Up The Road

Wednesdays at 6:44 p.m. and Thursdays at 7:45 a.m.
  • Hosted by Kim Weir

A production of NSPR

Hosted by Kim Weir, produced by Sarah Bohannon

If you’ve always assumed travel is simply a matter of putting one foot—or hoof or ski or paddle or wheel or axle—ahead of another, then Up the Road host Kim Weir suggests you think again. Travel matters. Here in Northern California as elsewhere around the world, responsible travel means appreciating and conserving natural resources, preserving cultural and historic sites, and supporting local and regional economies in healthy ways.

Each week Kim Weir will take you Up the Road, pointing out things to do and places to go while exploring history, natural history, and other aspects of “place” that create the ecology of home.

Host 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. 

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.

Up The Road: Steinbeck Country

Nov 8, 2017
All photos by Dorothea Lange, used courtesy the U.S. National Archives and Library of Congress

We head up the road this week to Steinbeck Country.

Mention “John Steinbeck” and people think of Cannery Row in Monterey. Or nearby Salinas, his home town, setting for The Red Pony. Or maybe Baja, for anyone who’s read the impressive nonfiction Log from the Sea of Cortez. But Steinbeck also visited squalid farm labor camps—and towns in the north state, including Gridley, Marysville, and Yuba City. Valley towns can lay serious claim to the Steinbeck legacy, in fact, though most still wouldn’t want to. The Grapes of Wrath won Steinbeck a Pulitzer Prize and eventually the Nobel Prize for Literature, but at the time—and for decades to follow—the book and its author had few friends in California agriculture. But the destitute families he wrote about, the “Okies,” “Arkies,” and “Texies” who migrated to California farm fields during the 1930s, had few friends but Steinbeck.

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.  

Joe Parks, Flickr

Today we head up the road to Mono Lake, an ecological marvel on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada.

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