After starting to paddle each morning about 6am, we would start looking for a suitable campsite along the rugged shoreline about noon each day. Usually by about 2pm we’d found a site that would take our full entourage of tents.
Remember….when you were a kid……and you found yourself in rapture over a colourful map or a detailed globe? I’m betting that, if you’re honest with yourself, you still love maps….don’t you! I know I do.
People often ask me about what sorts of things they should record in their Travel Journal - and one of the simplest and most fun things to add is a sketch map of your accommodation or a place you’ve visited. When you look back through your Travel Journal, you’ll have some wonderful context, and the things you’ve recorded on that sketch map will bring back a flood of rich memories that might otherwise have been lost.
Part of the sketch map I did after I got back from our month-long MacKenzie River paddle trip. So many memories come alive with a simple sketch map.
Just pause for a moment and think about the campsite you stayed at last summer….or that all-inclusive resort in Costa Rica you enjoyed 5 years ago. I’m betting that a quick sketch map in your Travel Journal would help bring back so many memories of those days.
So, I have an assignment for you - whether you’re sitting at your desk right now or lounging with a morning cup of coffee at your kitchen table……
Get a piece of paper (or even use the back of an old envelope) and just start to doodle the layout of that campground or that resort. Where were the tents set up, where was the fire pit, where was the river or lake in relation to your campsite.
This was one of our campsites along the MacKenzie River - a campsite that records our ‘bear encounter’….you can see my small attempt at drawing a bear in the bottom left of the map!
Perhaps you can name who was staying in which tent. Do you remember the colour of the tents?
What was the layout of your resort room itself - where was the mini-bar, the balcony, the bed? What direction did it look, where was the pool(s), what side was the ocean on?
When you have that general ‘lay of the land’, give yourself a moment to recall how it felt to be away from the hectic pace of modern life. Can you recall the warm breeze coming in off the ocean or perhaps a cooler breeze creating ripples across the lake where you’re camping?
This is my sketch map of our first campsite on the Yellowstone River as we gathered for our 2-week paddle trip downriver to Billing’s, Montana. The few minutes it took me to sketch this small map brings back a whole flood of clear memories that I’m sure would have disappeared were it not for the map. I remember the ‘pre-paddle meeting’ where we talked about the fast moving water we were about to encounter….the Osprey that seemed to be flying and hovering everywhere…..the rich purple sunset that sent us off to sleep that first night.
So much about the start of this epic 2-week trip paddling the roaring water of the Yellowstone River come back to me through this small and simple sketch map.
Ask your inner child, who is still intrigued by maps, to help you hold your memories even closer. On that little scrap of paper where you’ve done that sketch map, jot a few notes about what that travel experience was like. Think about how it ‘felt’ - relaxed shoulders, a deeper peaceful sigh to your breathing, a renewed sense of personal comfort. All of those memories and feelings will be clearer if you keep a Travel Journal - you will be a richer person for it.
Finally, remember that keeping a Travel Journal isn’t supposed to be a job….so relax and I think you’ll quickly find that you get better and better with every single Travel Journal you keep.
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