Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Hearst Castle to Barstow

We were unhitched in Chorro Regional RV Park fairly early, so decided to drive to Morro Bay. It was late afternoon, and there had been a street festival, but folks were just closing up, so we walked around then headed toward the ocean. We thought it was just a walk along the beach, but, to our surprise, there were steps down to the Embarcadero along the water with all sorts of restaurants, interesting little shops and galleries.
Morro Bay waterfront
We stopped at Poppy an interesting store with an eclectic mix of gifts, women’s apparel, kitchen and Christmas ornaments (with complimentary food and wine).

We were awake and up fairly the next day to go up to Hearst Castle. However, before we had driven far, the rain began. The coast was to the west
California Coast
and domed bare hills to the east. The town of San Simeon is the closest to Hearst Castle. I expected it to be quite large, but it is only about two blocks long. We went first to the Visitor Centre of the Castle,
Inside Visitors' Centre
where we decided to buy tickets for the next day, as the forecast was for sun. We did, however, watch the film “Building the Dream”, about the building of Hearst Castle. We drove to look at the elephant seals a few miles up the coast, but it was raining and blowing too hard to stay long. We had our computers, so we drove back to the town of Cambria and found a coffee shop with internet.
Cambria MainStreet


The next day dawned bright and sunny.
Morro Rock on the coast at Morro Bay
We left early to see the elephant seals. They are amazing. They spend most of their life at sea, and only come ashore to give birth and mate. Females can weigh up to 1,600lbs.,
A young female
males up to 5,000 lbs.
Pre-Adult Male
5000 lb Adult Male
and can dive to over 5,000ft, spending most of their time at sea. Pregnant females come ashore to give birth to their pups weighing 60-80lbs around December each year, peaking in January, on several beaches along the coast. The pups quadruple their weight in less than a month. The large males soon follow the females. There are also many adolescents and pre-adults as well. These huge mammals lie together on the beach often in large groups. They don’t eat while they are on shore. The juveniles and sub-adults males spar, developing the skills needed for real life challenges. The seals are very vocal: males challenge other males with battle cries,
Young adolescent males mock fighting

females snarl to ward off the males, moms moo to their pups, and pups cry for their mom’s attention. From Late November to January the adult males battle for dominance of a section of the beach.
5000 lb male reacting to a challenge from another male

The young are born December through February, and nursed for four weeks, at which time the females become estrous and mate during the last few days of nursing before once again returning to the ocean, leaving the young to fend for themselves. The pups spend a couple of months developing swimming and diving skills before heading out to sea. On their return to the water, once the females gain back the weight they lost, the egg becomes implanted. It was fascinating to walk along the shore and see the various groups
Some just lay in a big group...
Others spread out on the same beach
including three pups from 1 to 3 weeks old.

Females and 3 pups

We had to leave the seals, as out tour tickets were for 12:30pm.
Entrance Gates
Everyone has a specific time because you ride up to the castle along a road which winds around the mountain.
One of the Ranch Houses
On the way up in the bus
Looking back at the road as we rounded a turn
There are several tours you can choose. We chose the Grand Tour to get a tour through the grounds and the main floor of the castle. It was amazing.
Our first stop as we got out of the bus. Question "Is this a big house?"
Most of the group said "Yes". It is only a guest house though!
This is Hearst Castle

with its imposing main entrance,

and intricate carving. "If it shines and glitters, it is gold", our guide told us.
William Randolph Hearst was a media genius whose influence extended to publishing, politics Hollywood, the art world and American everyday life. He was the only son of George and Phoebe Hearst, and at age ten travelled Europe with his mother. This trip provided much of the inspiration for his aspiration to recreate the majesty of art and architecture for his own enjoyment. He went to St. Paul’s Preparatory School then continued his education at Harvard where he excelled at journalism and as business manager of the Harvard Lampoon. He persuaded his father to turn over the newly acquired San Francisco Examiner to him. His next newspaper was the New York Journal, the second in a long list of newspaper holdings. He read each of his newspapers every day, and sent them back edited. He chose a place high above the ocean on the family ranch

Looking down to the ocean
and engaged architect Julia Morgan to design and construct Hearst Castle, the realization of his dream, a castle worthy of those he had seen in Europe. It took 28years of hard work, constant redesigning and rebuilding, and even then it was never completely finished.

Unfinished section of Castle

Much of his vast art collection is housed in Hearst Castle.

Dining Hall. Hearst sat in the middle, the further from him you sat,
indicated the length of time you had been there. Guests left before they ended up
eating off the floor! -indicting they had worn out their welcome.
Carved Choir benches line one wall in the grand room and the dining room

Magnificent tapestries,

Tapestry in the Dining Hall

End wall of the Dining Hall

There are two of these Golden Girls in front of one of the guest houses

art work, oriental rugs and Greek, Roman and Egyptian antiquities.


It was here he entertained the elite of Hollywood, sports and politics. It is a truly exquisite fulfillment of one man’s dream. We were able to wander the grounds all afternoon after the tour, to find gardens, details we could examine more closely, and talk to volunteers who were wandering the grounds.

It is said that these are modelled after his twins, only told apart,
because one kept sticking out his tongue.

Each tower houses water cisterns, holding all the water needed,
pumped from a stream in a nearby hill 

Each flight of stairs was beautifully tiled, each one different

Another guest house

the second Golden Girl

The third Guest House

The outdoor pool, being sealed and retiled when we were there,
because of a leak caused by a recent earthquake

Outdoor tennis courts

the Indoor Pool, which became the Servants' pool,
as the guests used only the outdoor pool.

Indoor Pool
There was once a zoo with many animals, some in enclosures.

An enclosure of the original zoo.
Today, some are still on the property. We saw zebras mixed in with herds of cattle.

Zebras grazing with the cattle!

The next day was travel day to Bakersfield. We drove north on Highway 1 to Highway 46, since we had decided that it was the best road with the fewest steep hills and sharp turns. The drive was beautiful, high over the mountains
Looking back to the ocean, Morro Rock in the distance
looking down on the valley and past many vineyards
One of may vineyards
and wineries.
and one of the many wineries
It was an easy day in bright sun on the drive to Orange Grove RV Park.
Extra orange trees, if yours runs out!
This is a wonderful park: well run, friendly staff, full services, wide level sites, each with its own orange tree,
Our own orange tree
and large spotless restrooms with large showers. We were able to pick a bag of oranges. Absolutely delicious, fresh picked oranges, it doesn’t get much better than that.  

Unfortunately, we got a call from our son that his father-in-law had had a heart attack and passed away that night. We were headed to stay with friends in Barstow the next day, and then planned to go to Death Valley for Christmas. However, I made reservations to fly to Calgary from Las Vegas, and John stayed in Barstow. So we drove to Barstow,
A beautiful drive over the mountains...
to the Tehachapi Pass over the mountains
and into the Mojave Desert
and I got one night to visit with our friends. John drove me to Las Vegas then returned to Barstow. I spent Christmas and latter part of December in the cold and snow. The children and I walked to the parks by their home and played in the snow.
Arianna and David bundled up in the cold
Garry drove us through Spruce Meadows, which is brilliantly lit.
Spruce Meadows
We got out and had hot chocolate and wandered through the trees for a while, and warmed up by the fire pit. Christmastime was a busy time at the malls while both David and Arianna showed us what they wanted from Santa.
Checking out Arianna's "Stocking" bag Christmas morning
Then just before I left, Garry got bob skates for the children, new skates for himself and Karen dug out hers, and the whole family went to Bowness Lagoon to skate!
Learning to skate. David is ready for tube skates after one trip!
Meanwhile, John spent the time in sunny Barstow where the only cool temperatures were at night. But they did get wind alerts. Between ATV rides in the Mohave Desert, trips to Victorville and trying new restaurants with friends in Barstow, he managed to fit in visits to a borax mine,

Visitors' Centre
Processing Plant

20 Mule Team

Borate Ore

1200 gallon water tank and Borax wagons
Open Pit Mine

and the Mojave Preserve.

Sand Dunes

600ft Sand Dunes

Lava Flows
We left just after I returned, to continue towards Phoenix, and warm weather, we hope!



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