Getting the flavor of...
Cruising the Blue Ridge Parkway
“If all driving were like driving the Blue Ridge Parkway, I’d never get out of the car,” said Malcolm Jones in TheDailyBeast.com. I recently spent several days cruising the road’s 469 “relentlessly idyllic” miles, traveling the Blue Ridge Mountains from Virginia to southwestern North Carolina and back. The parkway gets millions of annual visitors, but most come in the fall to see changing leaves. During my spring outing, I had the parkway mostly to myself, and I relished the simple pleasure of driving at the 45 mph speed limit on a gently curving ribbon of asphalt. With no stop signs or stoplights for hundreds of miles, “I settled into a groove of contentment that lasted for a week.” The soundtrack to my road trip was mid-’60s Miles Davis, and the music’s feverish improvisations reminded me of Japanese brushwork, “an analogy echoed by the impressionistic look of the tulip trees budding out all around me. Somehow, everything cohered.”
Silicon Valley’s past and future
If you’ve ever wondered how we got from roomsize mainframes to pocket-size smartphones, head to Silicon Valley, said Renee Sklarew in The Washington Post. My husband and I recently took a tour of America’s tech hub with guide Sharon Traeger, who explained how the late- 1950s invention of the silicon chip by San Jose– based Fairchild Semiconductor sparked a second California gold rush. Startups spun off Fairchild, and engineers and entrepreneurs flocked to the surrounding Santa Clara Valley. We visited several wellsprings of our digital world, including Steve Jobs’ childhood home in Los Altos—Jobs and Steve Wozniak built the first Apple computers in the garage there. At Google’s Mountain View campus, we watched self-driving cars zip by. We also toured San Jose’s family-friendly Tech Museum, where you can build robots and play with 3-D printers. “My surgeon husband was fascinated with the 3-D interactive operating table.” ■