Sunday, October 21, 2007

Travels with Charley, the inspiration for "The Journey of the Redneck Express"

This little article was actually originally written by luv2skyski back in 2007, but I had long since read the anniversary edition of the novel well before this post was made, but it basically sums up my feelings on the novel and also acted as the catalyst for me to begin this tale, the Journey of the Redneck Express.

To a point, the book is also guilty of inspiring the color schemed used on my Camper :p Judge for yourself from the pictures of the historic Rociante....

Exterior - The name "Rocinante" as painted on the camper during its journey

Passenger-side of the Truck

Interior as seen through rear door

Interior looking right

As a case in point, the chapters revolving around John Steinbeck's frustrations with Charley, his dogs, inattention to the giant Redwoods all around him and instead to a small cotton wood were what actually inspired me to take the six part adventure just prior to this post, "The Great California Adventure".

Originaly by luv2skyski, I take no ownership of this writing, but simply reposting it in this blog to keep its wisdom from being lost to time and internet archives.

I just finished reading “Travels with Charley” by John Steinbeck. What a wonderful story about traveling this great land using a truck camper! It was a funny and informative narrative. I really enjoyed his humorous wit about things I can relate. For those who haven’t read it here are some of the highlights:

Here he talks about this issue of how some slow down due to advancing years:

“A kind of second childhood falls on so many men. They trade their violence for the promise of a small increase of life span. In effect, the head of the house becomes the youngest child. And I have searched myself for this possibility with a kind of horror. For I have always lived violently, drunk hugely, eaten too much or not at all, slept around the clock or missed two nights of sleeping, worked too hard and too long in glory, or slobbed for a time in utter laziness. I’ve lifted, pulled, chopped, climbed, made love with joy and taken my hangovers as a consequence, not as a punishment. I did not want to surrender fierceness for a small gain in yardage. My wife married a man; I saw no reason why she should inherit a baby. I knew that ten or twelve thousand miles driving a truck, alone and unattended, over every kind of road, would be hard work, but to me it represented the antidote for the poison of the professional sick man. And in my own life I am not willing to trade quality for quantity.”

A quote about reactions to his truck camper:
‘“You going in that?”
“All over.”
And then I saw what I was to see so many times on the journey – a look of longing. “Lord! I wish I could go.”
“Don’t you like it here?”
“Sure. It’s all right, but I wish I could go.”
“You don’t even know where I’m going.”
“I don’t care. I’d like to go anywhere.”

And I’ve said this very thing about getting lobsters anywhere but in Maine (just not as eloquently!):
“And not only here but in other inlets nearby are very large lobster pounds crawling with those dark-shelled Maine lobsters from the dark water which are the best lobsters in the world. Miss Brace ordered up three, not more than a pound and a half, she said, and that night their excellence was demonstrated beyond a doubt. There are no lobsters like these – simply boiled, with no fancy sauces, only melted butter and lemon, they have no equals anywhere. Even shipped or flown alive away from their dark homes, they lose something.”

There were several anecdotes that I found amusing.
1. About when he was crossing into Canada and had to immediately turn around and head back to the US because of Charley – not because of Canadian bureaucracy but because of America’s!
2. Involving Yellowstone, bears, and Charley.
3. A good account of a flat tire and an “evil-looking service station man” that the weight police could really sink their teeth into.
4. His wonder and admiration while at the giant redwoods in Oregon.

I’m not much of a reader of fiction but this one is well worth it. Dave.

1 comment:

  1. Hi, just a note of thanks. Hardly been into your blog for a few minutes, then saw the Travels with Charley... long ago read, so liked. Great of you to post some text and pics (I'd not seen any before) And just y'day by chance of the gods I ran into an RVer with a rig somewhat akin to yours who could not have been more welcoming and helpful with my questions of curiosity, as if Through the Looking Glass. Thanks, David H