Everything you wanted to know about Franko’s Maps, and then some.
In the following paragraphs I’ll try to entertain you with a story about Franko’s Maps, including what got me started, a few interesting experiences in map making, and how the ideas and products came about. However, after ten years of developing and re-inventing Franko’s Maps this is getting to be a long story. The truth is that I like to talk about my business, but I would rather you just browse through my products list from the pull-down menus above, and spare yourself from reading my story. After all, a picture tells a thousand words! Meanwhile, PLEASE buy some maps so that I can keep adding to my long story! For those who for some reason are compelled to learn all about these cool maps and how they came to be, just keep scrolling down as far as the eye can see:
My simple need for maps of these areas are the genesis of “Franko’s Maps”:
I started my first two maps in 1992 and finished in 1993, as a result of simply wanting quality maps of my favorite local mountain biking areas. I began mountain biking in 1987 at Jack London State Park near Sonoma, California, when I lived up there. That State Park and others in the area had really great topographic maps available for 75 cents. However, I moved to Corona, California in 1988, and there were absolutely no worthwhile maps available for my local favorite trails in the Santa Ana Mountains or Chino Hills State Park. “Skyline Drive”, “Telegraph Canyon Road” and my favorite, “The Paul Fallzone”, were unknown names to Southern California’s bicyclists at that time. My simple need for maps of these areas are the genesis of “Franko’s Maps”, as I decided to elect myself to create topographic trail maps of these two areas. As it turned out, this involved a huge research project (i.e., I rode all the trails!), and the tedious tracing of topographic lines from USGS “quad” maps. Luckily, at age 39, I could still focus close up and draw these lines, and still felt like I could ride and climb up the endless fireroads and singletrack trails through the mountains. Now that I’m 39 with 10 years of experience, my eyes no longer can focus for me to do that tedious tracing. In addition to the topo lines, creeks, roads and trails were also drawn, each on separate drawings. Four husge drawings eventually came together for a small and unique four-color “Franko’s Map”. The two 100% hand-drawn maps took a year and probably 1000 hours (including the trail riding) to complete. There weren’t adequate computer resources to do what I wanted to do in those days, so I drew everything by hand with India ink on mylar. When finished, I traded my old mountain bike to my brother-in-law, a printing press teacher, to have a thousand maps printed on plastic paper. I wanted the maps to be sweat-proof, and rip-proof, and so I opted to print on a special plastic instead of paper. Plastic sheets proved difficult to print on, but some of those original, used maps are still around, because they are virtually indestructible. I wound up with 500 Santa Ana Mountains maps and 500 Chino Hills State Park maps for the first editions of Franko’s Maps. The originals were only 8.5" x 14", which were handy, accurate, waterproof and rip-proof, but you needed good young eyes to read them, because the print was really tiny.Being an avid bicyclist and bicycle commuter, I knew a lot of bike shop owners and managers. When I went out with my buddy one day to show my new maps off, the first bike store manager to whom I showed them said, ?Cool! How much?? That was an awfully easy sale, but since I wasn’t really trying to ?sell? them (even though I had 1000 maps printed, and the whole thing had cost me about $1000, including the bike I traded), I didn’t even have a price! All I really wanted was to break even, and if I sold all of them for $1 each, that would do it. So I said, ?One dollar each, how many do you want?? I spent only a few hours marketing them, and then the maps took over and sold themselves. Each of several stores bought them, sold out, bought more, sold out again, and I was quickly out of stock, and had my $1000 back. Of course, I had zero profit and nothing to show for my 1000 hours of effort, except a couple of maps that the local mountain bikers thought were cool. Meanwhile I had been working on yet another ?Franko’s Map?, and it was far better that the first two. This was of my next favorite place to mountain bike, Big Bear Lake. It showed the lake and community, and the surrounding mountains which are laced with hundreds of miles of Forest Service roads, and singletrack trails. This map was so good, in my own estimation, that I simply had to redo my first two trail maps, to make them equal to the quality of the new Franko’s Map of Big Bear! With all of the ?research? already done, redrawing the Santa Anas and Chino Hills went fast - I probably spent only a couple hundred hours. By mid-1994 I had a trio of maps ready to print, including my second editions of Franko’s Map of Santa Ana Mountains, Chino Hills State Park, and the premier edition of Franko’s Map of Big Bear! (the exclamation added to the title represents my enthusiasm for Big Bear!). This experiment caught on and, by the end of 1994, Franko’s Maps were selling by the thousands in over 50 stores.
Thus I began another year-long project which led to the first edition of Franko’s Map of Santa Catalina Island:
Besides being a mountains enthusiast (who isn’t?), I have something in common with Jacques Cousteau. That’s right, I am THE ocean enthusiast! I once told Jean-Michel Cousteau (Jacques’ eldest son) that I am a bigger ocean nut than anyone in the Cousteau family! Well, technically what I really meant is that Jean- Michel is only about 5'-10" and I’m 6'-4". However, I do indeed have a Bachelor of Science in OCEAN ENGINEERING, and my decision to work for that degree was based largely on the influence and love for the ocean that I got from Jacques Cousteau in the early 1970's. But my love for the ocean really began even before that! I absolutely love the ocean and the ocean environment, but being a kid from Bountiful, Utah, how could this be? Well, in 1965 we moved to Beirut, right on the Eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea! Imagine the cultural shock of Bountiful-to-Beirut! I lived with a balcony view of the blue Mediterranean Sea in Lebanon in 1965 and 1966. I was 12 years old. There, my American and Australian friends soon called me ?Aquanut?, because I loved the snorkeling, surfing, and tidepool exploring so much. It pretended I was aboard Cousteau’s boat The Calypso, and I had endless fun exploring the sea. I remember loving those early Jacques Cousteau adventures, and the Lloyd Bridges ?Sea Hunt? TV program. However, TV was something I just didn’t do very much. I was too darn busy as a kid - mostly outdoors - to watch much TV, even though I loved seeing Hoss Cartwright and Little Joe speaking in Arabic or French. However, living in Southern California since 1969, I had plenty of time to get closely acquainted with the Pacific Ocean, with surfing, snorkeling, scuba diving, as well as watching those favorite Jacques Cousteau travelogues, plus Sea Hunt (and Gilligan’s Island reruns, of course!). I became a certified diver in 1973, with my first open water dive being at Santa Catalina Island. I didn’t know Catalina Island in those days, so I don’t know if we went to Italian Gardens, Eagle Reef or what, but what an amazing first two dives! Visibility was 70+ feet, and there were fish and kelp forest creatures of all kinds. I fell in love with scuba diving and with Catalina’s underwater. I don’t know why, but I, ?Aquanut? didn’t even think of tying this love of the islands and coast to map-making until 1995. In 1995 I made one of many trips to my beloved Santa Catalina Island to go scuba diving at Avalon Underwater Park, as well as mountain biking into the island interior. I searched to give myself a good Catalina Map for my birthday, having in mind finding the trails for riding, plus the names of the coves and features on the island. Again, other than cumbersome USGS ?quad maps?, I found that there simply were no maps of Catalina Island to suit me. Thus I began another year-long project which led to the first edition of Franko’s Map of Santa Catalina Island. I was determined to make a unique new map that would feature not only trails and topography, but would also detail the underwater contours and describe the favorite scuba and snorkeling sites, from Two Harbors to Farnsworth Banks, and from Parson’s Landing to Little Harbor. I guess you’ll have to buy a Catalina Map now to see what the heck I’m talking about. I intended to market the maps to divers, mountain bikers and hikers who visit Catalina Island. These maps were also largely hand-drawn, but at least I did incorporate computer printing for the lettering. I also employed cutting and pasting (I mean it - scissors and glue!), plus rub-on transfer letters. So they were not 100% hand-drawn, as were my previous maps, but they were still got a response like, ?Cool! How much??, when I began to sell them to stores. It is of interest that actually, at first I did try to employ the old India ink on mylar drawing techniques, and this caused much personal dissatisfaction with the results. In fact, I re-drew the whole thing 3 times before nearly giving up. Since I could no longer focus for hours on end (you know, 39 and counting), and I was unsatisfied with the results, Franko was going to have to come into the world of computer graphics or quit! This was way to hard of work for the zero dollars it paid! Good thing it was just a hobby!
My colorful mapping ability was given to me by the miracles of computers, graphics programs, mapping software, and a VERY serious, nearly deadly mountain bike crash (yes, I survived).
Eventually I did indeed advance beyond my laborious hand-drawn techniques (of which I sold 50,000 maps!) and began to digitize. Computer graphics was just what was needed for the next year-long project. Being an ocean engineer by major, and an ocean lover extraordinaire, I naturally loved the idea of mapping islands and the coast – and California has plenty of both. In 1999 I totally revamped and colorized Franko’s Map of Santa Catalina Island, and then added a series of five more maps (charts, really), including San Diego County Coast, Orange County Coast, Los Angeles County Coast, Channel Islands National Park and National Marine Sanctuary, and Monterey Peninsula. First came my experiments with Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, and Adobe-everything-else on my new, screaming 300 MHz pc with a whopping 64MB of RAM. It was the latter half of 1998, so what did you expect? It worked fine, but the learning curve seemed to be pretty long and I was in a hurry. I tried out CorelDraw and it’s associated programs, and Wow!, I could do some cool things! The more I looked at these programs, the more I found I could do. However, just as soon as I was familiarizing myself with this fantastic new stuff, BAM! - I had a nearly deadly mountain bike crash! A word of WARNING! NEVER ever tie a spare t-shirt to your handlebars! It can untie and become stuck in your front tire. Get the picture? Yes, you are right, the front wheeI was stopped instantly - on a steep downhill, of course - and I went tail-over-teakettle, face first on the VERY hard earth. The earth didn’t give, but my teeth sure did. For a moment, I didn’t live through it, but then I came back....with about 50 injuries to show for it, and nearly zero memory of the crash. To my good fortune, a nearby mountain bike happened to see me fall down and go boom! He and his cellular phone helped me to survive. His description is all I have to go on to know what happened. So how I the world could a ridiculous crash help my computer graphics and cartography, you ask? Well, it’s really simple, and this is how it happened: I had a long, long road to recovery, with lots and lots of boring, can’t-do-anything recovery time. Instead of being bored out of my wits with hundreds of spare hours that would otherwise be useless, I spent this time being busy at my computer, figuring out how everything works and what kind of tools I have in front of me. This kept me sane and took my mind away from the pain. And that’s when the mapping software miracle happened! Just like a gift from God, and just when I needed it most, I receive a cartography software package called ArcView, from the world’s greatest geographic software company, ESRI. With it, I was able to make map backgrounds from digital topographic data, just the way my mind saw it. No one had ever made a map look like what I was making! Even though I had a severe concussion, I was still gifted with all kinds of ideas, colors and vision of what I wanted to create. Adding information, pictures and general graphics to the map background I had created with ArcView, the CorelPhoto and CorelDraw graphics programs enabled me to make maps better than ever! It took a long, long time, and a lot of hours, but I finished six new Franko’s Maps, which I called my California Islands and Coastal Series. I like Santa Catalina Island the best, I suppose, but doing the Channel Islands was a great project too. On one “research” trip to Channel Islands National Park I saw a giant Blue Whale up close! I looked right down his spout, which was big enough for Fat Albert to fit into! Franko’s Map of Monterey was a fantastic project too, as I explored and rediscovered one of the most beautiful places on earth, the Monterey Peninsula, plus the unbelievable beauty of Point Lobos State Park. I stood on a rocky point on an 80 degree April fools day, watching whales glide by, spouting their mist into the air, with sea otters lying on their backs down in the cove, banging clams and other goodies onto rocks on their bellies, with harbor seals laying on the beach, lines of cormorants flying fast and low toward Bird Rock, and beautiful brown pelicans gliding with wingtips just above the waves, “air surfing”, as it were. It was an incredible learning experience, and these were fabulous map making opportunities for me. Similarly, I researched and mapped the dive sites and ocean fun of San Diego County Coast, with an emphasis on La Jolla Shores, and the dive sites of Wreck Alley, including the just-sunk HMCS Yukon (which in itself would later become a Franko-project. Then I did Franko’s Map of Orange County Coast (with which I was already very familiar), with a close -up of the Laguna Beach area and Crystal Cove State Underwater Park, where I had once jogged over every beach and rock five hundred times over (in my pre-39 days). Last came Franko’s Map of Los Angeles County Coast, with a focus on the Palos Verdes Peninsula, and it’s amazing underwater. ArcView really made the peninsula stick out in such an amazing way. I could never have created it the old fashion way. What a great place to dive or kayak. Remember Marineland? That made me think of Jacques Cousteau again! Sales of the folded maps have done well, but I’ve also learned that there is a market for flat, laminated maps for walls, countertops, and tables, at home or on boats. I laminated just a few maps at first, thinking they would be just for store displays, but customers kept saying, “But, can’t I get a map like that?”, pointing to the laminated one on the wall. The result was that I sold over 1000 laminated Catalina Maps, in addition to 5000 folded ones in the year 2000!
I couldn’t help but think of the colors of the islands and waters of Hawaii and thus began another year-long project:
When I printed my very first proof copy of Franko’s Map of Channel Islands National Park, I looked at the beautiful green shaded relief that I had created with ArcView, with the descending hues of ocean blues making up the depth contours, and I couldn’t help but think of the colors of the islands and waters of Hawaii, and thus began another year-long project. I hadn’t even recovered from my crash injuries, even though I was back at work full-time, and was working on my maps until midnight and weekends, when I decided I just had to map the Hawaiian Islands (as well as a list of Caribbean Islands, plus others). I immediately purchased the digital USGS digital elevation model data that would be needed to create the Franko-style Hawaiian map backgrounds, and began tinkering with the graphics even as I was finishing up the six-map California Islands and Coastal Series. Chronologically, I rearranged my face with my bike crash in February, 1999, printed my six maps of California’s islands and Coast in May, 1999, and printed my first two Hawaiian maps, Franko’s Map of Kauai, The Garden Isle, and Franko’s Map of Oahu, The Gathering Place, by April, 2000. Of course, the Hawaiian Maps series also required considerable ?research? in books, on the web, and IN THE FIELD!. It was really tough to ?have to? go to Kaua’i, O’ahu, Maui and Hawai’i to do this arduous work - snorkeling, scuba diving, hiking, touring, exploring, talking, and other ?research?. Mind you, I did all of this while ?working? (if you can call it that) full-time as an engineer for the U.S. Navy, frequently traveling to places like Camden, Arkansas (oh, goodie) on the job, and while still on the long road to recovery from my concussion and all. I guess when one is really, REALLY determined, there are no obstacles too big to overcome, and that’s the kind of determination that the Franko’s Maps of the California Islands and Coast as well as the Hawaiian Islands series took.
I came out with a simply stunning new series with Franko’s Maps of Oahu, Kauai, Maui and Hawaii:
The “dive maps”, as the California Islands and Coastal maps are often called, were immediately popular, but ever since the first printing in 1996, it turned out that the Catalina map sold far more to tourists and visitors that to divers, hikers or mountain bikers. I found that to be true with Franko’s Map of Channel Islands as well. In fact, the dive shops, other than Monterey and a few in San Diego, have not turned out to be that good of a market compared to what I had hoped for. However, I am determined to inspire the viewer with love and respect for the ocean environment. This made me think a bit on the looks and contents of the Hawaiian maps. I am still an ocean nut, but to succeed I would have to have a seriously good map as well, which is the case of Catalina Island, especially. This meant much more research, much more information on the map, and graphics that are better than ever. Luckily, my abilities were evolving with my thoughts about what is needed, and so were the computers and programs that I can use for such. Overall, I came out with a simply stunning new series with Franko’s Maps of Oahu, Kauai, Maui and Hawaii. The maps include dozens of tropical reef fish pictured right on the face of the maps, all of the major roads, trails, dive sites, places to visit, island data and information, ocean depth contours, and so on. The first fish I ever tried to draw completely myself was the Hawaii State Fish, the humuhumnukunuksapua’a. Can you say that? Franko’s Map of Oahu, The Gathering Place is in it’s third edition as of 2003. It has improved dramatically, even though I thought the first edition was pretty good. It has details of Waikiki on side two, which was a pretty good piece of “research” on it’s own. It shows the surf spots, the hotels, the streets, the Ala Moana Mall and every detail one might want on a map of Waikiki. Franko’s Map of Kauai, The Garden Isle, is likewise in it’s third edition. People take it home from vacation and often email me for additional copies or for copies of the other maps. They like the close-up of Kauai’s North Shore (Haena, Hanalei, Princeville, Kilauea, etc.), East Shore (Kapaa, & Lihue), and the South Shore (Poipu, Koloa, Port Allen, etc.), which all appear on side two. Side two also has Niihau and Lehua Rock, where divers love to go. Yes, I have been diving there - and it is literally THE MOST REMOTE SPOT ON EARTH, and it is wonderful! Everyone loves the Island of Kauai, and its Na Pali Coast, Waimea Canyon, the waterfalls, and the unbelievable colors. If you go to Kauai, make sure to take this all in on a helicopter tour when you’re there! How fabulous! I simply HAD to map it. I can only hope to do the beautiful Island of Kauai justice with my mapping. The laminated versions of these maps sell well too. Franko’s Map of Maui, The Valley Isle seems to be every Californian’s favorite. I love all of the Hawaiian Islands for all kinds of reasons, so I’m not sure why Maui is such a standout favorite here. Visitors like the Maui map because it shows the Islands of Lanai and Molokai on side two, plus a close-up of the popular dive site, Molokini Crater. Maui’s number one activity is snorkeling, and my map not only shows where to go and what’s there, but it also identifies dozens of the reef creatures one might experience there. Franko’s Map of Hawaii, The Big Island shows the Big Island’s volcanic magnificence. The Big Island features the active volcano, Kilauea, of course, and so this area of Volcanoes National Park is depicted on side two as a close-up, as are the Kona Coast and the Hilo area. Side two also shows the string of eight Hawaiian Islands, like green emeralds laid out across descending hues of ocean blue. It is very exciting, inspiring and humbling to map the Hawaiian Islands. It is easy to truly love Hawaii, and this helped me map it. In January 2002 I added one more Hawaiian Islands map - the unique and fabulous Franko’s O’ahu Surfing Map. To do this I again had to do considerable “research”. I found the names, locations and descriptions of 150+ surf spots all around Oahu, with a zoom-in of the North Shore and the South Shore on side 2. I’ve featured all of the famous Oahu surfing spots that you’ve heard of - like Waimea, Sunset Beach, Pipeline, Hale’iwa, Sandy Beach and Makaha, plus dozens and dozens that you may not know about, like Day Star, Bamburas or Baby Hale’iwa. The map is simply fantastic, even if I do say so myself. Thanks to Hawaii native, my buddy Peter Papaya, for thinking of the surfing map idea in the first place! The Island part of the map is identical with the original Franko’s Map of Oahu, The Gathering Place, so it is still equal to the road-map and shaded relief quality of the first Oahu map.
Mapping a New Life:
In the first quarter edition for 2002, the world-wide publication ArcUser, the magazine for ESRI software users (like my ArcView programs), the ArcUser editor wrote a multi-page article about Franko’s Maps and she titled it, ?Mapping a New Life?. This article described much of what I’ve been talking about above, and was published one year ago as of this writing. But so much has happened since. Gong back to November 2000 I’ve been full-time Franko, no longer supported by the taxpayer dollar as a civil servant engineer. Quitting my job was a wonderful experience! What a relief. I stopped ?wasting? my creative time to build the best Franko’s Maps I possibly can. And the list of what is to come is as long as I want to make it! I’ve added new maps, including including a whole new category of Franko’s Map product, which are referred to as ?Fish Cards?. They include versions for Kauai, Oahu, Maui and Hawaii, which show a mini-map of the island on one side, with suggested spots to snorkel or scuba dive around the respective island, with dozens of species of Hawaiian reef creatures depicted on side two. These fish are also depicted on the Franko’s Maps of each island, but this fish card is a handy 6" x 9" and it can be taken underwater with you, or it simply makes a very nice souvenir. The Kauai version has an unbelievable aerial photo of The Na Pali Coast by famed photographer Douglas Peebles. The Oahu fish card also features a fabulous Peebles photo - this one of picturesque Hanauma Bay, which is probably the single most snorkeled place on earth. The Maui fish card has yet another Peebles phot, which is of the popular and fabulous Molokini Crater. Water visibility was in excess of 200 feet when I dove there, and you could hear the humpback whales singing! The Big Island fish card features a great little photo by Maui’s happiest diver, Rachel Domingo, and another by yours truly, in which I sneakily photographed my wife snorkeling in crystal clear waters amongst lemon butterflyfish. I’ve also made a miniature fish card, just 4" x 6", which shows fish on both sides, but no specific island map. Similarly, I’ve since produced six California ?Fish Cards?, including: Franko’s Map of La Jolla Shores and Kelp Forest Creatures, Franko’s HMCS Yukon Deck Plan and Fish Identifier, Franko’s Map of Avalon Underwater Park and Kelp Forest Creatures, Franko’s Map of Two Harbors and Kelp Forest Creatures, and Franko’s Map of Monterey Peninsula and Kelp Forest Creatures. Each of these fish card projects were adventures in themselves. This is especially true of the wonderful exploration of the ins and outs of the Yukon wreck in San Diego’s Wreck Alley. It’s funny that where ever I dive, I wind up with dive buddies who are extremely expert, and often own dive shops. My dive buddy expert on the Yukon is Rich Sillanpa, of W.E.T. Scuba in San Diego. He has made no less that 20,000 dives, believe it or not! Since we are both engineers and speak the same language, he helped me much on editing and detailing this naval architectural ship deck plan. Similarly, the Two Harbors map was helped immensely by Dave Long of Two Harbors Dive and Recreation. If you go diving there, say ?Hi!? from Franko. The two Avalon, Catalina Island dive shops, Catalina Scuba Luv and Catalina Divers Supply both helped me on the Avalon Underwater Park map, including diving with me, obtaining depth and location data, editing the map, and providing photographs for it. This beautiful fish card has a special spirit to it, because it is dedicated to the late Aaron Stark, who tragically died in a Hurricane in Belize in late 2001. He worked at Scuba Luv, and lived with a friend from CDS, and we all love and miss him much. His photo, kindly given to me by his dad, is featured on the map. A CDS photo is also on the map and it shows a magnificent, huge (maybe 400 pounds) black sea bass, which is one of the beautiful kelp forest creatures depicted on the fish side of the card.
Franko’s Maps is a tough job, but somebody has to do it!
There are many other products in my repertoire by now - such as Franko’s Map of South Coast Wilderness, which may be my most sophisticated trail map by now, as well as a continuously advancing list of islands and coastal maps. My Franko’s Map of Newport Harbor and Upper Newport Bay contains an amazing amount of detail and information in a mere 12" x 18" two-sided package. I have surfing maps for California as well as Oahu now. You should see my California Delta map! Talk about a big research project! In order for you to really know Franko’s Maps better and to keep up with what’s new, it is advisable that you occasionally check in with my website, www.frankosmaps.com, and see what’s on the drop-down menus. If you have any brilliant insights or ideas, please, let me know. If you think I’ve goofed up somewhere, well I may or may not want to hear from you! In reality, I’m glad to receive your help! Let me know what you think of my products. Thank-you for being so diligent as to read all of this! Now if you would be so kind as to go back to up to the maps and buy a few! Thank-you! Well, I’ve got to get back to map-making. See you later!