May 23, 2016
Let’s try this again! I lost a few hours of posting photos and story line this morning but maybe this time will be a charm. So here I sit outdoors at a picnic table munching on fresh California cherries and strawberries with a glass of wine. Yum! This is a tough life but someone has to do it!
I departed Santa Barbara on the CA1 heading north. I’m finding that I’m following the Historic El Camino Real and there are posted signs spaced along the highway. A shepherd’s hook with a bell and then the sign. I’m not sure of the significance of the bell but it must be something of significance.
As I passed this farm I couldn’t help but think of my son Jeff. This is quite a farming operation.
Of significance though is the drought that California is experiencing. Look at the hillside and the dry grasses and withering trees.
This large rock had a name of ‘something’ dome, I just can’t remember the exact name. But these type of rock outcroppings are common along this part of the coast.
I arrived at the San Simeon State Campgrounds and set up the RV before having lunch on the beach. There is a river running just in front of the place I sat to eat lunch and then the ocean just beyond that. Just me and the birds here for lunch though.
With lunch down it is time to visit the Hearst Castle. My first view of the castle some 3 miles from the campground.
First a little information on the castle. The castle was under constant construction for 28 years and one of the conditions as it was given to the state was that it would never be finished. It will remain as it was in 1951 when Mr. Hearst died. 127 acres and the Castle itself was given to the state of California by the Hearst Corporation so that the public could view the Castle and all its antiquities both inside and outside. Mr. William Randolph Hearst was able to amass a huge collection of centuries old building structures and antiquities after World War 1 when European’s were desperate for cash. This state park is more like a museum rather than a park where children are allowed to run loose and put their hands on everything in sight. I asked about the collection and the origin of the items. There is no catalogue of the collection to help place dates and countries of origin available in the gift shop. Some of the items are from the 13th and 14th centuries and a few of the Egyptian items are thousands of years old. Today you would never be allowed to gather a collection of this sort but the fact that it is on display for the public to view is a plus. I only wish that each item was identified with a placard stating its origin and date of creation.
The first thing we see is the outdoor swimming pool. As you’ll see the pool is being refurbished. Just look at the detail and the opulence of the lampposts and other outdoor items.
The gardens that surround the Castle are quite breathtaking as marble statues are interspersed everywhere.
There are many citrus trees on the property.
It is time for the Grand tour of the first floor entertaining rooms to begin.
We are shown a view of the ‘back yard’! As far as you can see belonged to Mr. Hearst.
A beautiful structure.
As we walked around we viewed the front entrance which was taken out of service 20 years ago after the 1,000 year old mosaics were refurbished. The wooden eves and decorations you see are Teak.
This mosaic entry was restored by hand over many months.
These Egyptian items are thousands of years old.
The interior is full of tapestries from the 17th century and each piece of furnishings are hundreds of years old.
This is the room behind the main entrance and was used for cocktails each evening from 7 to 9 pm.
Wood carved ceiling removed from Italy or Spain and reassembled in the Castle as were many other room ceilings.
At 9pm Mr. Hearst would come out of a door secreted in the Choir stalls to escort his guests to dinner in the dining room. The dining room is designed after an Italian Castle or Palace. A five course meal would be served that would last until about 11:30pm.
Guarding the doors and fireplace.
In the gaming room the ceiling is in the process of being restored, one inch at a time with a cotton ball. The person doing the restoration does so on a part time basis as he travels worldwide performing these services to a multitude of museums.
At midnight there would be a movie shown in the theater. A rather opulent theater at that.
Viewing the theater ended the tour but I was able to get more pictures of the garden while waiting for the Upstairs rooms tour.
As we begin the next tour we are shown a cut away of the Castle construction. Steel reinforced concrete to withstand earthquakes is then covered by brick and then plaster to resemble limestone. There are huge areas not completed as Mr. Hearst was still expanding his ‘home’.
The second floor consisted of guest rooms with sitting rooms between them. There is also a library here that was open 24 hours for restless guests. The bookshelves had locked grating over the books, presumably to prevent damage in the event of an earthquake. Some bedrooms were single occupancy while many of the others contained two beds. Those that shared the space with two beds had separate bathrooms. Only same gender couples shared rooms unless you were married.
Mr. Hearst received a copy of each of his newspapers daily and made corrections and provided input prior to their publication. His guests could read them here.
On the third floor was Mr. Hearst suite of rooms as well as his girlfriends.
His private study.
On the fourth floor are two guest rooms as well as a study room shared by the guests.
A view of the garden from on high.
As we worked our way down we encountered even more guest quarters. Even a loft was created where a void existed and Mr. Hearst had the idea to accommodate more guests.
I enjoyed my visit to the Hearst Castle and I hope that you’ve enjoyed the photos of my experience.