05 January 2009

Maps, Maps, Maps

I've been trying to get my at-home office cleaned up before the new semester starts. Part of that involves going through a file drawer full of maps and getting them in something resembling "order". They were divided up, roughly, by state and/or country and/or continent. I found a few out of place ones, several boxes of maps that hadn't been filed yet, and a few folders containing only one map that I grouped together. I also got some of the hanging folders with flat bottoms for the larger sections: Idaho, Colorado, Wyoming... i.e., the places I've been to most often to collect maps.

I have 11 maps of Wyoming, all different. 9 of them are the freebies put out by the state. I have about that many maps of Jackson Hole. I don't have quite as many of Idaho or Colorado, but we stop less often at the places that have the freebies available. On the way to Colorado, we always stop at the port of entry at Kemmerer, and they almost always have the official Wyoming map for that year available. Whenever we see one of those kiosks of tourist fliers, I hunt through them for any that have real maps. Sometimes I'll grab little cheapies that are just sketches on a page, but I much prefer the actual maps, with street/road names and scales.

To be honest, I'm not sure why I find maps so fascinating. Maybe it's because they represent a piece of the earth being squeezed onto a little sheet of paper. I did finally break down and throw out some of the duplicates. I didn't really need three copies of the 1999 Official Wyoming Highway map, for instance. It bugs me to get rid of them, but I'd prefer to have my collection remain confined to a single file drawer. The flat-bottomed file folders help with that. I can line the maps up side-by-side, "standing up", and make them take up half the room that they did before.

So... if anyone needs an obscure map from the intermountain west, it's quite likely that I have it. I've also got a few oddities, like a map of Yugoslavia when it was still called Yugoslavia. I found it on clearance at a little bookstore in Brush, CO. That's something else I like about maps: they represent a slice of history. That country no longer exists. Its borders are probably different. But the map records what was.

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