In Biblical times, the stars were used to guide travelers such as the three wise men who journeyed from afar to Bethlehem. We still look to the heavens to guide us, but in a more indirect way via satellite transmission from above to our GPS. Paper maps were the intermediate guide, but they are used today about as frequently as camels to reach one’s ultimate destination.
While paper maps may not be the handiest guide tool in our modern society, they are still an asset on a long trip. On our recent trek to Texas I pulled out a paper map–not to find my way but to entertain me during the long hours on the road. How can a map be amusing, you ask? Well, have you ever stopped to really look at one? The names of places and their locations in relation to each other can be pretty interesting. For example, my Texas map shows both an Old Dime Box and a New Dime Box. Which was settled first? Why that name? Was there a family feud that led to the establishment of a second Dime Box settlement? What the heck is a dime box anyway?
While sailors and the Magi may have looked upward at twinkling stars to point the way, they already had their destinations in mind, i.e., a specific port and the location of a newborn king respectively. Paper maps can be used differently. What if we want to figure out where we want to go? Wouldn’t it be fun to pull out a map and decide on a place to travel based on the names found on the map? OK, I was trapped in a moving vehicle for hours on end traveling in Texas, so you have to get creative in how to amuse yourself.
If you take the time to look, there are some pretty interesting place names in the Lone Star State. Maybe I should move to Alice, Texas temporarily just so I could leave and then say, “Alice doesn’t live here anymore.” If you are a fan of the Jetsons cartoon, you may want to check out Elroy, Texas. Or you could kill two birds with one stone and visit a Texas location that connotes another spot such as Nazareth, Moscow, London, Nevada, Sudan, Ireland, Scotland, Trinidad and Buffalo. I’d suggest going to Nazareth at Christmas, Ireland for St. Patrick’s Day and Trinidad for spring break. And for an out of this world experience, consider checking out Venus and Mercury–Texas, that is.
Some choose destinations for the local food. Why the Sterns earned beaucop bucks writing about food on the road. You could enjoy breakfast in Oatmeal, TX, a healthy snack in Plum, TX and pasta in Noodle, TX. You might need a plate from Dish, TX to hold your meal. Come on; you have to admit these thoughts are entertaining (for someone who is road weary and has miles to go before being released from vehicle jail).
Tired of traveling? Why not pick a place that suits your mood? You can be difficult in Moody, TX. on cloud nine in Utopia, TX, compassionate in Loving, TX and confused in Uncertain, TX.
While you may scratch your head at why some place names are chosen, it is understandable that a town may be named after a historical figure or beloved character. I must have been absent, though, on the day in American History class when Elmo, Kermit and Ben Hur were discussed. Were those three at the Alamo? I remember the Alamo, but not them being there. All three are towns in Texas along with Jonah (you know all those whales they have on the plains) and Ben Franklin (the plains must be a good place to fly a kite during an electrical storm).
Concern for my safety tempers my desire to visit some Texas towns. Think I’ll pass on Cut And Shoot, Bang and Bigfoot. Gun Barrell City might be safe if all citizens are packing to keep the bad guys in line; let’s just hope no one has an itchy trigger finger. Shootings might necessitate a sidetrip to Spade, TX to dig a grave.
Other Texas locations just seem like a good time is inevitable based on the name alone. Who wouldn’t be happy in Friday, TX where you could say, “Thank God It’s Friday!” every day? Tuxedo, TX sounds like it is up for a fancy party all the time. And you’d never be too tired for fun in Energy, TX and Pep, TX.
As entertaining as my map musings were, at the end of the day, there’s no place like home. I want to be off the road in a place where I don’t need stars, a GPS or a paper map for me to find my way around. I live in Valparaiso, FL, the vale of paradise. Paradise, TX will just have to do without my presence for now.