Paper map to plan rail adventure: Rick Steves vs. Streetwise Europe for travel

I am well aware of the fact that there are maps on my phone. I use the internet constantly when planning trips. I also love good old-fashioned paper maps.

I wanted a map of Europe with specific details for planning rail travel. I’d narrowed it down to two brands readily available on Amazon.com, but couldn’t find a single review comparing them both. Today, I’ll try to remedy that for other cartophiles or Luddites with European dreams.

I’ll be comparing the Streetwise Laminated Europe & Major Rail Lines with Rick Steves Europe Planning Map.

Europe map rail train trip plan compare Streetwise vs Rick StevesI specifically chose to assess laminated or coated paper maps that resist tears and spills because those make the most sense for the rigors of travel. Murphy’s Law suggests that we are most likely to get lost after the downpour begins; I’d like my map to function regardless of the weather.

I have also, on occasion, been known to knock over a glass of wine or slosh coffee as the trip planning process gets me all keyed up. The caffeine and alcohol might also factor in this scenario, but I do tend to be excitable even in the absence of stimulants.

Once travel has commenced, I pick up free, local tourist maps commonly available in major tourist centers to get my bearings in a new town. I refer to my phone for turn by turn directions to specific addresses. Still, there is something about taking the large view on an unfolded map that feels like a first step into a journey.

Continue reading

A Whale of a Tail… Exploding!

Apropos of nothing else I’ve ever posted, today I feel compelled to share the most explosive tale from Oregon history. It took place in 1970—before my time—but it occurred in a little beach town where my parents later lived and my father worked in city government.

OR Florence - 2011

Florence, Oregon 2011. The cute downtown area, sans whale carcasses.

Thank heavens he wasn’t employed by the City of Florence in November, 1970. At least in this case, the blame is pretty easy to place squarely with the state highway division instead of City Hall, though you might be surprised how rarely that stops complaints from coming in.

A nice rendition of the whole story can be found here. If you just want the highlights, here’s a cartoon version.

Willing to view for yourself the great Oregon coast whale explosion? Here’s unabridged news footage from KATU-TV.

What brought this story to mind was a news item this morning: a forty foot long, rotting aquatic animal corpse has washed ashore in Indonesia. Is it a giant squid? A whale? Experts are taking meat samples (ugh!) and locals are snapping selfies they can show their doctors later when they develop rotting-meat related diseases.

Here’s hoping they elect to clean up the Indonesian carcass with something other than 20 cases of dynamite. Unless, that is, they are looking forward to blobs of blubber raining from the sky.

Still looking for more on this topic? You’re a little sick, but try:

Wikipedia on this, and other, exploding whales

The Exploding Whale site including factual and artistic explorations of the topic