Sunday, August 25, 2013

California - 7/2013

Hi, Ruthe and I visited California July 19 - July 26. We spent the first 2 1/2 days visiting friends we first met on a trip to Europe in 2006. On the second full day we were joined by another couple we met on the same trip and attended a memorial service for a woman who also had been on the trip.

Following the memorial service we headed north to visit the Hearst Castle in San Simeon, CA.  We spent 2 nights in Moro Bay where we arrived around noon of our third full day.  After lunch we explored the town, which offers boating, fishing and swimming.

Across the bay from the town is a huge rock.

We drove out to the rock and found a large colony of Cormorants nesting there.

On the ground next to the parking lot a group of squirrels frolicked.

Surfers took advantage of the small waves.

That afternoon we drove up to Hearst Castle to claim our tickets for our  3 tours the next day.  On the way back to Moro Bay we spotted these Zebras out in a field with cattle raised on the ranch.  The Zebras were part of a zoo that William Randolph Hearst established on his property.  When the house was donated to the State of California the Zebras and a number of other exotic animals were set free to roam the ranch property which remained with the Hearst family.

Hearst Castle was constructed by William Randolph Hearst, the publisher.  He began the project in 1919 with the idea of building a small vacation home on a hill top overlooking the Pacific Ocean and the family' vast ranch.  What emerged over a the next 28 years was a main building with over 60,000 square feet and 3 guest houses with a total of almost 11,000 square feet.  The project was never quite finished with a few details remaining to be completed.

However, even during its construction Hearst used the estate for parties.  Invited guests included luminaries such as Charlie Chaplin, Cary Grant, Clark Gable, Franklin Roosevelt, and Winston Churchill.  Guests usually arrived by plane at his private airstrip or by private train from Los Angeles.

Lavish decoration is everywhere, both inside and outside the house.

Plantings are lush throughout the grounds, and

original statues abound.

The views all around are spectacular, here looking east toward the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and

west toward the Pacific Ocean.

This is the formal dining room.

I'm not sure what this is.  I took the photo because I liked the pattern.

Here is a closeup of the tapestry on one wall of the dining room and what I think is a candelabra.

I was intrigued by what I guess is supposed to be a typical place setting, with a bottle of ketchup and a jar of mustard to be shared by 4 diners.

I will let most of the remaining photos speak for themselves.

Mr. Hearst never stopped working.  When everyone else had retired for the night he would head for his study and look over the next day's editions of his many newspapers, which were flown in each day.

One of the highlights of the estate is the outdoor Neptune Pool.

The pool includes this Roman Temple front transported from Europe and reconstructed here.

The trip from the visitor's center, a few minutes off the main road, to the castle took about 15 minutes climbing this winding road.

The front facade of the main building was designed to mimic a Spanish Cathedral.

There also is an indoor pool.

After touring Hearst Castle we drove north for a few miles to Piedras Blancas where Elephant Seals congregate on the beach.

As a parting photo, sunset as seen from our flight as it lands at Washington National Airport.

Thanks for looking.

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