Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Ten days vacation in the eastern Sierra Nevada

Spend ing ten days on genuine vacation in the eastern Sierra Nevada in California - the town of Bishop in the Owens Valley, California, along the unbelievably gorgeous highway 395 between Reno and Mojave. We go hiking up in the mountains, biking around on the desert floor, and my twelve year old kid is on her way back from rock climbing up some buttress in the Mount Whitney area. It's hot in Bishop, hundred degrees mid afternoon, but very dry, and much cooler up in the mountains. So I'm not paying attention to anything - congratulations to John Bolton, but I'm not actually reading any newspapers other than the Inyo Times. My daughter is going to spend the day after her big climbing day getting a manicure and pedicure with my wife - not much point in doing that before climbing - and then Saturday we are going to learn about shooting guns from a friendly off-duty police officer here. Here - not Washington DC - is where my heart is, and has been since I was young and used to come up here from home in Claremont, just east of Los Angeles.

I am doing some reading - a very interesting book on Lincoln's diplomacy - really, the diplomacy and foreign relations of both North and South in the civil war - Abraham Lincoln and a New Birth of Freedom: The Union and Slavery in the Diplomacy of the Civil War, by Howard Jones (U Nebraska 1999), a professor at the University of Alabama (whose scholarly work on the Amistad provided the basis for the Hollywood film). I'm midway through it and learning a great deal - much of it quite startling because I had never in all my reading been clued in to the extent of European imperial aims that might have lead Britain or France to intervene in the Civil War.

I should add that we had a wonderful time at the Hoover Institution - I found it wonderfully productive on the UN reform book that I am in the midst of writing and the staff and folks there are the perfect hosts. I was able to meet again someone I have long admired, Victor Hanson, as well as get in touch again with an old friend and fellow Telos editor, Stanford professor and Hoover senior fellow and now, following the sad death of Paul Piccone, editor of Telos, Russell Berman. It was great to be able to both work and play with Tod Lindberg and his family, and to hang out with Christopher Hitchens and Carol Blue and their daughter Antonia in Palo Alto. It was great, and we were sorry to leave it so soon. However, the drive from Reno down 395 to Bishop in the afternoon and sunset was spectacular, and we're very happy to be here and away from everything - which actually includes the computer.

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