Lindblad journey follows Steinbeck's route

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Lindblad Expeditions is taking a page from John Steinbeck for a Mexico sailing this winter.

The cruise line is celebrating the 70th anniversary of Steinbeck's classic book "The Log From the Sea of Cortez" with a special Baja California expedition that will recall the author's famous journey and explore the ecosystem of the ocean that inspired it.

In 1940, Steinbeck embarked on a fact-finding and soul-searching journey along with his biologist friend Ed Ricketts. The pair set out to study invertebrate species along the Gulf of California, but science becomes only a part of Steinbeck's day-by-day recounting, which ventures into the worlds of philosophy and high-speed adventure.

The seven-night "Among the Great Whales" voyage on the 62-passenger National Geographic Sea Bird will depart from La Paz, Mexico, on Jan. 22. The ship will travel around the southern tip of the Baja Peninsula from the Sea of Cortes to Bahian Magdalena, where clients will watch the annual migration of gray whales as they arrive from their arctic environs to the sheltered breeding lagoons. At Isla Espiritu Santo, a site where Steinbeck collected extensive marine specimens, naturalist-guided walks on the deserted island, swimming, snorkeling and kayaking will be offered.

Along the way, Zodiac landing crafts will offer close-up views of the whales.
Steinbeck scholar Susan Shillinglaw, professor of English at San Jose State University and a scholar in residence at the National Steinbeck Center in Salinas, Calif., will join the cruise.

Also joining the expedition team will be William Gilly, who for the last several years been measuring important midwater oxygen levels in the Sea of Cortes as part of Linblad's ongoing expedition operations.

Cruise fares begin at $4,990. Agents can learn more at www.expeditions.com.

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