Saturday, September 30, 2006


Maps. I really like maps. Any map. Trail Maps, street maps, state maps, hand drawn maps, old maps. Shoot, I never read a map I didn't like. Even when I was a little tacker, maps fascinated me. Imagination and an eight year old brain could only dream of what went on in Minot, State College, or Timbuktu. Exotic places conjured up images of Carribean pirates and Henry Morgan pillaging up and down the Spanish Main. Tracing Magellan's route around the globe to find the island he died on. Maps brought the world into perspective.

Yeah, maps took me on many a journey when I was young. It was a natural progression to rely on them for my living when I matured. I can't remember how many Rand McNally interstate atlases I shredded during my million plus miles pedaling a tractor trailer through Canada and the lower 48. By the time I was done with them, pages were missing, torn, and made illegible by thousands of dirty finger prints.

Maps still play an important role. Now it is trail maps. Ever seaching for that one trail that has it all. Drops, twisty single track, in my face upstrokes and white knuckle downstrokes. I will pore over a US Geological map for hours checking out altitude changes and checking for low wetlands. Looking for old county roads, logging right of ways, and those pesky little minute dotted lines that may indicate a technical rider's delight.

I have considered many things regarding maps. For instance, maps must of been the first form of writing our low browed knuckle dragging ancestors used. Maybe even before meaning was assigned to the grunts and chortles of the newly evolved Sapiens. Think about it. Spoken communication was not invented, yet somehow the next waterhole or stand of berries had to be found. A stick dragged through the sand marking the spot where the fresh killed mammoth lay waiting to be consumed. Had to beat jumping up and down grunting and waving their arms.

But as handy and informative as maps are, why are so many people unable to read them? What is it that confuses otherwise intelligent folks when they open up that atlas to find the best way through Lincoln, Nebraska. Their eyes will glaze over. Turning the map this way, then that way and finally upside down in a futile attempt to locate their position on a 2 dimensional plane. They might know where they are going. They might know where they have been. But often they cannot figure what town they are in.