That day I accidentally visited the background from Windows XP
From 2013 to 2016 I lived in San Francisco. It was a wonderful time. Living in the centre of the tech world, pre kids, new experiences. Awesome.
My wife and I used to spend as much time as we could exploring outside the city. Going up to the Napa / Sonoma valleys, famous for their wines, was a perfect weekend activity, especially when we had friends over.
Someone recommended the Fremont Diner (now sadly closed) on the Carneros Highway. It was a great shout. A rustic place with old neon signs, runny eggs, crispy bacon, strong coffee.
As we sat outside in the sun, I looked over to the right towards a hill covered with vines. Classic wine country. So I took a photo.
But something about it caught my eye - like I’d seen this view somewhere before.
Blue sky, rolling green hills?
It looked a bit like the default background to Windows XP - the most used PC operating system in the 2000’s.
This picture is called “Bliss”. It looks so perfect, I’d always assumed it was computer generated - or at least heavily edited. I didn’t think it could be a real place.
I kept staring that that hill. Covered with vines, but underneath that same curve. It couldn’t be…could it?
In January 1996, former National Geographic photographer O'Rear was on his way from his home in St. Helena, California, in the Napa Valley north of San Francisco, to visit his girlfriend…He was working with Irwin on a book about the wine country. He was particularly alert for a photo opportunity that day, since a storm had just passed over and other recent winter rains had left the area especially green.
Driving along the Sonoma Highway, he saw the hill, free of the vineyards that normally covered the area; they had been pulled out a few years earlier following a phylloxera infestation. "There it was! My God, the grass is perfect! It's green! The sun is out; there's some clouds," he remembered thinking. He stopped near the Napa–Sonoma county line (approximately at 38.249°N 122.410°W) and pulled off the road.
He took four shots and got back into his truck. According to O'Rear, the image was not digitally enhanced or manipulated in any way.
Lets look that up a second….
And there it was.
The Bliss photo was taken just up the road, looking at the exact same hill.
It was a real place, and it was right bloody next to me!
It’s such a famous picture, that others have made pilgrimage to the Bliss location, and taken their own pics:
What’s the point of this post?
Well, its nothing to do with product management, but it’s a fun story, and a good reminder to keep you eye out for what’s going on around you. You never know what you might be missing.
One last shot from the Fremont Diner.