I love maps. I love to look at them and dream of being there. Recently, a map of Antarctica I ordered arrived, and already, the corners of the folds are starting to tear because I open and close the map so frequently. The map enthrals me. It really does. Engaging with the map is a critical part of any travel experience for me because that engagement lays a foundation of knowledge, space awareness, and boundaries on which the adventure is built.
I stare at the map. I enjoy the discombobulation of having Antarctica be front and centre with small parts of the other continents poking it at the edges rather than vice versa. I digest the pie shaped sovereignty-claim lines and dig Antarctic history facts from the deep recesses of my brain. “I must get reading,” I tell myself. My eyes dance along the blue contours lines and imagine walking, skiing, and climbing over them. The map takes me there.
I marvel at the scale. 1: 9,500,000. It’s huge. One of something on the map equals nine million five hundred thousand of somethings on the ice. It’s hard to imagine 9,500,000 of my pinkies positioned side by each. How can I truly grasp the immensity represented on the paper in front of me? A place so south that every direction is north (at least at the pole anyway).
How cold will it be? Will I get a headache from all the blood racing to my brain standing at the bottom of the world and seemingly upside-down? What will the night sky look like? Oh right, there won’t be any night sky as I will be there in the time of eternal day. The sun will circle the sky. And it will circle me… and the map. I know everything will change, the moment I step on the ice, forever, having taken Antarctica into my heart through that simple stride and through staring at the map until then.
I’ve had a fundraising toque for every major climb I’ve done in the past five years. Many of you have the entire collection (thanks for that!). Even though I am a bit crispy on selling things these days, I knew I had to have a toque for Mount Vinson. As I played with designs, the Antarctic map/shape played prominently until one day Xander emailed me a photograph of some penguins he’d painted for a school project.
I was hooked. At the time as well, I had hired some designers to do a t-shirt design for the climb as well. Once I saw Xander’s penguins, all other designs went out the window! Following in his sister, Rayne’s, artistic footsteps, one of Xander’s penguins now graces the Vinson 2011 toque which, I must tell you, is absolutely perfect! “Why?” you ask. “Because Xander loves toques and you rarely see him without one on his head,” I answer.
The embroidered toques have arrived and are ready to take up residence on your heads and in your hearts. I give thanks that at the end of May in Newfoundland that temperatures are still nearing the freezing point so there is hope that I can move some of the toque inventory before next fall (making room in my budget to be able to order the t-shirts!) The toques are $20 each including HST. If you live away from here, that will add some shipping costs. Drop me a line to order one or ten! They make great gifts and they’ll help me get to the place of the map, Antarctica!