Geography & Maps

Dr. Livingston


   I believe the first time I heard of Dr. Livingston was watching an old Spencer Tracy black and white movie on TV with the family called Stanley and Livingston.  It was about Africa, but that is about all I remember.  The Beatles had a song where the lyrics started with “Dr. Livingston I presume, coming out of the jungle bloom,” and that seemed to stick with me.  I just knew he roamed around in Africa.  I also thought he was like Albert Schweitzer, a missionary doctor to Africa.

            In 1983 my wife and I took a ten day drive through England and Scotland.  We would stop at the spare of a moment if something interested us.  It may have been a castle, a museum, or a quick run to the beach.  As we were driving one day I noticed a sign indicated Dr. Livingston’s home was just up ahead.  We choose to stop, and had a pleasant visit to his childhood home.  I have never ceased to be amazed at the accomplishments of men such as Dr. David Livingston.  I was correct in assuming he was a physician as well as a missionary to Africa during the middle of the 19th century.  However, I did not realize he was also an explorer.  He was driven to locate the source of the Nile River which had remained elusive to explorers for centuries.  At one point he almost disappeared for years until he was eventually contacted by Henry Stanley who had been sent to Africa to locate him.  That encounter inspired the famous quote, “Dr. Livingston I presume,” upon their meeting.

             In death Dr. Livingston is credited with a number of geographical discoveries in Africa, including several lakes.  His true passion was geographical exploration and he was awarded the gold medal of the Royal Geographical Society of London.  His life was remarkable exemplified by his being a physician, geographical explorer, missionary, and devout Christian.  He may not have had treasure in monetary value but I’ll venture to say the diary of his life experiences reveal a bounty of treasured adventures and exploration.  

            I enjoyed placing Dr. Livingston on the game board of TreasureTrove

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The Orient Express

         I like railroads.  I like the sound of the whistle or siren, and up close I like the mechanical banging associated with a railroad: steel against steel.  I also like movies that involve railroads.  Breakheart Pass with Charles Bronson and Emperor of the North with Lee Marvin are two films that come to my mind.  My wife likes murder mysteries.  In the late 1970’s my wife and I watched Murder on the Orient Express a movie based on an Agatha Christie fictional detective novel.  The intrigue invited the interest of my wife while I found myself fantasizing what it would be like to take an extended train ride across Europe.  Sometimes some of our dreams come true. 


In the early 1980’s I had a three year tour with the military to Europe.  During that time I enjoyed taking several train rides across Western Europe.  I treasure the memories of my travels and train excursions in Germany, Holland, Belgium and Great Britain.  I live in West Texas now and have little access to train travel.  When I visit cities with subways I enjoy utilizing them, especially if they travel above ground.  I hope to someday take a train ride in Canada.

        When I was creating the board game TreasureTrove I included six cards among the 72 situation cards that allow a player to travel faster in their quest to search the world collecting treasures.  The Orient Express is a catchy phrase that conveys quick travel.  Whether or not it was actually a quick journey in real life I do not know.  One the situation cards for Asia reads as follows:


               Orient Express is a little misleading because the famous train route actually never did run into Asia, much less the Orient.  Nevertheless it is just one of those names that seems to stick.  Historically, the Orient Express started running in 1883 ran from Paris to Vienna and eventually to Istanbul.  During the early 20th century there were several different routes available for the journey.  The heyday of travel on this train excursion was during the 1930’s, the time of Agatha Christie’s penned her book.


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There was a TV show called the Time Tunnel that aired in the mid sixties that I enjoyed immensely.  The two main characters of the show were scientists who had invented a machine to travel through time.  The problem was they were trapped in the time machine which kept transporting them to times in history that drew large amounts of energy.  Each week they would be in a different time and place in history.  I remember an episode on the Alamo, one on Waterloo, the Titanic and so forth.  I had heard of those but one that captured my imagination as a teenager was an episode on Krakatoa. 

            Whenever I hear of volcanoes and earthquakes I think of Krakatoa.  To begin with it has a cool name.  Secondly it is in a mysterious part of the world, Indonesia.  I love geography so that intrigues me.  From what I have read it is the largest volcanic eruption in recorded history, that is, during man’s written history on this earth. 

            The 1883 eruption devastated the island of Krakatoa(Krakatau), almost obliterated it, and the noise of the eruption could be heard thousands of miles away.  It literally affecting the earth’s climate for years to follow.  Enough ash was spewed into the atmosphere that the amount of sunlight was diminished causing crop failures as far away as Europe.  The tides and wves of the ocean were affected all over the globe, as far away as England.              Krakatoa is near the island of Java in Indonesia.  I don’t know if there were many people actually on the island but the tsunamis that followed were massive.  There are reports that some islands that were over 100 feet tall were submerged, not a single person survived.  It is estimated that over 40,000 were killed.  The 2004 tsunami by contrast was 35 to 40 feet tall at most.  A tsunami over 100 feet is hard to imagine.

1888 lithograph of Krakatoa eruption

     My grandparents were from Galveston, Texas and lived there in the early 20th century shortly after the worst natural disaster to strike America.  In 1900 a tidal wave struck killing over 5,000 people.  After hearing that story as a very young child in the 1950’s I would think about that when my family visited them and we drove over the long bridge to reach the island.  To this day bridges fascinate me as well as the vast ocean.    

            As players travel the world collecting treasure while playing the board gameTreasureTrove they draw situation cards that often allow them choices of travel destinations, the opportunity to collect money or treasure, and to possibly lose a turn.  Each continent has its own set of situation cards.  For Australia I wanted to include Krakatoa because it has always fascinated me as I think it might other children when they are playing the game.

            The possibility of ever finding treasure is fun to fantasize about and yet life’s journey has lots of intrigue, challenges, disappointments and rewards to make it interesting to say the least.  Learning about the world we live in and its diversity offers a lot of valuable chapters.  Krakatoa is one of those fascinating stories. Please visit our website at


              As a child growing up my family played a lot of board games.  During adolescence I began to really enjoy strategy games.  With three brothers I was not alone in enjoying war games.  One that I remember that really captured my imagination was the game RISK.  I was eleven when I first played the game in 1965.  Each player has armies as they try to conquer the world.  I loved looking at the map of the world and learning names I had never heard of:  Madagascar, Irkust, Yakust, and my favorite, Kamchatka.  I love the sound of that; Kamchatka.

            My mind still conjures up imaginative thoughts of far away places in the remoteness of cold and relatively unknown areas of the globe such as parts of Siberia.  It was not until a few years back that I watched a TV documentary on  grizzly bears in Kamchatka that renewed my fascination with Russia’s eastern most province.  It was also about that time I read a National Geographic article on the numerous volcanoes once active in that region, similar to our Yellowstone Park.  The area is host to many eagles and the land is thought to probably hold oil deposits.

kamchatka brown bear

water in volcano top

beautiful kamchatka region

           My wife and daughter do not like board games requiring strategy so when I decided to create my on game it was to be one that would be easy enough as traveling the world collecting trasure pieces. When I was making a map of the world to for the board game TreasureTrove whereby players search for lost treasure I wanted to include remote, far away places that most of us will never have the opportunity to visit.  I could not resist placing Kamchatka on the game board.  The game includes 72 situation cards which can be good or bad.  Some of the cards are worth money, some cause a player to lose a turn, and some give a player a choice of several destinations on the board to journey to.  One of the cards gives a player the opportunity to journey to one of several places in search of oil, one of which is Kamchatka.  Most of the treasures to be found or discovered while playing the game are lost pirate treasure, diamonds or gold.  Oil is included because the reality is that oil is the greatest natural treasure ever discovered.  The card reads as follows:


            Also included with the game is a 40 page booklet that describes the treasures on the board game.  The following is the description for the treasure to be found in Kamchatka:

  Kamchatka:  Your adventurous spirit takes you to Russia’s Far Eastern province to search for oil.  Its natural  beauty inspires you to instead establish a tourist destination that ends up being much more valuble. (see footnotes)         

            The booklet also includes a footnote section highlighting many of the world’s greatest treasure finds and facts about destinations on the game.  The following is in the footnote section:

 Kamchatka:  This remote but beautiful land is home to more brown bears than anywhere on earth.  Some of the world’s largest eagles, boar, and moose are there too.  It has over 100 active volcanoes.

             Our search for treasure in this life is often not only a journey but can be an adventure.  More importantly we sometimes discover somehing of much more value than what we are actually searching for.  Please visit our website www.TreasureTrovegame to learn about the game.

Kamchatka on game board

Famous Squares

        A square seems straightforward, complete, and perfect.  No irregularity, equal on all sides, and foundational in mathematical, architectural, and geometry discussions.  It is almost as if you have to get your squares correct to build upon:  got to get your 90 degree angles, trigonometry and square roots correct.  However, these are not the squares I am going to mention briefly.  I want to touch on some well known squares.  And by the way I’m not talking about Hollywood Squares either.

       When I drive through small towns the courthouse often sits directly on the town square in many of them.  In larger cities the town square remains a hub of activity.  These squares serve as recognizable landmarks often reflecting a city’s cultural heritage and history.  For example, Red Square obviously makes one think of Moscow.  When I visited Red Square I realized it was not exactly a perfect square, but close enough.  I have never visited Tiananmen Square in China so I’m not sure about its squareness.  I do know when I visited Times Square in New York City it was anything but square.  Each of these are easily associated with their respective cities conjuring up images in our minds when we hear them mentioned on the news or in conversation. 

Red Square:  The Kremlin

Times Square:  Neon flashing lights

Tiananmen Square:  The Imperial Palace.

Tiananmen Square in China

Red Square Moscow

New York Times Square

I choose to include these national icons on the board game of TreasureTrove as players travel the world in search of fabled wealth.  The following situation card gives a player the option of which of these famous landmarks to visit.      



Times Square was known for many years as Longacre Square.  Renamed Times Square in 1904 when the New York Times moved it’s headquaters there.  Times Square is the number one tourist site in the world visited by over 35 million people each year. 

Tinanamen Square is the largest open urban square in the world.  It was named after the “Gate of Heavenly Peace,” which sits directly north and seperates Tiananmen square from the Forbidden City.  Also one of the busiest tourist sites in the world.

Red Square sits next to the Kremlin, the official residence of the President of Russia.  It is considered the center of Moscow and all of Russia.  The square’s name has no connection to the red associated with communism or the red buildings.  Was known as Trinity Square for many years, named after Trinity Cathederal, the predecessor of St. Basil’s cathederal presently on Red Square.  The Russian word “kransny,” meaning beautiful is thought to have been the origins of the contemporary “red.” 

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Colorful Maps

         I love maps.  I can look at a roadmap at length wondering what it would be like to live in this town or that one.  I have a good sense of recollection when I study a map, easily remembering the distances from one town to the next.  I have always enjoyed world maps.  I sometimes wonder if I would have enjoyed being a cartographer.  I think that is a cool word.  It comes from the Greeks: chartis=maps and graphein=write.

            When I was in the 8th grade my older brother returned from college one weekend with a friend who was majoring in cartography.  I asked him, “what is that?”  He responded, “someone who studies and makes maps.”  Over 40 years later I still have not met anyone else who makes a living making maps. 

            At the time I played a lot of the board game Risk and was intrigued with faraway places that had names such as Madagascar, Irkutsk, Siam, Argentina, and Northwest Territories.  It led me study the world map memorizing all the countries of the world.  Globes are also something I like.  My dad had one and I loved spinning it, placing my figure to stop it, and wondering what it would be like to live in that part of the world.  Or, what it would be like to be on the high seas.       

            I challenged my brother’s friend to a contest to see who could name most of the world’s countries.  He eagerly accepted asking, “do you what to name them in order?”  I quickly responded, “no, just name them.”

            I held my own through North and South America, Europe, Asia and most of Africa.  At that time a number of African countries were in the process of renaming themselves such as Congo to Zaire, so I had some trouble there.  It was in the South Pacific and the Caribbean that I was no match for him.  I had never heard of so many islands and unaware they were countries.  Places such as American Samoa, Trinidad and Tobago, Fuji, and so forth.  I sure enjoyed challenging him.  Whenever I’m in an office where there is a map hanging on the wall or a globe it is sure hard for me not to a moment looking, or take a spin.

            My favorite maps though are easy ones:  the ones that have a lot of pictures.  Like the ones you get when entering a theme park.  Some visitor maps to cities may have certain buildings highlighted, or the zoo, etc.  I have an historical map of Texas hanging on the wall of my office and I check it all the time.  I cannot tell you have many people also stop to study it.

San Antonio Zoo map

   When I created the board game TreasureTrove, I wanted to have a colorful map with lots of pictures.  As players travel the world collecting treasure it would create a sense of adventure.  It may look a little busy but I wanted the players to imagine all the exotic creatures, castles, temples, and fabled places our planet has to explore.


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