The MapReader’s Tools

My dad taught me that a pessimist is someone who wears suspenders and a belt.  But sometimes you just need more than one accessory to get the job done.

Using a combination of manual and electronic tools is part of the joy of traveling the back roads.  In our 1930 Model A street rod, we have a vintage AAA compass attached to the dash, right above the Garmin GPS.  I also use paper AAA maps.  I fold them and refold them, write on them, highlight our route, and generally use ’em up!  (Don’t worry — I recycle them into jewelry and other craft items, so nothing goes to waste!)  My favorite way to use the Garmin is to just have it on with no intended destination.  Remember — the journey is the destination!

Being a good navigator means knowing when to use what tools — when to glance at the compass and verify that you are indeed going east, or when to zoom out on the Garmin and see that you have a while before you get to the next town, or just leisurely fold and refold your paper map, looking for the next turn right you’ll need to make.

Learning to stay calm and utilize a variety of map reading tools will get you to your destination.  You will discover that being an active participant in the journey is worth the trip.  And I am optimistic about that!


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