If it’s Tuesday it must be Hearst Castle. Dawn Patrol (me and James) got breakfast first, and then Mich joined us. The Hilton did a pretty nice spread.
The castle is about 3 hours from Santa Cruz. Luckily, the Dale kids are very efficient travelers. James spends a little time looking out the window, then he hits the snack sack, then he sleeps. When we wakes up, at the end of the ride, he says one of two things. Either, “I have to pee,” or, “I’m hungry.” Seriously. Mich’s style is a little different. She first makes sure I know where I’m going. Then she starts her assigned reading. She’s available to chat, or for any navigational needs. She’ll also sing along with the radio with me. We passed through lots of agriculture on the way, and they were harvesting like crazy. Prices were insane. Avocados were 7 for $1 and artichokes an incredible 12 for $1. We discussed how little of our food money goes to the farmers, but also considered that the distribution of the stuff is essential; the farmer needs that system. James did some filming for his art homework. He called it “good b roll.” That’s a movie making term.
We arrived at the castle visitor center in time to, what else, get lunch. The Hearst family still runs cattle on the land, and they serve the meat in the cafe. James partook of a bbq beef sandwich. Not bad. We couldn’t tell that it was Hearst beef though. Next up was an IMAX movie. Those are always fun. Then we boarded the bus for the actual Castle, along with the League of Nations. The Hearsts called that site on the ranch “the enchanted hill” and it is. The castle is spectacular. The kids kept saying how much their Dad would like the place. We got to see the main public rooms, which are full of treasures: tapestries, sculptures, interiors from all over Europe, like old Italian ceilings and ornate carved wood from churches. Then we checked out the gardens and the Neptune pool. The colonnade around the pool has Roman columns from the 1st to 4th century. There are security people everywhere, who scold you if you touch anything. But in a nice way. The whole place is considered a museum. We were well behaved. We were.
We spent about 4 hours at the Castle in total. So, understandably, we were hungry. We stopped for dinner alongside California highway 1 and San Simeon Bay (which is really blue!). We were underwhelmed. I explained that we are a tough group, since we have pretty high food standards. James even criticized the plating of the food. Oh boy. But, we ate. Then we stopped in the next town for ice cream, and there were so many restaurants that looked 100 times better than the one we stopped at. That hurt.
However, things got much better as we headed inland to our hotel for the night. The Pacific was behind us, with the sun setting, all orange and pink. Ahead of us was the rising full moon, gigantic because it was low on the horizon, in a purple sky. We stopped at the top the the mountain, and James filmed the whole thing. It was magical. I will always remember that moment. I will also remember that both kids peed in that spot. James has been doing his part to road side fire danger by peeing at every turn. Last night’s hotel also had a pool, and there was a brief swim before we pulled out the cards. Unfortunately, Mich got a stomach ache, cutting the game short. She eventually lost her dinner. But then she felt much better and slept well. As did James and I.
This morning we packed up and drove 4 hours home, stopping only for fruit at a roadside stand, and lunch.