Do you sometimes identify with Don Quixote, the self-appointed knight-errant who set out on his horse, Rocinante, along with his friend Sancho Panza on a donkey, to right the world’s wrongs and change the course of history?
He was a delusional, but happy old fart.
You and I are not the first to identify with him.
John Steinbeck saw Don Quixote as a symbol of himself. Thus, he traveled to Spain and La Mancha in 1954 out of a special affinity for the place, and began his journey to rediscover the soul of America in a camper he affectionately christened Rocinante. The fruits of his journey – Operation Windmill as he called it – eventually found expression in Travels with Charley.”
– Stephen K. George,
A John Steinbeck Encyclopedia, p. 55
Travels with Charley, Steinbeck’s diary of his journey to see America with his dog, was published in 1962. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature later that year.
Steinbeck’s 1960 GMC pickup with camper is on display at the Steinbeck center in Salinas, California.
I decided that you and I should have our own Rocinante to park beneath the trees along the path to Engelbrecht House.
We’ll run electricity to it so that it can be heated and cooled and offer it as a room on campus for any adventurous alumni who wants to travel with Steinbeck and Charley.”
Vice-Chancellor Panza, I mean Whittington, agreed with me and we enthusiastically set out to find our truck.
As it turns out, most of the 1960 GMC trucks we found online had already been sold, many of them more than a year ago. And the trucks that were available needed vast amounts of restoration. Uh-oh. This was going to be harder than we thought. But we couldn’t give up because a group of Wizard Academy alumni had already donated more than $6,000 toward the effort.
Two weeks ago Pennie showed me 17 photographs of what can only be described as a 1-in-300,000,000 unicorn. Seriously, what are the odds that a professional mechanic would buy the same pickup and camper as John Steinbeck – brand new – and then keep it in his garage for more than 50 years?
He ran the engine periodically, but drove the truck only once a year on a hunting trip with his son. That truck has only 20,000 original miles. Certified. It looks like it just drove off the showroom floor and it runs like the day it was born. What are the odds of this truck actually existing?
I promise I’m not making this up. The old mechanic passed away and his son is selling the truck.
Photos of the proposed truck and camper can be found in the rabbit hole. Just follow Indiana Beagle at the top of this page. A click is all it takes.
Three more bits of extremely, very excellent news:
(1.) A romantic, Valentine’s Retreat, February 13-14 (Fri-Sat.) Stay on the Wizard Academy campus with your special someone for 2 days and 3 nights. Good food, new friends, and fabulous sessions with our beloved Dr. Richard D. Grant and Chairman of the Board, Jean Backus. This is going to be magical, especially the music, the insights, and the dress-up banquet. Laugh and snuggle and be happy. And with 2,000 bottles of wine in the cellar, I doubt that we’ll run out. Discount Code: Type “alumni” and save 50 percent.
(2.)We’ve made big progress on Secrets of the Wizard Academy Campus, the comprehensive, pictorial guidebook we’ve been promising for the past 6 years. It contains backstories and explanations and interpretations of the artistic and architectural symbols of our campus and it’ll be available before the Academy’s 15th anniversary in May. In a couple of weeks we’ll give you a link to the online version-in-progress so you can make sure your name is spelled correctly in all the right places. The story of Rocinante II and the names of Steinbeck’s 100 will also be in that book.
(3.) To help complete this pictorial guidebook, Wizard Academy is hosting a 2-day/3 night Photographer’s Round Table, April 8-9. The price of tuition is that you must donate the photos you take while you’re here. Other than that, it’s free. If you’re a professional photographer or an accomplished amateur and would like to be part of this year’s Round Table, just send an email to Daniel@WizardAcademy.org. Tell us a little about your experience and show us a bit of your work. We can only accept 18 photographers and 6 of those have already been invited, so we can’t make any promises, but it’s definitely worth sending in your application. We’re going to teach you some amazing things and you’re going to demonstrate that you understood by taking photos using those techniques during lab time. Those photos, of course, will be used in our guidebook.
Gosh this is a fun place.
Here are some other fun classes on the near horizon, including a marvelous half-day course this Friday with Chris Maddock and a 2-day writing course next week with Peter Nevland.
Come if you can.
Roy H. Williams
Sometimes I hop up onto the wizard’s desk and take a look at what he’s writing. Next week’s memo is going to be about using Big Data to choose the perfect location when expanding your business. I liked today’s title, “A Unicorn in Seattle.” But the working title for next week’s memo is “How to Choose the Right Location.” I sure hope he comes up with something better than that. Obvious titles like that one make me yawn. I’m going to the rabbit hole. You comin’?