Kim Weir

Host, Up the Road

Kim Weir, a former NSPR news reporter, is editor and founder of Up the Road, a nonprofit public-interest journalism project dedicated to sustaining the Northern California story. She is also an active member of the Society of American Travel Writers. North State Public Radio’s Up the Road program is jointly produced by Up the Road.

Lily Gicker

We head up the road this week to Downieville, known these days for its northern gold-country charm and the annual Downieville Classic point-to-point mountain bike race, a 29-mile gold-rush-era route from Sierra City to Downieville.

Jan Arendtsz

We look to the center this week, California’s great Central Valley, where hundreds of thousands of waterfowl, shorebirds, and even songbirds stop to rest and eat on their way south for the winter. After summer’s breeding and chick-rearing season in and near the Arctic, migrants stream south via the continent’s Pacific Flyway, most becoming Californians for at least a short while. Which is why bird events such as January’s Snow Goose Festival of the Pacific Flyway are so immensely popular. How many people get to witness this great migration, year after year, up close and personal? Not many. What a privilege to be right here, year after year.

Photo by J. Maughn

This week we head up the road to Elkhorn Slough, the primary “head” of Monterey Bay’s canyon, just offshore.

Thomas Hawk / Flickr, Creative Commons

This week we visit Monterey’s Cannery Row and the world-class Monterey Bay Aquarium, which was among the first to recognize that by focusing on the local and very specific—in this case, the amazing sea life just offshore—aquariums could inspire people to appreciate oceans in general. Pretty darn smart. As Bill Nye the Science Guy says, this is the “coolest aquarium in the world.”

Mitchel Jones

We head up the road this week to Monterey Bay.

The only remembered line of the Ohlone people’s long-lost song of world renewal, “dancing on the brink of the world,” has a particularly powerful resonance at the edge of Monterey Bay. Here, in the unfriendly fog and ghostly cypress along the brink, the untamed coast, we know native people once danced. Yet like that ancient dance and its dancers, Monterey Bay largely remains a mystery: everything seen, heard, tasted, and touched only hints at what remains hidden.

rocor / Flickr

Today we head up the road to Tor House, a striking hand-built stone home that harks back to a time when artists, photographers and other “seacoast bohemians” called Carmel home because it was beautiful, wild, isolated — not at all civilized enough for polite society. Not incidentally, it was also crazy-cheap.

Open-minded poets, writers and other oddballs were the community’s original movers and shakers, in fact — most of them shaken up and out of San Francisco after the 1906 earthquake. Robinson Jeffers, Upton Sinclair, Sinclair Lewis and Jack London were some of Carmel’s literary lights.

J. Stephen Conn

We head up the road this week to Hearst Castle at San Simeon, which ranks right up there with Disneyland as one of California’s premier tourist attractions. Somehow that fact alone puts the place into proper perspective. Media magnate William Randolph Hearst’s castle is a rich man’s playground filled to overflowing with artistic diversions and other expensive toys, a monument to one man’s monumental self-importance and, some would say, equally impressive poor taste. A man for our times.

Photo by Henrique Pinto

We head up the road this week to Big Sur.

The poet Robinson Jeffers described this redwood and rock coast as “that jagged country which nothing but a falling meteor will ever plow.” So it’s fitting that this area was known as Jeffers Country long before it became Big Sur. Writer Henry Miller said Big Sur was “the face of the earth as the creator intended it to look,” a point hard to argue. Here, sandstone, granite, and the sundown sea crash together in an endless dance of creation and destruction.

Matthew Lee High

Today we head up the road to Allensworth State Historic Park, between Visalia and Bakersfield in the San Joaquin Valley, the only town in California founded, financed, and governed by African Americans. It’s a bit remote. On the way you’ll wonder if you’re lost. But with some imagination you can experience the town when it was young and thriving. And feel the sadness of its passing.

Tom Hilton

Today we head up the road to Manzanar National Historic Landmark, a US government “relocation camp” on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada, some six miles south of Independence. At first the sparse landscape says little about the devastation experienced by Japanese Americans held under armed guard here during World War II. But stay awhile. There are many, many stories. The longer you stay, the more this sad landscape speaks.  

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