In Search of John Steinbeck
I had been meaning to stop by the National Steinbeck Center for a long time, and, as I was going down to see the folks, I finally got my chance to stop in.
I'm a big fan of John Steinbeck. I haven't read all of his books, but I've read most of the biggies. I would say that one's enjoyment of the Steinbeck Center will be greatly enhanced by reading one or two of his works; I guess that's true of any museum devoted to one author. If I may suggest a title or two: "Cannery Row" and "Of Mice And Men" are usually sold in one volume, and is a great introduction to Steinbeck. Very good movies have been made of "The Grapes of Wrath" and "East of Eden," the latter starring James Dean as bad boy Calvin Trask. But, as with all movie adaptations, the books are superior.
The town of Salinas itself is nothing to write home about. Until the Steinbeck Center was opened, the biggest thing in town was the Schilling spice factory! Salinas is a well worn stop on Highway 101 between San Francisco and San Luis Obispo. While nothing much is going on in Salinas, it is pretty close to some more interesting places; it's an easy drive to Monterey and Carmel, close to San Juan Bautista and Hollister, closer still to the Laguna Seca race track, and not too far from Cholame - the site of James Dean's fatal car crash.
Bottom line - Salinas is a "just passin thru" kind of place.