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I Tend to Wander

This blog chronicles oddly-themed travel and food adventure in the Americas and Europe

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Map Sap

Dear Washington Post Travel:

Fer cryin' out loud! Not once but twice have I set off pink cheeked and bright-eyed in search of amazing, mysterious, and "how could I not have known about that?" sort of spots printed on officially distributed tourist maps, only to find that the reason I didn't know about them, is because they don't exist, leaving me knee-deep and and fuming in icy bogs or barbed wire-gouged and explaining fast to the State Trooper why I hadn't seen those No Trespassing signs.

The first time was a swampy slog to "Ancient Indian Caves" in Caroline County. Doesn't that sound neat!? Well, it would, unless you think about it for thirty seconds, or if you call the Virginia Office of Archaeology, they'll tell you that, because Caroline County is on sandy coastal plain soils, there aren't any caves, ancient, Indian or otherwise. The second was a (and, really, the weird preoccupation with Indians should have tipped me off) "Ancient Indian Burial Mounds" outside of Mt. Jackson, Virginia. Had I spoken to the nice people at the Virginia Department of Historic Resources first, I would have discovered that native Americans in the Shenandoah valley didn't bury their dead in mounds. So there.

OK. So, be brutal. Am I the only person on terra more or less cognita who once believed that the glossy maps printed and handed out by big, grinning county economic development directors were meticulously researched and approved by state historical societies and archaeology committees who made sure they weren't just churning out Candyland game boards and advertising copy?

Thanks very much,
Liz Kirchner, Annandale, Virginia, which is just beyond the Gum Drop Mountains, you can't miss it.