Day 6 – July 5, 2009
This was a wonderful day of driving and sightseeing. We began by traveling north on Route 101, from Goleta. Our first stop was a brief look at Morro Rock, a huge offshore monolith on Route 1, which we accessed in San Luis Obispo. Then we proceeded to Hearst Castle State Historical Monument, the highlight of the day. The elaborate and opulent mansion, former home of William Randolph Hearst, famous newspaper tycoon, sits on top of a 1600-foot hill, overlooking the Pacific Ocean. We began our visit with a 40-minute film which eloquently described the history of the family and the castle. It gave visitors a look at Willliam Randolph Hearst, the man, and his motivation for the construction of the mansion, which took more than twenty (20) years.
The site is run very efficiently by the California State Parks. A bus brought us to "Enchanted Hill," as the location of the castle is called, where our hour-and-a-half tour commenced. We opted for the Experience Tour (Tour #1), designed for first-timers. It gave us a look at the outdoor and indoor pool, the gardens, one of the guest houses, and the major public rooms of the mansion. The classically-designed buildings and their accoutrements were Hearst’s way of bringing the rest of the world, especially Europe, to San Simeon. Workmanship is exquisite, with great attention to detail and the collection of antiques, such as, giant tapestries, unusual ceilings, and beautiful statues, complement the architecture. I took many photos (check out the accompanying album), and we loved the entire experience.
Next, we continued north on the Pacific Coast Highway and marveled at the overlook on one of the most scenic drives in the world. The road winds in and out, hovering precipitously on steep cliffs above the rocky and sandy shores below. We obviously stopped at numerous pull-outs to take pictures. Our last major stop was at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, where we parked and walked the short trail to Mc Way Falls, an 80-foot waterfall which plunges directly into the ocean. The spot is positively enchanting, as I hope my pictures will testify.
We reached Monterey, our next destination, at about 5 PM and settled in for our two-day visit.