The Blue Dot

Screenshot from Google Earth, Blue Dot beside Juniper

Last week, in a fit of simplifying and a leap of faith, I threw away my topo maps. Maps that had been carefully selected and bought, one by one across the many years; each one lovingly trimmed by my own hand, labeled in ballpoint around the margins, individually indexed – representing 30 years of precious family memories in Montana and elsewhere. Every one of my 7.5-minute quads for Beaverhead County, all my 30×60′s, the old 15-minutes, and every 1:250,000-series covering the state. I couldn’t help but count them: 440 maps in all! To buy them again would cost 440 x $6 = $2,640. Not mentioning the work of labeling, folding, and filing. Needless to say, I was aswirl with emotions – nostalgia of course, the sadness of saying goodbye to friends, but also mixed up with that an excitement of jettisoning weight. Freedom. Often it’s true, it’s the things we used to love the most, which need to go.

Last July I wrote a long post titled "Topo maps: what’s now and what’s next." In that article I said:

"Right now, in standard orienteering, you hold your GPS in one hand, about the size of a smartphone, and your map in the other hand. The devices are too cramped for map reading. That’s why GPS people are so fascinated by gridlines on maps, they sync their gadget with their paper, by brute force. When the map and the GPS merge and become inseparable in one device, that’s going to be fundamentally different. (more…)