Do you remember that time your mother threw a Pirate Themed birthday party for you? The day was filled with young adventurers eagerly studying a map complete with that iconic red X in hope of finding a chest full of gold coins. If you were lucky, you found the chest and it was probably chocolate. Few things are as sweet as chocolate and bragging rights to a 10 year old boy. Well I don’t remember that. For one, I don’t think I ever had a party like that and two I never did like chocolate. (Clarence must not have gotten the memo.) But I did develop that sense of wanderlust with maps and I’d like to share that with you.
Maps have a long history. So long in fact that the name is actually slang for the Latin “mappa mundi” which roughly translates to “Napkin of the world.” The earliest maps actually didn’t map out the world but rather the skies. Archaeologists have found star maps the depict what seems to be an incoming asteroid. The fascinating thing about these maps is that there are several of them from all over the world all depicting an object on the same trajectory at roughly the same time. Many believe this was an asteroid that exploded in an air pocket leading to the fire and brimstone we read about in the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. But that’s not relevant to a blog about driving. Thankfully humans wanted to know how to get from here to there and eventually started making land maps.
Here in North America, we’re used to the standard north oriented maps. This makes sense for us, you can point your map and orient it to magnetic north on your compass and you’re only off by about 3 degrees at most. Which if you’re driving on marked roads, shouldn’t be too much of an issue since you won’t be taking bearings anyway. You’re stuck on the road and the map is just to help you get a sense of where you are and how you might get to where you want to go. If you’re going off road or hiking, don’t worry we’ll get to that in a later post. My nerdiness has been given an outlet with this series of posts and it seems like I have given that to Clarence who eagerly asks for his “nap” and “noculars” [sic] so that he can help us navigate. Over the next few posts I will be talking about several types of maps that I have enjoyed using and sharing stories of times they got us lost and subsequently helped us find our way home.
Until next time, thanks for driving with us!