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.

Joe Blow / Flickr

This week we head up the road to appreciate again the California coast in winter. Many of us think of one particular migrant in appreciating the nearshore ocean—the California gray whale, also known as the Western or Pacific gray whale. A close-up view of California’s official (and largest) mammal is life-changing. Dark, barnacled heads shoot up out of the ocean to breathe, blasting saltwater out their blowholes with the force of a firehose. That spouting is how you’ll first spot them all along the California coast.

Damian Gadal

This week we head up the road to appreciate the California coastline and the Pacific Ocean. People don’t always think of winter as prime time for a coast visit, but in many ways it’s just perfect—especially if you appreciate surly surf and a big, lonely landscape. Exploring the coast in winter is also perfect for avoiding the crowds.

Matthew Lee High

We’ve been talking about snow—this may yet be a good year for it—and some snowbound California history, as in the Donner Party. We head up the road this week to combine those two topics again, history and snow—to Plumas-Eureka State Park near Graeagle in Plumas County, home to the annual Historic Longboard Revival Race Series.

Jesse Jenkins / Flickr Creative Commons

We head up the road into the Sierra Nevada again, this fine snowy week—to Tahoe, again, more specifically, in search of the perfect winter timeout in crisp mountain air. Elbowing through peak holiday-season crowds is not perfect for everyone, of course, myself included, so you could wait until January or later, and try to come up during the week.

Nico Aguilera

Many of us desperately need a change of scene, all at the same time, some sort of post-Camp Fire paradigm shift. You know someone needs to get away when the lady in line ahead of you just goes off at that poor store clerk, and the big-truck guy at the gas station guns it and looks like he’ll ram that little old lady, just to get in front. Yikes. The social fabric in these parts is not just punctured and frayed, with one whole town living atop other towns, as we are now. It’s tearing, loudly. We all need a timeout. Thank heavens for the holidays.

There’s nothing like a total disaster, once the smoke clears, to completely refocus the mind, if not one’s entire life. But for me at least, it’s almost like reverse-focus. Instead of homing in like a laser on a particular aim, peripheral awareness is somehow sharper. Events that would barely catch my attention, normally, in the busy-ness of daily life, now seem so significant and stunning, so magnificent, that I hardly notice anything else.

Silent 7 Seven / Flickr Creative Commons

We head up the road this week in search of a suitable place to look up and appreciate the dark night sky. Winter, when the air is crisp and clear, is perfect for such spectacular communion.

Kim Weir

This is Kim Weir. I live in Paradise, here in northern California, and I love it. No one has been more surprised by this than me. I grew up in Chico, the college town just down the hill, and like many flatlanders I helped to perpetuate local prejudices about the place. When I was 16 and still knew everything, I’d dismiss Paradise as little more than local headquarters for the John Birch Society—which it was, back then.

Anne Thomas

This week we continue exploring how and why to travel after disaster. Why we’d want to? We may not be able to help ourselves, being curious, compassionate, and often deeply connected to a place. Consider Gettysburg. Ground Zero. New Orleans after Katrina. As for how to do it: with great sensitivity. When? Soon enough to make a positive contribution to community rebuilding—spending money locally, to boost the economy—but not so soon that you invade people’s privacy or otherwise do harm.

Eric Fredericks

This week we continue exploring how and why to travel after a disaster, and head up the road to Redding, a river city situated on the northern rim of the great Sacramento Valley.

We don’t think of Redding as a valley town, and it really isn’t, because it’s located on the edge of wildness, mountains rising up behind it like a spectacular curtain. Redding’s the last serious supply stop before you head out backpacking or fishing, or on a river adventure, serious bike ride, or family houseboat or camping trip. It’s the cultural hotspot for far northern California, home to the north state’s own PBS TV affiliate, a newly revitalized Cascade Theater, and that stunning Sundial Bridge spanning the Sacramento River adjacent to Turtle Bay.