Apr 28, 2012
. We took the recommended tour for first time visitors, the "Grand Rooms Tour"; this was a tour lasting about 45 minutes of the first floor of the main house, referred to as the castle. After the guided tour we were free to roam around the grounds to view the gardens, the swimming pools, tennis courts and guest houses, before returning to the visitor's center by bus. The only way to the castle from the visitor’s center is by bus, and the ride takes about 20 to reach the top of the mountain and the castle. After returning to the visitor’s center we watched a 45 minute film on the life of Mr. Hearst and the building of the castle. The entire visit was fantastic the grandeur of the building with all of its art and furnishings is breathtaking and is definitely a must see for everyone. It is hard to believe that someone could amass enough wealth to build, furnish and maintain such an enormous home. After leaving the Hearst Castle around 6:00 PM we headed north on Rt 1 in search of a campground for the evening. This part of the trip was completely unexpected, as it was a nerve racking, white knuckle, slow trip over a two lane road that paralleled the ocean and hugged the mountain cliff face to our left, and if that were not bad enough the turns were severe right and left turns up to 90 degrees and sometimes with switch backs so tight I could not make the turn without the trailer going over into the other lane. Then add into the mix the steep grades, and you have an interesting ride. While it was a harrowing experience it was also a beautiful experience, with the views of the ocean with the cliffs dropping off to the sea and the mountains rising majestically above us. Along the way we came across an area where there were some Elephant Seals on the beach, so we stopped and watched, they were not doing much other than lying there on the beach, we did not stay long as the temperature had dropped to 55 degrees and the wind picked up to such a degree that you had to lean into the wind to walk. Just north of the town of Gorda we found a National Park campground in which we found a site that we could fit into without unhooking the trailer from the truck. It is a beautiful campground and for the first time on the trip we are camping without any hookups.
Unfortunately the tide was not out far enough to take a walk on the beach this morning, the surf was still braking against the rocks. We left the Hobson Beach at 9:00 and headed north on U.S. Rt 101 to San Luis Obispo and then continued north on CA Rt 1 along the coast. The entire route we took today was indicated on the map as a scenic highway, and that description is truly accurate. During the first part of our trip we drove along the coast with the Pacific to our left and the Santa Ynez Mountains to our right, and we passed through rolling countryside dotted with vineyards and grazing lands for cattle. Traveling north on CA 1 we were greeted with fantastic views of the ocean and steep rocky cliffs to our left and the Santa Lucia Mountains to our right; these mountains were higher and with more dramatic hill sides and steeper canyons dropping off at severe angles than we previously experienced. Around every turn were more dramatic and breathtaking vistas. At 1:30 we arrived at the Hearst Castle, the former home of William Randolph Hearst, it is now a state historical park and only seen on a guided tour