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. 

Bob Wick, Bureau of Land Management / Flickr, Creative Commons

By now you’ve noticed it’s summer, and hot—time to head up the road to the coast, or into the high country. Mark Twain described existence here otherwise when he poked fun at California's capital city in his 1872 travelogue Roughing It: “It is a fiery summer always, and you can gather roses, and eat strawberries and ice cream, and wear white linen clothes, and pant and perspire, at eight or nine o’clock in the morning.” Yep. We’ve all been there.

Redwood Coast / Flickr, Creative Commons

Today we head up the road to another national park in northern California, one created to preserve rare native forests of coast redwoods. In one of his more famous media missteps as governor of California, Ronald Reagan was widely reported as having cut redwood trees with the old saw, “If you've seen one, you've seen them all.” Tree people were outraged. But Reagan was misquoted. What he actually said, during a long, tiring press tour, was, “A tree is a tree—how many more do you need to look at?”

Joe Parks / Flickr, Creative Commons

In honor of the 100th birthday of our National Parks system, this week we head up the road to the alpine wilderness of Lassen Volcanic National Park—an international wonder, right here, that too few of us enjoy. Name any other national park where you can usually just show up in summer and grab a campsite.

TS Lane / Creative Commons

If you ask the kids you know where bread comes from, do they say “the store”? Or maybe, “the farmers’ market” or “co-op?" If so, consider this a teachable moment. It’s time for a field trip to the Patrick Ranch on the Midway, just south of Chico, halfway to Durham. Together this historic home and surrounding farmstead are becoming a fine regional agricultural history center and museum, thanks to the efforts of the Far West Heritage Association.

Up The Road: Turtle Bay

Jun 1, 2016
Photo used courtesy of Turtle Bay Exploration Park

  The Maidu explain the world differently than most of us do. Turtle has a starring role in one version of the Maidu creation story, greatly abbreviated here:

“In the beginning there was no sun, no moon, no stars. All was dark, and everywhere there was only water. A raft came floating on the water. It came from the north, and in it were two persons—Turtle and Father-of-the-Secret-Society. The stream flowed very rapidly. Then from the sky a rope of feathers was let down, and down it came Earth-Initiate. When he reached the end of the rope, he tied it to the bow of the raft, and stepped in. His face was covered and was never seen, but his body shone like the sun.” 

Photo used courtesy of National Park Service

Native peoples called the high Modoc Plateau area "the smiles of God," a strangely fitting name for this lonely remnant of the Old West. One good reason to visit the remote Modoc Plateau is to study now obscure California history. The lava caves and craggy volcanic outcroppings at Lava Beds National Monument enabled charismatic “Captain Jack” and his Modoc band to hold out against hundreds of U.S. Army troops, with superior arms, for more than three months before being starved into defeat in 1873.

Ian Grant / Flickr, Creative Commons

McCloud, onetime mill town in the shadow of Mount Shasta, is famous for its wild spring mushrooms. Buyers show up every May to gather in the best of what local fungus hunters have found, then quickly pack and ship the fresh mushroom crop to appreciative chefs as far away as New York. What better theme could McCloud choose for its Memorial Day weekend party? 

Up The Road: Redding Rodeo

May 11, 2016
Photo used courtesy of the Redding Rodeo

This is rodeo country. About half of pro rodeos in California are held in or very near the Central Valley, which makes sense if you think of roping, riding, racing, and wrangling as fundamentally rural.

But historians say that’s not quite right. Rodeos arose after the Civil War. They evolved in part from competitive cowboy R-and-R after long, hard cattle drives. Impromptu skill contests offered good, clean, social fun, after eating all that dust on lonely trails, delivering beef on the hoof to hungry eastern markets. Rodeos also took up elements of wildly popular outdoor urban entertainment based on the romance of a Wild West that started to disappear almost as soon as it galloped into the American imagination. Buffalo Bill Cody, Calamity Jane, and other stars of traveling rodeos and exhibitions created job opportunities that kept cowboys employed well into the 20th century.

Up The Road: Sutter Buttes

Apr 27, 2016
Ken Schneider / Flickr, Creative Commons

You’re driving home up 99, feeling as road worn as an old tire. As the landscape opens before you and the sky expands, the freeway stress starts rolling away. But it’s not until you reach the Sutter Buttes that you fully relax and breathe, deep. It’s not until you reach the Sutter Buttes that you know you’re almost home.

Up The Road: Wildflower Century

Apr 20, 2016
Photo used courtesy of Chico Velo

When John Muir wandered west out of the Sierra Nevada in the late 1800s, he was overwhelmed by California's great central valley. “When California was wild,” he wrote, “it was one sweet bee garden throughout its entire length . . . so marvelously rich that, in walking from one end of it to the other, a distance of more than four hundred miles, your foot would press about a hundred flowers at every step.”

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