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How John Steinbeck road-tripped America


In an era when 62,950,968 people crowd into our 58 National Parks every year, it’s a relevant reminder from the legendary California author that there is plenty more on its wide open roads that makes America a real journey of discovery. 

John Steinbeck is most known for his west coast-set novels, but he was such a well-traveled individual that the annual Steinbeck Festival, an upcoming event in Salinas, will focus on his many travels. A fair share of the festival's programs this August will take inspiration from of his most beloved travel books, Travels with Charley.

The 1962 travelogue is an ode to the American road; and Charley was his poodle. Among his eloquent quips about our nation’s beauty, such as “Montana seems to me to be what a small boy would think Texas is like from hearing Texans” and “No one has ever successfully painted or photographed a redwood tree,” one of the most affecting passages in Travels with Charley is about National Parks:

"I must confess to a laxness in the matter of National Parks…it is my opinion that we enclose and celebrate the freaks of our nation and of our civilization. Yellowstone National Park is no more representative of America than is Disneyland. This being my natural attitude, I don’t know what made me turn sharply south and cross a state line to take a look at Yellowstone. Perhaps it was a fear of my neighbors. I could hear them say “You mean you were that near to Yellowstone and didn’t go? You must be crazy.” Again it might have been the American tendency in travel. One goes, not so much to see but to tell afterward."

Want to learn more about Steinbeck’s unique take on trips? Participants at the 30th Annual Steinbeck Festival can taste global cuisine, attend talks and even submit an essay about traveling with their dog.

Steinbeck Around the World:
30th Annual Steinbeck Festival
August 5-8, 2010
National Steinbeck Center
Main Street in oldtown Salinas, California
(5 hours north of Los Angeles)

For more info:


  • Mike 4 years ago

    Glad to see you examined TRAVELS WITH CHARLEY, one of my favorite books (perhaps because it takes me back to my own cross-country travels at that time).
    I enjoy reading your Examiner posts.

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