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Come to Steinbeck Country: Jun 15-18

abstract:Literary Excursions is a niche-market travel entity. Our tagline is "Let us take you to the places where iconic authors have lived and immortalized through their writing."

The idea sprang out of years of reading great fiction, researching the authors' backgrounds for the purpose of either writing about them in feature articles or leading discussions at book events. Eventually you come to understand that the only way you can truly understand how "place" has shaped their writing, is to go to the source. The final incentive was a desire to connect book group people back to the needs of our libraries via my foundation work.

LE has come up with a list of authors and destination trips: Austen in Hampshire, England; Hemingway in Cuba (Paris, Pamplona or Kilimanjaro), Joyce and Beckett in Dublin, and of course Steinbeck in Monterey and Salinas. We incorporate aspects of local history, culture, cuisine and wines into the mix via expert guides, lectures, tours and tastings. Since we're a pretty active group, there's always an opportunity to walk, cycle, kayak or par-take in some form of physical activity to break up the laughing, talking, eating (drinking) and touring!

Back by popular demand is our trip to "Steinbeck Country" - Monterey and Salinas, California departing Vancouver on June 15th and returning on the 18th. It costs just $1575 per person (based on double occupancy) for an inclusive package of: airfare, hotel, coach transfers, breakfasts, a guided tour of Monterey and Salinas, a fabulous Monterey Wine tasting and more. Single rates provided upon request. This is a perfect "girl's get-away-weekend" or an opportunity for book groups to incorporate into the annual activity calendar. Call HSK Travel, our partners to book. +1 (604) 921-0012 and ask for Yasmin. Then join our Facebook Page.


April 26, 2013
— Just want to pay to reserve your spot, and take care of details later? Click here, then we'll contact you to make arrangements.

Susan Shillinglaw, PhD professor at the San Jose U, is our guide. Susan pens the foreword to several Penguin editions of Steinbeck novels, and she has devoted the larger part of her career to understanding Steinbeck. She's an absolute delight.

The Monterey Bay area has so much to offer. Our hotel, The Monterey Plaza Hotel and Spa is located right on the water and the beach walk to historic Cannery Row with shops and restaurants is just a short walk. Your host is Paula Shackleton, founder of LE and a writer and literary blogger. Paula has a passion for people and years of experience leading book discussions and organizing author events. One of her favorite parts of the tripis the trip out to the Red Pony Ranch with Susan reading excerpts as we take in un-changed scenery. Then there's the behind-the-scenes tour of the Monterey Bay Aquarium and the "Taste of Monterey" wine tasting. Did you know Monterey has some of the best Pinot Noirs in the world? You'll tour the National Steinbeck Museum, stop by the house where Steinbeck was born and raised.

Some of the comments from the last group that took this trip are: "I give the tour 5/5... the group size was perfect... the hotel was lovely... the Pinot tasting beach event was a fun addition, I particularly like the visit to the Red Pony Ranch with Susan reading from the novel and having a picnic lunch." Marianne Koerner Bianco, Sept 2012.

Steinbeck was born in Salinas California in 1902 and grew up in the Monterey Bay area where most of his fiction is set. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize & the National Book Award for Grapes of Wrath and a Nobel Prize in 1962 for his body of work that includes: Cannery Row, Of Mice and Men, East of Eden, Tortilla Flats, The Pearl, The Winter of Our Discontent, The Red Pony among others. His books have left an indelible mark on our view of the Depression years and family sagas of good and evil. The film adaptations by luminary Directors and Producers: John Ford, Elia Kazan, Alfred Hitchcock, Darryl Zanuck, with actors James Dean, Henry Fonda, Marlon Brando, Jayne Mansfield, Spencer Tracy and more add to the legacy. His friendship with mentor and Marine Biologist Ed Ricketts is well represented in The Log of the Sea of Cortez. John was married three times and had two sons, Tom and John, by his second wife. He was an inveterate drinker and smoker. He died at the age of 66 of a heart attack. His ashes are interred in the family grave in the Salinas cemetery.

The Monterey Plaza Hotel and Spa is centrally located on the waterfront in Monterey & within walking distance to historic sites, shops and the Aquarium. This turn-of-the-century architectural landmark is our launch point to the area. We have reserved inland view rooms as a basic start. If you wish to upgrade, let us know at booking for best availability.

The coach trip to Salinas passes fields of artichokes and strawberries. We stop at the farm where The Red Pony was inspired, tour the National Steinbeck Center and visit (have tea, optional) the house where Steinbeck was born and raised. The tour is led by Professor Susan Shillinglaw PhD, San Jose University. Susan has dedicated her life to this author. Her latest book on Steinbeck came out last year. She pens the foreword in the Penguin editions of his novels. She is a warm and delightful speaker.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium was one of the favourite added bonuses on our last trip. After a private behind the scenes working tour you have the day to explore on your own. The jellyfish, Great White Shark and giant kelp forest tanks mesmerize, while the sea otter exhibit and touching pools delight. Located right on the waterfront next to shops, the beaches and jogging paths.

The VPL has 22 branches and serves an average of 22,500 visitors per day with another 12,000 accessing the website per day. Annually there are 6.4 million people passing through the doors.

The Vancouver Public Library has two great non-profits: The Friends of the Library and The VPL Foundation. Their efforts generate extra funding that help to augment services and programming beyond public funding budgets. and they’re a great bunch of people to socialize with.

Everyone taking this tour is asked to donate to the VPL non-profit of choice. Go to or and click “donate” using your credit card. Look for needed items and volunteer opportunities on the FOVPL website. Your contribution helps to fund programs that promote life-long learning and literacy in our community. Thank you!



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