Travels With Steinbeck

Should Nellie have the right to ride? (and other news)

Come and ride along as I follow the Steinbeck route around the U.S. and “rediscover this monster land.”

News Flash! Blogger’s “ex” threatens to deny Nellie’s right to ride. Will Nellie get to follow the Steinbeck route?

I never dreamed that by my second posting there would be a controversy brewing but indeed there is. I learned yesterday from a secondary source that Jamie’s mom has “major reservations and concerns” about Nellie making the trip.

Now I need to give you a little background here. Jamie and Paul live in a shoebox apartment in Manhattan therefore Nellie boards with my former wife in a residential area of Salt Lake City. Until recently, Nellie has done extensive backpacking and she loves to travel. In fact, while making these arrangements Jamie described her thus, “Nellie loves to hike, play in the snow, and ride in the car. She is cat-friendly, bird-friendly and friend friendly.”

Apart from Nellie’s obvious suitability, the desire to bear my share of the grand-dog responsibility motivated me to take her. (My “ex” says that she and Nellie are constantly sorting out who is the alpha bitch. A statement about which, I have no comment.)

So sometime last fall I worked out the details with Jamie of Nellie accompanying me. Since then I have bonded with Nellie on several occasions even taking her on a short drive so she became familiar with my car. Two days ago I went to PetCo and spent a fair amount of money on a new bed, a “Furminator” dog brush, bowls, baggies, treats and a shiny new tag with my cell number on it that I’m certain Nellie will love. And now this—just over two weeks before my departure date.  Hmmmm, it smacks of subterfuge, no? No—not if you know Jamie’s mom. The truth is, although months in the planning, the reality of this trip appears to have just set in.

My “ex” was not available for comment today before this was published. Stay tuned. I’ll keep you posted as we determine if Nellie will get to follow the Steinbeck route.

Now to other news: I called the National Steinbeck Center today to see if their archives contained specific information about the route. In certain places, such as Maine, Steinbeck was very specific in Travels with Charley. In others, such as Montana, his route is ambiguous even after cross-referencing the book with his collection of personal letters (Steinbeck, A Life in Letters by Elaine Steinbeck and Robert Wallsten).

The call to the Center was enlightening.  “Loquacious volunteer” (as he describes himself) Herb Behrens chatted with me for over an hour. Mr. Behrens is obviously a scholar with a passion for John Steinbeck. I will include much more from my conversation with Herb in future posts. One thing Herb said that interested me was that he felt Steinbeck would be a blogger today. Herb said Steinbeck loved letters, journals and gadgets (with the notable exception of the telephone). Herb’s knowledge of Steinbeck, his life and work was inspiring. Herb invited me to make an appointment to do research at the center in October when I’m in Salinas. Finally he said, to his knowledge no specific notes regarding Steinbeck’s route are extant today.

Seventeen days until departure!

Greg Zeigler

Travels with Steinbeck: In Search of America Fifty Years Later

Copyright © 2009


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  1. * Dave Hall says:

    Great Greg! This is gonna be another Julie and Julia. Note: Under this “Leave A Reply” section the second box says Mail. Shouldn’t it say E-Mail? A little confusing. Go Charlie, Go, Let’s Go…..

    | Reply Posted 8 years, 9 months ago

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