Up The Road

Wednesdays at 4:44 and 6:44 p.m. and Thursdays at 6:45 and 7:45 a.m.

A production of NSPR

Produced by Matt Fidler 

About Up the Road

If you travel mostly to escape the daily drudge, Up The Road host Kim Weir suggests you think again. Travel matters, every bit as much as other choices you make every day. Which is why Up the Road encourages everyone to travel responsibly. Here in California as elsewhere around the world, responsible travel means appreciating nature, valuing natural resources, respecting and preserving culture and history, and supporting local economies in healthy ways.

Up the Road is dedicated to responsible California travel—to sustaining the California story by deepening your connection to this unusual and surprising place. Each week Up the Road shares stories about the land, its natural history, and its people, the lives they have lived, the stories they have told over the centuries, and the stories they are creating right now. The stories that keep us all here, that create California’s unique ecology of home.

Host Kim Weir is editor and founder of Up the Road, a nonprofit public-interest journalism project dedicated to sustaining the California story. She is also a member of the Society of American Travel Writers, and author of all of the original California “handbooks” put out by Moon Publications, now Avalon Travel. Weir lives in Paradise, California.

Up the Road is a joint production of Up the Road and North State Public Radio, initially produced by Sarah Bohannon. The show is now produced by Matt Fidler and distributed by PRX. Up the Road’s theme song was written and produced by Kirk Williams.


Up The Road: Fort Ross

Jul 13, 2016
Nina / Flickr, Creative Commons

Today we head up the road to the weathered redwood fortress that once represented Imperial Russia on the California coast. Fourth graders know this story, of course, but older Californians are often surprised to learn that Russia colonized California before the U.S. arrived. That colony? Fort Ross.

Up The Road: Bear Flag Republic

Jul 6, 2016
Håkan Dahlström / Flickr, Creative Commons

Today we head up the road to downtown Sonoma to appreciate the growling of the Bear Flag Republic. There’s no time like our nation’s birthday celebration to recall that California, too, had its day as a rowdy, independent republic—a very short day.

Up The Road: Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument

Jun 29, 2016
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.

Up The Road: Redwood National and State Parks

Jun 22, 2016
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?”

Up The Road: Lassen Volcanic National Park

Jun 15, 2016
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.

Up The Road: Patrick Ranch Threshing Bee

Jun 8, 2016
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.” 

Up The Road: Lava Beds National Monument

May 25, 2016
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.

Up The Road: McCloud Mushroom Festival

May 18, 2016
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.