Up the Road

Wayne Hsieh

We head up the road today and in coming weeks to revisit the legacies of John and Annie E.K. Bidwell, official founders of Chico, though of course the place they most loved, with its rich, marshy bottomlands and tangled riparian forests, had been here practically forever. Just ask Mechoopda people. The tribe’s website offers some thoughtful history and cross-cultural perspective.

Today we head up the road to Lake Tahoe in the Roaring Twenties, when the rich were very rich and no one else counted for much. Sound familiar?

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.  

leiris202

This week we continue exploring the Sierra Nevada’s dramatic east side, where the mountains drop sharply into the Great Basin. We head up the road from Big Pine to the White Mountains and the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, home to the oldest known individual trees in the world—bristlecone pines, gnarled and gristly members of the species Pinus longaeva. Sometimes people skip the correct Latin–or attempt thereof—and just say “pine-us,” for the genus name, to avoid raised eyebrows in polite society.

Joe Parks; Flickr

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

Robert Shea

We head up the road this week to visit Bodie, California’s official gold-mining ghost town and a very remote state historic park well worth the visit.

Photo by Srikanth Jandhyala

This is also high season for the all-American road trip. And there’s one supremely scenic road you need to visit—or revisit—this summer, even if your only trip is a quickie to Southern California, to check in with family and friends. Skip the mind-numbing thrum of I-5 and go the back way instead—US Route 395, sometimes still known as the Three Flags Highway. Those “three flags” would be Canada, the US, and Mexico, because the original route ran from San Diego near the Mexican border to British Columbia, taking in big-sky stretches of California, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington along the way. 

Photo by Keoni Dibelka

Today we head Up the Road to the heart of the State of Jefferson and its once (and possibly future) capital, Yreka.

There’s something profoundly different about a place proud to be in a constant state of rebellion. In the bigger picture that place would be California, which has considered more than 200 different independence proposals since statehood in 1850. Some of the first serious attempts to break away came from thoroughly dissed Los Angeles, still a dusty cowtown when the streets of San Francisco were almost literally paved with gold, after the gold rush.

Photo by Yuichi Sakuraba

Today we head up the road to visit Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Woodstock, and all the rest of the Peanuts gang at Santa Rosa’s contemporary Charles M. Schulz Museum. This impressive collection commemorates the life and work of cartoonist Charles Monroe “Sparky” Schulz, a longtime, low-key Santa Rosa resident until his death in 2000. Despite his quiet, very local life, Schulz was internationally celebrated—more widely syndicated than any other cartoonist, and the only newspaper comic artist ever honored with a retrospective show at the Louvre in Paris.

Photo by Chris Chen

Today we head up the road to the North Coast college town of Arcata and its annual celebration of both Kumamoto and Pacific oysters, mainstays of Humboldt Bay’s immensely successful aquaculture industry. It’s good to talk up top-notch local products. And it’s great to be able to boast about local water quality, which growing robust oysters implies. Oysters thrive—and can safely be farmed for human consumption—only in clean, healthy, protected waters. In California that means the northern reaches of Humboldt Bay, also known as Arcata Bay. Much of the south bay is unavailable for aquaculture, protected as the Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Preserve, home to hundreds of local and migrant bird species and other wildlife—a destination also well worth your time.

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