Posted by: George | April 28, 2010

The Journey

May 1, 2010

When I was in high school, I was not an avid reader. I did, however, devour Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley. The book is about Steinbeck’s trip around the contiguous 48 states with Charley, his well behaved (maybe, more like old and tired) poodle. Steinbeck felt that he had lost touch with America. So, he packed up a camper, some provisions, and his dog and started to drive.

(Of course, many American writers–Mark Twain, Walt Whitman, Stephen Crane, Jack Kerouac–headed west, usually at the beginning of their careers. These are journeys about Americans trying to touch the frontier before it’s gone, but spiritual journeys as well. The authors head out in search of some elusive thing and they end up finding themselves. We have to leave home, it seems, to find what we should have found in our backyard.)

On his trip, Steinbeck found that the America of his novels was gone. Now, even the America Steinbeck found as he drove around with Charley is gone.

Was Travels with Charley the first hint that Americans were becoming more nostalgic and less optimistic? 

Fifty years have passed. We have gone through a number of wars, the Civil Rights Movement, and the emergence of Feminism. We’re trying to crawl out of an economic disaster that almost became another Great Depression. Last summer, we thought we might elect our first woman president. Last November, we elected our first Black president. Things have changed so much that some people are saying they want their country back.  Exactly which America they want back, this is not so clear.

Starting in July, I will take some time from work to do my own journey through America. I won’t even attempt to retrace Steinbeck’s trip. Steinbeck began from his home in New York and made one big loop. I live in Little Rock, Arkansas, almost in the center of the country. Rather than one big loop, I plan to make a number of small trips, each pointing in a different direction. My journey will be more of a wagon wheel, with Little Rock as the hub, than a loop.

I also decided to leave my dog (Mona) at home. She’s a little hyper, and I don’t want to spend the entire trip with one hand on a leash.

While I am on the road, I will be posting on this blog. Hope you take some time to read about my trips.



  1. Looking forward to hearing all about it, Geo!


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