I’m always rather startled when I hear someone say that they don’t know how to read maps. I was taught how to do so in elementary school and it has definitely come in handy over the course of my life. Even in this era of GPS, it’s quite valuable to be able to find your location on a map and be able to determine how to reach your destination.
Maps and atlases and the like have always fascinated me. I can look at them for hours. Over the years, I have often used them as artwork on my walls. I think this has to do with my love of travel. If I look at a map, I can imagine myself being there. It also has to do with my love of reading. If a book includes a map, I can take the journey with the main character. I find that exciting.
Maps can also teach you a lot about a place. Why did they name that street in that way? Place names often reflect history. They make you want to learn more. I often wonder who named Purple Cow Road, and what they were smoking at the time.
Now that I rely on GPS and/or Google Maps so much, and since I moved to the Seattle area after I built up that reliance, and since the hilly terrain means that streets don’t always adhere to the strict grid pattern I was used to in flat Florida, I tend not to know where I am with relation to other parts of my city or state. I don’t have that map image in my head anymore. It’s pure laziness on my part, and very unsettling.
I do recommend that everyone carry local maps in their cars, because you never know when your GPS will go kerflooey. There was a recent week of sunspot activity where my GPS kept thinking I was miles from my actual position. I cannot tell you how frustrating that week was.
If you don’t know how to read a map, there’s no shame in that. You just weren’t taught. But you can still learn. I have total faith in you. I suggest you start by checking out this very informative article on wikiHow entitled, “How to Read a Map”.
Whether you know how to read a map or not, I hope you’ll find your way back to this blog again and again, dear reader!
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