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Both My husband & I get out in the Santa Monica mountains, although its only when the weather is miserable in Indiana. Being a bike rider for years in England and America, he finally bought a hand built machine from a friend in Italy. Because he is a health nut, he rides his bike everywhere he can--living most of the summer months in Indiana, he has a healthy outlook of riding his bike on country roads. We both own small Jeep 4 wheel drives and we make the effort at least once a month to drive into the wilderness areas.

However, some places my husband cannot get to--and that's what I am going to tell you about. You will find it quite exciting, but you will only be able to go so far with any off road vehicle. The rest is hiking, using your legs as some of these places are in very steep areas? Being a Professor of Earth Sciences he has been interested in mapping since he was a boy. Even his Grandfather before him collected maps, through the Great War and beyond and left him a magnificent collection. Today everything is high-tech and he complains humorously about the old masters, who spent hours with pen and paper drafting crude maps.

One of the great assets for this type of adventure can be the United States Geological Survey maps. Known Nationwide as Topo maps this can be very detailed survey maps that have been available since their 19th century inception, to the current series. This government "Topo" maps are so accurate, that the early additions would identify even the smallest of human habitat. A common dot was not a blemish on the paper, but would indicate a pioneers shack or cabin. I used these maps for years to find long-forgotten human activity, which would explain small mounds of broken glass of other debris. A good, healthy walk using these cartographic surveys can locate old Indian trails, which can no longer be distinguished on a modern map.

The outdoors can be your friend as well as your enemy, so we always take extra water which is just as important as a good map. Contemporary maps rarely show the old trails and hidden watering holes, used for centuries by the native Indians. Early surveys contained a great deal of information, including original landmarks, Indian camps and much more.

While wandering I have located small isolated lakes and streams, full of fish. Acknowledging that the United States has been completely surveyed, with older maps I have discovered forgotten mountain valleys full of wildlife. Wild Turkeys, deer, stag and other creatures that had likely hadn't seen a human being before. Some of these places are wayout of any habitable track, that even a four-wheel drive could ever find a way in. In California, I discovered in the mountains a old mining camp, hidden away from human eyes. Well off the beaten path and no safe access, because a previous earthquake had collapsed the road sometime in the early 1900's. The place was seething with wildlife, including bear, geese, quall, bobcat--even wild hogs.

The place I had found was not recognised on a contemporary map, but the early survey labelled the hidden settlement as "Betheridge" It still remains in it's solitude, but with the small lake the creatures are never disturbed. Careful though, take your shotgun or a good rifle with you, because the place has some pretty large diamond backs.

You can find these rare and unique secret corners of America, when you study the old maps. I have personally found three such areas, because the native indians knew of these secluded places where they fished and hunted. Modern maps remain almost infurtile to this valuable information, whereas the old surveyors had a knack in producing wonderfully detailed material.

They know me as "The Maps Lady" because about five years ago, along with my husband who is an old retired Professor we began our business. Although my husband had the knowledge and the means, we were both completely ignorant of the digital industry. Mostly by error and practical hands-on experience we introduced our Global known website. Today our historical map prints are recognized by many academic institutions, including the renowned Johns Hopkins University. People of all walks of life buy our sharp, quality maps.

All around us are these almost secret places, full of wild animals hiding away in these small sanctuaries.

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