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Posted on Thursday, March 5th, 2009

Dave!For as long as I can remember, I've been in love with maps and map-making.

Old maps, new maps, road maps, land maps, ocean maps, weather maps... any kind of map at all is a source of fascination to me. At one point I even considered a career in cartography, and did a lot of research on how maps are crafted. It never really amounted to anything, but the reward was in the learning, and my appreciation for maps grew as I studied them.

I did eventually do some map work for hire... usually presentations for land developers, graphics for realtors, and stuff like that... but most of the hundreds of maps I drew were just for fun. Like this map of Davetopia, which was one of my very first maps (original drawn on paper, but digitized years later). It was created for an online experiment called DaveWorld...


Today when I stopped for gas my leg rubbed against the big wad of road maps I keep in my car door pocket, and they all fell to the ground. As I bent over to pick them up, it suddenly occurred to me that I haven't opened any of them in years. About a decade ago, I started using online sites like MapQuest and Google Maps when I needed directions. Now-a-days, I just turn on my iPhone.

When it comes to actually using maps, print is apparently dead to me. Once I got home, I grabbed a couple of the more useful-looking laminated maps from the pile (just in case) and threw the rest in the trash.

After dinner, I dug them back out of the garbage so I could look at them one last time before I trashed them again. It's hard to let go of something you love. As I sit here typing this, a part of me is still mourning the maps I threw out. But then I look at the dozens of map books, atlases, travel books, and cartography books on my shelf and know that I made the right decision.

Just like in cartography, life is something you should keep as uncluttered as possible.

Categories: DaveLife 2009Click To It: Permalink


  1. Avitable says:

    There’s only one Hard Rock Cafe in Davetopia?

  2. kapgar says:

    When I was a kid and a teen, I had a subscription to National Geographic and kept all the magazines throughout the years. I loved it. However, the time came when I had to clear out old stuff and I decided to donate the magazines to someone who might enjoy them as they had been collecting dust in my room at my parents’ house. But not before removing all the maps and storing them securely in a comic book storage box. 😉

  3. NYCWD says:

    Maps and map reading used to be a way of life for me.

    Now everyone uses GPS… and while it is a bit more convenient… you lose something there. I’m not sure what it is… maybe it’s the ability to find your way out of a paperbag without aid from a mysterious voice… but there’s something lost there.

  4. Ren says:

    I find that maps are cool hanging on the wall.

    The land mass in the DaveWorld map calls to mind a mask or skull — perhaps of some sort of simian.

  5. eric says:

    i hope it was a typo and you meant you tossed the maps in the *recycling*!! 🙂

    i was a little disappointed – didn’t see “Davecago” on the map, unless it just didn’t get captured in the image above.

    i agree that it’s best to stay uncluttered (not that i practice what i preach), but i’m paranoid about electronic device failure. did you at least leave a local map in the car?

  6. martymankins says:

    I love how everything is named Dave-something, except for Legoland and Hard Rock Island.

    Now just add Dave Lake City and it will be complete.

  7. Dave2 says:

    Avitable… Yes. But the Hard Rock Cafe is an entire island (shaped like an electric guitar). You arrive at the headstock, then ride shuttles down the “strings” to the hotel and cafe at the bridge. There is a live venue and rock museum there as well.

    Kapgar… I too was a hug fan of National Geographic maps. I still have the original Moon and Mars maps!

    NYCWD… My problem is that the computerized stuff only concentrates on the destination, not the journey. The cool thing about planning a route on the map was seeing all the cool stuff along the way.

    Ren… The shape of the major landmass there is actually a stylized “D” for “Dave.” There are other smaller land masses around it which mimic certain geography of earth as well.

    Eric… Our small town doesn’t offer recycling except for glass, plastic, and cardboard… we have no options for recycling paper here. Davecago is indeed off this map. It’s located on Davediana Island, nicknamed “The Windy Island.” 🙂

    Marty… Dave Lake City is located UNDER The Great Dave Lake. The larger map has an inset showing how power is generated for Davetopia, and it all comes from Dave Lake City, where they harness the gravitational field of the planet with giant underwater power plants.

  8. Sybil Law says:

    I am so confused – where is VaHillyville?! Wasn’t it right next door?!

  9. Dave2 says:

    Davetopia existed 25 years before Vahillyville came along. I guess I need to update my map?

  10. ajooja says:

    I love map graphics (and other info-graphics) more than I’ll ever be able to explain. I wish I had your talent. I’m so impressed.

    That being said, I wouldn’t mind giving it all up and being the lighthouse keeper at Davesford.

  11. delmer says:

    I have a bunch of bike-route maps from 1987; I may have one for every county. I found them in one of my bike bags a couple of years ago. They are terribly out of date — but I can’t let them go.

    (Does anybody else remember when maps were free at gas stations? Or am I the oldest person on the Internet?)

  12. Dave2 says:

    Ajooja… Cartography is a wonderful field. I still regret that I didn’t end up doing more with it.

    Delmer… I don’t remember free maps at gas stations, but I get free maps with my AAA membership!

  13. claire says:

    Oh, Dave, maps make cool wrapping paper. Oh well.

    I love maps too. I should finish that art project I started a couple years back…I changed my mind about a few design choices so I may need to start over, but with any luck I won’t need to head out to AAA to get another map.

    Also, I very much enjoyed your Dave map.

  14. That Davetopia map is quite entertaining.

  15. Catherine says:

    I love really old maps. You how sometimes museums and libraries will have now-and-then photos of areas in their cities? Well I love those, and I love comparing the now-and-then maps of places, too.

  16. Sarah says:

    I love maps. I have an entire trunk full of old maps from everywhere (thank you AAA). I’m actually planning on creating wallpaper out of them for one walls in my room. I’ll probably get around to it right before I move out. Procrastination in awesome.

  17. whall says:

    What, you forgot Davestin already?

    And the land mass is clearly Pinky or Clyde, turned on his side, after a tragic eye accident and losing one of his appendages.

  18. kilax says:

    I love that map you drew. Did you do it in AI?

    We still keep maps of the area, to look at and get a general idea of where we are going. I also use maps when I travel. I have a Garmin, but don’t trust it too much!

  19. Laura says:

    I have a passion for maps, too. Since I live in the Bland Land of Cubicles, I decorated my cube walls with (counting) seven maps – one of the globe, one of the US, and five of places that I’ve been. Then I sit there on my teleconferences and look at the maps and wish I was anywhere else.

  20. Randy says:

    How does one person have so much talent and creativity? YOUR map is great!

  21. Whitenoise says:

    I love maps, too, but I guess the way we use them is mostly personal preference. I have an iPhone, Garmin Nuvi and an old Garmin handheld but for me all of the gadgets are only aids for the paper. Paper maps are ultra-widescreen and you can highlight them and make notes all over the surface. Plus, there’s something esthetically pleasing about paper.

  22. martymankins says:

    Oh now see, I missed the Great Dave Lake on the first look at the map. Makes perfect sense.

  23. (Still catching up . . . ) I couldn’t let this one pass without mentioning my love of maps. I have a globe in my living room that I love to mess around with, and I have a friend that constantly makes fun of me being a map nerd. Very cool Davetopia map.

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