Traveling Steinbecks Watch

Tuesday, 02 November 2010 12:28 PM Written by 

ALBUQUERQUE -- Hyatt Regency

On this historic election day I'm here.

By this date in 1960, John, Elaine and Charley Steinbeck were 1,030 miles west of here. They most probably had already arrived in Pacific Grove at the Steinbeck family's cottage-by-the-surf. They would stay there until about Nov. 15.

Amarillo would be the next stop for the Traveling Steinbecks.

On about Nov. 15 Elaine flew ahead to a ranch owned by her ex-husband's family. Her ex-husband was actor and fellow Texan Zachary Scott. Then a few days later, after almost three weeks of relaxing in one of the most beautiful corners of the planet, John reloaded Rocinante and hit the Steinbeck Highway again.

Toby Street, one of Steinbeck's old friends, rode with John and Charley for three or four days, going as far as Flagstaff, Ariz. Then, after a stop at the Continental Divide marker on Route 66 east of Gallup, N.M., they caught up with Elaine in Amarillo in time to enjoy what Steinbeck in "Travels With Charley" called an orgy of materialist excess.

(For a guy who thought America was morally and spiritually deficient because her people had too much stuff and too many things, Steinbeck didn't exactly live like a monk; he, of course, was immensely wealthy and had all the stuff he needed/wanted. People who whine the most about the ills of consumerist society usually do.)

I don't have the time or money to wait two weeks for the Steinbecks to catch up to me. And I sure don't plan to stay on the road until the first week of December, which is when John and Charley finally made it back to New York City.

I plan to move east to Amarillo later tonight. I' hope to find the ranch where the Steinbecks stayed. And I plan to see if the young veterinarian that treated Charley's prostate problem so tenderly is still alive -- or if he ever existed.

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