27 October 2010

Day (3) ...

Beach as seen from our hotel room balcony this morning
We woke up this morning to sunshine, blue skies & birds chirping.

Nice way to start the day  ...

First on our agenda: A tour of Hearst Castle.  

I have seen many pictures of the castle (as have most people) but still, I've always wanted to go and see it in person.  

So, off we went ...

George Hearst, William Randolph Hearst's father  had originally purchased 40,000 acres of land in San Simeon overlooking the Pacific Ocean.   Although the land was a working ranch the Hearst family  used it as a retreat and often spent their summer's  camping there.  

By the time  William Randolph Hearst inherited the land in 1919 the ranch had grown to 250,000 acres in size.  

After he inherited it William R. Hearst renamed it the "La Cuesta Encantada" - The Enchanted Hill. 

Soon after he began work on the now famous castle which he named, Casa Grande and by 1947, Hearst and architect Julia Morgan had created an estate which consisted of 165 rooms and 127 acres of gardens, terraces, 3 pools, 3 guest houses and walkways.

The Hearst Corporation donated the Castle, all the art, antiques & furnishings (which are valued at about 5 billion dollars) and land (42,000 acres) to the State of California in 1957.  

The Hearst family still maintains & uses a family vacation home on the property.

Outdoor Neptune swimming pool at Heart Castle

Statues at Neptune pool
Neptune Pool
One of 3 Guest Houses on property (each of the guest houses was over 2500 sq. ft)

William R. Heart's office
Close-up of office ceiling (the ceiling was from an 400 year old church in Italy

Lights surrounding the indoor 'Roman' pool
Roman Pool
Close-up of the inlaid 'gold-leaf' mosaic on the indoor .  The tour guide told us that since neither Hearst nor any of his guest ever used this indoor pool that over time it became the household staff's pool.  Nice Perk

Our tour only visited the Neptune Pool, Roman Pool, 2 guest bedrooms, Hearst's office, a library and the kitchen.

It takes about 7 - 8 tours to see most of the castle and grounds.

Next on our agenda was to go see the The Piedras Blancas elephant seal rookery. 

The fall haul out of juveniles begins in September and the early arrivers share the beach for a few weeks with the molting adult males. Their number increases, reaching a maximum around the first of November and tapering off into late November and December when they again share the beach with the older males returning for the birthing season.

Beyond resting and, for the males, playing, little goes on during this period. Life in the sea puts no gravitational stress on their skeleton, so the visit helps to accustom the young seals to life on land and to build bone mass. It also develops the habit of a second visit to the rookery which will move later in the year as they age and involve them in the birthing and breeding period. http://www.elephantseal.org/
Elephant Seal barking - they were very vocal
Unless they were sleeping ...
and there were many of them just lazying around in the sand.
many, many of them ...
They had the whole beach to themselves
FYI: What's the difference between a seal & a sea lion?  Sea-lions have ears and true seals do not!
 After the seals we hit the road again.

We continued traveling up Hwy 1 and saw some of the most incredible ocean vista's along the way. 

It is a trip that I highly recommended that everyone takes at least once in their lifetime.

It is so indescribably amazing.

Some of the corner's will take your breath away ...

 The highway just clings to the side of the canyons and while very remote and uninterrupted by human development there are small towns doting the route so you can always find gas, food and rest-stops.


Mileage:  San Simeon, CA to Half Moon Bay, Ca  (231 miles)

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garden thoughts ...

'I sit in my garden, gazing upon a beauty that cannot gaze upon itself. And I find sufficient purpose for my day.'
- Robert Brault -