I have a map of the world in our home. I love to look at it and find countries I’ve heard mentioned in the news or a book. I drag a finger along the latitude lines from east to west to compare the climate. I also have a globe on a stand (OK, I’ve got a few of them) that I get a kick of trying to figure out how far someplace is from here to there. I’ve got a little bit of a map thing....they catch my eye in stationary, home decor and all things travel.
I’ve haven’t always had this “where am I in the world?” interest. Like many kids that attended public school in the 1960’s, the world was pretty small. World affairs came in print from our four page Weekly Reader newspaper. Classroom maps were pulled down from the top of the chalkboard like window blinds, if they were present at all. I remember more about watching the teacher struggle to get the silly thing to stay down and not go zipping up like a cartoon than the geography lesson. My aunt and uncle had a globe, but it was one of those “don’t touch, not a toy things.”
I couldn’t have found Iran or the Baltic’s or Egypt to save my soul or win Jeopardy. Africa was a continent? A country? Big?. As far as the United States, I was solid on the surrounding states and the popular ones like Hawaii, Florida and California, but those “M” states, Michigan, Minnesota and the “I” states, Iowa, Illinois and Indiana, well, they could be anywhere. My parents folded Rand McNally map in the car didn’t get much exploration, because we didn’t go very far.
The World Wide Web has made the globe a much smaller place. A few key strokes and not only can one see the map, but right now action pictures of the people and the weather. GPS has replaced our atlas from AAA and when was the last time you saw a pull down map?
But there is something that feels good about touching a spot on the map. I’m thinking we should bring map love back. Maybe this Christmas there is someone on your list that you’d like to give the world to. Maybe it’s time to frame the USA and start pinning places you’ve been. Maybe a little talk at the kitchen table about what the red lines and blue lines mean might be helpful some day. A few tips on the Compass Rose and how to find north and south is a lesson many could still use.
A great travel quote from John Muir says “The world is big and I want to have a good look at it before it gets dark.” I love that. A colorful map or globe may get the mind wondering about what’s out there, for a geography novice or a seasoned explorer. It might get that wanderlust going or at least help with Jeopardy answers.
Patti Beth Anderson has more than 20 years of experience in the group travel industry taking people all over the world. Her motto is "I return with the same number of people I left with… not necessarily the same people, but the same number nevertheless. So no 'crankpots' allowed" She may be reached at 918-786-3318 or firstname.lastname@example.org.