Today, I spent the day in Salinas. I visited two major places: the Steinbeck House and the National Steinbeck Center.
The Steinbeck House, once John Steinbeck’s childhood home, now functions as a restaurant and gift shop. I had to get lunch from the Steinbeck House! It is run entirely by volunteers – the most precious elderly ladies (and gentleman!) that I’ve ever met in my life. The gentleman told this joke, which I found hilarious: “Everyone who works here is a volunteer, except for the cook because we can’t do that, and the dishwasher because we don’t want to! And the bookkeeper upstairs… we can’t do that either.” The ones who served the food wore Victorian era skirts that matched the window curtains, and I thought to myself that I would love to do something like this after I retire – just volunteer at the Steinbeck House. I had a Steinbeck Tea (which is a straight iced tea mixed with pink lemonade), confetti soup, a ham and leek quiche, and a creme brulee. Everything was wonderful, and I promptly bought those recipe cards from the gift shop downstairs. I also bought the Steinbeck House recipe book, which I plan to refer to often once I move into my new apartment. I want to return on Sunday for a tour, so I’ll leave the description of the house till then. I did poke my head into several of the rooms. They all still have such an antiquated beauty, and certain windows were left open to let in the most refreshing breeze. Downstairs in the cellar, which has been converted into a gift shop, I met an old lady who was also taking a road trip by herself! She had come up from Hollywood, and was celebrating her retirement. I told her that I can’t wait to retire, and she told me that the price of retirement was to be 70 years old. She was happy, and I was happy, and in that moment our shared joy of freedom made us kindred spirits.
After I had my lunch and threw an embarrassing amount of money at the gift shop, I left to visit the National Steinbeck Center. It’s a museum full of interactive exhibits featuring Steinbeck’s life and body of work. I was really excited that I could use my newly acquired student ID to receive a discount, and I proceeded to touch everything I could think to touch in the museum. I’ll post some pictures later, when I have a more passable internet connection. When I left, the lady at the entrance told me that I had spent a long time in the museum – which was a good thing, because she often saw many people who come in and leave very soon after. I cannot even fathom how anyone can leave this place so quickly. The suggested introductory videos alone were 40 minutes combined! The entire museum is so immersive; you feel like you’re inside the book, that you’re surrounded by a living form of literature. WHY COME IN THE FIRST PLACE IF YOU DON’T LOVE BEING SURROUNDED BY LITERATURE? When I left after about three hours, the parking garage charged me $1.50. Houston parking garages are robbing their patrons.
To end this post, I will describe the weather. The weather here in Salinas is perfect. The sun is shining, but it’s 75 degrees with a slight, crisp wind. I wish that I could capture this weather in a bottle and send a sample to every one of you readers. It’s elation, the thrill of flight, the sharp sense of a new beginning. I could bask in it forever.
So long, friends. Until next time.