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9/24/00 - Spending Time in Deer Isle, Maine

Woke up early on Sunday, and according to the colorful clock on the wall, it was nearing 8:00am. Gathered the Berts and went into the RV to make them breakfast. Then found out it was actually 7:00am. Went back into the barn, bathed, and dressed in what I thought was quite a Maine outfit of layers: Creme-colored silk long johns, tan flowing skirt with black and aqua flowers, black turtleneck, tan ribbed cardigan and a black cable knit pullover sweater.

Had an amazing buffet brunch at the Goose Cove Lodge and took some photos. Later, Bunzy drove me through Stonington, a picture-postcard image of a Maine fishing town with boats in the water between rocks and trees and piles of pastel-colored lobster traps along the road.

Stopped by to visit her friend Jim, from Rhode Island, who had a meticulous 19th centure house filled with antiques of the time. Then on to Julie''s cozy, rough-hewn home that hugged the water, offering spectacular views. We missed what was later called a monumental sunset as we headed back to Bunzy's before dark.

Julie joined us later for dinner - grilled lamb chops, corn on the cob, sauteed squash and peppers, a warm Merlot, and talk about the Internet with two self-proclaimed Luddites. Vanilla ice cream with strawberry peach sauce was dessert, and I went to bed at 9:30pm, after telling them that their feelings/fears about the Internet were the same ones people had when the telephone was introduced into people's homes. I had done my part defending the Internet, and it was time to go to sleep.

9/25/00 - Monday in Maine

Brought the RV to Dave and Dave's, a local auto mechanic who agreed to take a look at the exhaust leak. Then Bunzy brought me to the next town over, Blue Hill, to the Blue Hill Bookstore where she had called ahead and found that they had a paperback copy of "Travels With Charley" for ten dollars and change. They also had the book on tape, so I bought it. A friend in New York City had suggested I pick up some books on tape for the drive, and it seemed like the perfect book to listen to on the road.

While in Blue Hill, we sat in the park for a while, the Berts basking in the sun, then we had lunch at Fishnet, a small shack of a restaurant with about six and a half tables (we first sat at the half table but moved into a full table when someone left). We both had crab rolls and I had fries and a vanilla shake. The crab meat was so good.

Later that day, we went to meet Brenda Gilchrist and see the house where Steinbeck visited. She took us around the back and told us the story.

Steinbeck in Deer Isle - More Coincidences

Steinbeck was planning to make a cross country drive to "see America" and told his literary agent, Elizabeth Otis. She insisted that he must start his travels in Deer Isle, Maine. He had never heard of it and had no interest, however, he felt obligated to her for sticking by him through the years so he finally agreed.

Then Elizabeth waited until the last possible moment to tell her friend in Deer Isle, Eleanor Brace, that John Steinbeck was on the way to her house. She knew that Eleanor was very shy and would find a way to get out of it if she had too much time to plan.

Eleanor did invite a friend over, a woman named Margaret, who was there for moral support and to keep the conversation going. Steinbeck showed up with his dog Charley (a standard poodle) and their presence infuriated Eleanor's gray cat George (a female).

The trio had a huge lobster dinner with lobsters from Stonington, and Brenda mentioned that Margaret was a bit put out that she was not mentioned in the book - Steinbeck describes Eleanor ordering three lobsters but didn't explain who ate the third. Steinbeck chose not to stay in the house and instead, stayed with Charley in the RV which was parked in front of the garage.

"I'm not sure what time of year he traveled or when he was here." Brenda said, and since I had the book in my hand I flipped through it, looking for a date reference. On the back jacket, it said he started his trip in September 1960. We all laughed in amazement. "You are starting your trip the same month forty years later!" Brenda exclaimed.

So I spent the rest of the evening marvelling at the coincidences, wondering what they meant, and unsure if I should read the book while I traveled or waited until my return. Suddenly, I was worried that it might be more prophetic and wasn't sure if his trip was positive. Then I worried that I might end up copying him subconciously in some way, either in my road diary or on the road. How would it affect my trip and how I perceived my trip?

The Coincidences: Travel across America, with dog(s), in an old RV, starting in Deer Isle, Maine (of all places - very out of the way if going West), and in September 1960/2000. What else?

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