Kim Weir

Host, Up the Road

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.

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.

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.

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.

Courtesy California State Parks

We head up the road this week to revisit the life, times, and beloved Beauty Ranch of famed California writer Jack London—a fine Sonoma Valley outing.

Not so long ago London’s most popular adventure books, The Call of the Wild and White Fang—both set during the Yukon Gold Rush—were required reading for California schoolchildren. On many lists they’ve since been demoted to “suggested.” (Of course. How relevant is the great outdoors anymore?) So grab the kids, grandkids, or great-grands for a visit to 1400-acre Jack London State Historic Park in Glen Ellen, on the eastern side of Sonoma Mountain. There are more than 20 miles of trails—no dogs, even if leashed, allowed on backcountry trails—guided tours, including horseback rides, weather permitting, and fabulous Craftsman-era buildings to explore.

Pages