Sunday, Dec 8th we left Palm Creek Resort in Casa Grande, Arizona at 7AM and headed for San Diego where we are setting down roots for 4 months, waiting for the arrival of our first grand baby. We went to visit Kevin and Ericka after we arrived spending the evening with them in Del Mar where they live. We are staying at the Santee Lakes RV Park about 25 minutes by freeways from Del Mar. Californian drivers are insane, they cut in and out of traffic going 100 mph, and are always in a hurry. This will take some time getting used to and the traffic jams are unbelievable if you are not carefull and try to move around during rush hours..
On Weds, Dec 11th we left San Diego in our jeep to drive north along the coast toward San Francisco but stopping on the way to visit the Hearst Castle in San Simeon. In order to see all 90,000 sf of the buildings at the castle we decided to take the three tours: the Grand Room tour, the Upstairs suite tour and the Cottages and Kitchen tour. The Hearst Castle features 56 bedrooms, 61 bathrooms, 19 sitting rooms, 127 acres of gardens, a Roman indoor swimming pool, a Neptune outdoor swimming pool, tennis courts, movie theater, airfield and the world’s largest private zoo.
A little history about William Randolf Hearst, born in San Francisco in 1863 to George and Phoebe Hearst, he became an American newspaper publisher who built the nations largest newspaper chain. He inherited the ranch, 250,000 acres and 14 miles of coastline from his Mother who died in 1919. The land was originally purchased by George Hearst in 1865 and William had spent many family camping trips to this beautiful landscape. So he decided that he wanted to build a “little something” on the top of the hill because he was too old for camping. He hired the architect Julia Morgan in 1919 and the “little something” became a massive castle that took 28 years to finally complete in 1947.
During it’s heyday in the 1920s and 1930s many Hollywood celebrities and political elite were invited to the Castle where they were wined and dined by WR Hearst and his wife Millicent. The main house, Casa Grande, is 60,645 sf, is where the guests first came when they arrived at the Hearst Mansion, to the beautiful, opulent Assembly Room with walnut paneling and vivid tapestries dating back to the 16th century. The Castle was named one of America’s “10 Amazing Castles” and Hearst went to great lengths to bring back the best of European architecture especially in the ceilings from churches and monasteries that dictated the proportion and decor of some of the various bedrooms. Every bedroom was different from the other and beautifully designed and decorated. The kitchen was enormous and even the equipment was large. We walked around the gardens and viewed the Neptune Pool with expansive vistas of the mountains, ocean and the main house. The patio features an ancient Roman temple from Europe. I wanted to jump right into the water it looked so inviting. This place was simply overwhelming and I am glad that we spent the time to tour it all
But it was back on the road travelling north on the famously senic highway 1. We stopped at a viewing area for Elephant Seals just north of Hearst Castle. Male seals grow up to 16 ft long and weigh over 5000 lbs. December thru February is mating seasons and hundereds of seals lay out on the beaches “looking for love”.
Continuing north on highway 1 the scenery is outstanding with giant vistas and crashing surf. We made it as far as Big Sur and stayed at the famous Post Ranch Inn where we were treated like royalty. Our room had an unobstructed view of the Pacific ocean and we watched the sun set drinking our complimentary bottle of wine. In the morning Patty was up early and took a dip in one of the secluded swimming pools looking out over the ocean. It wouldn’t be hard to get used to this lifestyle but we had to get up to San Francisco for Eric’s graduation ceremony so we reluctantly left the Inn around noon and continued our journey north.