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.

The Filoli Gardens

This place makes me happy.

Filoli is a US National Historical Trust site and a California State Historic Landmark. Located south of San Francisco, it is considered one of the finest remaining country estates of the early 20th century and is known for its magnificent but peaceful gardens, with some 500 types of roses and 200 kinds of camelias. While the valleys of Sonoma and Napa are famous for wine tasting, Filoli has apple and pear tastings and offers such civilized activities as flower shows with tea. Mostly, it is a place to lose yourself in beauty.

Filoli is NOT an Italian name. It is an acronym for the motto of its builder, gold magnate William Bowers Bourne. Filoli means “Fight for a just cause. Love your fellow man. Live a good life.” He did.

Filoli is open to the public.

Day at the Newseum: Madeline Albright Meets J. Edgar Hoover

Madeline Albright at the Newseum

A bit much, I think, meeting J. Edgar Hoover and Madeline Albright on the same day. OK, Hoover was quite dead, the late FBI boss a statue bending over assertively, as if ready to pounce, in the the main foyer of the Newseum in Washington DC, but the former Secretary of State/UN Ambassador looked quite pink and healthy as she showed off her collection of brooches in a TV studio upstairs.

The Newseum is a monument to journalism, the so-called “fourth-estate,” which in its finest form has kept kings, presidents, politicians, scammers and mobs in check and at its worst pumped up wars, spread tyranny, “live shots” of car chases and celebity DUIs.

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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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