Road map to Adventure


Once upon a time, before the Garmin or cell phone GPS, there was The Map. A great device for figuring out how to get where you were going. What is a Road Map after all but an adventure waiting to be unfolded!

When I took Drivers Ed, we had a whole section on reading and understanding a map which required our team to use one to plan a trip and answer quiz questions. This was a great life skill.  I feel like so many of these “old school” skills are fading away.  To this day, I prefer a paper map over GPS. Just like I would rather read a real book over one on my kindle. Usually on a big trip now, I use the GPS but still follow along on the map, it comforts me. Several times when the GPS directions have been wonky, the map has saved our butts!

Part of what I love about my AAA Auto Club membership is that in addition to getting discounts on hotels, air and other travel arrangements I get Tour books or Maps whenever I need them at no charge. Mark and I have had many adventures by letting a map lead us somewhere. That’s Adventure!


One year we bought a children’s illustrated atlas of the US and told our kids they got to help plan our summer vacation. The only boundary was that since it was just a week, we had to pick one section of the country to work within.

Each of us got a turn picking a destination. Start/Home was Michigan, Mason went first and picked the Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. Next up, Maggie chose the Hershey factory in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Mark and I chose a  stop in Washington DC to see some of the awesome national monuments and then drove on to the Wright Brothers Museum on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. It was a big deal since that was the 100 years of flight celebration. After that we found our way to Myrtle Beach for a few days of out of the car fun. My rule is I get to float around a lazy river 1 lap for every 100 miles we drove.

When it was time to go home, we were able to stop to see my family in Concord, North Carolina for a day as well.   The Atlas provided the blueprint and contained a lot of mini games and activities for the kids along the way.  This was a  great trip.


Mark and I did our first wine tasting on our Honeymoon in 1990 at of all places Epcot’s French pavillion.  It became our thing.  Michigan has a lot of wineries so that provided easy access for us to continue this pursuit.

Every year the Wine council releases a Michigan Wine Magazine that is full of articles on wineries and best of all maps!  We would grab the new issue each spring and read through it until it became dog-eared.  The maps illustrate different quadrants of the state and noted all the wineries in that area.  Whenever we had the opportunity to do some exploring we would take the magazine, flip open to the appropriate area map and adventure our way to a wine tasting or two.  These explorations  took us in cirlcles, on wrong turns and dead ends sometimes, but that was half the fun.  I still love both that magazine and wine tasting adventures.

2018 Wine Country Magazine cover

Grand Rapids, AKA Beer City, has a fun Ale Trail Map. You can pick up a “brewery passport” and collect stamps at the places you stop and have a beer. Once you have the required number of stamps, you can redeem for prizes. Traverse City offers a similar program, but the prize isn’t quite as cool as GR. Another nice thing about the trail in Grand Rapids is that the locations are much closer together than TC. When we did a weekend trip there, we started at the sites the furthest out by car, then checked into a hotel and finished them up on foot.  It was a cool and safe adventure.

Apparently I have passed the map passion on to my daughter as well.  One of the first big trips that she and Austin took together was a driving trip to the Upper Penninsula of Michigan.  They drove around following the map and finding cool places to hike and explore.  Just letting the trip unfold, like their map.   It’s good to know that Map-ventures live on.

So next time you have a weekend without any plans, grab yourself a map and go on a quest.  Pack some bottled water and snacks, and put on your favorite tunes.  Just relax and see where things go.  Most of all power down the electronics and just have some old fashioned fun.