In Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men, the setting at the start of Chapter One is "a few miles south of Soledad." Lenny and George have been walking for what (to George) seems like four miles. George is aggravated, having been dropped off by a truck driver who said they didn't have far to go.
'Jes' a little stretch down the highway,' he says. 'Jes' a little stretch.'
It is a hot day and the two men rest and cool off on the banks of the Salinas River, located in the Salinas Valley, as is Soledad—a town in California. From the river they move along to take work as ranch hands in Soledad. Soledad is located near the Pacific Coast of the United States, south of San Francisco.
"Soledad" means "solitude" or "loneliness," and while the riverbank provides both of these things, the time they spend working at the ranch reflects these themes even more so: not only with Lenny and George, but also for the rest of the men working with them.
George and Lenny are itinerant workers, following opportunities for employment wherever they can find them, carrying what little they own on their backs.