When I was a kid, we had a globe with a textured surface. I liked China, its texture was different from the rest of the globe – kind of wrinkly. There was also a relief map of Washington State that I used to study. I’d run my hand over the mountain ranges and the more subtle elevation changes in the east. I’d take the map off the wall and look at the backside – a white plastic field with a reversed impression of Washington on it, filled with craters.
The Olympic Peninsula was interesting. To me, it seemed like the United States’ main distinguishing characteristic. A birthmark. If you were drawing the United States in a game of Pictionary, you could draw the rest of the country in any shape you wanted and as long as you got the Olympic Peninsula in the upper left-hand corner alright, you were okay. Make it a little too big, and you’ve got Washington state instead.
I guess that Florida, Maine, and the little hook on the Texas/Mexico border are pretty distinctive too. I was too Northwest-centric to notice though.
On clear days the entire Olympic Mountain range is visible across the Sound. I can remember their shapes from looking at the relief map when I was a kid. I imagine that I can visualize the whole shape of the peninsula, though I only see the mountains’ profiles.