Posted by Ric Garrido

This is day three of the 32nd annual Steinbeck Festival. As I read and hear more writings from Salinas native John Steinbeck (1902-1968), I recognize my surroundings here in Monterey County through descriptive words from decades past that still apply to the places and people of the region today.

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The Salinas Valley is 100 miles of premium agricultural land in about a ten mile wide strip of valley land sitting between the Gabilan Mountains to the east and Santa Lucia Mountains of Big Sur to the west. The center of Monterey Bay is where the Salinas River meets the sea.

The map on the wall when you enter the John Steinbeck exhibit at the National Steinbeck Center shows Monterey County locations for his novel settings.

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John Steinbeck also wrote about travels to Mexico.

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Steinbeck traveled to the Soviet Union three times; in 1937 before World War II, in 1947 after the war and again in 1963.

A Russian Journal in 1948 describes his journey through post-war U.S.S.R. Susan Shillinglaw, Steinbeck Scholar and San Jose State University professor, gave a seminar Friday, May 4 at the Steinbeck Festival on Steinbeck’s A Russian Journal.

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Traveling 10,000+ miles in 1960 around the USA in a camper truck with his dog Charley provided the material for Travels with Charley: In Search of America.

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In search of America reminds me of the Paul Simon song.

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Travel changes us. We travelers are always changing.

Of course John Steinbeck writes this sentiment more eloquently.

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The National Steinbeck Center in Salinas is holding the 32nd annual Steinbeck Festival May 3-6, 2012 in Salinas, California. NSC provided Loyalty Traveler with a complimentary festival press pass ($150) for this event.

Monterey County residents can visit the Steinbeck Center with a free admission day on Sunday May 6.

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