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August 27, 2012

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Here's the The Lowdown from DN Journal,
updated daily
to fill you in on the latest buzz going around the domain name industry. 

The Lowdown is compiled by DN Journal Editor & Publisher Ron Jackson.

Silicon Valley Without the Silicon -  Tech Enclave Can Also Boast of Natural Beauty and Endless Attractions

Diana and I are back after spending the past week in northern California's tech Mecca, Silicon Valley. Our son Aaron just moved there from Boston to join Apple Computer as a chemical engineer based at their world headquarters in Cupertino. In another major life change, Aaron 

and his wife of one year, Nancy, welcomed their first child, Nicolas, two months ago and as you can imagine we couldn't wait to see the newest member of the family. So, we headed west last Thursday and just got home this morning. 

My two previous trips to the area had been spent almost entirely in the Santa Clara Marriott Hotel where the 2006 and 2009 T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Silicon Valley conferences were held. This time I decided I wanted to see more of what the Valley had to offer outside its hotel room walls and away from the campuses of the tech giants like Google and Yahoo that are located there. So, we spent all of our time exploring the area and visiting family members and friends who live there. We were delighted to discover there is much more to the Silicon Valley than tech with eye popping natural beauty and a summer climate that is as good as it gets anywhere on the globe. 

After spending Thursday evening and most of Friday with Aaron, Nancy and Nicolas, we spent Saturday morning (August 6) strolling 

Baby Nico and proud grandmother Diana 

around downtown Los Gatos, a spectacularly scenic community located near the base of the Santa Cruz mountains. It has understandably become a popular place for newly minted tech multi-millionaires to make their homes. There is a Bentley dealership (that also carries Ferraris and Aston Martins) on the main street, where you will also see plenty of exotic cars parked along the curbs.

Exotic cars like this Ferrari add to the "curb appeal" of downtown Los Gatos.

While walking along Los Gatos Boulevard we spotted a newspaper box filled with copies of Dan Pulcano's popular Silicon Valley news weekly - Metro - and picked up a copy to read during a stop at one of the many inviting sidewalk cafes.

We then headed about 25 miles north to visit Diana's niece, Beth, her husband and their son who live in Emerald Hills (adjacent to Redwood City). Diana's sister was also there, having come in a few days earlier from Florida to visit her daughter's family. Aaron, Nancy and Nicolas also came up and Beth took all of us on a visit to the historic (and stunning) Filoli Mansion and Gardens located just a couple of miles west of her house. 

Filoli was completed in 1917 and was built for Mr. and Mrs. William Bowers Bourn, prominent San Franciscans whose chief source of wealth was the Empire Mine, a hard-rock gold mine in Grass Valley, California. Mr. Bourn arrived at the unusual name Filoli by combining the first two letters from the key words of his credo: “Fight for a just cause; Love your fellow man; Live a good life.”

After Mr. and Mrs. Bourn both died in 1936 the estate was purchased by Mr. and Mrs. William P. Roth, who owned the Matson Navigation Company. Mrs. Roth made Filoli her home until 1975 when she donated the House and formal garden to the National Trust for Historic Preservation for the 

Above: Visitors strolling through the fabulous 
Filoli Gardens
Saturday (August 7, 2011)

Below: a corner of the enormous ballroom inside 
the Filoli Mansion (the room is 70 feet long 
and 32 feet wide with 22-foot ceilings!). 

enjoyment and inspiration of future generations. If you are ever in the area I highly recommend seeing this national treasure. After the Filoli visit we headed back to Beth's for a late afternoon cookout that completed a perfect California day.

Diana loves to hunt for antiques so Sunday morning we visited the San Jose Flea Market, which claims to be the country's first flea market (established in 1960) as well as the largest. We didn't make any finds there but did a lot of walking which helped burn off some excess calories. It's a good thing we did that because the next stop was Palo Alto for a great Sunday Brunch at the Il Fornaio Restaurant with one of my earliest friends from the domain business, Howard Hoffman, and his wife Randy

Palo Alto is another gorgeous community with giant magnolia trees lining both sides of the main thoroughfare. It is also home to Stanford University where Howard got his Master's Degree after graduating from M.I.T.  After brunch he and Randy took us on a walking tour of the Stanford campus under the kind of sunny, deep blues skies you usually only see on postcards. Stanford is one of the world's best and most beautiful universities. The most jaw dropping building on campus is the interdenominational Stanford Memorial Church, a chapel dedicated in 1903 by Jane Stanford in memory of her husband, Senator Leland Stanford.  The couple had founded the university itself in 1891 as a memorial to their son Leland Stanford Jr

Stanford Memorial Church is the crown jewel of the Stanford University campus. 

We started our last full day of the trip, Monday (August 8), with a visit to scenic Saratoga, another town favored by the captains of Silicon Valley industry. The first stop was another masterpiece of natural beauty, Hakone Gardens, the oldest Asian estate and garden in the Western Hemisphere (and another place now cared for by the National Trust for Historic Preservation).

It was designed and built by San Francisco cultural leaders Isabel and Oliver Stine in 1915. Inspired by the displays at the 1915 Pan-Pacific Exhibition, Mrs. Stine traveled to Japan where she was enchanted by the Fuji-Hakone National Park and wanted to have her own Hakone Gardens in the hillsides of Saratoga. Wandering  through the 18-acre estate is like being suddenly transported to an idyllic retreat in Japan. 

Hakone Gardens in Saratoga, California
(Mon., August 8, 2011) - my favorite photo from our visit. 

We then made the short trip to another great Saratoga landmark - Villa Montalvo - a stunning estate with a fabulous gated garden that was built in the same era as Hakone Gardens and the Filoli Mansion. Senator James Phelan, California's first elected senator, constructed Montalvo on 175 gorgeous hillside acres, complete with 2.5 miles of hiking trails, in 1912.  Phelan, who died in 1930, bequeathed Montalvo to the state of California to serve as a site for the advancement of art, music, literature and architecture. The grounds and galleries are now open to the public at no charge. Montalvo was awarded inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. 

Villa Montalvo - Saratoga, California

After lunch at one of Saratoga's open air sidewalk cafes Diana and I went in different directions for the evening. She went to Aaron's to spend Monday evening with the new grandbaby while I hooked back up with Howard Hoffman to go to the San Francisco Giants -  Pittsburgh Pirates game.

Howard is a diehard Giants fans who has two sets of season tickets at the team's AT&T Park, one of the best stadiums in all of baseball. Unfortunately, it was a tough night for the home team as the defending World Champions lost 5-0 (however they were still in 1st place at the end of the evening).

Howard Hoffman (left) and Ron Jackson at the Giants 
game Monday night (August 8) in San Francisco

 

The view from Howard's seats along the first base line at San Francisco's AT&T Park.

For a visiting Floridian, used to 95 degree temperatures in August, one thing I will remember about Monday night in San Francisco was how cold it was. There's a quote attributed by most to Mark Twain that said, "The coldest winter I ever saw was the summer I spent in San Francisco." I totally get that now :-)  Fortunately Howard warned me in advance and thanks to the long sleeved T-shirt, hooded sweat shirt and outer jacket he recommended, I survived the mid 50's temperatures (with a wind chill that made it feel like the mid 40's) and had a great time. 

Tuesday morning, we paid one more visit to our new grandson before heading back to the San Jose airport for the long trip home. I came back with a new view of the Silicon Valley. Unlike most of the world, I will no longer think tech when I think of the Valley. I'll think about the valley's natural beauty and the family and friends who have the good fortune to live there.

(Posted August 10, 2011) 


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