Happy 100th Birthday National Parks

National Parks have made me happy, so it’s only appropriate for me to wish them a happy 100th birthday today.

I love the national treasures found within the National Park system. The photos below are from a Flickr album of photos I took at Teton National Park (and adjacent National Forests) in Wyoming. My family and I have been there several times–but never enough. We’ve been to nearby Yellowstone, as well. But Teton park tugs at me. If you are a fan of the film Shane, the majestic mountains in the background of most shots look very similar to this photo as much of that movie classic was filmed in this area called Moose, Wyoming.

My favorite national park east of the Rockies is Acadia in Maine, which  is like visiting several parks because of the variety of its natural beauty. You’ll be looking one minute at crashing waves and the next moment feel like your are driving through the Rockies.


Grand Teton National Park, 2013

Many years ago, I was able to ask the head of the U.S. Park system (at the time) what his favorite national park was. Without pause, he said, “Glacier.” It’s been on my bucket list ever sense. Close to home, the Natchez Trace Parkway, not technically a national park, but managed by the U.S. Park Service, is a 440 mile of road that I’ve biked on for much of the Tennessee portion, but it, too, has about 400 miles of bicycling bucket list to it, also.

Happy birthday, national parks. You’ve made me happy on many, many occasions.

Smithsonian Exhibit: Steve Jobs Patents

Off the tourist-beaten track in the complex of Capitol Mall Smithsonian museums and galleries is the the S. Dillon Ripley Center. I’ve been to the Mall-located Smithsonian complex dozens of times (I lived and worked in DC for three years, close by the Mall), but I had to scavenge to find the S. Dillon Ripley Center. (Look for a small rotunda entrance next to The Castle – It leads to the underground facility.)

The reason for my visit was to see an exhibit called, “The Patents and Trademarks of Steve Jobs: Art and Technology that Changed the World.”

Like the space in which it is set up, the exhibit itself is under-whelming as museum installations go. Nevertheless, it is mind-blowing (and priceless) as a collection of historic documents — and as a tribute to the scope of projects that Steve Jobs championed. (See: NYTimes.com’s Steve Jobs’ Patents, an interactive feature about the 327 patents that include his name among the applicant team.)

Displayed in a 30-foot (or longer) series of 6-foot tall cases that replicate iPhones are a big percentage of the actual U.S. Patent Office certificates granted to Apple during the Jobs era.

It’s not an exhibit that will appeal to most people. However, I recommend to a special few of you (you know who you are) to get by and see it if you are in DC during the summer of 2012)– It’s pretty impressive to see such a collection of patents that include things ranging from the Apple II to the unique plexiglass stair system found in many Apple Stores.

[If you don’t see a slide show below, click here.]

A photo post: Headland, Ala.

I’ve been remiss in my blogging the last few days — a long, mostly unplugged weekend of travel — and catching up afterwards, are the primary reasons. So, until I catch up, here is a set of photos from one of the stops along the backroads my wife and I traveled on our way to the annual art festival in Fairhope, Ala, where we were one of the nearly 300,000 who attended it.

This set of photos were taken during brief visit with Doug Odom, the Alabama self-taught artist whose home and gallery is near Headland, Ala., which, to be honest, isn’t that near to anything (including Fairhope). By coincidence, the first six years of my life were spent living in a town about 20 miles from where these photos were taken.

Americans like Tennessee

This morning, I’m on a panel at the Niche Magazine Conference that is being held in Nashville this year. As the organizers (who are an extremely fun group of people) are from California and most of the attendees have never been to Nashville (at least, from my unscientific research), I’ll forgive them for thinking Nashville is a place where people wear cowboy hats. In some ways, the part of Nashville they’re in (the Hutton Hotel, for those familiar with Nashville) is a bit more Portlandia than El Paso. But that’s okay. Whatever people think Nashville is, even it’s it wrong, tends to be something that’s fascinating, so put us in cowboy hats — that’s okay with me.

Obviously, music is the top of mind connection people have when hearing the word, Nashville. Country (putting “& western” after country is something we don’t do ’round here) is a term that covers lots of ground — everything from really bad stuff you can hear on commercial radio to incredibly good stuff that you can hear because a Nashville resident, Al Gore, invented the internet. (I’m not sure, but I think Al Gore was in Nashville when he invented it, so I guess that means you can thank us for the internet, also.)

It’s okay that what Nashville is really like is not what people who haven’t been here might think it’s like. For the most part, it’s better.

A week or so ago, I ran across this press release from an organization called, Public Policy Polling related to a four-month national poll it conducted regarding American’s “impressions” of each state.

Turns out that Tennessee comes in #3 as the most favorably viewed of all 50 states.

Considering that #1, Hawaii is an island paradise and that’s like cheating and Colorado, #2, has the Rocky Mountains, being #3 is ain’t bad.

As the 12 readers of this blog know, I am quick to taunt reporters who see such press releases and then display why journalism students should be required to take statistics courses. My practice, as I’ve admitted before, is to ignore all statistics unless they support a bias I have.

As I have a bias when it comes to liking Nashville, I’m happy to fully endorse the findings of any poll that reveals people have a good impression of Nashville and the state of Tennessee (even the parts of the state that I may not have such a good impression of, personally).

Y’all come spend money. We’ll be friendly.

Two photo sets for a chilly morning

During this past weekend, my wife and I made a quick trip to the Tampa Bay area to visit my in-laws. Below, I’ve embedded a couple of photo sets from the trip. The first is four shots of a sunset on the inner coastal waterway, taken in the small residential community of Belleair Bluffs, Florida, in the Clearwater-Largo area of Pinnelas County.

The second is from the Yellow Banks Groves packing and shipping facility on Indian Rocks Beach, adjacent to Largo. As I note on the set description, at one point before World War II, Largo was the world’s largest citrus shipping center. The advent of concentrated orange juice during that period would, however, change the economics of the citrus industry and do away with much of the shipping of florida oranges and grapefruit, as it was then carried out. (Why? Well, that’s a longer post for another day.)

It’s a bit cold in Nashville this morning, so I thought I’d post both sets here to help remind me why lots of people go to Florida in the winter: