I so enjoyed John Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley: In Search of America that I just purchased two copies to give away on this blog (see end of post for more information). Steinbeck not only identifies something similar to my deep down desire to just Forrest Gump it out of town, but he also gently suggests that being “away” only satisfies for a bit before you find yourself longing for your own bed and your people.
The first few sentences:
When I was very young and the urge to be someplace else was on me, I was assured by mature people that maturity would cure this itch. When years described me as mature, the remedy prescribed was middle age. In middle age I was assured that greater age would calm my fever and now that I am fifty-eight perhaps senility will do the job.
Instead of waiting on senility, Steinbeck decided to go on a 10,000 mile road trip around the country with his dog Charley, starting and ending his journey at his home in Sag Harbor. He knew he’d need a special vehicle for this trip, so he had a truck manufacturer build a home on wheels (not wanting the hassle of pulling a trailer). Having a compact unit made it easier for him to just pull over in a pretty area or when he was too weary to keep driving and camp for the night.
Steinbeck describing himself:
For I have always lived violently, drunk hugely, eaten too much or not at all, slept around the clock or missed two nights of sleeping, worked too hard and too long in glory, or slobbed for a time in utter laziness. I’ve lifted, pulled, chopped, climbed, made love with joy and taken my hangovers as a consequence, not as a punishment.
Awesome. He says similarly righteous things about his dog Charley, a standard poodle that was blue in color. That man loved his dog. I, of course, kept envisioning my own Travels with Stella: Seeing America with a Ratdog. Coming soon.
After reading Travels with Charley, I’m left with this. Travel. See the countryside. Interact with the people. Take their temperature and, by extension, yours. Note the similarities and differences of place. Enjoy the beauty that the land has to offer. Spend time communing with your dog and with the earth. Take the old highways (not the interstate or the toll road) so you can actually see the countryside. Know when it’s time to go home. And return there gladly.
- National Steinbeck Center
- Not even in the same universe as Rocinante, but you can get a tent for your pickup (so you don’t have to sleep on the ground) for amazingly little money. If you don’t have a pickup, you can get a tent that sets up on the ground but attaches to the ass end of your SUV (the back doors of which would open directly into the tent).
- I’ve shared a link to this site before – it’s a place to buy a small pop up camper trailer that can be pulled by a motorcycle or small car. Even my Mazda!
BOOK GIVEAWAY: If you’d like a copy of Travels with Charley, please leave a comment on this post about your wanderlust – tell me where you want to go and why or share a story about where you’ve been and what you found. If, by the grace of something, more than two of you share a story, I’ll find some way to randomly choose two of you and will email you for your mailing address.