Travels With Steinbeck

To the grocery store—and beyond!

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

The moment or hour of leave-taking is one of the pleasantest times in human experience, for it has in it a warm sadness without loss.

The Log from the Sea of Cortez

Once a journey is designed, equipped, and put in process; a new factor enters and takes over. A trip, a safari, an exploration is an entity different from all other journeys. It has personality, temperament, individuality, uniqueness. A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike. And all plans, safeguards, policing, and coercion are fruitless. We find after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us. Only when this is recognized can the blown-in-the-glass bum relax and go along with it.

Travels with Charley

After years of planning, this bum is ready to relax and let the trip take him.

I went out on our deck for one last cup of coffee with The Sleeping Indian and a flight of geese went over heading south.  “I’ll be right behind you guys,” I thought.  And then considered how nice it would be to travel that light. Suddenly one came honking back as if she had forgotten something.

I forget to mention why my Airstream Bambi named Winnie will not be on the first leg of this journey.  The Winnie is in Salt Lake City, getting much needed repairs to look her shiny best and a pre-trip check-up. I pick her up tomorrow morning on the way to Colorado.

After weeks of organizing and culling I’m certain I have way too much stuff.  Also, there was much I wanted to do, like wash the Toyota 4Runner (see photo) that I simply didn’t get to.  Perhaps that makes my friend Tommy A’s suggestion (remembering that Steinbeck named his truck Rocinante after Don Quixote’s horse) that I name my 4Runner “Procrastinante.”

But all in all, I’m ready to do this thing and frankly very excited.

Itinerary: Day One:  Salt Lake City via U.S. 89. U.S. 30 and I-80. Miles, approximately 300.

The Landscape: I’ve driven it hundreds of times and never tire of it: high mountain valley ranch country, sage brush flats to the foothills, freight trains pulling up gradual grades in front of distant mountains.

The Dog: Max got up, stretched, went out to do his thing, came in and looked for food, like it was any other ordinary day.  What is up with this guy? Oh, that’s right, I only told him we were going to the grocery store—and beyond.

Sweet Notes: Thanks to my young writer friend Matt Daly for a great summer of teaching journaling together at the Rockefeller Preserve in Grand Teton National Park. Matt is a fine writer and poet and is the author of Wild Nature and the Human Spirit: A Field Guide to Journal-writing in Nature. Matt’s journal features artwork by famed naturalist Olaus Murie and is available from the Grand Teton Natural History Association.

Thank you for riding along. Let’s talk again soon, shall we?

Greg Zeigler

Travels with Steinbeck: In Search of America Fifty Years Later

Copyright © 2009

Here we go!

Here we go!


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  1. * Matt Daly says:


    Thanks for your kind words before departing. A wise friend recently wrote to me, “In the end, that is all we really can do. Love ’em.” We were speaking of children but now, as you depart, I hope you find love in all the miles and all the places coming your way. Maybe, just maybe, we can find ways to love our places just enough to help them survive.

    Safe (but not too much so) travels.


    | Reply Posted 8 years, 8 months ago
  2. Bon Voyage and gute Reise! Also, have a good trip. The local peaks ain’t gonna climb themselves, however, so I’ll keep knees creaking for both of us.

    | Reply Posted 8 years, 8 months ago

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