On a recent road trip with my kids I couldn't find an atlas, and when I asked around at service stations, convenience stores, and online, people responded as if I were seeking out a cassette player.

My own brood pointed out that there was a map in the dashboard, and there was a map in my smartphone, and there were maps in their tablets and on the built-in seat-back consoles.

I was determined to teach the grade schoolers the charms of the 17-by-11-inch atlas stuffed in door pockets and seat backs of old - before it goes the way of the manual transmission, the V-8 engine, the CD player.

In one view, on one page, there is a sense of scale, scope, and connectedness far more complete than any pinching and zooming. Scenic routes are dotted, natural areas are colored, campgrounds are listed, town sizes are indicated by font size so you have some idea - but not too good an idea - of what to expect off that beaten interstate path. There is a sense of discovery in looking at an atlas, of piecing together a puzzle based on your peculiarities. The advantage and appeal of the atlas is the same thing that makes vacations worthwhile: perspective.

"It's harder to get that big picture, especially if you're in the car looking at a small screen," said John McAvoy, vice president of geographic information system engineering at Rand McNally. "The data on a small screen is a lot more generalized, so you can show much more on a printed map in scale."

Less than two decades ago I relied on an atlas more than the college degree that preceded it to find my way across the country and adulthood.

The atlas, like the book, still has its place, I argued in that great forum of Socratic thought known as the internet.

I'm not alone.

"There are a lot of choices for maps today, but more people are looking at [the atlas] than ever before," said Kendra Ensor, vice president of marketing at Chicago-based Rand McNally.

Sales of Rand McNally road atlases increased 8 percent from 2014 to 2015, a rate of increase that has been consistent since the ebbing of the Great Recession in 2012.

"We've seen increases in point of sale the past three years, though it's probably not as prevalent in gas stations and convenience stores," Ensor said, adding that bookstore sales were mostly responsible for point-of-purchase sales.

That's not to dismiss the advantages of digital mapping, which are many: traffic updates, road closures, back-road shortcuts, choose-your-own detour, portability, all the settings, and more.

Ensor and McAvoy are finding more overlap between the two to evolve a company celebrating its 150th birthday, such as putting points of interest from the atlas into GPS systems, and URLs in the atlas to get more info online that can't make it in print.

Most, if not all, of the advantages of GPS are about getting there quicker.

Most road trips are about something more.

The atlas is about the adventure and the discovery in getting there. On most journeys, that is still half the fun.