The Best of Both Worlds:
Seeing the Sierra Through the Eyes of a Newby Local

Since moving to the Sierra Nevada last October, I have looked for ways to connect to the region in the same way that I did to the place I grew up, the Pacific Northwest. Sierra Nevada Geotourism and the Great Escape have provided just that opportunity for me.

BrittanyCoPilotAssisting in the management of the Sierra Nevada Geotourism Project has given me insight into how many incredibly unique destinations make up the Range of Light. I’ve known for months that I had to get out to the Feather River Canyon, to Genoa, to Mono Lake, and to Tioga Pass. Now, thanks to the project’s partnership with Escape Campervans, I have the opportunity to see all of these places in a single week.

It’s the best of both worlds, since I know parts of the Sierra well: I’ve fallen in love with the mountains and the foothills, Lake Tahoe and its surrounding communities. But there is still so much I haven’t seen: I’m experiencing the region through the eyes of a tourist as much as those of a local. This desire to connect to the land, the culture, and the people, and to share that connection with others, is not mine alone. The Great Escape has made clear that a huge part of the Sierra’s local character is that connection to place.

Troy Outman of Placer Land Trust, an Auburn local, described to Nicole and me how his upbringing on a horse ranch instilled in him an appreciation of the land. As an adult, Troy realized that traditional landscaping revolves around altering the land, rather than embracing the natural world and simply incorporating the desires of his clients into what already exists. Now, his company, Outman Land Works, focuses on integrating the built community with the natural. His work with Placer Land Trust allows him to build easily accessible trails, perfect for family’s looking to stretch their legs, picnic, view wildlife, and connect to a place – whether that place is hundreds of miles from home or simply a minute off an oft-traveled highway (as the Canyon View trail is for us – just off the Bowman exit on I-80).

Connecting visitors of the Sierra to the region is what the Sierra Nevada Geotourism project is all about, so having the opportunity to take this trip, use the travel tools that the Sierra Nevada Geotourism Project offers, and visit communities that I have never seen before shows me not only how effective the project and its mission are, but how important it is as well. We have already encountered a number of incredibly unique destinations, such as Young’s Market in Taylorsville or Carey’s Candy Store in Quincy, that belong on the web map but have not yet been nominated.

It’s clear that as far as we’ve come (1600 destinations and counting!), the work of the Sierra Nevada Geotourism Project is not finished; this project is ongoing and every day it is connecting more people to the region. People who are connected care, and people who care act. The Sierra’s captured me, I’m connected, and I care, but like the project itself, my connection is ongoing and I look forward to the day I might be able to call myself a true Sierra local – so far, though, it’s a whole lot of fun enjoying the best of both worlds.

If you’re interested in helping expand the work of the Sierra Nevada Geotourism project, check out the web map and make sure your favorite places are nominated.