LUBBOCK, TEXAS -- McDonalds
It took most of the day, but yesterday in Amarillo I think I found the house the Traveling Steinbecks stayed in 50 Thanksgivings ago.
I found it in the middle of a vast scrubby grassland seven miles inside a Texas ranch the size of the City of Pittsburgh. By myself. Without breaking any laws. And without getting shot or even winged.
I still have to confirm some things today, so the scholars and archivists of the West Coast Steinbeck Industrial Complex will have to wait for the details and the photos.
I will say I could not have done it without the help of a handful of beautiful and friendly Texas ladies (the only kind of Texas ladies there seems to be) who work in the county clerks offices of Potter and Moore counties.
I didn't tell Becky, Barb, Judy et al. that I was a hard-core libertarian. But if I had, I bet those sweet/fine representatives of local government would have searched their land records and their memories just as hard for the location of the old Scott Ranch that the Steinbecks visited in 1960.
Actually, after only one full day in the state I have decided Texans are my new favorite race. Every big-haired, gun-toting, chew-chawing, Ford 150-driving, oil-well-owning Texan I've met has been friendly, helpful and warm. The men have been nice, too.
That's all a huge lie, of course. I haven't seen one big-haired Texas lady yet, probably because I'm not near Dallas.
I haven't met any Bushes, either, though I did get off the Bushland exit before dawn yesterday on my way into Amarillo on I-40. There was nothing there.
I know, sad Democrats. It was, like, kind of metaphorical.
Last night I slept soundly in my car at one of Lubbock's five Walmarts. Texas must have 200 of them.
One more reason to like the well-run, fiscally sound state that Steinbeck grudgingly liked and characterized well in "Travels With Charley." He said it was a state of mind, a mystique bordering on a religion, and he presciently predicted big things for it.
Sun's up. My cup of McDonald's coffee is gone.
Today I continue my drive toward New Orleans -- the last major stop on the Steinbeck Highway.
I'll be in the Big Easy in a few weeks, soon as I get across the Really Great State of Texas.