I might have mentioned this previously, but when I was a little girl, I had one of those giant world relief maps hanging on my wall over my bed. You know the kind – those huge plastic three dimensional maps that have all the elevations of the mountains in real touchable form. I could run my hands over the Himalayas and the Rockies, or feel the smoothness of Antarctica. (Speaking of Antarctica – it was right there over my head when I lay in bed every night, and I got very familiar with the different areas and seas around the continent.) I could stare at that map every day and never get tired of it.
(I found more than one pic of my vintage map…)
I’ve come to realize throughout the years, that my fondness for maps has never ceased. I just freakin’ love looking at maps! They suck me in every time. By using my imagination, I feel myself getting lost in amazing far away places. Places I’ve never been (and places I want to revisit.) Wondering what it looks like in that random far away land right at that very moment. Would I be standing on a hill over a lush valley as rain fell on my head? Would I be walking amongst great stone ruins left behind by ancient civilizations? What kind of music is playing in this place, what kind of art is hanging on these walls? What do the roads look like there, if there even are any. Do they have tall trees there, or vast sprawling grasslands? How dark are their forests, how pristine are their shores? Do many people live there?
I’m the same way with fictional maps. As an avid reader of the fantasy genre, I love how each series comes equipped with a map to accompany the reading. I like to KNOW where the characters are. I like to see in my head where their adventures take them. When a new location is introduced in one of these stories, I’m immediately paging back to the front of the book to reference it on the map. It makes the fictional land feel all the more real. To me, it has that same allure of mystery that seeing a far off country on a map of the Earth has.
As a Lord of the Rings super-fan (I’m not embarrassed to be a nerd girl), I’ve not only enjoyed following along with the journeys of Bilbo or Frodo and their fellow adventurers, but also thinking of the places I would visit in Middle Earth if such a fantastical place existed. (Therein lies the pure genius of Tolkien – he created such a vivid world for his readers, that as you read, you can actually see it clear as day in your mind’s eye.)
I thought this map of Middle Earth was rather good…
And don’t even get me started on historical maps – SO awesome!
(Check out this map of Europe around the year 1500!)
I don’t know if it’s because of my life long map obsession, but I’ve also been blessed with a relatively good sense of direction. Where ever I am, I can sort of see the map of my location in my head – always being aware of my compass points. It helps me when I’m back-tracking routes I might have taken, or just when I’m exploring a new place. When I travel, I always like to look up maps of my destination and do a general basic memorization of the area before I even get there. I also like to input maps into my iPhone for destinations as well – just in case I happen to get a bit turned around.
I’ll be eagerly doing some map memorization (and historical research) of the towns Miloš and I will be visiting in Croatia later this summer. (You know I’ll bring you some of that cool historical info right here!) In the meantime, here are some more maps!