Before you leave home, ask one question: Got map? | PostIndependent.com
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Before you leave home, ask one question: Got map?

Even though my memory doesn’t always serve me well the older I get, there is one thing I can honestly say. I’ve never been lost with the right map in hand.There was a time years ago on a backpack trip with friends when we ended up a canyon over from where we were supposed to be. But that wasn’t the map’s fault. It’s not a male thing like never asking for directions; it’s a map thing. If you know how to read a map correctly, you’ll never get lost.Of course you have to know where you’re starting from and where you want to end up.The right map has made a world of difference while traveling in foreign countries.In London, even the locals carry a small atlas of maps with them which they call the “A to Zed” because they can’t pronounce the letter “z” correctly.I was immensely proud of myself when my son-in-law trusted me to ride shotgun and navigate across London to a restaurant he’d never been to using the “A to Zed.”We made it without any wrong turns.From the deep recesses of childhood memories, maps have always fascinated me. What a wonderful thing to know all the places you could go if only on a National Geographic map spread out on the floor.Sure, electronic versions of maps are available in many different formats on many goofy gadgets. But nothing will ever replace an old-fashioned paper map pulled out of your pack to see if you’re on the right track.There is not a trip made to the back country that the necessary USGS 7.5-minute topographic maps don’t go with me. The USGS stands for United States Geological Survey (see http://www.usgs.gov).The reason it takes more than one map is because of Murphy’s Law of Maps.The law goes like this: “Whatever area you want to look at will be on the corner of the map you have requiring at least one more map and usually two to find your way.”And when I’m traveling to some new place in “the big city” what do I do? Go on-line to one of the many map programs and print out what’s needed.Gotta have that hard copy in my hands.Nothing like a good atlas, so there are a few on my bookshelf. There is the “Atlas of the New West” published by the University of Colorado in the Republic of Boulder.It was purchased when everybody kept talking about “the New West.” I didn’t want to get lost making the transition from the Old Wild West to “the New West.”A few years ago “Mapping the West, America’s Westward Movement 1524-1890,” by Paul Cohen, came out. It’s a color reprint collection of the finest maps made since the American West was discovered. A must have book for someone like me.So don’t come whining to me about getting lost. Before you leave home just ask yourself one question.”Got map?”Bill Kight, of Glenwood Springs, shares his stories with readers every other week. His outdoor experiences with maps comes from over 25 years with federal land management agencies.


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