When John Steinbeck departed Stanford University for the final time in 1925, he left his roommate a note: “Gone to China. See you again sometime.” His plan was to make like adventure writer Jack London and sail to the Far East on a freighter, but that voyage didn’t pan out. He had plenty of other adventures throughout this life, though, like serving as a newspaper correspondent in northern Africa during World War II, following in King Arthur’s footsteps through Somerset, England, and famously trekking across the U.S. with his French poodle, Charley.

Steinbeck’s globetrotting is the focus of the 30th Annual Steinbeck Festival, sponsored by the National Steinbeck Center and taking place in and around Salinas, California, August 5 – 8. (Check the website for ticketing info.) This year’s theme is “Journeys: Steinbeck Around the World.” Highlights include a tour of the Salinas Valley wine region and tastings of international vintages at the opening night reception, lunch at the Victorian-era Steineck House, and speakers on topics ranging from Steinbeck in Mexico and Japan to his foray behind the Iron Curtain. Thomas R. Hummel and Tamra L. Dempsey, the writer/photographer duo behind the book A Journey through Literary America, will be on hand as well. And our favorite event in the line-up: a Charley dog look-alike contest.