War: The Only Way Americans Learn Geography!

A popular observation! Until we attack a country, we know squat about it.

Come to think of it, geography and conquest throughout history have had a direct relationship. From Roman highways to Mongol roads, all the seafaring and colonization that led to charting the seas and developing the ports, the establishment of the global coordinates to reference locations, the Lewis and Clark expedition, the spy satellites and finally the GPS. I would have to surmise war is the only way ANYONE has learned geography!

Our old enemy, the Soviets (AKA the Russians), were quite fond of mapping. The Fresno State Map Library’s copy of the атлас мира (Atlas Mira -“Atlas World”) was a fun read. I’ll never forget seeing бутонвйлъоу out on I-5 in the атлас мира. “BU-TONEH-VWIL-O-U (Buttonwillow!).” Or how the атлас мира’s maps depicted known high sierra Indian trails as legitimate enough as human routes of travel to show them as connecting the distances between road’s ends throughout the North American west. In fact, those Indian routes probably survive in Russian atlases from the 1800s when such routes were first known by Spaniards and fur trappers. Such paths have long disappeared from American maps.

Wow, this brings up a memory. One year as a kid, I became fascinated with creating a trail system in my neighborhood that connected all off-road points of interest. One day while playing up in Ray’s Trees®, a totally strange kid we never saw before in our lives comes ambling down a trail I built, from who knows where he came, and Ray goes “That’s why I don’t like making trails.” We climbed down from Ray’s Trees® and got rid of those Dave’s Trails® as fast as we could!

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