On the first-ever road trip edition of the California Now Podcast, host Soterios Johnson gets out of the studio and explores Southern California’s awe-inspiring night sky. His stargazing adventure begins in sunny San Diego: After selecting the perfect set of wheels, Johnson jets to the Fleet Science Center to get a sense of our solar system and learn the best practices for star sighting. Then it’s time to dig into some earthly delights (hold the hot sauce) at Roberto’s Taco Shop before heading east toward the desert.
A stop in the mountain town of Julian provides the opportunity to visit a bed-and-breakfast, that caters to amateur astronomers. Just before sunset, Johnson arrives in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, the only International Dark Sky Community in the state of California, to enjoy a guided tour through the universe. After a luxurious night at La Casa Del Zorro, Johnson drives through Joshua Tree National Park—he takes the less-traveled Southern Entrance and as a result enjoys relative solitude—as he continues on to learn about a star party in Twentynine Palms.
To order a copy of California Road Trips: 50 Life-Changing Adventures, a high-end publication that includes more about this itinerary (and 49 others), please click here.
- Annahita Haghighi, Branch Manager at Enterprise Rent-a-Car San Diego Airport
- Steven Snyder, President and CEO of the Fleet Science Center
- Jo Franco, Co-Founder of Shut Up & Go
- Mike Leigh, owner of Observer’s Inn
- Dennis Mammana, owner of Borrego Night Sky Tours
- Ann Congdon and Darrell Shade of Sky’s the Limit Observatory & Nature Center
Our road trip starts in San Diego where cloudless skies produce many clear nights.
- San Diego
- San Diego International Airport
- Enterprise Rent-a-Car San Diego Airport
- Enterprise Exotic Car Rentals
- Fleet Science Center
- Gravity Well
- Balboa Park
- Roberto’s Taco Shop
A trip to the town of Julian means a stop at the Observer’s Inn, a bed-and-breakfast and observatory with 11 professional-grade telescopes.
In the Anza-Borrego Desert, astronomer Dennis Mammana provides a tour of celestial beings.
- La Casa Del Zorro
- Borrego Springs
- Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
- International Dark Sky Community
- Borrego Night Sky Tours
A drive north to the Sky’s the Limit Observatory is punctuated by stops at an imaginative sculpture garden and an endangered animal sighting.
- Salton Sea State Recreation Area
- Galleta Meadows Estate
- California Dreamers: Ricardo Breceda’s Metal & Magic
- Joshua Tree National Park
- Desert Tortoise
- Twentynine Palms
- Sky’s the Limit Observatory & Nature Center
- Public star parties
- Keys View
- Greater Palm Springs
- Mount San Jacinto State Park
About the Host
Soterios Johnson, formerly the local host of National Public Radio’s Morning Edition on radio station WNYC, moved from New York City to Davis, Calif., in 2016 and is just getting to know his surroundings. By combining his journalistic instincts with his personal curiosity, Johnson will use the California Now platform to develop a deeper understanding of his adopted home.