Happy trails with the trusted paper map

Published 9:00 am Sunday, January 29, 2023

By Bonnie Brown

Paper maps are making a comeback according to the Wall Street Journal and other sources.  

Why?  Well, it seems that during the pandemic when many folks were escaping to national and state parks and other more remote locations, there was no GPS signal to guide them via Google maps.  

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During this time when it was necessary to go old school and use a paper map, many of us saw maps as an art form.  Yes, they are hard to fold, but you can use the spiral bound ones which don’t require folding.  

My friend Betsy Kent used a paper map that had so much tape from the many repairs, it was nearly impossible to fold.  She used this map up until her passing in 2005 and I feel certain the map was decades old, a relic but it guided her on many adventures.  

Such as to discover Brussel’s Bonsai Nursery in Olive Branch, which is now the largest nursery in the United States devoted entirely to bonsai trees, and there was the  Amish Bakery of which she was so fond.  

I have a difficult time communicating with my GPS voice person.  She is very judgmental when I make a U-turn and she doesn’t seem to understand my midwestern-tinged-with southern speech pattern.  

I have no sense of direction so my husband thought the GPS would remedy that.  It did not.  It frustrates him that I can’t navigate by the direction of the sun.  I can drive all day long, I just don’t know where I’m going.  

If I ask for directions, please do not tell me to go east or west, please say right or left.  I’m a very visual person so if I’ve been there before, I can find it again.  

Once when we were attending an Ole Miss Alumni reception in Memphis the evening before Ole Miss played Tennessee in Liberty Bowl Stadium on Saturday, my sweet husband Tom, who was driving, asked that I check the map for directions to the location. 

He asked how far we were from it.  I quickly studied the map and announced, “We’re about a quarter of an inch or so from there.”  He immediately pulled over and took charge of the map.  

He reminds me that the highlight of that evening was not my colossal mis-reading of the map, but that he got to meet and visit with John Ward (voice of  The Vols) and Ole Miss great Ray Brown among others.  

Tom has an uncanny sense of direction.  On our many trips out west, he never uses a map or GPS but seems to just know which direction to go.    

How many times has your GPS directed you to the wrong location?  Of course, it has happened to all of us.  

Even on the rare occasions I do use GPS, which is when I’m driving without Tom, I always call up MapQuest (yes, it is still a thing) and print out the directions.  It’s just my safety net.  

So, call me old school, but you can also call me prepared.  Happy Trails y’all!