Alta California: Nick Neely in Conversation with Michael P. Branch

Join us as Nick Neely discusses his new book, Alta California, with Nevada author Michael P. Branch.

In Alta California, Nick Neely chronicles his 650-mile trek on foot from San Diego to San Francisco, following the route of the first overland Spanish expedition into what was soon called Alta California. Led by Gaspar de Portolá in 1769, the expedition sketched a route that would become, in part, the famous El Camino Real. It laid the foundation for the Golden State we know today, a place that remains as mythical and captivating as any in the world.

Neely grew up in California but realized how little he knew about its history. So he set off to learn it bodily, with just a backpack and a tent, trekking through stretches of California both lonely and urban. For twelve weeks, following the journal of expedition missionary Father Juan Crespí, Neely kept pace with the ghosts of the Portolá expedition--nearly 250 years later

Weaving natural and human history, Alta California relives his adventure, tells a story of Native cultures and the Spanish missions that soon devastated them, and explores the evolution of California and its landscape. The result is a collage of historical and contemporary California, of lyricism and pedestrian serendipity, and of the biggest issues facing California today--water, agriculture, oil and gas, immigration, and development--all of it one step at a time.


Nick Neely holds an MA in literature and the environment from the University of Nevada, Reno, and MFAs in nonfiction and poetry from Hunter College and Columbia University. He is a recipient of PEN Northwest's Boyden Wilderness Writing Residency, a UC Berkeley–11th Hour Food and Farming Journalism Fellowship, and an AAAS Kavli Science Journalism Award. His first book, Coast Range, was a finalist for the John Burroughs Medal for natural history writing. Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, he now lives in Hailey, Idaho, with his wife, the painter Sarah Bird. Find out more at nickneely.com.

Michael P. Branch is a professor of literature and environment at the University of Nevada, Reno, where he teaches creative nonfiction, American literature, environmental studies, and film studies. He has published five books and more than two hundred essays, articles, and reviews. Mike lives with his wife, Eryn, and daughters, Hannah Virginia and Caroline Emerson, in a passive solar home of their own design at 6,000 feet in the remote high desert of northwestern Nevada, in the ecotone where the Great Basin Desert and Sierra Nevada Mountains meet. There he writes, plays blues harmonica, drinks sour mash, curses at baseball on the radio, cuts stove wood, and walks at least 1,200 miles each year in the surrounding hills, canyons, ridges, arroyos, and playas.
 
 
 
 
Event date: 
Wednesday, November 13, 2019 - 6:30pm to 7:30pm
Event address: 
121 California Avenue
Reno, NV 89509
Alta California: From San Diego to San Francisco, a Journey on Foot to Rediscover the Golden State Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9781640091658
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Counterpoint LLC - November 5th, 2019