I took a step out of my comfort zone and got myself and The Boy into the car last Saturday Morning at 6am and we took the 4 ½ hour drive up north to San Simeon to visit Hearst Castle. He will be doing his 4th grade project and report on Hearst Castle. So here is MY report on our trip.
Of course, we got a late start. I was determined to be up at 5 am and out the door by 6am. I almost met that goal. We were walking out the door at about 6:25 am so I wasn’t to displeased. What I didn’t anticipate was that the drive was actually 4 ½ hours. I was guessing I would drive a little faster than what Yahoo Maps assumed I would drive. However, after getting settled into the car, getting my electronics plugged in, a quick prayer to God for a safe trip and a stop at Starbucks, we weren’t actually on the real road until 7am.
The drive was gorgeous. Well, it was gorgeous once we got past L.A.’s 101 freeway and when the ocean appeared from the South. Now, I am not one to have the Beach as my #1 best place to go. I actually do not like the beach or the sand or anything like that. But the ocean is a beautiful and vast thing to behold.
Along the North of our drive up to San Simeon, were rolling green hills, farms and ranches with cows and horses and plenty of grape vines.
After only one bathroom break stop just after passing Santa Barbara we arrived at the Castle around 11am. That was a bit behind my scheduled time, but I didn’t anticipate that the road during last few miles to the Castle would turn into one lane and of course, I would be stuck behind the slowest of the slow.
Just before pulling into the Hearst Castle drive way, the Zebras were out and in full view from the highway. The Castle has a zoo and the Zebras are the main attraction.
Upon arriving, the first thing I wanted to do was get in and get the tickets for the Grand Rooms Tour. We were able to walk onto a tour bus which was just leaving soon after I bought the tickets.
Some sights from the Bus…
The Grand Rooms tour consisted of the large living room, dining room, sitting room, billiard room and the theater. No flash was allowed inside the Castle, hence….very dark photos.
I want to let the photos speak for themselves. However, the theater was pretty much a mini Grauman’s Chinese Theater! Flash wasn’t allowed inside the Castle and we were rushed out of rooms fairly quickly so I couldn’t even capture the grandeur of this room, if you can CALL it that. It was a mini movie theater equipped with stadium type seating and grand Egyptian statues that held the candelabras placed along the walls of the room.
After that tour, we were able to walk the grounds a bit. We peeked inside the windows of the 3 cottages around the gardens. There was also a tour available for the cottages, kitchen and wine cellar but I would have to leave that for another time.
We roamed around the Neptune Pool. Of course, the time we go, the pool is empty. Apparently, the pool was leaking thousands of gallons of water a day and because of the current drought in California, that just doesn’t work out to good. So the pool was empty due to fixing the leaks.
It was soon after that, The Boy told me he would REALLY like to go on the Upstairs Rooms Tour, which was a tour of the bedrooms, the library and Mr. Hearst’s office. I knew that buying another tour was going to put me way over my budget for this trip.
I did it anyway. My heart swelled that The Boy was so thrilled about the history and splendor of this place, I really had no choice. I just said a prayer that I had enough gas to get home.
I purchased two more tickets for the upstairs tour and soon, we were on our way.
The upstairs tour was way better and consisted of WAY more stairs to climb. Woowee!
The detail of the architecture and detail to the theme of each room was absolutely phenomenal. Words couldn’t even describe how gothic and medieval some of these rooms looked. The ceilings alone were enough to compete with the Sistine Chapel!
During the tours, I would stay towards the back of the group because I was taking photographs and I wanted to be able to take them with no body in the pictures. However, The Boy soon tells me that he didn’t want to be in the back. I immediately thought this grand and kind of dark house was scaring him. Nope, he just couldn’t hear the tour guide from the back of the group! Thankfully, the tour groups were small enough for me to let him be in the front while I remained in the back and still be able to keep him in view which allowed for him to be right by the tour guide. He impressed me with that though. That Boy continues to surprise me.
After the second tour, not only was it getting late and we still had a 4 ½ hour drive back home, but I was getting pooped. On the way down to wait for the bus to return down the hill, we were able to stop by the Roman Pool
Once again, architecture at it’s best. The tiles at the bottom of this pool looked like they glowed and the pool was surrounded by Greek statues.
Then onto the bus back to the main center. We walked around the gift shop and The Boy got a few little trinkets but I knew that we needed to get back on the road.
Our Hearst Castle visit was over.
On the drive up, The Boy made the request that we stop by one of the beautiful little cove beaches that we saw. I decided that would be okay. I would just have to suck up my anger and hatred towards anything sand. I hate sand. So, before we fully left San Simeon, we stopped at a small trail that led down to the beach and he got his feet wet. I just stood back and kept as far from that salty water as I could. Blegh!
Then it was the 4 ½ drive back. We hadn’t really eaten yet so I thought I would stop somewhere along the way but I just kept missing off ramps and The Boy wanted Denny’s not what was coming up off the next off-ramp. Finally, once we hit Ventura, we pulled over and got Chick-fil-A and gobbled it up. I even treated myself to a Strawberry Shake but apparently my shirt wanted that shake because once I got back on the road, the shake promptly spilled all over me. I drove the last few miles with strawberry shake sticky jeans and shirt.
Needless to say, by the time I pulled up into my house, I was done. However, it was one of the best spur of the moment decisions, I’ve made. I’m definitely doing more trips like that in the future, should finances allow. I will have to plan the finance part of it out a little more as my current financial situation doesn’t really allow for spontaneity. I would have to say this trip, pretty much put me in the overdraft crap house with my bank account and I’m probably going to be making up for it for a while but I’m going to try and not think about it.
Regardless, it was a lot of fun and I was glad to have my Canon SLR back in my hand for photography.