Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The pinnacle of Hawai'i folding maps, by Environmental Designs

There are maps and then there are Rob Siemers maps.

Siemers, a Kaua'i cartographer, through his company Environmental Designs has now produced remarkable guides to four islands, Hawai'i, Maui, O'ahu and Kaua'i. The O'ahu guide is the most recent, published a couple of months ago. The Maui guide is about to be redesigned and reprinted.

Maps they hand you at rental car companies, and even many of the ones you might buy in a store, tend to be flimsy things with simple roadmaps surrounded by advertisements.

No ads in Siemers publications. Instead, they're packed with information-rich graphics. He markets them as both maps and atlases.

“It's an educational guide. A whole different flavor from what you find anywhere else...a compilation of a lot of information from all over,” Siemers said.

As an example, the Big Island map works as an excellent road map, with zoomed boxes for the detailed transportation systems at Hilo, Hualalai resorts, Waikoloa, Kawaihae, Waimea, Kailua-Kona and the Kailua-Keauhou corridor.

But there are also maps of trails, and bits of information on the culture and history of the island, including important Hawaiian cultural sites and the locations of the old sugar mills.

There's a color map on geology, showing the several volcanoes that formed Hawai'i Island, when they were active, and what they have contributed to the shape of modern Hawai'i. And there is a section on climate, with data on rainfall, wind, ocean swell patterns and more.

There is a nice section translating place names, and of course, the place names are rendered with the appropriate diacritical markings.

The “O'ahu Island Atlas and Maps” includes special boxes on Pearl Harbor and Hanauma Bay. Several of the boxes of information include references, so you can conduct independent study.

Siemers, with degrees in both physical geography and environmental conservation, has the education and skills to do it alone, but it doesn't hurt that his father is the noted island geologist and educator Chuck Blay.

The map/atlases retail for around $7 and are available at Borders stores statewide, as well as museums, national parks and monuments, and literary outlets like Native Books, BookEnds and Basically Books.

© Jan TenBruggencate 2010

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