Ok so apparently the universal cover of the figure-8 can be represented by the cayley graph of the free group on two generators, discussed in Hatcher and here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rose_%28topology%29" [Broken] i can see why this is a universal cover of the figure-8. but I'm having trouble understanding why it cannot be something more simple. for example, create a graph with one central vertex, and then four vertices surrounding it, and then connect each vertex to only the central vertex. (so you get a plus sign with vertices on the tips and one in the middle). isn't there a correct labeling on the edges of this graph to be a cover of the figure-8? I'm not sure if this graph would be homeomorphic to the Cayley graph...ugh fractals.