Actually, I knew this because my college roommate was from Salinas (poor thing) and I visited her a few times during summer breaks. Salinas is only a two hour drive north of where I live, but it’s pretty much a foreign land (it’s inland, and surrounded by farmland, and honestly, there’s nothing of interest there (for someone from the coast) except for John Steinbeck stuff).
But I was on my way to Sacramento and figured it would be a good way to break up the five hour drive. And it was.
The National Steinbeck Center is actually pretty cool, despite it’s unassuming exterior.
It sticks out like a sore thumb though, since it’s at the end of the historical Main Street district (which was a pretty un-happening place). I was only there for an hour, so I just got an overview of things (while I wanted to visit the museum, I also wanted to get to Sacramento before dark). But I was able to see Rocinante (the truck Steinbeck drove around in for Travels with Charley…and I tried to take a picture of the surprisingly small interior of the camper but the flash bounced off of the Plexiglas…which kind of scared the hell out of me because I didn’t know my iPhone even had a flash),
and get an overview of his life (I didn’t know he was married three times, or that he was a war correspondent, or that he had travelled through Russia and wrote a book about those travels (which I may have bought at the museum store)), and check out a few other treasures, such as this box that he carved for the manuscript of East of Eden (it says timshel):
I also fell in love with this quote:
So if you ever find yourself driving past Salinas (hey, it could happen…it’s on Highway 101 which runs down California and conveniently connects San Francisco to me and me to LA), this place is worth a stop.