Adventures in Transit

Dear Jasper and Kestrel,

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Auntie Olga, ready to roll!

Today was another adventure. Auntie Olga, Cousin Liza and I went to the John Steinbeck library, but this time, we took the bus! We figured with the bus ride replacing the mile walk, we could enjoy more time at our destination. Since both the number 20 and the number 25 bus run between our house and downtown Salinas, even on a Sunday we don’t wait more than a half hour for a bus, and much less if you plan right.

We left the house earlier than usual, and Auntie Olga still had her coffee cup. Liza found some lemon grass and noticed that the leaves look like hearts! Somewhere along the way, Liza found part of a pencil sharpener and started creating tiny bouquets in it…blades of grass, a tiny belladonna daisy, and some small magnolia seed pods.

Chatting with John
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Liza explaining her bouquet

She was explaining all the bits of loveliness in her creation when we noticed that Rick’s brother Kevin was riding up on his bike! We had hugs all around before the bus came and took us to the Steinbeck library. We turned in books, got new ones, and Liza made us a fabulous pretend lunch from the library’s toy kitchen. We realized that we weren’t just pretend hungry, we were really hungry!

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Liza’s food truck

Auntie Liza suggested lunch downtown, so we walked to Portobello’s new location on Main. They were closing in 15 minutes, so we took our seats at a table outside to enjoy our burgers and quiches. The food was very good, and I introduced Auntie Olga to Messiah Beer. The weather was cool, but we had coats and were very comfortable.

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Driving Auntie Olga

In the Steinbeck Center, Liza had fun showing her mommy all her favorite things…the red pony, the model A car, the children in the migrant field camp, and Doc Ricketts’ boat. And as she looked at the exhibits, Auntie Olga’s mind was racing…how could she use this museum as a teaching resource for her class at Central Coast High School? John Steinbeck’s work encompasses history, literature, and science. The museum itself is a graphic artist’s dream. I got the business card of the director so Auntie Olga could contact her about curriculum.

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“I nearly always write…just as I nearly always breathe.”

When we were done at the museum, we walked just across Salinas Street to the transit center and caught a bus within a few minutes. We walked the few blocks home and nodded off into napland.


Grandma Judy

Adventure to History (Part 1)

Dear Jasper and Kestrel,

Our adventure yesterday covered some familiar ground also some new adventures. Uncle David gave Liza and me a ride downtown so we could have more energy and time to spend there. It was a very chilly, bright day.

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Bright winter sun

Our first stop was the National Steinbeck Center, which Liza had asked to go visit again. She calls it “Mr. Steinbeck’s Newseum”, which I love! We found another one of the big boulders carved with a quote from Mr. Steinbeck. It says, “I think I would like to write the story of this whole valley, of all the little towns and all the farms and the ranches in the wilder hills. I can see how I would like to do it so that it would be the valley of the world.” This what John Steinbeck did, really. He wrote about this place as a metaphor for all places, all people, all struggles, all opportunity.  His writings were always true to the spirit of the people.

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Liza and John
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Climbing a Steinbeck Boulder



We took some silly pictures of Liza posing with a life sized cut out of John Steinbeck, then pretended to drive a 1915 model A that is inside the exhibit. I got to be the driver, and this was my view:



There is another section of the museum that has the bed John Steinbeck slept in as a child. There are photographs of his school days and his classmates,  a box of books you can read and comfy chairs to sit on. It was so much fun to read, feeling like we were visiting with such a good writer.

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Reading with John’s school

Liza spent some quality time with her old friend The Red Pony, combing his mane and climbing on and (carefully) off. She visited the poor children in the Grapes of Wrath exhibit, and spent some time watching the captioning on the filmed reading of the novel, picking out words she recognized. She is becoming such a good reader!

She used to magnifying glass to look at the collection of sea animals from Doc Rickett’s Lab, reading the words “Crab” and “Sea Star” but stumbling a bit over “Anemone”. We took a pretend trip to the Sea of Cortez in the little rowboat in the exhibit, looking at the map of Mr. Steinbeck’s and Doc’s trip.

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At Doc’s Lab

Since it was getting close to lunchtime, we stepped onto the patio and had some cheese, apples and crackers. The sun was bright but chilly, so we had our coats on, but it was delightful. After we ate, we took another quick walk through the exhibits to say goodbye to everyone, then Liza was anxious to go to our next destination: The Harvey House, the oldest house in Salinas.

More on that tomorrow!


Grandma Judy




Steinbeck Adventure

Dear Liza (and Jasper and Kestrel),

Monday was a holiday from school, so Liza and I went on an adventure. We started in the morning, when it was cold enough we needed our jackets. We stopped by Hartnell Park first, to play for a while. We met an old friend of Liza’s, Victor, who can speak a little Russian.

Off for our Adventure!

Our next stop was Hartnell College. We watched folks play tennis and found some interesting statues. We had fun with the Panther, who was carved in 1934! He has been here being adorable all these years. We found a girl walking with her mommy, and she and Liza played with the Panther for a while.







Friend and Panther



Once we got downtown, we found The National Steinbeck Center. It is a huge museum that tells all about John Steinbeck and the books he wrote. It has a red pony to ride and comb, and a house like one the people lived in in a story called “Sweet Thursday”.

Working with The Red Pony

We spent an hour at the Center, and got hungry! Farm Fresh deli got us back on track, and we went back into the Center. Liza wanted to celebrate a “Pretend Birthday” in the pipe house, so we did. What a great time!

Pipe House Birthday

Once we were just worn out, we headed home, stopping by Blue Aces Bakery to get a snack. We chatted with Adrian and her assistant, who happens to be a girl named Katrina that I knew when she was little.

We walked back by Hartnell College, when Liza had a nice rest on the Panther’s back. She didn’t want to leave the Panther behind, so she hooked it up to a pretend leash and it quietly followed us home.


A Girl and Her Panther

Then, nap time!!!


Grandma Judy

Putting a Leash on the Panther