Our share of a thousand places to visit

One of the more popular travel books of recent years is 1,000 Places To See Before You Die by Patricia Shultz. It’s easy to see why. It’s a great hook upon which to hang the theme of travel; the must see/can’t miss landmarks, features, and settlements of our planet, which makes for a great aid to those inclined to create their own “bucket lists.” Two years ago, Shultz came out with a companion book, the U.S. and Canada version of 1,000 Places.

There isn’t much about Nevada in this one. Only 10 “things” make the final cut, and only three of those are “places,” per se. Lake Tahoe (no brainer), Vegas (duh), and Reno (ta da!). About our fair burg, Shultz doesn’t exactly rave, but opts for an angle of “mellower, more laid back, and friendlier than Vegas,” which, combined with the history of our “golden era,” was enough to get included. Of the remaining Nevada entries, five are Vegasian (The Strip, the food on the Strip, Cirque de Soleil, etc.), one is the quasi-nebulous “Cowboy Culture” —which gives Shultz a chance to mention Elko and its Cowboy Poetry gig— and the other is the one special event in the state deemed worthy. Can you guess?

The California section of this book is thicker. No surprise there. The Golden State, after all, is loaded with spectacularity, and that’s one of the reasons 36 million people now live there and are in the process of loving the place to death, spreading the concept of “Californication” far across the fruited plain. Some of the more interesting entries for ‘Fornia:

Chez Panisse, an extraordinary Berkeley restaurant that revolutionized American cooking. The other eatery that gets its own special mention is The French Laundry of Yountville, in the heart of the Napa Valley. Good luck getting into this joint, which put Thomas Keller in the ranks of superstar chefs and restauranteurs. But if you do, Shultz promises you’ll have “one of the most gloriously gluttonous gourmet experiences of your life.”

Among those towns that us “locals” might overlook, but Shultz doesn’t, are Mendocino (“the impossibly quaint coastal town”), Ojai (home of “The Pink Moment,” when sunset lights the surrounding Topa Topa Mountains just so) and San Luis Obispo (“one of California’s friendliest, most compelling, and charming small towns”). All of the state’s national parks get a mention (except Lassen) as does Mount Shasta, Sunset Boulevard, and the still-venerated Hotel Del Coronado in San Diego.

The point being that Shultz’s book reminds us that we really don’t have far to go at all to immerse ourselves in world-class experiences. And that there’s plenty of “list work” to do right here within driving distance. Which is nice. And yes, the Nevada special event that gets the upward thumb from Shultz is indeed Burning Man.