Growing up I was fortunate enough to be in a family that went on a summer vacation every year. Whether it was the beach, the mountains, the coast of Maine or the deserts of Arizona, I knew every summer I could count on getting to go somewhere on vacation. There was one particular event that always marked the approach of one of these trips. This was something that, while not overly significant in and of itself, was a clear indicator that something great was coming.
That event? The day Dad brought home the latest (and definitely biggest) Rand McNally USA Road Map. I can still remember Dad sitting in the living room looking over the map, figuring out the best routes, best cities to stop, and things to see along the way to wherever it was we were going.
This is something that has been lost over the years. Think about it: when was the last time you looked at a map that wasn’t on a screen? When was the last time you planned to go somewhere you hadn’t been before and, instead of just typing in an address or destination into your GPS/Smartphone/Computer, you actually pulled out a map, got a highlighter and started marking out your route? For the vast majority of us, I am going to guess it has been AGES.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am probably the worst offender in this category. I not only have a Garmin GPS, but an iPhone and a laptop and an iPad and all of them are perfectly capable of telling me where I am at any moment and how to get to just about any place I could ever dream of going. But what is the true cost of this luxury? Is it really any surprise that geography scores among High School seniors have been declining since 1994?
Maps and atlases are definitely on the decline, and I want to make a plea for them. I think there are some major benefits to having a real map and/or atlas around, but for the sake of time, let’s just take a look at what I consider to be the top three.
1. When electronics fail, you need to have a working knowledge of how to read a map.
For most in America today, the idea of not having electricity of one form or another is a terrible thought. But what if one day, electronics just stopped working? If people don’t know how to read maps, how are they going to figure out how to get from point A to point B? What if you are hiking in the woods and the batteries on your GPS die? Having at least some working knowledge of how to pair a map and a compass is essential for all men to have. And in the case of the Zombie Apocalypse, how will you be able to find the safe zones if you don’t have a map and know how to use it?
2. They look cool.
Ok, stay with me here. Recently I was fortunate enough to receive an awesome map from the great guys over at SupplyGeeks.com. I have enjoyed looking at maps for years, but never had a nice one of my own. I was really excited to get this world map, complete with major cities, rivers, mountain ranges, etc., and hang it on the wall in my office. I believe there is something inherently manly about having a giant map on your wall. Plus, when you are bragging to your friends about the awesome trip you took to New Zealand the summer before your senior year of High School or trying to see who has traveled to the farthest location from home, you have something larger than a cell phone to point at and say, “Oh yeah, I’ve been to Cairns, Australia and swam at the Great Barrier Reef, but that’s cool that your aunt has a lake house in Minnesota.”
3. They remind you that the world really doesn’t revolve around you.
When you pull up a map on your electronic device, what’s the main thing it shows you? Your location. As you move, what happens? The little dot or whatever stays put while the rest of the map moves around you. You think you’re all that and a bag of potato chips? Pull out a real map and try and find where ever you are. Seems pretty insignificant in the grand scheme of things, right? Every once and a while, us guys need to be reminded that we are not as great and mighty as we like to think and the world is not going to change for us. For example, if the letters on the map were actually written at scale on the ground, my hometown would be about the size of the last ‘s’ in Indianapolis.
Now, I know that you are thinking, “Man, Tim is right again! I need to go get a map! But where can I get a giant map?” Well, head on over to SupplyGeeks and check out their selection. They have some great Rand McNally maps and have prices that can’t be beat. Just imagine, your office could look as manly as mine. All it needs is a big ole map.
- This Rand McNally World Map has beautiful colors, is laminated and well detailed and the size (50″ x 32″) is perfect for hanging on the wall.
- If map decoration isn’t your thing, it comes in a very strong and handy tube to keep it safe from creases and such when you don’t have it spread out over your desk.
- I found the included wall mounting clips to be a little cumbersome. Instead of using them, I used 3M velcro strips. I put the rough part on the wall so I could still roll up the map without worrying about scratching it. This also makes it easy to take down if you relocate.
Modern Vintage Man Score: 5/5