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. 

Nick Ares

We continue exploring the gold country this week, because—as we’re now learning—even though women were few among the miners, they had plenty to say about the 1849 gold rush and the onrushing chaos it created.

Take Coloma, for example. As every California fourth-grader knows, James Marshall started the gold rush when he discovered gold there. He had traveled from John Sutter’s ranch in New Helvetia, today’s Sacramento, up the American River to build a sawmill, to produce much-needed lumber.

 

Tom Hilton

We appreciate Louise Amelia Knapp Smith Clappe this week, a chronicler of the California Gold Rush better known as Dame Shirley.

Originally from New Jersey and Massachusetts, the dame came West with her physician husband during the heady early days of California statehood. Her descriptions of life in Rich Bar and Indian Bar, gold camps on the Feather River not far from Quincy, were published in the form of letters to her sister. (A “bar” in this case is an accumulation of sand or gravel in a river exposed at low water, the easiest place to find gold.) Clappe’s history was so apt that the well-known writer Bret Harte may have “borrowed” from it, liberally, in his own work. Ever generous, Dame Shirley called these “unconscious plagiarisms.”

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.

Erin Johnson

 


We head up the road this week to get outdoors during prime time for winter bird migration. And, in the process, participate—hands-on—in research that will help birds survive in these increasingly crazy days of climate change. It’s all about data—keeping track of how many birds of a particular species show up, where, and when, and then continuing to track those birds over time.

 

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.

Pages