Passage #500: 20 April 2019

Here Be Dragons

In the age of online maps, of satellite view, of street view, it is a bit hard to remember what it felt like to have to pull out folded (or bound) pieces of paper to see representations of space. In comparison to the contemporary tools of navigation, it required a greater act of translation -- from a flat and static representation to the immersive, holistic experience of place. It required more imagination.

What then must it have been like to live at a time when those maps had a frontier, when there was a point beyond which nobody of one's particular culture had ever ventured (or at least not done so and reported back), when you couldn't just turn to the next adjoining map? And okay, sure, it is mostly an anachronism that the phrase "here be dragons" was ever really used to denote unexplored lands (there exist only one or two examples). But illustrating uncharted territories with images of monsters was indeed a medieval cartographic convention. And why not? If imagining unknown lands, why not conjure beasts to warn or delight? The known is so often so boring; why not fancy the unknown as a bit mythical, a bit magical?

So, stuck in our world of mostly known knowns (or generally, at best, unknown knowns), The Passage has since its start attempted to instill a touch of that magic into traversing the land that surrounds us. We investigate those spaces on the map that are a bit fuzzy, a bit empty, and seek the mythical hiding in the mundane. This week, for our 500th ride, we once again venture out beyond the edges of our typical territory. We cannot promise any dragons, but there will be tunnels and trails and trains and abandoned roads and mountains and views and maybe, just maybe, a lake monster. Keep your eyes peeled!

Route Map

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