Roman, nice to see you back on the forums again! I hope you have been on wonderful adventures. I may be working in Denali this summer, so I may have more map and other questions for you than you'd even care to answer.
But back on topic... my roommate and I were just having this conversation the other day. He, like you and me, loves maps. Covets maps. Pours over maps. He is also a right-brainer, chemistry and math major. Although I'm not what one might think of as stereotypically right brained (English and music composition major), I do have an analytical bent. Still, it's hard to say.
Like you alluded to, the best part is looking at a map to dream, then being there and comparing, and then, perhaps best of all, looking at a map to remember. You can take a huge state map and say, "I was there, and there, and that's so-and-so lake," and everything that's abstractly represented on the map ties to a memory in your mind and body. It's a wonderful sensation!