Rocinante Travels with Charley

John Steinbeck, American novelist, story writer, playwright, and essayist. is best remembered for The Grapes Of Wrath and Of Mice And Men, but it was his last major work, Travels with Charley, that introduced millions to the RV lifestyle.

In early 1960, Steinbeck realized that, while he had been writing about America, he no longer knew America, and, how, he asked, could he write about that which he did not know? He determined then to take a trip about America to “rediscover this monstrous land”.

His name and face had become well-known, and, as he explained, when people know who you are, they become someone they are not. He needed to leave his name and personality at home. He could not fly or stay in hotels, where he would surely be recognized; it was necessary that he drive himself and carry his house with him.

With all this in mind, he says, he wrote “to the head office of a great corporation that manufactures trucks”, and specified his needs:

“I wanted a three-quarter ton pickup truck, and on this truck I wanted a little house, built like the cabin of small boat”.

The truck, we know now, was a new model GMC, with a V6 engine, an automatic transmission, and an oversized generator. The camper was provided by the Wolverine Camper Company of Glaswin, Michigan.

The truck was delivered in August, 1961, and, because of satiric remarks from friendes was named Rocinante, after Don Quixote’s horse.

After Steinbeck's Travels with Charley ended, Rocinante was put up for sale in New York where she was purchased by Mr. William Plate for light work on Maiden Point Farm on the Maryland coast.

In February of 1990, the Plates donated Rocinante to the National Steinbeck Center in Steinbeck’s home town of Salinas California. The truck was shipped to Salinas and was “lovingly restored to its original glory by Gene Cochetti”.

The National Steinbeck Center is located in historic Oldtown Salinas, a scenic 17-mile drive from Monterey, California on California's Central Coast.

The National Steinbeck Center
One Main Street
Salinas, CA 93901
(831)796-3828 fax

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