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I'm a total map freak: I suppose that's been true since the very first time I ever spun my family's old globe of the world and let my chubby little finger fall on some far-flung nation. Later, my mother the hiker began bringing home those topographical state forest maps to study, as she sought to find more and more remote trails. I still remember winding my (less stubby) fingers along pathways through the wavy lines of mountainous terrain depicted on those maps. Though it's less sensational than your everyday armchair travel slide show, studying a topo map forms a mental gateway that can't be beat, opening your imagination up to the wildest places of your wildest dreams. Maybe it's a geek thing, but I don't mind.
If you're of the same romantic mindset, hie on up to the foothills to the Bradford Washburn American Mountaineering Museum, located in the American Mountaineering Center, 710 10th Street, Golden, to feast your eyes on the current exhibit: "On High: Cartography of Topography," a collection of rare maps that includes a Lewis and Clark expedition map and Zebulon Pike's charting of the Southwest among its many treasures. Uh uh, don't touch -- it is a museum, after all. But daydreaming is allowed.