Disappearing Skills: Maps

In one of my classes with my international students today, I was telling them about the dream trip DH & I took in 1999 to Yellowstone National Park.

In the course of the conversation, they wanted to know how we got there.

“What do you mean, ‘How did we get there?'”

“How did you get there?”

“Um, by car.”

“No, no–How did you get there?”

“Well, we certainly didn’t have a GPS.”

“So, how did you get there?”

I just looked at them.

“We used a map.”

Triptik Map

“A map?”

“Yes. A map,” I said matter-of-factly.

“Oh, that’s so dangerous!”

“What?!” I couldn’t believe my ears!

A map? Dangerous?


“Haven’t you ever used a map?”

“Oh, no!” That is too dangerous!”

Honestly! They’ve never considered using a map, never heard of a AAA Triptik, and have never pondered the possibility of setting out on a trip with just a map in hand and no GPS.

Truthfully, I still like a paper map to show the big picture. I love my GPS (I have 6 of them, after all, 8 if you count the ones on our iPhones), but there’s something reassuring about a paper map that a GPS just can’t provide.

Teaching continually opens my eyes in many ways, but today takes the cake.

Maps. Dangerous. Who’d a thunk it?



Adventures in Geocaching, or How I Almost Impaled Myself

I went geocaching today. Normally, I usually just have fun, see some new sights, find a few caches, and DNF (did not find) a few more. Today’s adventure was a tad different.

Exiting the car, I focused on following the pointing arrow on my GPSr to the cache. I hadn’t gone more than three purposeful strides when WHAM! I slammed into something.

What could it be?

Oh, no! I had walked into a rusty iron spike sticking out of a concrete barrier. There was a space between two of them, and I thought I was walking through them. I did not see the spike.

I hit the spike so hard that it ripped a hole in my jeans, and I am so glad I was wearing them. If I had been wearing the much thinner pants I had planned to wear, I would surely have punctured a hole in my leg.

I went to the car, checked my wound, and decided that it was only a scrape since it wasn’t bleeding. I actually tried to find the cache after that, but I had to DNF it. Imagine that.

After giving up the search, I check the wound again. Blood. Well, great. Just great.

Okay, I’m in a strange city with no knowledge of any medical anything, so through an internet search I decide on a doc-in-a-box to go to.

Imagine my surprise when I walk in and everything looks modern and fresh, and I don’t catch a stinky whiff anywhere. You know that yucky smell in most medical facilities? This place doesn’t have it.

After filling out the paperwork, I walk to the room for her to take my vitals. She said the doctor was going to love me!


She said it was because I’m a Bama fan. Turns out, the doctor is from Alabama, too. He also went to The University of Alabama. (All this happened in Florida.) I guess she could tell I’m a fan because I was wearing my Championship shirt and carrying my houndstooth purse. 😀

When I saw the doctor, I told him Roll Tide! After doing what all Southerners do, which is make connections, we were both a bit flabbergasted to find that we were from the same town. The nurse wondered what the odds were of that happening. Apparently 100% on this day!

He cleaned my wound, told me I didn’t need stitches, gave me a tetanus shot and prescription for antibiotics, and sent me on my way. I can honestly say I’ve never had a more pleasant “emergency” doctor visit.

The day started out lousy but ended pretty well with my actually finding a couple of caches. I like adventures in geocaching, but I prefer they not take me to the medicine man.

I Put It Where I Could Find It, But Where Is It Now?

You know how it is–you have something that’s important, so you put it somewhere safe where you will be able to find it.

Well, guess what? I can’t find it.

The “it” I’m looking for is a little gold box that houses my polarizing filter for my camera. I have looked everywhere for it except for where it is.

Now in my search, I have found another item I was looking for and one that I wasn’t.

I found the lens cap for my lens, and I really needed to find that.

I also found a Christmas gift much in the manner of Clark Griswold; however, this one was for this year, so it didn’t have dust on it. Fortunately, I’ll be able to use it for an upcoming birthday gift.

It would be swell if I could find the little gold box before morning, but I’m not holding my breath. I do have an alternative to house the lens cover.

I guess I just don’t understand why if I put something where I can find it, when I need it I can’t find it.

Since I’m a geocacher, I think I’ll just start marking the coordinates in my GPS when I put something in a safe place again.


What is it? Oh my. It’s wonderful. Magical. Adventuresome. Unexpected. Exciting. Surprising. Difficult. Easy. Awesome. Hard. Lovely. Hot. Cold. Perfect.

Why on earth would anyone choose to geocache? I stumbled upon it in 2003 or thereabouts in an article of the local newspaper. At the time, a GPSr was so expensive, I could only dream of geocaching one day, but I fell in love at first read.

Then, a couple of years later my DH (dear husband) wanted to know what I wanted for Christmas. I told him I wanted either a mini trampoline or a GPS. He chose the latter because he thought I would hurt myself on the trampoline. Hmmm.

Yellow GPSr

Little did he know that on my second cache find I would practically do the splits on a muddy hill and cause pain to muscles I hadn’t felt in a while.

Anyhoo, that Christmas gift changed my life. I became obsessed with geocaching, and still am, really. I found a cache or caches almost daily then, and had a glorious time hiking in the woods on my way to find them. It made my hiking have a purpose. I loved it!

I still love it, but in a different way now. Due to knee problems and a dislocated elbow one winter, the hiking has been replaced with easier cache finds. However, I still love caching because even if the ones I find now are easy, many times they bring me to places I would never have visited otherwise.

Amish Buggy

Geocaches range in Terrain and Difficulty from 1/1 to 5/5, with 1 being the easiest, and 5 being the hardest. Do you want a walkup? That’s a 1/1? Do you like to rappel or snorkel? That’s a 5/5. I love caching because anybody can find a cache they love!

Caches wait for you to find them all over the world! If you don’t believe me, check out www.geocaching.com to start on the adventure of your life!