Hearst Castle and Elephant Seals . . .

Since I recently reposted our visit to the Sea Lion Caves along the California coast, I thought I continued along with our stopover at Hearst Castle the week before.

It’s hard to believe that this was almost 12 years ago. Seems like last month.

May 2, 2010

We left the rig about 9 am heading for San Simeon and Hearst Castle about 180 miles away. We stopped for lunch about noon in Paso Robles at Big Bubba’s Bad BBQ. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great either. The real problem is that we didn’t think their sauce was very good.

Famous Dave’s BBQ is much better, as well as Sonny’s BBQ, a restaurant chain in the Southeast. And, of course, Central Texas BBQ in Pearland, TX, and Rudy’s BBQ is Austin, and…well, I guess we just like southern BBQ better than California BBQ.

And don’t forget Big Daddy’s Northernmost Southern BBQ in Fairbanks, AK. Man, it was good! Even in Alaska, it’s still southern BBQ, so it counts.

We got to Hearst Castle about 1:15 pm for our 2 pm tour. We’d made reservations on the Internet to be sure we wouldn’t have any problems getting in after that long drive.

While we waiting for our bus ride up to the Castle, I took some pictures from the Observation Deck in back of the Visitor’s Center.

This is what it looked like at 18X mag.

Hearst Castle

And this is how far it actually is from the road. That’s it at the top of the hill in the very center of the picture.

Hearst Castle LV

And this is what the hills look like in the area.

Hearst Castle2

The driveway leading up to the Castle is 5 miles long and takes about 15 minutes. You go from about 50 feet elevation to 1700 feet at the top of the hill.

This is the entrance we saw as we got off the bus. Pretty impressive.

Hearst Entrance

And looking back from the front this is what we saw. You can see part of the road here.

Castle View

They even have their own cellphone tower up here. This is the first one I’ve seen where the camouflage actually seems to work. That’s it in the center with the thick trunk.

Cell Tower

We were real impressed by this entrance until we found out this is the entrance to one of the three guest houses. Wow!


And here’s two of the four bedrooms in this guest house.



And here’s another view down the mountain from the guest house. Our tour guide said “it’s one thing to have a great view. It’s another thing to OWN the view.”

At one time William Randolph Hearst owned 50 miles of coastline along here. Now they only own 19 miles. Bummer!

Castle View3

There are gardens and fruit trees everywhere.


Next we saw the Outdoor Pool, one of two on the estate. This was really incredible!

You can rent this pool for a pool party for you and 49 friends for two hours for the small sum of $2500.00


Walking toward the entrance to the main house we saw this Egyptian statue. It’s the oldest piece of artwork on the estate. It’s from the 18th dynasty, or about 3500 years old. That’s older than King Tut, or older than Moses.


This is the beautiful front of the “Casa Grande” or Great House, along with another beauty.


And here are the towers on top. The place is so big it’s hard to get it all in one picture.


Here’s the living room.


Here’s a close up of the wooden panels in the in living room ceiling. They’re from a Italian castle and are over 600 year old.


Next was the dining room. Looks like something out of King Arthur.


The main house has over 12,000 sq.ft of… closets. There is a total of 73,000 sq.ft. of usable space in the house. This is the parlor.


The last stop on our tour was the indoor pool.



And yes, that’s 22 kt gold fused into every tile, on the walls, the ceiling, and the bottom of the pool.


Leaving the indoor pool area, we boarded our bus and headed back down the hill. On the way we couldn’t help but compare the Hearst Castle with the Biltmore in Asheville, NC that we visited last year.

To me, the biggest difference was that at the Biltmore, we were not allowed to take any photos at all, of any kind. So we really have no record of our visit, except for the outside of the house. At Hearst Castle, as long as we didn’t use flash, there was no problem.

After we got back down the hill to the Visitor’s Center, we watched a 40 minute movie about the design and construction of Hearst Castle. One surprising fact was that the entire place was designed by a woman, Julia Morgan, who also supervised the construction.

Leaving the movie theater we headed over to the gift shop for a quick walk-thru. On the way there we passed the sales booth for Hearst Ranch Beef. The Hearst family still runs one of the largest beef ranches in California, and sells their beef around the world.


Leaving Hearst Castle we traveled about 5 miles north to the Elephant Seal viewing area. Parking and walking over to the fence and looking down, we saw this.

And we’re thinking “Neat. Elephant Seals”


Then we turn our heads and look north a little further up the beach and it’s “OMG! It’s wall-to-wall elephant seals as far as the eye can see. They look like they’re dead, but they’re just heavy sleepers.


These guys are big, and surprisingly fast. And they bite too!


Also, flying overhead, was a flight of pelicans, one of Jan’s favorite animals.


Leaving the seals, we drove 30 miles south to Morro Bay to spend the night. We checked into the Pacific Shores Inn and then went to dinner right on the bay at The Galley Seafood Restaurant. Jan said it was probably the best fried shrimp she had ever had. And I had a salad that was delicious.

This is the view from the restaurant.



And this is Morro Rock that rests right out in the middle of the bay. It’s 581 feet tall and was first charted by Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo in 1542. It’s actually a volcanic plug that was formed when lava hardened in the vent of an ancient volcano about 20 million years ago.

After dinner we stopped next door at Crills II for cinnamon buns for breakfast. Then it was back to the motel for the night.

Tomorrow we’re going to drive down the coast a little further, maybe as far as Santa Barbara, before heading back home.

Thought For The Day:

Unfortunately, sometimes your worst nightmare is just the start.