Jan 22, 2010

Merlin Maps

Merlin MapsAs 2009 disappears in the rear view mirror, we greet a new decade with enthusiasm. New road trips, new vistas, new delights!

Merlin’s favorite January road trip readiness ritual is the annual Sorting of the Maps. We gather all the maps from their hidey-holes to judge each on their updatedness and keepability. Yes, we use Tom-Tom and iPhone navigation for actual driving, but there’s no substitute for a wide open paper map for spontaneous inspiration. Plus, we get to use decommissioned maps for wrapping paper and chewing practice.

Toponymy, the study of place names, is a fabulous way to inspire road trip way points. Random generation of places can beget intriguing itineraries. We practice dog biscuit toponymy tossing for synchronistic spontaneous selection.

Let’s begin with a map of Northern California. Tossed dog biscuits land on Whiskeytown, Happy Camp, Mad River, Lava Beds, Alturus, Paradise, Viola. Merlin is quick to assist. Biscuits land, breifly, on the intriguingly named Experimental Forest and Forks of Salmon. Lake Tahoe and Zepher Cove are already on the list for our annual February snow powder plunge. Merlin adds Sheep Peak, Pyramid Lake, and Mt. Ansel Adams in Yosemite.

A biscuit toss onto a California state map lands on Hollywood. Merlin Sniffs MapsMerlin will sniff out the Hollywood Walk of Fame stars of dog legends Lassie, Rin Tin Tin, and Strongheart. Additional biscuits guide west through Joshua Tree to the Salton Sea and the Chocolate Mountains.

On a Western States map, the Craters of the Moon and Canyon of the Ancients beckon. Merlin rode through the Devil’s Playground to Vegas and the Grand Canyon several years ago. Further biscuit casting urges us eastward to Bandelier and the Ozark Medieval Fortress.

On the big USA map, Key West, Florida looks like a spectacular head-out-the-window drive. How about another visit to friends in Michigan, then northeast through Sault Ste Marie to Quebec? Merlin’s been to Peru. Let’s add North American Rome, Athens, London, Paris, and Sydney. Mars Hill anyone?

Merlin Napa LabyrinthCloser to home, spring events include Yuri’s Night, the Maker Fair, Marin Open Studios, and the May Madness Classic Car Parade. Next month, chauffeur Cindy will relay Merlin's sage advice to writers at the San Francisco Writers Conference panel on critique groups. And there’s always labyrinths to walk. We’ve discovered several new ones already this year. Maps for the Journey.

So, open a few maps and toss some dog biscuits. Load up. Where to?