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How to Read a Map

Posted: September 12, 2014 8:51 a.m.
Updated: September 12, 2014 8:50 a.m.
©istockphoto.com/hkeita

This is a map that indicates all the freeways, roads, alleys, and possibly deer trails. It will tell you if a road is two-lane, one-way, tarmac, gravel, or yellow brick. It will also indicate where rail road tracks cross the road, and why did the chicken cross the road? If you are a man you will hold this kind of map in contempt, telling any and all female companions that you know exactly where you-re going, thank you very much. If you are a female you will find a road map a useful article to wave in front of the man who got you lost in the first place. You may also want to chew on it in rage in lieu of head-butting said male.

 

A map is an essential tool when you face the wilderness under any conditions; when you go camping, hiking, hunting, or are just driving through a wilderness section of the country. There are several different kinds of maps which you should be familiar with, so you will know which kind you should take with you.

• Road map. This is a map that indicates all the freeways, roads, alleys, and possibly deer trails. It will tell you if a road is two-lane, one-way, tarmac, gravel, or yellow brick. It will also indicate where rail road tracks cross the road, and why did the chicken cross the road? If you are a man you will hold this kind of map in contempt, telling any and all female companions that you know exactly where you’re going, thank you very much. If you are a female you will find a road map a useful article to wave in front of the man who got you lost in the first place. You may also want to chew on it in rage in lieu of head-butting said male.

• Tourist map. This is a map that highlights exactly where each and every idiotic tourist will be during most of the day, and probably well into the evening, so you can avoid them like poison oak.

• Topo maps. These feature campgrounds and other items of interest to those on foot, or in a kayak or pulling a yurt.

• Sectional map. This type of map is for aviators. It features airports and marks tall things so the pilot will be able to either fly around them or above them. Of course, Norwegian pilots will try to fly below them (well, we had to come up with SOME nationality that wouldn’t sue our keister off!)

You’ll need to know the scale and projection of your map. This is usually done by counting to eleven, and then subtracting the number of sections it takes for the thunderclap to follow...or is that how you can tell temperature? Well, anyway, once you’ve got that figured out you must next decipher the color scheme of your map. Some use blue to indicate water and red to indicate deserts and green to indicate forests and plaid to indicate single malt. But other maps don’t even bother with colors and are just a bunch of squiggly lines and dots and numbers. It’s best to avoid those kinds if you can -- they’re as dull as ditch water.

Here are some of the symbols common to all maps:

^ This means a mountain; if there are a bunch of them, it means a chain of mountains

# This means either railroad tracks or a swamp; the way to tell the difference is that railroad tracks will usually go in a straight line for quite long distances, whereas a swamp is normally sedentary and just sits there like a bump on a log, and is usually kind of roundish or oval or straggly.

< > This symbol indicates two people talking with each other, and we very much doubt either one is listening to the other.

$ This symbol is inevitably followed by the price of the map. They’re sure getting to be more and more expensive. (We do not condone shoplifting; but if you happen to lean that way please pick us up a good one of Acapulco.)

(Tim lives in Provo, Utah. He dreams constantly about going back to live and teach in Thailand, where he lived for 5 years. He has put his dream into prose form here: http://www.gofundme.com/cmbn6w)

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