, this latitude was the fourth-closest to a whole number parallel ever, and this longitude was the second-closest to a whole number meridian ever.

 True confession #1:  I’ve been landing for years and years (I actually started landing on April 1, 1999, and blogging about it on November 25, 2008).  While I’ve been keeping track of latitudes and longitudes all this time, I wasn’t conversant in the terms “parallel” (a line of latitude) and “meridian” (a line of longitude).  Well, it’s about time!

 True confession #2:  I am such a nerd.  I couldn’t help myself, so I calculated the odds of a landing (out of 1989 landings) that is this close to both a whole number parallel and a whole number meridian.  The odds?  About one in a half million!!!  So, after another half million or so landings, I might come this close again!  To all you math-types out there – here’s what I did:  1989/4 x 1989/2 = 494,515 (correct?).

 I suspected immediately that the 41st parallel was, in fact, the boundary between CO & both WY & NE (which it is).

 Interestingly, Wiki had this to say about the 104th meridian:

In Colorado, the meridian 104° west of Greenwich roughly defines the eastern extent of the region of high plains protected by the Rocky Mountains.

I like that:  the high plains are protected by the mountains.  In my mind’s eye, I see the benevolent mountain range, arms extended, looking down with a compassionate smile at its progeny, the high plains.  OK.  Enough of my right brain.  So, lefty, what do you think?  Lefty speaks:  “I’m not sure what know what Wiki is talking about; maybe weather or something.”

My left brain securely engaged, I searched the internet fairly extensively, to try and find the source of the above statement (to figure out what exactly it means).  But no luck.  All of the references seem to circle back to Wiki.  However, I did find some pertinent information, from a 1892 book by J.W. Gregory, entitled:   “Final Report on the Mid-plains Division of the Artesian and Underflow Investigation Between the Ninety-seventh Meridian of Longitude West of Greenwich and the Foothills of the Rocky Mountains.” 

 I think Mr. Gregory’s publisher should have given him advice on a snappier title, like “Hydrology and Water Resources of the Colorado High Plains” or something like that.

 Anyway, Mr. Gregory collected rainfall data from the high plains region, and presented it in a table, sorted by longitude.  Here are his conclusions:

 “East of the 99th, while there is much adjacent territory in which irrigation will be so highly beneficial as to justify diligent effort and large expenditure on the part of the inhabitants to obtain it, it can scarcely be considered a necessity.  West of the 104th meridian, the mountain snows and torrents will unquestionably furnish an abundant supply of water for all purposes.”

Bottom line regarding the mighty 104th:   There should be plenty of water west of the 104th due to Rocky Mountain “snows and torrents.”

 He also concluded that there should be enough water east of the 99th, although it’s at the discretion of the “inhabitants” whether they deem it worthwhile to spend a bunch of money on irrigation.  Although not stated, it looks like the no man’s land between the 99th and the 104th must be pretty damned dry (and therefore needing irrigation). 

 You’ll note that on my zoomed out GE shot above you don’t see any tell-tale irrigation circles.  I went quite a few miles east (around meridian 101, in the heart of no-man’s land), and here’s what I saw.

 grover GE3

I guess Mr. Gregory knew what he was talking about.

 So, back to the mysterious Wiki quote:  Mr. Gregory’s analysis may explain the phrase “protected by the Rocky Mountains.”  But then again, it may not . . .

 Before I forget – I landed in the watershed of the Lodgepole Ck (3rd hit); on to the S Platte (18th hit); to the Platte (58th hit); to the Missouri (369th hit) to the MM (786th hit). 

 As for Grover – with a population of less than 200, I wouldn’t expect much, and couldn’t find much.  If you’d like to get a feel for the area, a fellow by the name of David Marek has put together quite the video of Grover.  Here’s what Mr. Marek says about his own work on You Tube:

 “Grover, Colorado” is a short piece that explores the landscape and environment of a small town in Northern Colorado”s Pawnee National Grasslands. It attempts to blend two perspectives in the hope of capturing an outsider’s portrait.

One perspective is from the place of “that which passes through.” This is the perspective of the countless folks (myself included) who drive through Grover and only experience it through the window of a car. Consequently, the length of the film is time it took to slowly drive through Grover, then turn around and drive out.

The second perspective is from a place of “that which stays.” These shots are all static as are most of the subjects of the shots themselves. I have superimposed the two perspectives on top of each other in the hope of creating some insight and understanding between the two and perhaps the people who embody them. A film by David K Marek

Click here to go to the video.

 Then, I saw some photographs on line by Jerry Downs.  He knew some folks in Grover (Ernie & Genevieve), and visited and photographed there.  He is a remarkable photographer.  I strongly recommend that you visit his site.  I did, and checked out each of his portfolios.  Awesome stuff.

 His pictures of Ernie & Genevieve are in his “Human Nature” portfolio (shots 12, 13 & 14, with 14 being particularly memorable).  He also has a cool shot of a bug walking in a tire track in Grover (in the “Humor” portfolio, shot 31).  I enjoyed all of the portfolios; from the perspective of A Landing A Day, the portfolio “Real Gone West” is particularly spot on.

 Click here to visit the portfolio page of his photography blog.  Trust me, it’ll be time well spent.

 About 12 miles due south of my landing are the Pawnee Buttes.  Erosional remnants of a retreating (eroding) plateau, they rise dramatically from the surrounding plains. Here’s a Panoramio shot by Ge Nielissen:

panoramio Ge Nielissen

For scale, the top of the buttes is about 300 feet above the plains. 

I’ll close with this shot from the library of Northern Colorado University:

 u of northern colorado library

That’ll do it.





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