Friday, October 25, 2013

Mother Map

     A crisp new Mother Map.  No dog ears, straight clean seams, legible type, pleasing to the eye.  This map has been my first planning tool for my long trip across the United States and Canada.

      A paper Mother Map makes sense to me.  I'm not obsessive about using just paper maps. I have spent time almost equally on computer mapping sites. However there will be times during my travels into canyons or between Internet cafes, when my computer will be disconnected from the world.  My Mother Map doesn't "disconnect".  It is not in her genes to do so.  She only has to be wary of being misplaced in my piles.  I think that she will serve me well.  Mothers don't often get lost.  

      Last summer  on a cool evening at Jubilee Lake I marked potential destinations on the Mother Map.  Purple noted historical locations, green marked "supposedly" gorgeous places and orange designated the towns of friends and family.

    "Where are you going?  When are you going? Why are you going?  Who are you going with?"  I ask myself the same questions.

     One of the answers can be found in a book that I have loved for years, which is titled: "Topophilia: A Study of Environmental Perception, Attitudes, and Values" by Yi-Fu Tuan. When the author was a Chinese-born college student studying in America, he went on a camping trip to Death Valley National Monument. He arrived in the dark. When he awoke he was startled by the wide sky edged with desert sunrise-tinted mountains. He was surprised with its instant affect on his heart. He couldn't have imagined loving a desert. This pivotal trip encouraged him to focus his studies on the intimate relationships between people and place.

     As I child I watched for places to love with my nose to the car or train windows.  I want to travel like that again. I'm not good at finding places to savor while roaring along at sixty or seventy miles per hour on a Federal highway. I want to examine architectural detail, slip through little towns and spot sweet woods where I might fantasize about building a little cabin.  So I intend to travel slow roads looking for those rare places that speak to my heart.  (For those of you that I am leaving behind and might wish a little adventure, here are a few of my favorite places near Walla Walla: Fox Valley (a tiny one) south of Pendleton on Highway 365, the wedding cake Court House in Heppner, the old community of Flora in the Blues, the brick alleyways of Baker City, Thorpe Canyon River Road between Yakima and Ellensburg, and the cemetery at Summerville near La Grande.  Go for a little slow drive.)

    The books that I will carry answer some questions as to what I am up to.  "Architecture Traveler", "Secrets of the National Parks", "Traveling with Your Pet", "Walking Tours of Boston", and "Beachcombing at Miramar, the Quest for an Authentic Life".  Computer searches answer other quests: Ancestry, yoga studios, and the location of pastry shops :).  It is easy to discern what I intend to do.

    I am also most excited about the people that I will see. I am looking forward to spending time with family and old friends scattered across this land.  I am equally looking forward to new adventures.  Do you know about Women Welcome Women?  Their site is:  The organization began in Great Britain during the 1970's with the intention of connecting women across the world who want to travel. On becoming a member one is connected to local communities and cultures by women who live there.  This is couch surfing many grand and comforting steps up.

    Mother Map.  Open up those crisp folds and let me draw paths across your paper skin.



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