So what can you learn from Kinesthetic Classics?
Running your fingers over the rhythmic slopes of the Sierras, you can literally count elevations up to Mt. Whitney, the highest peak in the state, by what feels like rows of seats at an ancient Roman coliseum. In stark contrast, the next range East careens from peak to trough like a turbulent ocean, ultimately plunging into the abyss of Death Valley, the lowest point in the state. Between them, you can see why Bristlecone Pines get so windswept on the isolated tip of the White Mountains.
It’s one thing to know the Central Valley grows 1/3 of America’s produce on one percent of its farmland, another to grasp why its 450 miles (the length of six states of New England) is so flat. It was formerly below sea level, before the coastal range separated the valley from the Pacific Ocean.
Harder to see on flat maps, distinctive qualities of bodies of water emerge in 3-D – pristine Lake Tahoe at 6,000 ft.; fetid Salton Sea below sea level; honeycomb of "The Delta" mediating between the crisp cutout of San Francisco Bay and California’s major rivers etched into the valley floor.
At the far North edge of the state, Mt. Shasta shoots up as if from nowhere – the first major peak of the Cascades, the volcanic range extending through the two states of the Pacific Northwest.
PACIFIC NORTHWEST (Oregon/Washington)
"Oregon and Washington" – how often we group them together as if they were twins.
On any map, Oregon is 50 percent larger than Washington. But 3-D shows them united by the Volcanic range of the Cascades – culminating in Mt. Rainier, topping the third highest range in USA.
After that, land resemblance fades and population differences emerge - Washington's vast Puget Sound spawns an upscale, ferry-linked culture of waterfront property vs. Oregon’s rough, working-class coast with scant harbors piercing rugged cliffs.
Within each state, 3-D clarifies how they split politically – liberal West v. conservative East – verdant Willamette Valley containing Oregon’s largest cities and most of its population v. Washington’s Columbia Basin, so isolated that Plutonium for the Atomic Bomb was made there during WWII.
YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK
This map of Yosemite can be a disappointment to most people. 'Famous Features' like El Capitan, Half-Dome and Yosemite Falls do not stand out. They are far more dramatic in photographs.
But what startles veteran park-lovers encountering the 3-D version by Kinesthetic Classics is the revelation that "Hetch Hetchy" (which appears as a "lake" on a flat map) was once a mirror image of what we now know as "Yosemite." Holding the park in our hands, we realize why John Muir put up such a desperate fight to stop conversion of this twin valley into the water source needed to rebuild San Francisco after the great earthquake of 1906. Only in 3-D do we become aware of what we have lost – in the words of John Muir, "one of Nature’s rarest and most precious mountain temples."
Whether you call it the "Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta" or the "California Delta" – this complicated confluence of land & water can be viewed as the "sinking heart of the state" or "the 'hub' of California's water system."
Mediating between the salt water of San Francisco Bay and fresh water of the state’s largest rivers – Sacramento and San Joaquin – this relatively small area (700 acres) is divided into about 60 levee-protected "islands" surrounded by 700 miles of sloughs and winding channels – while providing drinking water for almost 2/3 of the state’s population and millions of acres of irrigated farmland far to the South.
How to convey this complexity? On a "flat map" – it's a seemingly senseless mass of squiggly lines between the familiar outline of San Francisco Bay and winding tributaries of major rivers. But in 3-D, you can actually feel that what are referred to as "islands" are really "bowls" – some up to 20 feet deep – representing "subsidence" in the fragile eco-system most Californians refer to as "The Delta."
A "flatmap" of Italy is one thing – 3-D is another.
Yes, paper-based tools (line & color) can show two major mountain ranges. But 3-D highlights their structure: the Apennines as irregular "vertebrae" forming the "spine" of the country - the Alps, a near-vertical wall separating Italy from the central landmass of Europe.
Data can tell us that 40% of the country is mountainous – and 70% of the plains are in one location (the Po Valley). But 3-D reveals the abruptness of the shift: from the rich alluvial soil of prime farmland to the highest peak in the Alps (Mt. Blanc); from meandering coastline to the largest active volcano in Europe (Mt. Etna on the Island of Sicily).
If a picture is worth 1000 words, What is worth 1000 pictures? *
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"Kinesthetic Classics" and "If a picture is worth 1,000 words, what is worth 1,000 pictures?" are Registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
Copyright Kinesthetic Classics and Marcia Ruth. All rights reserved.