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All over the map

Here's a sampling of responses to the question about how many people still use paper highway maps.

“We just returned from a 4,100 mile trip to Iowa and Indiana and yes, we used paper maps all the way,” wrote Jerry Hargitt. “We do have a GPS that we keep handy in a bag in case we need it, but we didn't. When I plan a new trip, I get out my collection of paper maps. Nothing else will do.”

“I always keep AAA highway maps in my car (Washington, Oregon, Idaho, BC and Alberta), but my husband doesn't,” wrote Sharon Forsyth. “Neither of us have vehicles with satellite navigation systems, but we both have smart phones. Problem is, there's miles and miles of country in these parts that are out of cell range. Never fails that when we lose cell range and need a map, we're in my husband's car.”

“I've been with friends who have GPS devices and it has steered us off course several times,” wrote Janet Culbertson. “I'll take my old, torn, paper, fold-up over that thing-a-ma-jig any time.”

“We have a box full of maps down in the basement,” wrote Jeri Hershberger. “I refuse to get a GPS. I do not want to take away my ability to read a map. That is a long-lost art, just like thank-you notes.”

“I love maps,” wrote Mary Shelly. “I have 39 folding maps.”

“I would guess that most folks my age still use the folded up highway maps, as I do,” wrote retiree Bill Mahaney. “I remember when they were free at any gas station…Online maps, however, are quite useful for very specific directions within a city.”

“I still use fold-up maps,” wrote Terry Martin. “Neither my husband nor I have a 'smart' phone, and I don't trust online maps on the computer.”

“Each October when we prepare to leave for the winter in Mesa, Ariz., I pick up new maps at the AAA office for Idaho, Montana, Utah and Arizona,” wrote Sherry Bye. “With fine point pen, I mark every motel, restaurant and gas station that we frequent for the 1,400 mile trip.”

“I appreciate using a computer map and its directions,” wrote Laura Prewitt. “But it's just not as satisfying as seeing all the ways to get someplace.”

“My grandmother, who is well into her 80s, considers maps nearly an art form,” wrote Keri Whittekiend.

“I still love highway maps and always use them on trips,” wrote Patricia Gaver.

“I love a good paper map,” wrote Lois Farnsworth-Whysong. “I do use Google maps once in a while if I need specific directions like to the Hampton Inn in Walla Walla, but overall I rely on paper maps.”

“My friend, Bernice, and I just returned from a 3,400 mile trip to Arizona,” wrote Mary Johnson. “We started with a new, beautiful paper map. She had to retire it because of all the new openings in the various folds. But it did us well there and back.”

There were more, but you get the idea.

Let's wrap this up with a report from Slice reader Jan Goss.

“We were traveling back from Seattle after our first cruise. As soon as we approached eastern Washington, it was clear that much of it was on fire. Huge billows of smoke filled the skies near Ellensburg.

“As we have friends who lived in one of the canyons nearby, we decided to drive up the highway to see if they were in trouble and needed help. After a few miles of driving, a state trooper whizzed past us and proceeded to close the highway in front of us. I happened to be driving and drove off the shoulder to a level place to park and get a better view before turning around. Immediately, we were accosted by people in other cars who had no maps and no idea how to reach their destinations other than this particular highway.

“We had to chuckle as we drew diagrams and handed out paper maps to help them.”


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Features writer Paul Turner is a columnist for The Spokesman-Review in the Features department. He writes "The Slice" column, which appears six times a week and produces general features stories for the Today section.

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