823. Guest Inn

This building at 825 Asilomar Avenue is known as Guest Inn. It was the private summer residence of Esther Steinbeck Rodgers, the sister of John Steinbeck. She used the residence from the late 1930s until she sold it to state parks in 1972. The story goes that Esther allowed John to stay in the cottage during February and March of 1941. While here, he worked intermittently on his book, The Log from the Sea of Cortez, which he published the same year. The book recounts his voyage through the Gulf of California, whose old name was the Sea of Cortez, with his wife Carol and his friend, biologist Ed Ricketts. The book gives an account of the marine habitat of invertebrates, as well as the alluring appeal of Mexican life, so different from the hurried American lifestyle. This was also the time during which Steinbeck’s love affair with Gwendolyn Conger ruptured his marriage. The two stayed together here in secret. Steinbeck recalled this time several years later in a letter to a friend: MALE VOICE, JOHN STEINBECK [about 40 years old, serious but not grave] When I wrote the text of the Sea of Cortez, Gwen and I were hiding in the pine woods in a cabin and she would sleep late and I would get up and build a big fire and work until noon when she woke up and that would be the end of work for the day and we would go walking in the sand dunes and eat thousands of doughnuts and coffee. I worked very hard.