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Merced, California...never heard of it? You will soon

The historic Tioga Hotel, Merced, California
The historic Tioga Hotel, Merced, California

Associate Producer Ruth Carlson visits with Katalina Zambrano with Merced-based Somos Familia Valle Central.

Join associate producer Ruth Carlson reporting from Merced, California—dubbed “The Gateway to Yosemite”.

Thanks to the new University of California, Merced, the university was recently ranked number 15 among public institutions by none other than the Wall St. Journal.

Today, the city is experiencing a renaissance. The phrase "if you build it, they will come," was made for this city in the San Jauquin Valley with a population of almost 90,000.

Historic buildings, including the El Capitan Hotel, The Tioga, a former hotel and now an apartment building with a waiting list, and the Merced Theater, have all been restored to their original glory.

In the 1920's movie stars like Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks visited Merced, the last stop to rest before going on to Yosemite, to gather supplies, see a live show in the theater and perhaps get hitched at the Merced County Courthouse. now a museum, the former courthouse has a permanent exhibit of a Taoist altar dating to the 1870's and one of its more popular exhibits has been a vintage tractor show.

Katalina Zambrano with Merced, CA based Somos Familia Valle Central
Katalina Zambrano with Merced, CA based Somos Familia Valle Central

But Merced is not just about restoration. Some big city snobs may think Merced is out of touch with modern times, but Katalina Zambrano, who goes by Kat, is happy to introduce them to Somos Familia Valle Central, which supports the Latine Queer Community.

Executive Director, Kat, says locals could not be more supportive of gay rights.

Come along and join the conversation with Zambrano and associate producer, Carlson.

Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer is featured on the NPR.ORG Podcast Directory
NPR.ORG
Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer is featured on the NPR.ORG Podcast Directory

You are invited to subscribe to the seven-time Lowell Thomas Award-winning travel podcast, Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer, featured on the NPR Podcast DirectoryApple Podcastand more than twenty other podcast hosting sites including iHeartRadio and Spotify

Ruth allowed her purse to be picked in Paris, discovered Kentucky moonshine in Europe, and researched table etiquette at nude resorts… all part of the job for this international travel writer.