Travels With Belle

Travels With Belle

By Robert Scott

All writers in Op Ed are here to inform and acknowledge issues of importance to our communities, however these writings represent the views and opinions of the authors and not necessarily of The Advertiser.

Those of you who read last week’s Advertiser may remember there was a short paragraph where my column usually is found on Page 3, saying I was out of town and planned to read John Steinbeck’s 1960 classic work, “Travels With Charley In Search of America.” Well, I read it. Or, rather, Belle and I listened to it courtesy of Amazon, my cell phone, and my new car, which together make such vicarious adventures easy. Belle, by the way, is my 60-pound dalmatian mix, and she turns out to be an excellent traveler. Steinbeck’s book was particularly appropriate for Belle and me. We were on a five-day trial trip to see how things would work out for our travelling together across country and back, visiting people and places along the way in a way like John Steinbeck and his full-sized poodle Charley.

John Steinbeck is a captivating author, and I would recommend any of his books to anyone who enjoys reading (or listening, in my case). Earlier in his career he wrote about the depression era American experience in such works as “East of Eden,” “Of Mice and Men,” and “The Grapes of Wrath.” “Travels with Charley” was written well after those works and after he was a famous author who had moved from his native California to a well-heeled suburb of New York City. Part of his charm in that last book was his effort to remain anonymous in his travels, something that turned out to be unnecessary as most of the people he encountered and wrote about were not among the best read of Americans. If only I could write half as well as John Steinbeck, then a series of my own on “Travels with Belle” would be a compelling read. Nevertheless, I think I’ll give it a try, courtesy of these columns in The Edgefield Advertiser.

Belle’s and my trial run trip was to Atlanta (I sweated through a Braves game – they lost badly — while she waited patiently in our air-conditioned motel room) and then to visit several of my in-lawsin Tennessee. Everybody was more than welcoming to both of us and we enjoyed their company, but in the back of my mind was that this is COVID Year Two and hardly anybody in Atlanta or Tennessee was wearing a face mask. So, I signed myself up for a “rapid test” once I returned home – that was very easy, by the way – and within two hours had the results: negative, no virus detected. I had rolled the dice and they did not come up snake eyes – this time. I will need to be more careful on our longer trip, and I plan nevertheless to get one of those rapid tests after any bouts of dice-rolling along the way.

Belle and I will be headed out “In Search of America” some 60 years after Charley and John, and we plan to spend time along the way in Denver, in the great National Parks in Wyoming, and in the Pacific Northwest. There will be a side trip to British Columbia, and my brother Ralph will be joining us for those parts of the trip before he flies home from Seattle. The return trip will include Los Angeles, a couple of days in Phoenix with my old college roommate, and couple of days in Texas with a niece and her family. How much of America we’ll find, I’m not yet sure; but there should be plenty to write about and to share with readers of this column back home in Edgefield County. And I’ll try to include Belle’s perspective on things, too; her daily cycle of eating, sleeping, and having fun even when on the road provides a viewpoint that would serve many of us well!