Are you traveling anywhere fun this summer? You are ready to go, but your road atlas is starting to show wear and tear? Laminate pages, plastic cover or not, the corners always get caught on the seat pocket when tucking the book away. A fun and easy solution is to make a protective envelope to slip the book into. A fabric envelope makes atlas storage simple, and it looks nice as well. By using a good sturdy cotton fabric, a zigzag stitch, an applique technique, and a velcro closure, you can make a fun personalized atlas envelope for yourself or for a friend.
I set out to make an atlas cover for someone but ended up giving it to another. A photo and a story about a mountain camellia (Stewartia) inspired me, so it had to go to my friend Mary K. and nobody else. Mary K. had a Japanese Stewartia in her old yard, and when she moved to Alabama, she found out we have two species of mountain camellia (Stewartia malacodenron and ovata) native to the state. She hoped to find them in the wild, and even had a dream about the encounter, but the trees remained elusive, until one day, she was hiking out at Oak Mountain State Park and found one serendipitously. She was hot and tired so she sat down on a rock to rest. She looked up and saw a small mountain camellia — and it was in bloom! The flowers were so lovely, so she took a picture of one, and continued on with her hike. I understand the kind of enthusiasm my friend has for nature. I will drive for hours to catch a plant in bloom, and I long for the next nature journey.
Why use an atlas when your smartphone has a map app?
Believe it or not, I still like to use a good old fashioned map and road atlas, and I especially like my Alabama Atlas & Gazetteer. By studying the topographical lines and geologic features, I am able to get the lay of the land. I love that Birmingham is smack dab in the middle of page 30 and 31, and that the city is orange from the yellow with red street lines, but there is green and blue all around. I can look at the map to see how the city fits into the Ridge and Valley physiographic region, and thankfully, there is still beautiful countryside I can find in a 10-30 minute drive. I can find surrounding State Parks and Nature Preserves, National Forests and Wildlife Management Areas, the railroad lines, and places of historical interest. I can find rivers, swimming holes, backroads, and more. Don’t get me wrong, I like my technology too. I like to use the map app on my iPhone for its GPS capability along with websites like Trek Birmingham with its Go, Learn, Do motto. But a good keen sense of place and direction can be honed with a road atlas and a wanderlust to get in the car and drive.