I traveled to California in 2018. It was the first vacation for just my wife and I in about 22 years. I remarked that the last time we did this by ourselves my wife was reading the map and telling me where to go. Where she still tells me where to go but now we use our electronic map on our phones. No more paper maps.

I grew up running around the hills of Kentucky and then 25 years in the Army. I think I am pretty good at reading maps. Maps with just contour lines and maps with roads and maps with streets city, and town names as well. If you can read a military type map and figure out elevation and where you are located  by shooting an azimuths to three locations then you can find your way in most places.

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Contour Map

My kids have never had to read a paper map before. Although I would say a paper map is just like an electronic map with the exception that the electronic map will tell you where you are located. On a paper map you need to know that but easy enough on roads and towns. Electronic maps are most likely more up to date and are easier to use in our society where we spend more time looking at those devices instead of looking where we are going. They are convenient and useful. I still like the paper map just like I like a paper book although I have a kindle reader as well.

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Road Map

It is fun to be able to find your way with confidence. I remember when I was teaching Army ROTC cadets how to read maps as an instruction at Carson-Newman College in Tennessee. To see the look on their face at the start and then the look at the end. From what do these lines mean and why are they closer together here and then to – that is a cliff or a very step downgrade so be careful. It was fun to watch them find there way in the middle of the night and not very confident to knowing they can find there way around and lead people doing it.

I still carry a paper map of Hawaii in my truck, I never use it, but if my phone failed I am confident I can get around. Of course it is hard to get lost on an island. My dad use to say “your’e never lost until you run out of gas”.

Back to our San Francisco trip. I was asking for directions on how to get to the Golden Gate Bridge. My wife finally said, why don’t we just use our phones? So the world moves on and my wife still has more common sense than I do.

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