Slow Travel

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?

Flanerie Kerfuffle

Wednesday weebly-wobbles whipped up by too much desk jockeying? I'm with you. Time for a spot of flânerie! I hope you'll join me for a meander beyond the margin!

First let's catch up with Alexis Lee Ortiz for a Kubota Garden tunnel.

e-Marginalia Market

Visit the e-Marginalia Market for all your meandering needs!

e-Marginalia Market

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.

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.

TrekEast: March in Florida, Alabama and Beyond

Essex, New York resident resident and close friend John Davis is in month two of his 10-month, 4,500+ mile adventure. Are you following along? Thousands are, and I suspect that if you even dip into the story stream he's creating along this epic journey for wilderness, you'll become addicted! TrekEast is a 100% human-powered effort to discover and share the narrative of the eastern United States wilderness habitats. Please join the adventure.

Costa Rica: Peninsula Papagayo

Our Costa Rican adventure starts out in Guanacaste at the Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo. A "hardship post" for sure! Nine days of pampered bliss with in-laws, playing in the surf with my nephews, devouring fresh local fruit, fish and seafood, and generally shaking off the Adirondack winter.

Costa Rica Countdown: 3, 2, 1...

It's time for a mid-winter escape from the Adirondacks. And what better destination than Costa Rica? For the second year in a row my wife and I are venturing to the jewel of Central America with in-laws for ten incredibdle days at the Four Seasons Peninsula Papagayo. After that we join our friends Amy and Brian who winter in Tamarindo, but unlike last year when we fired straight off to Nosara, this year we're headed inland to Lake Arenal. Volcano. Hot springs. Windsurfing. Then down to Tamarindo for some surf, surf, surfing!

TrekEast: February in Florida with John Davis

Follow along as friend, naturalist, explorer, storyteller and uber-athlete John Davis undertakes TrekEast, a 4500-mile "journey for nature", sponsored by Wildlands Network. February 3, 2011 Key Largo, Florida.

TrekEast: John Davis provisions for the Everglades

Friends and colleagues join John Davis in preparation for the next leg of TrekEast through Everglades National Park. In this video they discuss supplies needed for their canoe journey.

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