Jump to content

I Like Maps!

Recommended Posts

I've always been fascinated by maps. I enjoy looking at them, and I like working with them, especially when I am visiting an unfamiliar area. I always like to know where I am with respect to the roads, rivers, mountains and interesting sites around me.


One of the reasons I enjoy caching is that it involves the use of maps. I am curious as to whether an interest and enjoyment of cartography is a general trait of other cachers.


I'd also be interested to hear if there are those who don't like working with maps, but still enjoy caching.

Link to comment

Make that at least four. I love maps. I like old ones and new ones, hand-drawn ones, maps in color and maps drawn in pencil. I have my science kids draws maps of everything I can think of and try to get them to learn to read maps of every kind. I love maps.


Way back in the 70s, I took on of those standardized tests that they were so fond of, and one of my teachers told me that I was the first person in our school to get a perfect score on the mapping section. The testing company must have questioned my results, because I had to take that section over again, with three adults watching me do it. I scored perfectly again! I couldn't understand how anyone could not score prefectly---I mean all you did was look at the map and answer the question! OK, now that I am a teacher, I understand that some people can't just look at it and "see" the answer, but it was hard for me to understand way back when.

Link to comment

I couldn't live without maps. I can get as immersed in a map as I can most novels. They're informative, interesting and asthetic, and there are so many variations. I have a collection of several hundred; they are as simple as trail maps and as complex as topos, aeronautical and weather charts. I especially like the National Geographic series of maps.


While traveling, I usually have a map on my lap and moniter it constantly. I have even been known to drool on a map! :lol:


And, often, I dream about what life was like before maps. I reckon, in an earlier life, I might have been a cartographer! :lol::lol:

Link to comment

Another map lover here. As long as I can remember I've loved them and been able to read them. I'm a sucker for old maps at antique stores.


I really don't get why so many people seem to be map challenged. As a previous poster said, it is right there in multiple colors on the paper.

Link to comment

Yes. I like maps...


Back in college my roomate and I went to the old thrift store and bought a bunch of maps from the national geographics on the shelves for like 10 cents each. We searched from the early 70's to present (which was then the early 90's). Over the span of those 20 years of mags on the shelf we ended up having copies of maps to complete the whole globe. We took the maps home and posted them on the walls of our room in such a way that we were "inside" the globe. It was pretty cool. We also filled in the gaps with space maps which we painted with spots of glow in the dark paint. At night we left earth and floated through space!


Yes. I like maps.....

Link to comment

I just saw this story and thought it would be a good thing to share. Hope it's not too long. How many of you think that this would be the perfect job?



Los Angeles Times



They're All Over the Map


The Auto Club's intrepid cartographers traverse the

rural Southwest cataloging the uncharted features of a

changing landscape.

By John O'Dell

Times Staff Writer


October 20, 2004

VIRGIN MOUNTAINS, Ariz. — Shane Henry steered his

truck along a dusty road, emerging from a steep, cool

pine forest and dead-ending on the edge of a

precipice. The uncharted spot provided a breathtaking,

30-mile-wide panoramic view of the Virgin River Gorge,

stretching northeast into Utah.

For Henry, a field cartographer for the Automobile

Club of Southern California, it was a great day of

discovery. After finding the overlook, he spotted

ruins of a forgotten century-old cattle ranch near a

pair of freshwater springs. Between overlook and

ruins, he had also found 10 miles of a drivable dirt

road. None are on the Auto Club's current "Indian

Country" road map, but all his finds will be on a new

version due out in two years.

Despite the popularity of Global Positioning System

navigation and earth-blanketing satellite photography,

there are still places few have seen and roads few

have traveled. Henry and his senior road-mapping

colleague, John Skinner, are helping to find them.

The duo of Skinner and Henry doesn't have the same

poetic ring as Lewis and Clark. But 200 years after

the famous explorers began their mapping trip through

the American West, Skinner and Henry are doing much

the same work, traveling the rugged backcountry of the

Southwest, looking for something new.

The two explorers are a rarity in the modern world of

mapmaking. Rand McNally Co. and the various AAA groups

are the primary publishers of U.S. road maps. Most

full-time field researchers work on roadways in urban

and suburban areas.

Skinner and Henry "are probably the only ones in the

U.S. doing what they do" with backcountry mapping,

says Bill Scharf, head of the Auto Club's cartography

division. The Los Angeles-based club publishes 90

different maps and distributes 7 million road maps

annually. It tries to update them every other year.

Every dirt road and trail shown on them will

eventually be driven and rated by the Auto Club's

field cartographers. But they rarely work together.

"There's too much work to do to team up," Skinner


They spend 10 months a year on the road, racking up

about 60,000 miles each in four-wheel-drive trucks.

The Auto Club provides the trucks, which are adorned

with the club's logo and a banner: "Map Unit."

Their territory is vast. Skinner and Henry cover the

Mojave Desert, the Sierra Nevada, rural regions of 13

Southern California counties and all of Baja

California. They also map the Four Corners area — a

130,000-square-mile region surrounding the point where

Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah all touch —

which is included in the club's celebrated Indian

Country map.

That map is a fixture in tourists' cars and ranchers'

pickups alike. Its accuracy is why "everyone around

here uses it," says Ed Chamberlin, curator of the

Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site museum on

the Navajo Reservation in Ganado, Ariz.

Novelist Tony Hillerman, whose mysteries featuring

Navajo Tribal Police Lt. Joe Leaphorn have brought the

Four Corners region alive for millions of readers, has

also made the map a key part of his fictional cop's

crime-fighting arsenal.

Henry, 42, a former actor, has been on the job for

three years; Skinner, 59, is a trained geographer who

has been riding trail for the Auto Club for 22 years.

Skinner quit in the '90s and moved to Arizona for

three years in pursuit of a romance that ultimately

failed. When the heartbreak healed, he asked for his

old job back and hit the road again.

"This job is not good for relationships," says

Skinner, who has been engaged three times but has

never married.

Skinner and Henry work in trucks loaded with GPS

navigation systems and highly detailed federal

topographical maps to trace their tracks. Backseats

and cargo areas are filled with piles of extra maps,

cellphones, tents and food. They carry jacks, flares,

survival kits, tire pumps, extra fuel lines,

transmission oil and fan belts.

As they drive, Skinner and Henry continually check

special odometers, accurate to within one-thousandth

of a mile, to verify that the distances already listed

on maps are precise. They also rate road conditions to

ensure that routes haven't been washed out by flash

floods or altered by construction. Their discoveries

may include stone quarries, mines, washes, overlooks,

abandoned towns and a dizzying variety of unpaved


Dirt roads on AAA maps are rated from graded and

gravel-topped thoroughfares to badly eroded and rutted

tracks best suited for four-wheel-drive enthusiasts.

"We want to make sure that if a mom in her Volvo

decides to take one of these roads, she'll be able to

make it," Henry says.

On the job, Skinner and Henry usually sleep in motels,

not tents. Still, notes Denis Cosgrove, a cultural

geography professor at UCLA, the two are throwbacks

who resemble "the early topographers, trekking out

into inaccessible places and trying to reduce a part

of the world to a page on a map."

The job has its perils.

Skinner and Henry have had encounters with mountain

lions and rattlesnakes. And they give wide berth to

desert compounds littered with the glass vials and

metal cooking pots that mark the illegal drug-making

operations of modern outlaws.

The mapmakers say their work requires a big helping of

self-confidence. Henry was on a rough dirt road in the

mountains northwest of Lake Powell in Utah when he saw

the road ahead disappearing between some rocks.

Usually he would get out and walk the route to see

where it went before proceeding, but it was late and

he was tired, so he just drove on.

As Henry passed the curve it turned into a narrow,

terrifying stretch made up of loose rock rubble with a

200-foot drop on one side. He kept going, in part

because an Auto Club map indicated that the road led

across the mountain summit.

But about 200 yards from the top he found himself

trapped. The road's loose rock had turned into a

series of 18-inch-high granite ledges.

"Those steps were just a little too high for my truck

tires to roll over," Henry says.

He couldn't make a U-turn because the road was too

narrow. One option was to back downhill, but he faced

a mile-long path of scree with the long drop on one

side. So he decided to keep going up. He exited the

truck very carefully, so he wouldn't slip off the

precipice, then gathered rocks to build a little ramp

so he could drive over the step. Then every 30 feet or

so he stopped because of another granite step and had

to build a new ramp. It took Henry four hours to drive

200 yards.

"This is a good example of why we drive all these

roads," he says. On the older map it showed as a rough

but usable dirt road across the summit. "But it had

deteriorated so badly it was impassable for most

people, so I took it out" for the new map, he says.

Skinner and Henry can trace their jobs back to 1905,

when AAA published its first road map and helped

pioneer the industry at a time when motorists were few

and marked roads fewer. In those days, maps were

basically logbooks written to describe trips with

descriptions of key geographic spots, gas stations,

historic buildings, river bends, anything to guide


Later, auto clubs and other promoters invented names

for roads and posted road signs for travelers to

follow. But there was no uniformity. The same road

could be called one name by a city, another by a real

estate developer who had published his own map and

something else by a local travel and touring club.

It wasn't until 1916, when Rand McNally started its

own route numbering system, that travelers heading

south from Boston to Florida could follow a route that

retained the same name from state to state — as long

as they used Rand McNally maps. Finally, in 1924, the

federal government adopted a uniform numbering system

so that major travel routes would retain their

identities across the country.

Both Skinner and Henry took circuitous routes to land

their current jobs.

Skinner was a ship navigator in the Navy, then earned

a degree in geography from Cal State Fresno. He worked

four years for a local AAA office as a tourist

counselor, offering maps and advice on trips. When a

job opened up as a field cartographer in 1979, he took


Henry grew up in rural Oregon and earned a master of

fine arts degree in classical theater at the

University of Alabama. He spent 15 years traveling the

country as an actor and dancer in regional theaters.

He met Skinner by chance when Skinner was on a mapping

trip in Los Padres National Forest and was fixing a

flat tire. Henry was out hiking and struck up a

conversation. Skinner told him about an opening for

another map researcher.

A typical day of mapping covers 30 to 50 miles of dirt


On trips to Baja California and Indian Country,

Skinner and Henry often travel for three weeks at

time. But the Auto Club requires them to take off one

day in seven.

"It can be a real pain when you are out in the middle

of nowhere, and the only thing you can do with your

day off is sit around a lonely motel or campsite,"

Henry says.

Although he and Skinner meet plenty of storekeepers,

restaurant workers and travelers in their work, their

return visits are so far apart that friendships rarely


"You do have to like to work by yourself," Henry says.


Yet of the 10 field cartographers the Southern

California club has hired in the last 35 years, only

one has quit for good to pursue a more normal

lifestyle. That was Dan Goodwin, now a 44-year-old

environmental health and safety manager for a

manufacturer in Pasadena.

In 1986, with a newly minted geography degree from UC

Santa Barbara, Goodwin thought the job would be

perfect, but eventually the loneliness got to him.

"I found myself wishing that I had someone with me on

those road trips to share it with," he says. Goodwin

quit in 1989.

The club prides itself on the accuracy of its maps,

but errors do occur. Sometimes a field researcher

fails to properly record the distance between road

junctions, or omits a creek or gives a bad road a

better rating than it deserves.

"Every once in a while we'll get a call or a letter

from someone who took a car or a Winnebago too far

down a road and got stuck or found that the road was a

lot nastier than the map suggested," says Jim Kendall,

the local Auto Club's map research chief. So when

Skinner or Henry makes a rare appearance at the club's

Costa Mesa office, he is often handed a pile of

complaints to check out before the next map is


Sometimes the cartographers find the mistakes on their


On a trip near Capitol Reef National Park in southern

Utah last year, Henry drove across a little creek and

stopped for lunch. Then a sudden thunderstorm hit and

dumped enough water to swell the creek into a torrent.

A creek that had been 6 inches deep was now 3 feet

deep, and it would have flooded Henry's engine had he

tried to drive back. But his Auto Club map showed he

was near a dirt road leading to a highway, so he took


Unfortunately, the map failed to show that the road

crossed the same creek again before reaching the

highway. When he arrived at the second crossing, the

water was deep and running fast. But Henry carries a

pair of 6-foot boards in his pickup for just such

emergencies, and he spent several hours piling up

rocks so he could lay the boards over them as a

makeshift bridge.

After driving across, Henry says, "I saw a homemade

sign someone had put up that said, 'Creek may rise

without warning.' "

That second crossing is now on the Auto Club's Indian

Country map.


Copyright 2004 Los Angeles Times


Link to comment
One of the reasons I enjoy caching is that it involves the use of maps. I am curious as to whether an interest and enjoyment of cartography is a general trait of other cachers.


I love reading maps. I'll sit down and read them the way I'd read a book. I'm as likely to take a trail map to the head as I am to bring the sports page.

Link to comment

another map lover here! a good topo is just as interesting as a novel. imagination taking you up and over that saddle, plotting a route to that peak, seeing what that drainage looks like based on the topography and elevation. ah, yes, many an hour spent poring over maps. excellent entertainment. -harry

Link to comment
Now why would I bring the sports page to a trail head?

To read? or maybe to use just behind the first tree?


Back on subject, I like maps as well, I have good many paper ones, and have been buying mapping software long before there was geocaching. I got my GPS pre-geocaching to help me make maps of where I hiked.

Edited by AllenLacy
Link to comment

Maps? we don't need no stinkin' maps! Maps are for girly-men. Columbus didn't have no stinkin' map did he? And another thing: We won't ask for directions, either! As long as we can get out of the woods within three days, we're OK. Usually if you just follow a crik downstream, you'll get SOMEWHERE! NO matter how fur back in the swamp we get, there's usually a beer can lying around somewhere you can use to boil water in. And as long as you got a knife, there's plenty of critters around to eat. So what good's a map gonna do? Besides, I never saw a map that had a picture of ME stuck on it! That's my story and I'm stickin' to it.

Link to comment

Another map aficionado here :lol:


In particular I enjoy comparing old maps of an area to current maps. This is a great to way to discover lost places and forgotten landmarks. It is a terrific way to learn and feel history. And then take that knowledge into the outdoors and see in person what the map has been telling you.


I have loved maps for as long as I can remember, and have had numerous collections of them over the years. I can sit and stare at them for hours imagining trips and explorations. Looking for potential Jeep trails is an obsession.


In fact, an ongoing project of mine is much the same as the Map Unit AAA guys -- I take assorted maps and drive around looking for unmarked roads/trails/tracks. Sometimes road allowances that are shown as unimproved or impassable, are in fact little jewels for jeep exploration.


My ex used to get annoyed at my ability to immerse myself in my maps and history books thereby making her seem nonexistant :lol:


"My kingdom is a Map"



Edited by Prairie Jeepin
Link to comment

I mentioned this in another thread about demographics...


I’ve loved maps ever since third grade. We had a “Map Unit” in which we were supposed to draw a map of our route to and from school. I went nuts and mapped the entire west side of Plano, TX, to scale. Mind you Plano was a much smaller than it is today. Ever since, I’ve been hooked on knowing where this and that would fall on a map.


Every season, I draw up maps of all the soccer fields where our team will play, complete with "zoom" in areas around the fields to show small streets around the parking lots.


I can sit and stare for hours at road maps, trail maps, topo maps, even maps of amusement parks. They are fascinating and beautiful.

Link to comment

I'm a super map-geek-grrl. My dream house has a large project room, and the walls are made of cork-board, so I can put up all my topo maps, and then mark places that I've been & places that I'd like to go with little pins. Yum.


I spent some time researching different folding methods for topo maps, and I found a great method which I apply to each new topo map I get, and I also water-proof all my paper topo maps with Map-Seal. I'm told that some places sell topo maps which are printed on that synthetic waterproof paper, with special inks, but I haven't had a chance to try them.



Link to comment


I'm astonished. I had no idea there were so many people who liked maps for the same reasons I do. My love of maps got started late in life, I was a Boy Scout when learned to read and use them. I think I was 12 years old.


I like to know where things and places are in relation to other things and places. Maps tell me that and it gives me a feeling of community and that I'm part of it all.


I like maps of historical battles, from Roman conquests to all the conflicts that have followed. Maps and charts of the early explorers discovering new worlds take me along with the team on the same journey.


Map reading is a skill I could not do without. I wouldn't be able to move around without them.


I have a sizable collection and they take me everywhere.


Link to comment
Paper maps, no.... Digital maps, yep, love 'em!


I like both!! I use DeLorme's Street Atlas to map the routes I plan to drive when I go on vacation. I start several months in advance so that I can check out the sights that will be along my route in their database. I then print the maps for my trip and also upload it all to my PDA to use with a connected GPSr.


While I'm travelling I stop at the first visitor center that I come to as I enter each state and get a copy of their official highway map. I have found some interesting reading on these over the years.


Presently I have a collection of these maps covering most of the U.S. I also have NPS maps of the National Parks that I have visited.

Edited by ErnieD1125
Link to comment

My wofe thinks im mad for keep buying maps, but they are great arent they... so much information.

Currently buying up all Ordnance survey maps at 1;50000 scale to cover whole of country.


Thats UK by the way .... so bit easier that USA B)


Yep part of attraction of caching is the map planning to work out where to start the walk etc.....

Link to comment

My father was always facinated with maps. Before his illnesses when he could get around and travel he ALWAYS had book Atlas's. After he was in the nursing home, we papered his walls with framed pictures of maps. He loved them. Would study them for hours. I think alot of it came from him being injured in Korea and knowing where he was when he was injured and then waking up in a totally different place. In order for him to "place" himself he mapped. He had only been told where he had been because he was in a coma until he was back in Tokyo. For a poor boy from Checotah who would have probably ended up being a farmer like his daddy, he traveled a long ways off.



Link to comment

Lets see, I like --


Maps - I normally buy or get one free for every state and major city I visit. I recently cleaned out my maps when I got a new car but still have at least 6 state maps and 3 city maps in the car and moved the rest inside.


History - My family would refuse to stop at another historical marker on vacation after a while.


Cemetaries - I love looking at the gravestones and imagining the life of the person.


Puzzles - I LOVE logic puzzles and have books on puzzles!


Tech Toys -- what can I say, I am a girl geek, I own 2 desktop PCs, 2 Laptops, 2 PDAs, 2 zip drives, a cross tablet, AND 2 GPSrs.


Getting "Lost" - I wonder where this road leads...


Outdoors - I was a pre-med/zoology major in college and even took herpetology (that snakes, salamanders and frogs)


and does anyone wonder why I like geocaching so much!!! :lol:

Edited by LSUMonica
Link to comment

I hate maps, they cost me a bundle. We have geologic maps that show mineral deposits, fault lines, strata layers, etc. Then we have topos used to find old caves and mines. They help in locating ghost towns.


Every time I spend much time studying the maps it ends up meaning we will be going somewhere to find something. There goes the money for gas, motels, food, fix-a-flat :D and so on.


The most costly map we ever bought was a Magellan Platinum with Mapsend Topo. :lol:


I always thought maps were a necessity and you couldn't have too many of them.


They also help increase the waistline by sitting and studying them instead of going and doing! :D


But we enjoy them just the same. :lol:



Link to comment

I'm another map lover. I drive my wife nuts with my maps. I guess she seems to think a 5 drawer file cabinet stuffed full of maps is a bit much... :lol:


Or maybe it's the fact that I'm always bringing home even more maps. And when I'm not bringing them home my dad is dropping them off for me. In fact, last week he dropped off 60-some USGS topo maps (dating from 1954 to 1988) that were my grandfathers.


I'll spend hours looking over maps, looking at where I've been, where I want to go.... Before I know it another day off has passed with me going nowhere because I've spent the whole time reading the map and not moving.

Link to comment

in previous threads, there have been attempts to glean what we all have in common: given other posts, clearly not religion, views on gun-control, or capitalism...not even being techno-geeks....but i think we've stumbled upon a common (albeit not universal) denominator: love of maps....i too thought i was the only one so obsessed! :huh:

Link to comment

I love maps!!!


Long before I found geocaching, I was into orienteering. I always have had maps on my walls, of local areas, the US, and the world. It's always been one of my favorite things about National Geographic (you know, the maps that fall out when you pick up the magazine).


Even if I know a cache will be simple to find, I always visit topozone or one of the other map sites and peruse the surrounding area. I am so happy to now have topo maps of my part of the country loaded into my meridian. I also like Buxley's maps, but that's the topic of another thread.


Thanks for the thread



Link to comment

For one birthday sometime during the Sullen Years (when I was around 14-17, I think), my mother gave me a present that actually caused me to forgo the standard teen reaction to any gift from a parent -- normally a grunt, a shrug, or an eyeroll. It was a big, giant world atlas. I was just delighted with it, and I actually became temporarily civil enough to express appreciation for it. I had my nose buried in that thing for hours. I still have it now, more than 25 years later -- it's out of date, but I still use it for reference pretty frequently.


(I don't know whether this will skew Alan2's impression or not, but this post is from the female half of the hermit crabs.)

Link to comment

I love maps too! Every time I go to look up one quick thing I am still looking at the map half an hour later. As someone else posted, when I hear of a new place in the news I have to go and look it up. Great for increasing knowledge of places.


I have a collection of Victorian maps of various parts of England, USA and the world famed and hanging on the walls, including a map showing the distance to various places in England from "Hickss Hall" along horse and carriage routes. :lostsignal:



Edited by Team Spike
Link to comment

Oh yeah - love maps. Always have. My girlfriend teases me about it. One of the best parts of visiting a museum for me is getting the map at the information desk and plotting my route through the exhibits. Even marking with a pen the path so far. She thinks its a hoot because I get so excited. Can't explain it. Haven't really used maps much on my cache hunts, because I've primarily done urban ones where I know exactly where I am, but I do check the topo map link on each cache page - usually very accurate regarding cache placements...

Link to comment

Hello, my name is Dave and I like maps.


When I was a kid, and the family was on the road (to Boston, New York, Toronto, Niagara Falls etc.) I was the little eight year old in the right seat reading the ESSO road map.


I always saved those National Geographic maps whenever they fell out of the center section. As a matter of fact I would always flip through the pages to see if a map would fall out and then grab it and let someone else read the magazine.


Later on in life in the course of my work, I was visiting a logging camp (yes they still exist in New Brunswick) consisting of lots of those white construction trailers. Crew quarters, Office, Kitchen trailer and a MAP room!!!! Its walls were completely covered in NGS TOPO maps of the section they were working, When I went into the room everytinhg else just dissappeared and I was totally immersed in the huge maps... like I was flying over the landscape looking down at the rivers and forest. If someone hadn't called my name I think i might still be there (maybe I am).


Years later I had gone through many changes (and GPS receivers). I was visiting my Dad when he spotted the Garmin that I habitually wear on my belt. He asked what it was and I told him about how I used it for hiking and driving and Geocaching.....


You know what he said??????





Link to comment

I don't know what to say that hasn't been said here already.

I thought I was the only one who would rather read a map than read a book.

I once had a cabin up in the Mountains,and on the screened in porch I had put together six topo maps of the area that covered the whole wall.

Hikers,and hunters who wondered off the trail and got lost often came upon the cabin.If I was there I could point them in the right direction using the map.

If they came when I wasn't there they had a way to find their way on their own.

I often found notes thanking me for putting it there.

Link to comment

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...