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  • Glenn Sonnenberg

Musings from the Bunker 5/15/20

Dear friends,

Hard to believe, but 63 musings and I’m still at this and I have a full head of steam! Here’s the link to the prior Musings:



A week ago I talked about Mesa Verde, an extraordinary national park in southwestern Colorado. Many people enjoyed learning a bit about Mesa Verde and their national parks (and some recounted some of their own visits). Mesa Verde is part of an extraordinary stretch of parks that begin with the Grand Canyon and continues through the Four Corners area (and Mesa Verde), across southern and central Utah and into Colorado. These include Bryce, Zion, Capital Reef, Arches, and the Colorado Monument near Grand Junction. All of these can be visited in a couple of days outside of Los Angeles—perfect for when we’re all thinking about driving (not flying…) for some recreation!

For a great quick overview video from National Geographic that provides brief glimpse of all of the National Parks in one minute:

The United States has a proud history of preserving important areas of natural beauty, biodiversity, and cultural significance. The first national park, Yosemite, was established in 1872 by President Ulysses S. Grant. Truth in advertising: Grant is a hero of mine and one of the often unheralded presidents (more some other time) and if all he did was win the Civil War and create Yellowstone, that would put him in the top tier in my book…

The president probably most associated with the west, the outdoors, and the national park system is Teddy Roosevelt. During his term after the turn of the last century, Teddy was responsible for the establishment of five national parks, including Crater Lake, Oregon.



I visited Crater Lake both as a kid and when we had kids. Here is Crater Lake in the summer. At over 1,900 feet in depth, this lake that sits in a large volcano caldera, is the deepest in North America. Its depth and purity keep it a dark blue, unlike any other lake I’ve seen. There are great trails, visitor center, ranger talks and, of course, the ubiquitous “Junior Ranger” program (not to be missed).

You can catch a short article and video about Crater Lake in the “Postcards from the West” series done by the L.A. Times: The video also has a brief look at the town of Ashland.

One of the most memorable events on this trip was visiting the Oregon Caves. This is partially because the caves are amazing but also because we were able to get a private tour. “How so?”, you may ask. Here’s the key to getting a private tour—when driving up to the caves and you see smoke, don’t be deterred by the wildfire off to your left or the smoke filling the air. Instead, channel your inner Bill Sonnenberg, ignore the flames outside your window and press onward. You’ll find only one other family crazy enough to be there and a couple of rangers lonely for company…

Here’s an article with some background on the caves and some great stalactite and stalagmite pictures:



While we’re being sheltered-in-place, the wildlife is not. They have free reign of the national parks. Here’s Yosemite without people:


BOOKS BASED ON YEARS I have received a surprising number of comments about my books based on pivotal years in history. Here are a few more books I didn’t include before: • Tor Kenward reminded me of Mark Kurlansky’s 1968: The Year That Rocked the World—a pivotal year that took place in our lifetimes… Among the big events were the Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King assassinations, the election of Richard Nixon, the riots at the Democratic Convention, Prague Spring, and protests against the war and for Black power. Kurlansky wrote Cod and Salt—A World History (from my previous musing on single-quirky-topic books) • The Year 1000—What Life Was Like at the Turn of the First Millennium, by Robert Lacey. This is a current Critics’ Choice from the New York Times. I haven’t read it yet (although The Convert paints a good picture of the 11th century). • 1776, by David McCullough. I’d forgotten this one. Good but not as great as McCullough’s biographies of John Adams or Harry Truman. • Paris 1919, by Margaret MacMillan. Shame on me for forgetting this classic picture of the great powers carving up the world in a way that has had ramifications through today. MacMillan actually is Lloyd George’s granddaughter. The book is amazing. The scene of Clemanceau, Lloyd George and Wilson on the floor in a Paris hotel room peering over a map of the world was reason enough to love this book. Along with Proud Tower and The Guns of August (both by Barbara Tuchman), about the world before World War I and the calamities and misjudgments that brought about the war, respectfully, a great “third volume” in the story of the Great War and how it changed the world then and through to this day. • The Making of the President 1960, by Theodore White. This is s granddaddy of all political books. It’s the first of several by White about election years and it spawned a whole industry of books analyzing presidential campaigns. This is the first and, I think, the best. Some have noted the absence of 2001, A Space Odyssey, 1984, etc. While a number of science fiction novels have included dates in their titles, my original goal was to show books about dates that relate to historic inflection points (so apologies for not including them).



Much like other kids of our generation, I had my favorite sports figures. Two of them shared the same number—number 32—and had pictures on my wall. 32 actually is a storied number. There are a few. Can you name some of them and can you name the two on my wall in Anaheim, circa 1970? Answer to follow another day.

Have a great weekend,


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