Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Map Lover

Barry Schiff, a pilot and author, writes a column for AOPA Pilot, the magazine for the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, called the Proficient Pilot.  In his most recent article, he pays tribute to aeronautical charts, which I have been working on over a two and a half decade career as a cartographer.  In the article, he shares a quote by Amelia Earhart:

"Someday I would like to write a piece about the fun of voyaging with maps -- without ever leaving home."

This is such a wonderful quote, and perfectly describes the almost geeky fanaticism felt by map lovers.  And I am most certainly a map lover.

My love of maps began when I was a kid.  My grandparents gave me a subscription to National Geographic's World Magazine, which I read cover to cover every month, and the occasional map that was included in some issues were cherished.  I would pour over them, analyzing the areas they covered, and imagine visiting these sometimes faraway places.

As I got older, I graduated to National Geographic Magazine, and the maps that were included with many of those issues were much more complex than in World.  My favorite map was a political map of the United States, and I invented so many different mapping games, the rules of which only I knew, and I could play with them by myself for hours.

Soon, I started buying Rand McNally and AAA road atlases every year, and I would go through them page by page, exploring the states, highways, and sites, comparing the new editions with past editions, and planning and planning and planning future road trips and vacations.

In college, I discovered that I could major in Geography, and I pursued my Bachelors degree in Cartography, eventually getting a job in the government as a professional cartographer.

With the advent of the internet, the world of cartography continues to grow, and the number of online mapping sites make it easy to plan just about anything, from checking traffic for local trips and destinations, to planning huge cross-country road trips.  It's a map lovers dream!

I'm constantly planning road trips, and I have a catalog of at least a dozen different trips that I want to take.  And I still use a paper map atlas, along with the technology available, to plan these trips.  And this creates, and sometimes even satiates, my wanderlust.

Have a great evening, everyone!


  1. Hi Eric!

    So I have a blog idea for you, if you are interested. I am a fellow travel-lover and I dream of travel all the time. I am curious about the different trips you want to take. Where are they? What is the routing you are considering and why? If you want to share, I'd love to read!

    As an aside, I don't hear you mention international travel much. Are you interested in that as well? And have you discovered the Youtube channel Kara and Nate? If not, watch a few episodes, starting with the series in India that is pretty recent, within the last week or so. It is outstanding and so immersive that you feel you are there! Might be a good way to spend a couple of hours of this bonus snow day we have!

    1. Hi, Leeann. Thanks for the suggestion. I'll take a look at perhaps sharing a post of my trip ideas.

      RE: International travel... I really don't have a lot of interest in that. My passion is to see THIS country first, though I admit to wanting to visit several countries, like Japan, New Zealand, and England (and much of Europe, really). I also want to take mission trips thru my church, to Uganda and Kenya, and perhaps Turkey, and those may actually become more of a reality at some point. I don't fly well (at 6'2", I'm just too tall for it to be very comfortable), so that may be part of why I don't have a lot of desire for international travel.

      I'll check out Kara and Nate, even though I prefer the written word to videos. I appreciate the recommendation.