California Department of Fish & Wildlife / Flickr Creative Commons

At Red Rock Canyon, we’ve arrived at the edge of the Mojave Desert. Before we push on, let’s take a side trip. Let’s go romp with the reptiles at the Desert Tortoise Research Natural Area—some 40 square miles that protect these venerable but threatened ancients.

The Desert Tortoise Natural Area is not a place to free your backyard tortoise, now that you’ve gotten an apartment and can’t keep her. Do the right thing and call the local animal shelter instead. Your beloved pet will not survive here, a very harsh environment. And pet tortoises often bring dire diseases that threaten the already threatened wild animals who live here.

Dan Lundberg

We’ve been dipping into books for the winter reading season—books that help us appreciate this unique place, what we’re seeing when we set out to enjoy it.

But what about travel in the larger sense, world travel? Should Americans even be traveling abroad these days?

Christopher Michel

We head up the road this week to Joshua Tree, about an hour north of Coachella Valley and party-central Palm Springs. But if you’re going you’ll need to put pedal to the metal—or bike shoes to the pedal metal—quite soon, because by June it gets hot, an average high of 100-plus through the summer. Speaking of the plus side: In summer, you can grab a prime camp spot even on weekends without a reservation.

Wayne Hsieh

This week we add another woman’s perspective to the story of life in California’s gold camps. An everyday perspective. Of the very few women who made up gold-rush communities, most were not notorious—definitely not internationally notorious, like “Spanish dancer” Lola Montez—but just plain folks, doing their best to get food on the table and keep a roof over their heads. 

Jeannie Stafford USFWS

We head up the road this week to Sage-Grouse country. California just happens to take in the far western edge of the Great Basin, high plateaus known for sagebrush and wide open spaces. California is the far edge of home for the Greater Sage-Grouse, which lives only in the West, nibbling at and nesting in sagebrush.

Photo by Doniree Walker

We’ve been exploring the notion of harvest, a wonderful metaphor for Fall. As Langston Hughes said of the Civil War and the official end of slavery, “Harriet Tubman lived to see the harvest.”

Photo by Dace Kirspile

It’s fall, finally. There’s something about fall that reminds us of our connection to the earth and its endless harvests, all those intertwined cycles of mortality. There’s something about fall that inspires metaphor. Such as: “How can we expect a harvest of thought who have not had the seed time of character?” from Henry David Thoreau. And, from Ralph Waldo Emerson: “We are reformers in the spring and summer, but in autumn we stand by the old.

jan zeschky / Flickr, Creative Commons

This week we head up the road to celebrate the harvest. ‘Tis the season.

Photo courtesy of Redding Pilgrim Congregational Church

This week's story starts with a confession: I am a sucker for a great title, which is how I first got hooked on Oaksong Society for Preservation of Way Cool Music up in Shasta County. I was a huge fan before I ever heard a lick of its way-cool music.

David Fulmer / Flickr, Creative Commons

Lately we’ve been visiting museums. People often think of museums as musty buildings filled with dusty memorabilia and fussy art or artifacts. And OK, some are like that. But the definition provided by the International Council of Museums suggests many more possibilities: “A museum is a . . . permanent institution in the service of society and its development, open to the public, which acquires, conserves, researches, communicates, and exhibits the tangible and intangible heritage of humanity and its environment for the purposes of education, study and enjoyment.”