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 and Rachelle Parker

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. 

Albert Lam

This week we head up the road to revisit Joshua Tree, about an hour north of Coachella Valley and party-central Palm Springs. Temperatures are 100-plus most of the summer, so this isn’t most people’s idea of an ideal summer retreat, though on the plus side: in summer, you can grab a prime camp spot even on weekends without a reservation. In winter it’s crazy-popular (meaning, congested), so spring and fall can be the best for Joshua Tree.

Jim Dollar

We visit Death Valley this week, the lowest point in North America. Death Valley’s depths are all the more impressive when you consider that the highest point in the continental U.S., Mount Whitney, is just 100 miles away, in the southern Sierra Nevada near Lone Pine.

 

To stargazers, Death Valley is the closest thing to heaven in light-blinded Southern California. To rockhounds, it’s a timeless monument to very grounded geologic grandeur. To botanists and bird-watchers, it’s a study in successful adaptation. Its vast spaces sprinkled with petroglyphs, ghost towns, mine ruins, and other enduring marks of human aspiration, to hikers and history buffs it’s one endless discovery trail. 

Sharon Mollerus

We visit Mission San Juan Capistrano this week, the seventh California mission, first claimed by Spain in 1775 but officially founded in November of 1776. It’s still a bit hard to believe that a schmaltzy 1939 song by Leon René, When the Swallows Come Back to Capistrano—recorded by everyone from Gene Autry and Glenn Miller to the Ink Spots and Pat Boone—is responsible for the excited flutter here in spring. Every year on March 19, St. Joseph’s Day, tourists flock to town to welcome cliff swallows as they arrive from their annual 6,000-mile migration from Goya, Argentina.

Ken Lund

We head up the road this week to Mission Santa Barbara, “Queen of the Missions.” Not only did Saint Barbara lend her name to the city, her namesake mission generously shared what we now recognize as Santa Barbara style. This was the social capital of Alta California, even when Monterey was its political capital. But the presidio came first, in 1782, and the mission, California’s tenth, was built four years later.

Prayitno

This week we stop off in once-sleepy San Miguel, a spot in the road just north of Paso Robles, not quite so sleepy now that Central Coast wineries have attracted fame, fortunes, and the fortunate.

 

Centerpiece of the tiny town is Mission San Miguel Arcàngel, 16th of California’s 21 missions, originally built in 1797 and still an active parish church. The mission has been brought low before, by fire or earthquakes and their aftermath—and early on, first in 1806. The rebuilt church, with tiled, not thatched roofs this time, rising again in 1821. As an agricultural enterprise Mission San Miguel was immensely successful, like others in the area. Its holdings extended 18 miles to the south, 18 miles to the north, 66 miles to the east, into and across the great Central Valley, and 35 miles west, to the Pacific Ocean.

Anita Ritenour

The largest mission complex in the state, now situated on 1,000 unspoiled acres just east of Lompoc, Misión de la Concepción Purísima de María Santísima (“Mission of the Immaculate Conception of Most Holy Mary”) once covered some 470 square miles. La Purísima was the 11th in California’s chain of coastal missions when it was built in what is now downtown Lompoc in 1787. Almost all of the original Mission La Purísima was destroyed just before Christmas Day in 1812 by a devastating earthquake and deluge. Another traumatic year was 1824, when rebellious Chumash, angry at their exploitation by soldiers, captured the mission and held it for a month. Ten years later, the mission was essentially abandoned, after secularization.

Ed Bierman

 

 


 

We head up the road this week to another Spanish-era mission—Mission San Juan Bautista, or St. John the Baptist, California’s 15th mission. One of the most intriguing stories about San Juan Bautista is almost invisible. Tucked away in the mission museum are a couple of original choir books from Father Pedro Estevan Tapis, which demonstrate the Spanish technique of using colors or textures to teach polyphonic music. And teach it he did. The fame of the padre’s boys choir in the early 1800s earned San Juan Bautista the nickname “Mission of Music.”

Andy Cross

 

 

 


 

 

We head up the road this week to San Francisco, and that city’s official beginnings—its modest Spanish mission, California’s sixth, and The Presidio, its military companion. Today’s spectacular, Yankee-style military outpost is nothing like the original, a structure built of adobe and sticks that first housed a few dozen soldiers. What remains of the city’s original El Presidio is buried beneath the Main Post and inside the walls of the Presidio Officers’ Club, now a museum and cultural center.

Kenneth J. Gill

 

 

 


We visit the Carmel Mission this week or, more properly, Mission Basilica San Carlos Borromeo del Río Carmelo, the second Spanish mission established in Alta California by the Franciscan Father Junípero Serra. But you could be forgiven if you came to think of the Carmel Mission as California’s first, because Monterey, where it was initially established, quickly became both the cultural and military capital of Spain’s settlements here. It was definitely “first” for Father Serra, who primarily served here, died here, and was buried here, in the chapel.

Brian Michelsen

We head up the road to California’s first mission this week, Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcalá. (“Basilica” was bestowed by the Pope in 1976, a title signifying a church of major historic significance.) The ceremonial establishment of San Diego as Spanish colony came on July 16, 1769, when the assembled multitudes ascended the hill above their encampment. The first official European foothold in California, this “Plymouth Rock of the West Coast” was chosen as both California’s first mission and associated military outpost or presidio because of its commanding views of the valley and the bay. After a solemn mass, Father Junípero Serra, the “father president” of California’s not-yet-founded mission chain, dedicated the site to the glory of God.

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