Meander Beyond the Margin! e-Marginalia is the immersion travel community where adventurous travelers celebrate the art and artifacts from their authentic cultural travel, adventure travel, humanitarian travel, alternative travel, ecotourism and good, old fashioned secrets-of-your-own-neighborhood travel. [More...]

Mapping the High Road to Taos

High Road to Taos, by Christopher DougheryHand drawn maps are in my personal top ten list of travel artifacts. Maybe my top five.

I was recently introduced to The Hand Drawn Map Association — a cartographic marginalia paradise — by friend and former colleague Chris Casquilho.

The Hand Drawn Map Association (HDMA) is an ongoing archive of user submitted maps and other interesting diagrams created by hand.

Casquilho also put me on to an interesting sounding book, Everything Sings: Maps for a Narrative Atlas, by Denis Wood.

Denis Wood has created an atlas unlike any other. Surveying Boylan Heights, his small neighborhood in North Carolina, he subverts the traditional notions of mapmaking to discover new ways of seeing both this place in particular and the nature of place itself. Each map attunes the eye to the invisible, the overlooked, and the seemingly insignificant. From radio waves permeating the air to the location of Halloween pumpkins on porches, Wood searches for the revelatory details in what has never been mapped or may not even be mappable. In his pursuit of a "poetics of cartography," the experience of place is primary, useless knowledge is exalted, and representation strives toward resonance. Our perception of maps and how to read them changes as we regard their beauty, marvel at their poetry, and begin to see the neighborhoods we live in anew. Everything Sings weaves a multi-layered story about one neighborhood as well as about the endeavor of truly knowing the places which we call home. (Siglio Press)

Thank you, Chris Casquilho. Thank you, Hand Drawn Map Association.Thank you, Denis Wood. I'm slipping and sliding down the poetics of cartography rabbit hole!

And what better example of this creative world of hand drawn maps to represent my newest crush than Christopher Doughery "High Road to Taos". I know the destinations well and the route even better. I'm forever introducing friends and strangers to this high desert wander and some of the joys along the way like Madrid (where I brought our friend in December) and Tesuque (where my bride dreams of building a home) and Chimayo (a norther NM town as complex and troubled as it is miniscule and glorious).

So thank you also, Christopher Doughery.

During a summer trip through northern New Mexico, I wanted to chart our daily progress up from Albuquerque through the High Road to Taos, west to Los Alamos and finally north and west of Taos. I wanted to increase the scale of the High Road leg so I could note features of the small villages (graffiti in Cordova, the Ortega family-weaving since 1729 in Chimayo, San Jose de Gracia Church in Trampas, and Sugar Nymph's Cafe in Picoris). These villages are amazingly beautiful and heartbreaking at the same time. Not having the time to measure exact distances, I used the yellow box to signal changing scales. ~ Christopher Doughery (Hand Drawn Map Association)

A hand drawn map of a favorite land complete with marginalia. Win. Win. Win.

There's one more person I'd like to thank. Ira Glass. For so many things, I'm grateful to this All American Storyteller with a weird voice and an even weirder cadence. Glass wrote the introduction to Wood's Everything Sings: Maps for a Narrative Atlas. )Yes, I've looped back to Denis Wood again. You lost? Need a map?) The following is an excerpt, much abridged, of some of Glass's distilled observations. Sorry, Ira, for the butchery. Reader, consider this a mashup, a remix, a derivative that may not accurately represent what Glass actually meant to say. It represents what I "hear", and inevitably we hear what we want to hear...

When I encountered these maps of Boylan Heights years ago, what I first loved was how impractical they were... These maps are completely unnecessary. The world didn't ask for them. They aid no navigation or civic-minded purpose. They're just for pleasure. They laugh at the stupid Google map I consult five times a day on my phone. They laugh at what a square that map is. At its small-mindedness... Their mission is more novelistic... What they chart isn't Boylan Heights exactly but Wood's feelings about Boylan Heights, his curiosity about it, and his sense of wonder at all the things about the place that are overlooked and unnamed... [They] elbow their way into the world in defiance... to take a form that's not intended for feeling or mystery and make it breathe with human life. ~ Ira Glass (Introduction to Everything Sings: Maps for a Narrative Atlas)

Yes, hand drawn maps are definitely in my top five list of travel artifacts. What about you?

Mount Stephen Club No More?

George Stephen House - Mount Stephen Club

Image via Wikipedia

Did you solve the Montreal Mystery in my last blog post? Did you guess which Montreal mansion was the location for our decadent brunch?

Plaudits to Steph Sirois (@StefS31) and Linda Coffin who answered correctly that the mysterious Montreal mansion in the video is Mount Stephen Club! Both Steph and Linda have personal connections to the property, one from college reasearch and the other from growing up two blocks away... Bravo, Montrealophiles! (Shoot me your mailing addresses, and a prize will help you celebrate your smarts.)

The Mount Stephen Club occupies the late 19th century mansion of George Stephen, the co-founder of Canadian Pacific Railway. This extravagant home in Montreal's Golden Square Mile was architecturally inspired Italian Renaissance palaces. The interior is extravagantly finished in detailed Cuban mahogany, English walnut and exotic woods and boasts many marble mantles, stained glass glass windows, and grand staircase fit for royalty.

Montreal Mystery

My bride and I escaped to Montreal, QC and environs this weekend to catch up with good fiends, Fabrice and Veronique.We stayed in their spectacular, almost-complete new home located about ten minutes east from Montreal. In the country! How many cities offer the bounty of culinary, cultural and professional opportunities of Montreal, with the luxury of country living only ten minutes away?

Windless Surfing or Champlain Valley Pedaling

The dangling carrot this morning -- like many mornings this summer -- was a blast across Lake Champlain on a windsurfer with my bride.

A productive morning, a quick lunch, then back to work. With the carrot still dangling, I noticed the breeze kicking up outside my window. I renewed my commitment to wrap up in time to skitter across the waves, wind at my back, as I raced into the moment and away from deadlines, benchmarks, lists...

My beautiful bride interrupted me mid afternoon.

"I'm headed out. Join me!"

And I did. One last phone call. One last email. Then I dove into a my pea green swim trunks and headed down to the waterfront. I could see my bride "rowing" with the sail. She was pumping to build up speed, hunting for wind. I took out the wind meter and turned it into the light breeze. Just shy of 5mph. Too light for windsurfing.

I could see my bride heading back in toward shore. She was disappointed. The wind had fallen.

But the sun was still high the skies were blue. Water was too rough for enjoyable water skiing, but the afternoon was perfect for cycling. So I returned to the house, swapped swim trunks for cycling shorts and headed out to the carriage barn to liberate Major Jake for an adventure.

Meandering Empire Avenue


What is that? Gobble-di-gook. Of the Empire Avenue variety...

Unlike other avenues I'm prone to probe, this one is different. No smells. No found poetry. No dog crap to sidestep. Well, not literally, at least.

You see, Empire Avenue is a digital avenue. Actually, it's more like a digital universe. I wandered in a couple of months back out of curiosity. A digital flaneur meandering a newly discovered digital avenue. A couple of days exploring, and I was hooked. A bit spooky, really.

So I left.

Well, not totally. I kept me account open with an eye to returning when the sublime summertime non-digital world stopped distracting. But the emails, the notices, the reminders continued. People kept buying stock in me. And some began to worry that my stock price was falling, rising, erratic.

And yet I was too absorbed in Rosslyn Redux and Redacting Rosslyn, in gardening and windsurfing, to venture back into the digital avenue.

Until this morning. And once again, I'm intrigued.

Walkabout Chronicles


We get so caught up in our work, obligations, and duties that the truly important parts of us become lost. From there it is a downward spiral as we get increasingly distant from our true self. Eventually a crisis develops that awakens us to the realization that we are no longer our true self. It is at this time that we should (must) go on walkabout to get life back in order. We leave things behind and we begin a journey. (Walkabout Chronicles)


Fantastic concept. Fantastic website! Meanderting spirits will feel right at home at Walkabout Chronicles and might even want to share their own stories. I'm a long-time fan of the walkabout concept first explained to me by my parents as a little boy when our cat would disappear for a week each year. The ritual stuck, and I've been a loyal observer ever since. If you haven't a clue what I'm talking about, your walkabout immersion should start with the good stories over at Walkabout Chronicles.

Struggle to Transcend

Birthright: one man's struggle to transcend (film credit Sean Mullens)

When images speak louder than words, and moving even images even louder, I know enough to shutter the gob and watch. And listen. And learn. This short directed and filmed by Sean Mullens tells the story of one man's "daily ritual to find his natural self through surfing." Not the story you're expecting. Even when it's over.

Caroline Casey: Beyond Limits

Adventure as a concept is too often relegated to the realm of make believe, of epic wanderers, of exotic locales and death-defying incidents. To be sure, adventure -- festooned in all of its children's book glory -- includes these colorful illustrations. But it also includes much, much more.

Adventure is a choice and a world view and a lifestyle. Adventure is a paradigm through which all decisions, all hopes, all fears, all ambitions and failures and risks and victories are transformed into vibrant opportunities. Adventure is a daily attack against sleep walking. Adventure is choosing to be totally 100% alive!

Lake Champlain: The Last Dance

Friend and neighbor, Mac MacDevitt, wraps up the 2010 Lake Champlain (TEQH9T65AVAA) sailing season with a chilly haul from Port Douglas to Essex, New York in his Windrider 17 trimaran. Compelling video footage and narrative capture that bittersweet hankering for one last sail despite the inhospitable conditions, and the admission that he's likely to repeat the foolhardy expedition next year. Great storytelling, Mac!

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