Photo: Sebastapol, California 4th of July

4th of July, Sebastapol, CAPhoto (c) 2012 Russell Johnson

If you grew up in the mid-century US as I did, a hot summer afternoon meant a Dairy Queen or Foster’s Freeze soft serve ice milk cone dipped in chocolate. The Dairy Queen across from my elementary school in Minneapolis is still there. Now, on a hot day, I fire up my GPS and go miles out of my way to get in my licks. I found this Foster’s Freeze last weekend in Sebastapol, California. The flag is for real, hanging on a 4th of July fireworks stand.

Solar Eclipse 2012: Ganesha

Eclipse 2012 Ganesha

The symbolism is India: Hindu and Islamic, but the scene is the wall of my house in Sonoma, California. The patterns are cast by a lattice fence during the 2012 Solar Eclipse. The Ganesha was carved for me by a villager in Changu Narayan, Nepal. A friend of mine, a UN official there, gave the man money out of his own pocket to start a crafts business.

Getting Out Of Vegas: The Valley of Fire

“Get out of Dodge” is a line from the 50s TV Western Gunsmoke in which Marshal Dillon admonishes ne’er-do-wells to high-tail it out of Dodge City Kansas. The Valley of Fire State Park, in Nevada is hardly Kansas, although Dorothy would be quite pleased with its yellow rock roads. The Valley of Fire is the perfect place to go to get out that outlaw town Las Vegas, as we did during the chaos of Consumer Electronics Show.

CES attracted some 150 thousand people and completely transformed Sin City. A restaurant manager friend tells us that the nerds don’t spend any money on dinners and luxuries, they get hammered on beer and attempt to engage the local professionals, and we don’t mean Real Estate Professionals.  But Las Vegas is ringed by some spectacular places, such as the Valley of Fire, a Nevada State Park, where my wife and I spent the day without connectivity, meditating upon a total absence of technology.

Up From Baja: Point Lobos Migrates North

PtLobos Pano1
Point Lobos, California State Park – All Photos (c) 2009 Russell Johnson

Don’t know much about geology, but what I am learning defines me, in the nature of things, as the insignifcant biped that I am.

Paid a visit to the Pinnacles National Monument. Not recommended during the summer as the temperatures regularly hover around the 100F mark. The best time to go is in the cool spring when the wildflowers are blooming.

I did learn (in the air conditioned comfort of a interpretive center) that The Pinnacles are actually the weathered remnants of an ancient volcano, half of which hitched its way along the tectonic freeway and is now holed up in some rock motel north of Los Angeles.

But as movers and shakers go, Point Lobos is the clear winner.

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