It’s Never Too Late to Discover the Secret West

Take a look inside Alta Journal’s Summer 2021 Issue.

california bear
Michael Schwab

With Labor Day nearly upon us, many Californians may be looking forward to one last getaway.

While the headlines around travel safety and fire season may be bleak, there are still plenty of ways to enjoy the last golden moments of this Golden State summer while you can—especially if you seek out-of-the-way locales.

This summer I managed to pull off a couple of getaways that reminded me that, despite the challenges posed by the Delta variant, there’s plenty of fun to be found near where I live in Oakland. Floating on the Russian River proved an easy way to cool down and maintain safe distances; the birthday party of a friend’s three-year-old brought me to McNears Beach in Marin, a lovely, calm spot with gentle bay waves; a trip to Yosemite for a stay in Curry Village was another highlight.

This essay was adapted from the Alta newsletter, delivered every Thursday.

I’d love to be able to squeeze in one last getaway before the end of the summer, which is why Alta’s Summer 2021 issue is so indispensable. Dedicated to what we’re calling the Secret West, it’s packed with ideas for where to go and what to do in California. Think of it as a clip-and-save guide for mini-breaks across the state. The issue is also brimming with great journalism, cultural criticism, poetry, and fiction that can make staying at home and reading feel like an adventure.

Ready to get going? Start with “In Search of the Secret West,” a guide to lesser-trod destinations in the Bay Area, Los Angeles, the deserts, the North Coast, and other regions.

Next, road-trip “Across Nevada on the Loneliest Road” and check out our neighbor to the east; “The Confounding Case of Sir St. George Gore” is set a short flight away in Colorado.

The summer issue also travels back in time. Among other features, there’s a look at a 1930s hunt for Indigenous artifacts, an investigation of the century-old murder at the heart of Stanford University, a deep-dive into Depression-era San Francisco photographs by Dorothea Lange, and the end of Ambrose Bierce’s life.

Looking for other great tales? Try Vanessa Hua’s short story “Oreo Arroyo” or a deeply personal look at the poetry of Denis Johnson. And let’s not forget a visit with the fungus artist who turns ’shrooms into a leather replacement for Hermès bags and other things. All that plus poetry, cartoons, and everything else that makes a magazine worth spending time with on a long summer day, even as those days are getting shorter.

If you don’t already have it, you’re gonna want the print edition of the summer issue to get your hands on our beautiful pullout map of California. Suitable for framing, it’s also worth keeping in your glove box for spontaneous year-round escapes. To subscribe, go here: you won’t regret it!

And with that, we wish you happy reading and safe travels.•

Matt Haber has previously worked as an editor at The Village Voice, The New York Observer, and The Atlantic.
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