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Of GPS, Topo Maps and the person behind the counter

The shortest distance between two points is a straight line. The reality of that line is a mountain may be between you and the point. There was a time, based on that we would unfurl or unfold the map of the area from the glovebox of our car. Or, we would go to the camping supply store and head to the back where the lonely person stood, selling TopoMaps. Few came to the camping store to buy Topo maps. It was a skill they had to have, but not one that did much business. Our camping store, when I was little, was an old building on the Town Square of Bloomington Indiana. It was the land of magical product names (Puma Knives, Northface jackets, and backpacks).

You could have conversations with knowledgeable people on the thermal qualities of down versus synthetic fabric sleeping bags. You could talk about propane tanks for cooking. Which knife was best to have on long hikes. Canteens and how much water you would need. Finally, you could, and my father and I did a couple of times, go back to the lonely person in the back of the store, past the Grizzly bear stuffed at the edge of the hunting section of the store. Past the glass counters with guns and compares past the rife sight section and the bows and arrows. Past the section where they had Boy Scout uniforms and Boy Scout gear. To the counter, with a huge cabinet with large flat drawers.

You told the person the Latitude and Longitude you needed. He or she, mostly back then he’s, but let’s are fair, would pause considering your request for a moment and then,  Those were the days of yore. Now you simply type in your Latitude and Longitude into Google Maps, and it shows you exactly what you are looking for. Can you imagine the reality of treasure hunting if the treasure had a GPS tag! The GPS III Satellites have been launched and are fully in operation now. GPS III gives you plus or minus less than 2 feet. In the past due to restrictions GPS’ were plus or minus around 12 feet. 12 feet doesn’t seem like much but it can be more than you realize. GPS III moves us forward into a much closer world.

I still miss Topo Maps and the Topo Map counter…

  • Question of

    Do you remember going to a special store years ago?

    • Yes
    • No
  • Question of

    Have you ever slept in a sleeping bag?

    • Yes
    • No


What do you think?

10 points

Written by DocAndersen

One fan, One team and a long time dream Go Cubs!!!!!!!!!!!!!


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  1. In the 138 years that I lived, the closest thing to camping I did was sleeping on the beach shore at night time. Never experienced camping on a mountain. The reality of the wild always intimidate me from dusk till dawn.

    And hey, I still like to use a physical map in conjunction with Google map. In Vietnam, I took a GrabBike, driver does not speak English, I relied on the GrabApp to take me to the right address. I ended up a long block away from it ????. Always happens. So, what I usually do is since the driver is relying on GrabApp, I kept my Google map open to monitor if we are heading in the same direction. Google map works better but sometimes not very updated and the resto you might be looking for must have been gone a long time and replaced by a different one.

  2. Yes, I don’t have much trouble finding where I want to go without a GPS because I know Auckland well.
    However, if I don’t know I use computer maps now and generally remember it.

    My eldest sister has a TomTom and it seems to lead her often astray

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