My name is Kat C. and I am in the 9th Grade. I have lived all over the western U.S. (Utah, Colorado, California, Texas) and visited many other states in the west as well as driven along the south east border. I have yet to leave the country except in books, but already have travel checklists I hope to complete when I am older. I have been here in Lakeway for 6 years despite moving houses and speak a little Spanish. I like to consider myself a mental “systematic traveler” and felt like chapter 8 of Maphead spoke out to me for being about others like myself.
Chapter 8 is titled Meander, perhaps as a pun on its double meaning. A meander is a bend in a river or “other watercourse”, but when you meander, you wander around from place to place, seemingly without direction. The chapter begins with a flashback to when atlases let people travel by armchair instead of actually going places. We can “time travel” through the centuries to today, the Jet Age. In a world where you can go anywhere, we like to say that we can be everywhere and do everything. It’s a simple fact that we can’t, so Jennings introduces the readers to the “Meanderers” of our world, the wanderers who live and travel by checklist. There are tens of thousands of these people who “place collect” across our globe. Many of them join clubs, others join small groups. Some do it in pairs or on their own. In 1954, the Travelers Century Club was founded in southern California for those who had visited at least 100 countries. With more than 2000 members, their regular luncheons are a great way for “geography wonks” that are living their dream to gather and be around others who understand some of their desire to finish a list. Most of the members are older, retired people who picked up this chance to put meaning back into their lives. If you think about it, our “meanderers” are not directionless, but are giving themselves direction. They are wanderers with a purpose, a checklist traveler. They always have a goal, usually have a plan, but some don’t have the means. Yet we have many, many “systematic travelers” still out there enjoying the pleasure that comes with crossing something off, being able to say that you have one-hundred percent of something in your background.
The Highpointers Club gathers visits to the highest elevation in each U.S. state. It seems a bit odd to be combining borders drawn entirely by man with something natural like a mountain or hill. However, the club still has 3000 members who gather to these 50 otherwise unknown locations. It takes only one fragment of difference in numbers to make them each special and unique, something worth looking at. Just like people.