The plotting in Washington includes more than just espionage and election strategies. Professional plotters abound in the area's large map-making industry, charting everything from the moon to Mt. Vernon.

Is there likely to be gold in your backyard? When do the jousting festivals begin in Maryland? What are the natural resources of China? And where can you catch the best fish in the Chesapeake Bay? All these questions and more are answered by maps produced in this area. Here's a sprinkling of what's available.

Whole Earth Cartography -- The world can be pictured as flat, spherical, bumpy or boxy, depending on which type of map you choose. National Geographic's most popular flattened version sells for $3. The larger size of their world map -- nearly 6 by 4 feet -- goes for $6.

A globe kit runs in the December 1975 World magazine, produced by National Geographic for young readers. That issue sells for 70 cents.

More manageable globes are stocked by The Map Store. They sell a variety of spheres, including a 12-inch political globe complete with bumpy mountains for $22.50.

The world also comes in book form, as atlases aimed at different audiences. The Geographic puts out a good general atlas, but their newest revision will not be out until October 1981. A $6.95 paperback Rand McNally Atlas from The Map Store should tide you over until then. Or you can cheat and use your child's atlas -- $14.95 for Our World from National Geographic.

The Local Scene -- An atlas answers general questions, but a street map reveals the nitty and the gritty. Detailed street maps of various metropolitan portions sell for about $5 from Byrrd Enterprises. But The Map Store recommends a $1 investment in Gousha's "Washington D.C." -- a handy map of toteable size showing neighborhoods, Metrolines and other pertinent matters.

And for 70 cents, you can get what is probably the biggest bargain in town from the Government Printing Office: an annotated map of D.C.'s most popular visitor areas with descriptions, visiting hours, phone numbers, tourmobiles, camping, picnicking, recreation, sports and day-trip information.

The GPO also distributes an Angler's Guide to the Coast, Fish, Fishing Grounds and Fishing Facilities of the Chesapeak Bay for $1.60.

Tourists and Touring -- Maps to enlighten tourists throughout these United States are produced in plastic by National Geographic. Their "Close-up" series covers the whole United States, three or four states to a map, at $4 per map. Backed by descriptive texts on the states included, the maps are strewn with helpful data, ranging from jousting festivals to presidential birthplaces and tours through factories.

Those scouting farther afield can get help from the Central Intelligence Agency. The CIA's maps of countries from Brazil to Zaire identify major roads, population, industries, the location of natural resources, and other specific features, and cost anywhere from 60 cents to $1.25. They can be ordered from the Government Printing Office.

Tourism before the days of flowered shirts and Brownie cameras was called "touring," something one did on The Continent, on the Orient Express or through Asia, using the old British Overland route. An up-to-date version of the Asian jaunt is mapped out on Asia Overland, a $5.50 dreamer's delight from The Map Store.

antique Maps -- So long as you're leaning into history, you might want to visit the Old Print Gallery in Georgetown and see the world as it looked in the mid-16th century to Swiss theologian Sebastian Munster, which sells for a reasonable $5,000. Antique maps like this are considered a good investment nowadays. Some, like John Mitchell's mid-18th century map of North America, have doubled in price in less than four years.

For the less affluent investor, Liros Gallery has old maps starting at $5. And for $1.75, you can buy a handsome reproduction of John Smith's Virginia from the Library of Congress, which will earn you nothing but the pleasure of gazing upon it.

Orienteering -- There are those who use maps for a more vigorous purpose than gazing. With maps in tow and a compass to read them, orienteers run a prepicked course, competing with each other for the shortest time.

Rangers at Catoctin Park in Thurmont, Md., will help you bone up on your map-and-compass basics every Saturday and Sunday at 1:30, starting Nov. 3. Racers at heart also can join area orienteers at meets sponsored by the Marine-organized Quantico Club. Call Marit Beecroft (620-2528) for membership details.

Natural Resources -- Maps show more than how to get from here to there. The U.S. Geological Survey has maps that may chart solutions to the energy crisis in your own backyard. For $1.75, for example, you can learn where to go for uranium. The locaiton of gold deposits -- useful for paying utility bills -- are shown on another U.S. map for $1.25. And if you're thinking of drilling for oil and gas, $3.75 will show you what success has been had in the Appalachian Basin.

Whether it is for profit or fun, or simply for getting from there to here, a map can show you the way. And between all the area cartographers, a guide to nearly anything in the world can be yours, to have and to fold.