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 Craig Howell

This week we take one last big-picture look at California’s gold country, where the original gold rush of 1849 got the state off to a rip-roaring start. There are other areas in the state where gold was discovered and mined, later, so the story goes on and on. There’s so much story, in fact, that even in 1849’s Sierra Nevada gold country we’ll have to come back to some of these places again and again. So, consider this the end of the introduction.

We continue exploring California’s historic “gold country” this week, meaning those areas of the Sierra Nevada foothills that were well trod by the 1849ers, the first wave of gold seekers. This week we peek into historic hotels in storied gold rush towns. You could easily stay a weekend—or longer—at any of these establishments, given that there’s plenty to do and see nearby, and thus gradually work your way through California’s gold rush. If you tend to be cheap, camp somewhere and then stop by the hotel’s restaurant or bar to drink in the ambience, and thus support the local economy.

Photo by Kent Kanouse

Last time we talked about California’s contemporary creation story, the fictional tale that helped create the richest state in the United States. Native American stories about how this world came to be were much better, stunningly mystical, and more poetic. But a 16th-century Spanish novel about the island paradise of California, a land of gold, precious gems, and beautiful black women ruled by the great Queen Calafia, was the fantady that fired up European imaginations and inspired explorer Hernan Cortes’ crew to name this place California.

This week we head up the road in search of California’s creation story. Just how did the Golden State come to be?

Photo by J. Maughn

We’re heading up the road this week to get acquainted with bats at Pinnacles National Park, just south of the Bay Area—a place you’ll want to visit now and in to spring—and also in Yolo County quite close by, where summer is the time to go batty.

Bob Dass

This week I encourage you to consider heading up the road to the California deserts this spring, especially if you’ve never been during a rain-induced “big bloom.” The phenomenon is fairly rare. Drought-adapted wildflowers and other desert plants need very specific conditions to risk blooming, to risk producing seed or otherwise reproducing. This may be an excellent year to enjoy this surprising wildflower display, a sequential, sometimes truly spectacular display of ephemeral beauty. It all depends. More on that in a minute.

Plumas Ski Club

Right about now you might be wondering when winter will end. Maybe you miss the sun, and want to miss the cold. Not to mention all this rain-the very same rain we've all been praying for, in desperation, for years. Californians, so fickle. Time to buck up, buckaroos, and embrace winter-all of it-cold, wet feet and all. Get out there and enjoy yourself. In that great Western tradition, go find some adventure.

Photo by meridican

This week we're heading Up the Road to the Red Bluff Bull & Gelding Sale, "where the best in the west meet and compete." It started out as the Red Bluff Bull Sale but these days could be called the Red Bluff Bull, Heifer, Feeder, Gelding & Stock Dog Sale, with Trade & Art Show Plus Bull Riding. Yep, that's quite a mouthful-even before downing a few beers at the Buyer & Consignor Dinner out at the fairgrounds-and not all that poetic either. So most people, still, simply say "bull sale."

Photo by Kyle Magnuson

You might find yourself in Monterey because you set out to watch whales along the coast. While you’re in town, you decide to see what’s new at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. But don’t leave after that. There’s so much story to this town, a tale started long before California became a state in 1850.

Thomas Hawk / Flickr: http://bit.ly/1WCKTfR

In his novel by the same name, local boy John Steinbeck described Cannery Row along Monterey Bay as “a poem, a stink, a grating noise, a quality of light, a tune, a habit, a nostalgia, a dream,” and also as a corrugated collection of sardine canneries, restaurants, honky-tonks, whorehouses, and waterfront laboratories.

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