The Who has been pretty obsessed with maps this summer. This isn’t entirely new; he’s been really into maps and globes and travel and distance for a while, but on the trip up at the end of June, he discovered Mapquest. He always knew about it, but he really discovered it on that drive and since then, has been asking constantly to be my navigator. He loves following the line, telling me when to turn, and translating distances (e.g if Mapquest says “.25 miles” he says, “in a quarter mile.”)
The plus side of this new habit is that I have a pretty reliable navigator now. He has gotten me places that I had no idea how to get to without directions and can tell me things like what our eta is and whether or not we have been rerouted due to traffic. Also, I don’t have my phone at my side in the car and can’t be tempted to text at red lights, etc. If a text comes in, he tells me who it is from and can even read it for me if I ask him to. The downside is that we almost instantly ran out of data because Mapquest is always running. During the first couple of weeks, our phone carrier emailed me three times to say they had added another gig of data at ten bucks a pop. Finally, I got smart about it and changed our plan. Hopefully that’s enough to sate his seemingly insatiable desire to navigate.
One of the most fun days he had during this trip was the day we walked a section of the Freedom Trail. “In. twen. ty. feet,” he said in his best “Mapquest Lady” voice, “take. a. sharp. right. onto. Free. dom. Trail.” (After ten different “Con. tin. ue. on. Free. dom. Trail.”s, I finally had to ask him to limit his navigation to actual changes in direction.)
He’s spent every restaurant meal drawing maps of invented islands and archipelagos, drew an exact replica of the MBTA map, and reproduced maps of Boston and New England, paying special attention to the different harbors and bays. When we went to the library to borrow a few books for the month, he chose Boston tour guides and maps and studied them, intent on estimating distances and directions from place to place. And then, this morning, my uncle gifted him with a paper map of the United States along with a compass watch and an opisometer.
I don’t know why I didn’t think of this sooner: geocaching.
So, since we had some time this afternoon, we decided to try to find our first cache. Since we’re newbies (and since we were both wearing sandals and dressed for our later dinner reservation) we stuck to “park and grab” caches, but when we’re back home, I suspect we will take some longer walks and look for some more obscure treasures.
We looked for four today and found two. Not bad for our first time out.
I’ll tell you what: having a kid means finding yourself interested in things you would never in a million years think you would care about. I’ve known about geocaching for years, but not until now has it ever seemed like something worth doing.
Not a bad way to end our epic trip. Tomorrow, we hit the road back home. Mapquesting it all the way, I’m sure.