From trailer parks to castles in one day...

Trip Start Jun 30, 2010
Trip End Aug 15, 2010

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Where I stayed
the twin dolphins inn morro bay

Flag of United States  , California
Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The plumbing in Morro Bay is pretty powerful, even at the beach so all is now right with the world!
First we went to see Morro Rock. Morro means headland or turban in Spanish - its hard to describe but it just sticks up out of the water and can be seen from most parts of town. The top was mostly covered by the low fog until the afternoon but it was pretty impressive all the same.
A 76 year old guy called Paul was feeding peanuts to the ground squirrels and seagulls. He had travelled a lot (been to Perth, Alice Springs and Sydney), been married 4 times and now lived in trailer park just outside of Morro Bay. I think he went down to the rock every day to talk to people and enjoy the outdoors. He kindly gave us some peanuts so we could get pictures of us feeding the squirrels.
There were some sea otters in the bay floating on their backs and an English guy originally from Manchester told us they twist kelp around themselves to keep from floating away. Unfortunately, they would not come any closer to the shore so are hard to see in the pics. The wife lent us binoculars - I think I need to buy a small, light pair to take with me in future.
We decided to do the big touristy thing as well so we went to Hearst Castle - I am not allowed to publish my photos so if you want to see the opulence please check out the website. It is hard to believe that so much money could be spent on something during the depression when so many people were starving. It did, however, keep a large number of people in work for 15 years on wages that were much greater than the norm at the time so that was something. 
The whole visit was like a production line - tours every ten minutes in groups of about 50 people. And that was just for Tour 1 which was recommended for first time visitors. There are 5 tours you can take. Each one is $24 per adult so they must be making some money and they need it for the upkeep. We worked out they were taking in about $7000 per hour from tour 1 alone. It should help the finances of the State of California.
They have built this enormous visitor centre just to cope with the number of people going through the castle.
The castle was extremely ornate and everything was overdone. He, William Randolph Hearst of the newspaper and movie fame, bought 'antiques' from people who had to sell things off during the depression so the whole thing is a conglomeration of very old fireplaces, doorways, 13th century choir stalls, porcelain statues etc from Europe. We were told off if we accidentally touched the marble or stepped off the carpet - there was a person bringing up the rear to keep us all in check. The indoor pool was amazing; its such a waste that no one is allowed to swim in anymore. David Niven said it would be the best place to drown or something.
So, although I am not generally in to doing the real touristy thing, this was worth it. We found out later that you can do self guided tours which might have been more up our alley but the guide was eccentric and very knowledgeable so it kept us amused as did some of the others on our tour. Naturally, I found a koala made in China for sale in the visitor centre. Hearst did have some kangaroos in his private zoo so I suppose koalas are near enough.
As we had not been shopping for at least a couple of days we just had to go back to Cambria (where we had pizza the night before) and check out some of the cute places we had seen that were closed. I like the way most of the shops sold US made goods and promoted local artists. I found this wonderful sand picture mounted in 3 rings so you didn't just flip it you could roate and flip and have it at all different angles. I really want one but luckily it was just too big to take home. 
One local wood artist had a garden made out of all things wooden - he obviously sees things in the wood and then just brings that out. It was on the side of the road and was open to the public for free - it was really lovely and very clever.
Sometimes I think we have taken on too much but we have seen a lot of the US that many foreigners don't get to see. Its been tiring but so much fun.
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