There have been countless reports about how quickly we’ve become accustomed to our ability to connect with the world via our phones, tablets, and computers. One of my favorite life with technology stories comes from my former co-worker. His daughter, at the time 4 years of age, was so familiar with talking to her grandparents via Facetime, that when they called her without it, she thought the phone was broken.
For us, the dependence on Google Maps when we take a road trip has become second nature. Although many times it takes us over an unnecessary river and through some “Deliverance” type woods it gets us to our destination. Which is why on our recent trip to Mabry Mill we experienced a turn-back-the-clock travel adventure.
After leaving the Mill, the software guided us to our target for lunch without incident. During the meal, we noticed that suddenly our phones (not the couple next to us) no longer had service. Thinking it was just an anomaly we gave it no additional thought until we returned to the car for the journey home. Still NO Service. We sort of remembered the pathway Google had taken us on, but there we a lot of turns. With complete faith that bars would appear once we got back to the highway, we charged ahead. (God forbid we ask for direction before embarking. That is soooo old school.)
Out on the roadway backtracking our path, did not spur the return of phone service. Although I guess, it is possible in the 21st century to get really ‘lost’ on America’s highways it is something that would be quite rare. Fast food restaurants, gas stations, signs, billboards and more are positioned at every turn these days as a fertile spot in the desert, where water (help & a bathroom) is found. Now having said that I can tell you as we traveled along not a single oasis appeared.
When we lived on the east coast, I always joked that we could never get lost. Along as we kept driving east we would hit the sea. Once at the ocean we just needed to turn right or left depending on what state we found ourselves in. Since we no longer have the Atlantic as a buffer, it is fortunate that one of us (my wife) always keeps emergency necessities in the glove compartment. In this case a MAP.
What is a map? Well, pre-technology it was the only way to find Oz or your way back home. A map is a wonderful diagrammatic representation of an area of land showing physical features such as cities and roads. Map making is called cartography. The oldest known maps are preserved on Babylonian clay tablets from about 2300 B.C. Greeks and Romains developed some of the most advanced maps during their periods as the known world’s leading explorers and conquers. With the invention of printing, maps found their way into the hands of many. Over time, maps grew more accurate, but not until the end of World War I with the advent of aerial photography, did the most dependable maps become available.
As far, as I know every state in the union still has free road maps for travelers. When I was in elementary school researching a state for a class project my parents would write that territory’s Chamber of Commerce for a map and any brochures they had to offer. In a few weeks, a large envelope would arrive stuffed with a map and more. For years, I hung onto those maps, until one Christmas Santa brought me an Atlas. Wow. All those maps in one book!
Back on the road, we unfurled our chart, pinpointed our location, and made our way back to civilization (actually I-77). The minute the four-wheels rolled onto that interstate our phones dinged with that glorious sound that we had rejoined the living. We reconnected with Google Maps for guidance to our next destination. During the drive, and while still confined by her seat belt, my wife skillfully folded the map to its original appearance without incident. (For those of you who have used maps you understand what I’m talking about.)
There are a number of old communication and travel tools that have gone by the wayside. How to use a sextant is no longer something Naval Cadets learn in school. Yet, without it, Robert Redford would have never found his way home in “All Is Lost.” Morse Code connected a country, and without it, we would have never defeated the alien invaders in “Independence Day.” Which brings ups to a plea for the road map. It is not outdated. If the doomsayers are right you will need a map after the sun’s massive solar fares wipe out all electronics as the energy passes over the earth. Then there is also the looming invention of various EMP weapons (Ion Cannons) that in the hands of the Empire will cripple the Republic. Without a map how will you find your way to Mos Eisley? (Silly Star Wars references.)
All kidding aside there are still places in this world and country where you are not connected. Mountains, valleys, and even in the middle of some wide open ranges there is NO SERVICE. Be a Boy Scout; be prepared with one of human civilizations most useful travel tools – the map. (Framed ones also make a great addition to the wall of a den or family room.)