Give me my maps

I took an accidental tour of the south side of Lexington, Kentucky last weekend while searching for my brother-in-law’s house. My mistake lay in not doing my usual research beforehand.
I make it a point when going somewhere new to never depend solely on someone else’s directions, to study maps and memorize the route, but this time I ignored my own dictum. I had an online printout with driving directions Buzz had sent me, I did not take a Kentucky map, and the atlas in my car was a small midsize with little detail.
Arriving in Lexington, we exited I-75 onto Man O’War Boulevard but could not find our turn, Todds Road. Adding to my confusion, I got mentally turned around and thought I was driving east but was going west. After driving several miles I suspected we had missed Todds, although we had carefully checked the names of all crossroads. We finally knew we had missed Todds when M-O-W ended at U.S. Route 60 and we entered an elaborate entrance to a horse estate. We turned around and found a cul-de-sac where we called Buzz, who told us Todds was Todds on one side of M-O-W and Liberty Street on the other and that we were at the opposite end of Lexington, which totally flummoxed me because I thought we had merely driven too far east, not west. Having no clear mental picture of the area, my only recourse was returning whence we came, and after a long drive we found Todds. From there it was easy, and we soon arrived.
That evening we bought a Lexington map, which I studied while we socialized. I recounted our drive in my mind starting with the exit off I-75 and discovered my mental mistake, that our right turn took us west, not east, and I saw that M-O-W makes a half circle around the south side of Lexington, taking us to the southwest side. The next day we took a driving tour of horse country around Lexington, and I again longed for detailed maps. As Buzz drove I studied my midsize atlas, which is fine for basic routes but does not show smaller state routes and certainly not county roads.
I’ve always loved and collected maps. I remember learning about scale in a Hammond atlas in elementary school, which showed first a layout of a classroom, then the school, then maps of the neighborhood, school district, city, region and U.S. Trips for me have always meant stopping for maps and postcards, and I especially love postcards that bear maps. So traveling with no good state map and a mere midsize atlas perturbed me, and I longed for my Kentucky map and my large, detailed road atlas sitting on the shelf at home.
The return home did not mean I dropped my study of Kentucky and Lexington. I further studied the city and state maps, and I bought a new atlas for my car, one that is bigger and more detailed. I studied a GPS unit that Buzz gave me, an old one he no longer needs. It’s the first GPS I have ever owned, and it could have saved us that hour of driving around southern Lexington, but perusal of maps beforehand would have also done the job.
I consider the GPS more of a toy than a tool I’ll use. I equate the use of GPS versus maps with the proverb about giving a man a fish. Give me a GPS, which feeds me specific directions, and I’ll reach my destination. Give me a map and I’ll reach my destination, learn the layout of the area, notice interesting sites listed on the maps, engage that part of my brain that thrives on reading printed matter and converts two-dimensional pages to three-dimensional images, and, in the case of my new Kappa atlas, learn that Lexington is home to a Dixie Cup water tower, built in 1958 by the Dixie Cup Corp. of Lexington, which is now owned by Georgia-Pacific. Give me maps, and I’ll travel, physically and mentally, for a lifetime.

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