Monday, June 8, 2020

At the end of the tunnel, a light clicks on

     Look at a map of Illinois. Notice how Peoria, Bloomington and Champaign all line up, one, two, three, like the stars in Orion’s belt, hanging in a row southwest of Chicago. Beyond them ...
     What? You don’t have a map of Illinois? Well, go online and ... oh, I see the problem. On your phone, a map of Illinois is about 3 inches tall.
     Pity. The Illinois map I’m looking at is a mighty 19 inches tall, splayed across two big pages of the 2021 Rand McNally Road Atlas, a catalogue of delight, a joyful anachronism persisting in our Google Map age.
     “Huh?” you’re wondering about now. “Is this not about crisis? I’m confused.”
     Rest assured, this is also about crisis but indirectly. As the novel coronavirus shifted from terrifying new pandemic to wearying endless ordeal, I began to wonder what might be written about that wasn’t overburdened nurses frantically trying to save gasping patients in chaotic ERs. The machinery of former life must be grinding away somewhere. If only I knew how to find it ...
     “A new Road Atlas in the midst,” read the subject line of an April 21 email.
     “Good morning,” Kendra Ensor, marketing VP at Rand McNally, began. “I know it’s a strange time, and with the state COVID-19 guidelines in place, recreational travel is pretty much at a standstill.”
     Smart. A lot of companies wouldn’t even nod at the elephant in the room. “As is customary this time of year, and has been since 1924, the new edition Road Atlas has just released.”
     Admire the way that sentence is structured —“has just released.” There is no company releasing the Road Atlas. The Road Atlas magically appears, at its customary time, of its own accord.

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  1. I feel the love for paper maps too!

    Happy wanderings.

  2. Took mine last year on a 7,000 mile road trip. Wouldn't go on one without it. When we came upon a bad accident and the road was closed on Nowhere Nebraska, guess what, no google. Grabbed my Rand McNally and watched the lemmings follow each other as I went around them and worked my way down 5 exits and got back on. Not to mention all the scenic roads it takes me on.


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