.All Trips / California / North America / Southwestern USA

John Steinbeck Country: 3) Cannery Row, Monterey, California

006 Cannery Row 05-2014

“Cannery Row…is a poem, a stink, a grating noise, a quality of light, a tone, a habit, a nostalgia, a dream.”
 John Steinbeck, from his novel Cannery Row’
 

Wow!  With a beautifully written introduction like that, who wouldn’t want to visit this place?  Cannery Row is my favorite novel by American author John Steinbeck.  It may not be his best book, but it’s the first of his I’d read and the one that made me a fan.  Published in 1945,  Cannery Row is set in Monterey, California during the Great Depression, near a waterfront street lined by sardine canneries.  The book’s setting is secondary to the narrative and the many colorful characters Steinbeck develops.  Steinbeck wrote a sequel to Cannery Row, called Sweet Thursday, some 10 years later, a much less interesting novel in my opinion (as …

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.All Trips / California / North America / Southwestern USA

John Steinbeck Country: 2) Salinas. The National Steinbeck Center

001a Steinbeck Museum, Salinas 5-2014 intro

John Steinbeck is one of the greatest writers in American history and certainly a favorite of mine.  This is the second installment in a series describing my visit to John Steinbeck country.  In part one we looked at John Steinbeck’s boyhood home in Salinas.  This post discusses the other significant Steinbeck attraction in Salinas, the National Steinbeck Center, a museum focusing on the life, times and writings of its most famous citizen.

The Steinbeck Center Foundation was established in 1983 and fifteen years later (June 27, 1998) the center itself was finished and opened to the public.  The center is the most significant archives of Steinbeck’s work anywhere, and presents Steinbeck’s life, its formative processes and significant events, and of course …

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.All Trips / California / North America / Southwestern USA

John Steinbeck Country: 1) Salinas. The Steinbeck House

001 Steinbeck House 05-2014

I greatly admire and enjoy the writing of American novelist, John Steinbeck — in fact, you’ll see a quote from one of Steinbeck’s books underneath my blog’s banner.  Steinbeck was born and grew up in the small farming town of Salinas, California, in 1902.  His formative experiences in and around this community were extremely influential on his life view and future writing, including his Nobel prize winning novel, “The Grapes of Wrath” .

It had been decades since I’d last stopped in Salinas and I knew that a new Steinbeck museum had opened in town which I very much wanted to see.  So while doing an (all too short) California road trip with two of my Arthur C. Clarke buddies, electronics engineer Wayne …

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.All Trips / Mexico / North America

In John Steinbeck’s wake: My Blog from the Sea of Cortez.

Baja-Espiritu-Santo- Island-2005-Intro

As a lad I enjoyed exploring the world through the pages of a good book.  Arthur C. Clarke lead me on diving adventures off Ceylon and Australia, as well as on a Space Odyssey.  Ray Bradbury chronicled life on Mars, and John Steinbeck guided me down Cannery Row.  Steinbeck also chronicled a visit to the Gulf of California in his book, “The Log from the Sea of Cortez“, which summarized a 6 week journey of leisurely exploration and specimen collection he and his buddy, marine biologist Ed Ricketts (“Doc”), undertook in 1940s.  Steinbeck did not publish the book until after Rickett’s untimely death in a traffic accident, probably motivated to do so as a tribute to his dear friend.  Being scientifically inclined, even when quite young, I was …

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.All Trips / Mexico / North America

Baja California: La Paz — John Steinbeck’s “The Pearl”

baja-california-lapaz-2005-intro-001

The Sea of Cortez was once pearl-rich, but for unknown reasons there’s been a dramatic decline in its pearl-producing clams during the past half century.  Some postulate it’s because of over-harvesting; some say it’s because the Colorado River no longer drains enough water into the Sea of Cortez, altering it’s chemical composition; some say it’s part of a normal cycle — nobody knows why.

Just as he introduced me to the Sea of Cortez, John Steinbeck also introduced me to La Paz.  When John Steinbeck and his pal, Ed Ricketts, were exploring the Sea of Cortez, they visited La Paz which at that time was a small city but still a major pearl harvesting port.  Here they heard …

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