Where's Huell? From California's First Park to Film Noir Hallowed Ground

What's a week without the continued adventures of KCET's Golden State-trotting hero, Huell Howser? It's like a summer without sunshine, that's what. This week, Huell crisscrosses the state, hitting everywhere from Chico to Idyllwild.

Monday, June 18 @ 7:30 PM -- Bidwell Park

Sure, we all know that Los Angeles's 4,218-acre Griffith Park ranks as one of the largest in the U.S., but did you know that Chico boasts the next biggest Californian municipal park? It's 3,670 acres big, and Huell explored them on the occasion of the park's centennial.

Check out the history of Bidwell Park (like, the entire history, starting during dinosaur times):


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Tuesday, June 19 @ 7:30 PM -- Stanford Mansion

Once home to one of California's most powerful families, Leland Stanford's mansion today is both part of the California State Park system and an official reception center where the Californian governor entertains out-of-state dignitaries.

Follow along with this home video tour of the Stanford Mansion:

Wednesday, June 20 @ 7:30 PM -- Fort Humboldt

Why did Ulysses S. Grant spend time in Humboldt? And why was he less-than-enamored with the region? Huell explores this little-known piece of California and Native American history.

He's no Huell Howser, but check out this NorCal correspondent's report on Fort Humboldt:

Thursday, June 21 @ 7:30 PM -- Bale Grist

Today, you hear someone mention Napa and you think wine. But what was the social hub for Napa residents before grape-stomping became such a big part of the culture? A mill. Hey -- flour might be just as fun as wine. You just wait.

See the Bale Grist mill wheel in action (WARNING! Not for the feint of heart!):


Friday, June 22 @ 7:30 PM -- Alum Rock Park

Where's the first municipal park in California? Easy: Alum Rock Park in San Jose. Why's it called "Alum Rock"? Because early explorers initially mistook the plentiful thenardite for alum. So there's no alum anywhere in the park? No!

Check out this tour of Alum Rock Park on a mountain bike (and with the theme song to "House" for no apparent reason):

Saturday, June 23 @ 5 PM -- Lemon Lily Festival

What's a lemon lily? It's a unique plant that will only grow 4,000 feet above sea level, and it's so beloved by the residents of Idyllwild that there's an annual festival based around it.

Watch a preview:

Saturday, June 23 @ 5:30 PM -- Pear Fair

Sacramento may be where the governor lives, but it's also where the pear is king. Why is that? The soil of the Sacramento makes ideal conditions for growing pears. Huell visits Courtland's 26th annual Pear Fear and takes in the local produce in multiple forms -- from ice cream to vinegar.

Sunday, June 24 @ 7 PM -- Bodie

Ever stop and think about how quaint and old-timey it is that we call abandoned towns "ghost towns"? Ponder that one as you watch Huell explore Bodie, the Mono County settlement southeast of Lake Tahoe. It was a gold-mining town that all but dried up by 1915. Today, it's both a California State Park and a U.S. National Historic Landmark.

Check out this home-made tourist video of Bodie:

Sunday, June 24 @ 7:30 PM -- San Juan Bautista

What other American cities can boast being both a former hub to commerce, travel and culture and the setting to the climax of an Alfred Hitchcock movie? Just a short drive off the 101, San Benito County's San Juan Bautista boasts a small town, "old timey" feel as well as some authentic state history. It's home to one of the most intact California missions, and it was that sense of antiquity that motivated Alfred Hitchcock to film crucial scenes from "Vertigo" there.

Watch this video of some of the San Juan Bautista mission locations features in "Vertigo":

About the Author

Drew Mackie, associate producer of new media, liked shows about old British people before it became fashionable. He also says silly things on Twitter.
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