Goodbye Disneyland! That was a time full of fun, walking and crowds. Glad we went with friends and now glad to be leaving. Standing in lines in the sun for hours on end with people all around you can really sap your energy fast. The girls kept on singing the same little songs and playing the hand games when they were waiting. It was great that they can just go with it and pass the time but after you have heard the little tune, let’s say 200 times, it starts to drive you a bit crazy they were pretty cute though!
We drove out of Anaheim at 9am and set our sights on making it to Hearst Castle which is just outside of our next stop, Morro Bay, CA. The Hearst Castle is one of the many homes of William Randolph Hearst. He was a newspaper baron who was born in 1863 and judging from what we saw he didn’t skimp and he spent a whole lot of money!
The drive into Morrow Bay was really pretty and as we continued on towards San Simenon we followed along a section on Hwy 1 that ran right alongside the ocean. We missed seeing the ocean! It is funny that all of us were so happy to be near the sea. We life in such an amazing place that we take it for granted sometimes.
The front doors of the Hearst Castle
You could see this huge mansion at the top of a hill and we knew that must be Hearst Castle. We had to drive up to a visitor’s center where they shuttle you up the hill and take you on guided tours of the property. We chose to do the grand tour which would take us into the 4 grand rooms in the castle. Once we were loaded onto the shuttle we listened to Alex Trebek tell us all about the location and some of the features of the property. Apparently William Hearst had the largest privately owned zoo on his estate.
Outside on one of the patio areas
What a view!
The stairs were very detailed with tile and beautiful
He had kangaroos, deer, zebra’s even polar bears! There were little structures still on the property that the animals could find shelter in. We saw an arbor that he had made on the property with concrete pillars and wooden slats above that was one mile long! At the time it had fruit trees planted all along it and grapevines growing above it. He built it as a place to ride your horse through while out on his property. We were wowed even before setting foot on his estate! We got off the shuttle and met our guide.
He took us usurp a huge flight of stairs and we stood on the courtyard that was in front of his entry doors. The VIEWS!!!! I cannot explain how amazing the views were. We were probably 1,000 feet above sea level with wide open views of the ocean and hill sides. There were numerous fountains, statues and lamps. The landscaping was lush and beautiful with azaleas, roses, fuchsia, palm trees and oaks. He actually built the home around the oaks and even had a few moved. We could not enter through the front doors because in the entry way there is a 2,000 year old mosaic on the floor. The front of the castle resembled a church from Italy. He was an only child and lived a life that most never dreamed of. At the age of 10 he and his mom traveled to Europe and he was greatly inspired by the architecture and art there. He always aspired to build something like it for himself. When he built this castle he actually brought many things from Europe to complete his house.
The 15th century ceiling from Spain
He had ceilings that were from the 15th century Spain, tapestries that were probably 20 feet by 30 feet. There was one that appeared to be 40 feet by 60 feet! There were light fixtures that were all silver. In fact he had the biggest private collection of silver in the US. It took him and his famous architect 28 years to build the castle and many areas remain unfinished. We were first ushered in the side door of the main entrance and shown the vast entry area with the mosaic and the sitting areas. The room was huge, filled with furniture and tapestries hung from the walls. An enormous fireplace that you could actually stand up in if you climbed inside it. The room was lined with choir stands from a church. The ceilings in each of these grand rooms were different and very old. One from Spain from the 15th century was undergoing a cleaning process that was scheduled to last for the next 10 years! Some of the tapestries in the home are envied by museums that only have a copy of the ones hung in this castle.
The dining room (we couldn’t use a flash so the pictures are not very crisp)
We toured the dining room next which had a table that could easily seat 50 people! This guy had some pretty famous diner guests over. They claimed that John F. Kennedy, Douglas Fairbanks, Winston Churchill, Charlie Chaplain and many more visited the Castle. As we learned about Hearst and his possessions we also learned that he was married with 5 sons and then decided to live openly with his mistress Marion Davies in California. His wife became tired of this affair and moved to New York with her 5 sons…but never divorced him. He sounded like quite a scoundrel to me!
We then entered the billiard room with a whole bunch more old artifacts and antiques. Then we went into the theater which had 200 year old silk on the walls and watched a film that showed Mr. Hearst with some of his guest at his estate.
After the formal tour we were allowed to walk the property and explore. There were three “cottages” on the property as well.
One of the “cottages”
We couldn’t go inside any of them but they were lovely on the outside. On one side of the estate there was a pool that he titled the Neptune Pool. It was home to one statue that was 6,000 years old! The pool was huge, all marble and surrounded by numerous statues and water features.
The empty Neptune Pool
The pool was empty due to the major drought in California but it was just as stunning empty. As we meandered through the estate the kids were noticing that this guy liked his naked statues. Pretty much everywhere you looked you could see at least five at a time! One of them was rather….detailed and Katherine was appalled! She said “Mom, they show EVERYTHING, I mean EVERYTHING!” Oh and that they did. There was another pool that was under the tennis court which he titled the Roman Pool.
The Roman Pool under the tennis courts
It had over 1 million tiles and some had gold flake in them! It was over the top ornate…like everything else in this place!
The area that he kept his Polar Bears
We walked around and took lots of pictures and then decided to head to our RV spot about 40 minutes away. The Weston’s couldn’t find any hotel in the general area so we decided to have a big sleepover in our RV…it sleeps 10 they say
We got the RV Park at 7pm. As we drove down the road that the park is on we noticed some concrete buildings that seemed to be right next door….wonder what that could be. Oh a sign…..the city water treatment plant…in other words a turd whirler! Gross!!! Okay it can’t be that bad, all the reviews were good on this place…someone would have said something!
The view from the end of our RV…turd whirler is literally behind the fence!
View from the front of the RV…the glorious ocean 🙂
We find our spot right at the entrance which is alright I guess…the turd whirler is just a stone’s throw away but our view the other direction is all ocean with the big Morro Rock in view. We park get some dinner going and wait for our friends. When they arrive we all get a laugh out of our location…there seems to be a shift in the wind direction right as we start dinner. Wow….interesting….lets go on a beach walk. There are great dunes that the kids climb as we head towards the water. It is now pretty dark and we are making our way with our flashlight apps on our phones. Katherine finds a little sand dollar and we all get so excited! Then we shine the light down at the sand and it is covered with little sand dollars. Willow loves the sand dollar and always searches beaches for them. She struck gold! It was so fun collecting fist fulls of these lovely little things from the ocean.
The kids cozied up for a little movie time and Scott, Rob and Willow and I sat outside and chatted. The air was getting worse and worse as we sat outside. We tried to tough it out by covering our noses with our sweatshirts until we couldn’t take it anymore! Ugh! So gross!!! We retreated into our little 180 square feet of living space. Hey, you make it work if you have to 🙂 we had fun having this adventure with our best friends, it was hilarious!
Tomorrow we are headed to Napa for a couple of nights…sweet dreams!