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Finding Your Way

On occasion we outdoor types are occasionally faced with the task of navigating some unknown terrain. My son Brian recently returned from an elk-hunting trip to Colorado; a vast wilderness area he had never before traversed. I wasn’t concerned because he had map-reading skills and he knew how to read a compass. His hunting trip reminded me of a similar hunting adventure I had a number of years ago in the wilds of Montana. I was hunting elk and bear in a place I had never been but I was totally confident that I could navigate the unknown with a topographical map and a compass.

With the aid of my topographical map I actually chose my intended campsite weeks before I even departed for the hunt. I chose a site near the tree line in a clearing along a horse trail. Upon arriving at our hunting location my hunting buddy and I set out with loaded backpacks for our remote campsite several miles into the Montana wilderness. We made a temporary camp on the side of the mountain that first night and by noon of the second day we reached our intended campsite that corresponded with the coordinates on the topo map. I must admit that I felt totally confident roaming about the vast, unknown wilderness over the next 10 days — all because of a simple device like a compass and a detailed topographical map.

Of course I realize today we have much more sophisticated equipment for navigation such as GPS. The 30 satellites circling the earth enable us to know our exact location and enables us to find our way to our desired location with ease even while driving our vehicles. In spite of today’s technological advances however there’s still a need for a compass and topo map-they don’t need batteries to operate and if you know how to use them they are very dependable. Learning how to navigate with these simple tools could save you wandering aimlessly through territory you are totally unfamiliar with.

Speaking of wandering aimlessly through territory you are totally unfamiliar with my wife sent me to the grocery store the other day; my instructions were to pick up a gallon of 2% milk. Generally my wife does not allow me to take on such tasks without some other adult supervision but she was unable to pick it up herself. I’m fine in the Montana wilderness with grizzly bears and wolves but shopping is a bit intimidating. I wasn’t raddled the first hour or so in the store but after a while I thought it best to call her. “Sheila, I’m in “beans”, how do I get to milk?” After a brief pause she instructed me to continue down the aisle until I hit frozen foods — keep frozen foods on your left all the way to the corner and there you will find milk. Thankfully when I finally got to milk my daughter-in-law spotted me and could tell from the glazed look in my eyes I needed help. With a little help from several of the ladies up front I was able to find the “Less than fifteen items” check out and I was on my way.

Not knowing where you are in a strange place can be scary. Last week my wife and I were doing some Christmas shopping; I was trying to buy something for her but she wanted to try things on first. She came out of the dressing room in “petite” and told me to return to Alfred Dunner and change one size for another. I made my way out of “petite” and around “misses” and eventually into Alfred Dunner, exchanged the blouse and headed back to “petite”. While working my way through “misses,” in my haste I accidentally knocked over a dummy-no, not a manikin but some guy standing there with a glazed look on his face while trying to shop for his wife.

From now on I’m taking my compass when I go shopping.

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