By David Kier
One common theme with those of us who are attracted to the peninsula of Baja California is our love of maps! We place poster-size maps of Baja on our walls. We may put up as many maps as our spouses will tolerate! You will see them in living rooms, offices, and garages. We put Baja maps everywhere we can. They fulfill our fantasies in the same way maybe that Farrah Fawcett or Rambo posters did in our youth.
My personal interest with Baja maps began as a young kid reading the Lower California Guidebook, while my dad drove our Jeep Wagoneer down the old main road to La Paz, in 1966. I soon started to draw maps in the style of its author, Howard Gulick, who wrote most of the guide and made the maps for it. When I began to drive into Baja, I also noted road mileages between points and created maps of places I went to. Guess I was destined to be a cartographer? It was not to be, at least professionally, as I got interested in another field (irrigation).
The next best thing to making maps, for me, is collecting Baja maps: wall maps, road maps, decorative maps, and historic maps. Currently, I have been preserving old maps of Baja California onto the VivaBaja.com/Maps section of my website. Now, more people can enjoy and learn from them.
Even with never becoming a professional cartographer, I was not stopped from trying to produce user-friendly maps that were also accurate for my future road guide. The main issue for me was to not simply copy a map but to make my own. Using the available map-making websites allowed me to draw-in the roads I traveled, with help from satellite imagery overlays. Next was to add the place names. Many on-line maps simply do not show things correctly or use names nobody has ever heard of!
With thirty-one maps, I show most of the peninsula and all roads that are in the guide. It took me several steps to develop and perfect them enough that I was satisfied. These maps do not show everything out there. For that, the Benchmark Baja California Road & Recreation Atlas does quite well. It was a huge honor that Benchmark had asked me to assist them with creating the new Atlas. Benchmark Maps was kind enough to mention my help, and my missions book, in the new Atlas.
The Baja Bound Road Guide maps have been created to show the roads and places mentioned in the guide. The idea was for these maps to be easier to read and are supplements to the much greater-detailed road guide. The maps are made to give you an idea of where you are in relation to the surrounding region. The maps were not designed to be a standalone product. However, many people have used them the past year to plan trips with. They include the kilometer marker locations which makes their use amazingly easy, without keeping track of your odometer readings, on Baja’s highways. I do hope you enjoy my efforts and that they add value or entertainment as you plan a trip or travel south.
Some of the early maps I made beginning at age 10: David’s hand drawn maps of the San Felipe South area (1967-2004)
Created from Howard Gulick’s maps, this five-foot-tall map hung in my room: 1967 McMahan Color wall map
The New Road Guide Maps:2018-2021 Baja Road Guide Maps by David Kier
David Kier is a veteran Baja traveler, author of 'Baja California - Land Of Missions' and co-author of 'Old Missions of the Californias'. Visit the Old Missions website.