Message on postcard:
Hi Amanda! You said you like maps and birds, so you’re in luck! This is the story of the biggest map in the world, and its creation by the world’s biggest bird — Doctor E. Biggums Birdsong the Third, known to his friends as “Large Bird”, and known to my ace team of lawyers as “an entity similar to but legally distinct from Big Bird”. Even though he prefers the name “Biggums” or “Large Bird”, I just shorten the lawyer-assigned name and call him “Big Bird”.
Our story begins on the rim of Crater Lake. The dogs and I had hiked up to a viewpoint named in honor of the 19th-century explorer Frederick Raggle. Frederick Raggle Rock, or Fraggle Rock as it’s known to the locals, is one of the finest places to experience the beauty of Crater Lake. And its expansive view also makes it the most logical place to begin any cartographic survey of the Crater Lake area. It was there that I was astonished to find Big Bird hard at work with his Playskool Big Boy Laser Cartography and Geospatial Information Systems Play Kit.
“Big Bird!” I said. “What it is!”
“Oh, hi, Mike,” said Big Bird. “I’m just working on my greatest project yet.”
“What’s that?” I asked.
Big Bird looked really excited. “I’m so glad you asked! It’s an educational life-size map of Crater Lake! Every letter and number in the world will be there, climbing the mountains and swimming in the lake. They’ll be tens of meters tall, and cloned from the DNA of ancient numbers trapped in amber!”
Big Bird’s eyes narrowed. “The Children’s Cartographic Workshop will be building the map at Area 51 in Nevada.”
“Holy feathers, Big Bird,” I said, growing uneasy. The dogs’ hackles rose.
“I call it Alphanumeric Park … Life will find a way.”
Clouds blocked the sun. Lightning struck the far rim of the lake. But in the end, everything was fine.