I love maps.  I keep a full desk drawer stacked with maps of the Pacific Northwest and national parks from all over the United States.  I am pleased to share them with folks planning to visit natural areas and who need a map for their trip.

Mapping your own special spot has been exquisitely expressed by author Jan DeBlieu, who has granted permission to use the following except, Mapping the Sacred Places

I once drew a map to my home on the North Carolina Outer Banks for a friend who wanted to visit.  I was new then on Hatteras Island, new to the salt-scorched landscape and interlocking planes of earth, sea and sky.  I felt newly awakened as well, as if I had spent the previous years with my eyes and my thoughts half-lidded.  Every day I set aside time to explore unfamiliar terrain and wonder at the great schools of fish, the falcons, and sea birds that migrated past the island with the tug of seasonal currents.

Since there was not much to show on my map—just a single road beelining down a skinny arm of sand — I decorated it with my favorite landmarks.  On the north end I put three arches covered with a mane of vertical lines; these were the grassy camel-hump dunes that fronted the ocean.  Halfway to my house I drew a tuxedoed heron with hotpink legs; this marked the marshy flats where I had stumbled on a group of black-necked stilts and the messy stacks of twigs they use as nests.  Last I drew a stick figure crustacean waving a flag on a nearby beach.  I went to that beach often to watch ghost crabs skirmishing, shoving each other with round, pearly claws as if locked in mortal combat.  Next to the figure I penciled in “Ghost Crab Acres.”

We map, each of us, mentally and physically, every day of our lives.  We map to keep ourselves oriented, and to keep ourselves sane.  “The very word lost in our language means much more than simple geographical uncertainty,” the urban planned Kevin Lynch once wrote.  “It carries overtones of utter disaster… Let the mishap of disorientation occur, and the sense of anxiety and even terror that accompanies it reveals to us how closely it is linked to our sense of balance and well-being.”  And we map the places we love in much more detail than the places we dislike.  “The sweet sense of home is strongest,” Lyncgh wrote, “when home is not only familiar but distinctive as well. ~

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