Firstly, let us not discount your telephone book. Yes, the telephone directory holds quite a bit in local maps that you might want to take advantage of. Usually in the front of the phone book are (for whatever your metropolitan area) maps of small towns and suburbs. These maps are accurate and give the streets, place names, and points of interest. Here’s what you do.
Take a hobby knife and cut out the map and the key for your immediate area, and another page that covers your local vicinity. Trim them off with scissors and then lightly apply a glue stick to the back of each. You want the two different maps to be back-to-back. When the glue dries, you can mount them. There are laminating sheets you can pick up at your local, friendly Wal-Mart that run about $10 for ten sheets. They peel back for you to insert the maps and line them up, and then just close the top sheet after you remove the non-stick backing paper. Press them firmly and evenly together, and there you are.
You now have an accurate map for local use on the cheap. Dry erase comes off too easily, but pick up a grease pencil and you can mark things on the front of it when you’re in the middle of a leg of traveling. It would behoove you to make several of them: phone books are either free or a dime a dozen. In this manner, your family members can have a map for themselves in their vehicle. Store these in some kind of binder or folder with pockets to give you easy access.
You need the maps because your electronic devices such as your Garmin GPS or your MapQuest attachment on the dashboard might just suddenly go “defunct,” courtesy of an EMP (Electromagnetic Pulse) or other similar, natural anomaly such as a solar flare.
Keep your high-tech, but always have your low-tech aids for backup.
Next is your chamber of commerce. These guys have about a thousand brochures and maps for your use. Some of them are pretty good and fairly detailed. Of particular note are the brochures on parks, forests, and happy-family recreational sites. Guess what? That state park may be a fallback area for you if you are on the run. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a map entailing all of the terrain features and manmade features of such a place?
Don’t forget the rest stops usually found in the welcome centers as you cross from one state to another. These places have the same brochures and maps as the chambers of commerce, and a free state map for you to grab. Remember: good intel is not merely found, it’s made. Talk to the people who work at these welcome centers and chambers of commerce. They can point you in other directions or give you information that may not be immediately visible. Your “cover” is tourism, vacation, etc. As “facilitators of information” the state governments pay them with your tax dollars to lure you into their beautiful state and generate more taxable income for all of them. Make these guys earn their money.
You can often find that many of these parks and tourist sites have maps that also include a little bit of the surrounding area. Use your judgement, and many of these maps can also be laminated in the manner outlined above. Do not forget about the Forestry Service in your area. Here in Montana, they release every year or every two years updates to the national forest trails in the form of maps and guides for free. Other states have the same. Don’t forget your county extension office for a plethora of different documents and maps. Once again, they’ll be happy to help if you just speak to them in a friendly manner.
Don’t discount older or out-of-print maps that you may find in your travels and searches. They may not be updated, but they may have information on them that is accurate but for whatever reason was not included in the more recent revisions. Old abandoned tunnels and mine operations are prime examples of things found in older maps and not included in the new maps. Same for abandoned buildings or abandoned construction projects. All of these things you may find useful to know…especially when the majority of people have forgotten about them.
Thrift stores and used book stores usually have maps and atlases floating around. With older maps, what you do (besides the “special” locations just mentioned) is find the main highways and byways that are similar and accurate and cut out these pages to use for an overlay for yourself or an adjunct to a local map you may have laminated.
Do your homework. On your maps, you want to include as much relevant information as you may need. Addresses, phone numbers, locations of utilities such as water and power facilities, and places usable for a refuge if you’re out and about and the SHTF. Place index cards with these extra notes in with the map before you laminate them. Also, ensure that you mark a compass rose on your map with North and the other three cardinal directions. Ensure that it is oriented in the correct direction: North needs to actually point north, not just be affixed to the map.
Naturally there are more sources than these. Your good sporting goods stores usually have a supply of maps either from the Forestry Service or even military maps from the Defense Mapping Agency, the latter of which are golden. They’re not nearly as expensive as if you order them online. Want a good idea? Get yourself a piece of 3-4″ diameter PVC pipe, and cut down two pieces of this that are about 3′ long. Pick up some end caps that fit snugly, and you have yourself a map case…you can roll up your maps and stow them in there to protect them.
One final word, for your local maps you want to drive around and check them out yourself. You want to perform a thorough reconnaissance of different routes and ensure they are viable prior to your utilization of said routes. You don’t want to find out that a bridge that is on your map is actually “out” and unable to be crossed when you’re on the move. In this light, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Garner your maps before your Garmin goes out as a part of your preps that truly will help you move in the right direction. Keep fighting that good fight, finish off that turkey, and take care of each other! JJ out!