John Steinbeck, in a letter to his close friend Frank Loesser, lays out his plans for the 1962 travelogue Travels with Charley: In Search of America.
In the fall -- right after Labor Day -- I'm going to learn about my own country. I've lost the flavor and taste and sound of it. It's been years since I have seen it. I'm buying a pick-up truck with a small apartment on it, kind of like the cabin of a small boat, bed, stove, desk, ice-box, toilet -- not a trailer -- what's called a coach. I'm going alone, out toward the West by the northern way but zigzagging through the Middle West and the mountain states. I'll avoid cities, hit small towns and farms and ranches, sit in bars and hamburger stands and on Sunday go to church. I'll go down the coast from Washington and Oregon and then back through the Southwest and South and up the East Coast but always zigzagging. Elaine will join me occasionally but mostly I have to go alone, and I shall go unknown. I just want to look and listen. What I'll get I need badly -- a re-knowledge of my own country, of its speech, its views, its attitudes and its changes. It's long overdue -- very long.
Tags: John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley