Saturday, March 19, 2011

California Road Trippin'

{Big Creek Bridge on Highway 1}

This past week I took a road trip up the California Coast through parts of central and northern California.  It was sort of a "big kid's Spring Break" and part "Thelma & Louse" - but I won't delve into those stories! Instead, I thought I would share some highlights of the trip with a tour of Hearst Castle and the Winchester House along with a few scenic pictures.

First stop, Hearst Castle located in San Simeon, California.  The estate of famed publisher William Randoph Hearst who inherited 450,000 acres of land from his mother.  In 1919, he hired architect Julia Morgan to design something beyond the "camping accommodations" that had been used on the land and instructed her by saying, "Miss Morgan, we are tired of camping out in the open at the ranch in San Simeon and I would like to build a little something."  Thus, by 1947 Hearst and Morgan had created an estate of 165 rooms and 127 acres of gardens, terraces, pools and walkways.  The architecture of the house is built in a Mediterranean Revival style and greatly influenced by European and Spanish cathedral styles.

{Photos of the main house on the estate, home of William Randolph Hearst.}

{The front of the guest house on the estate.}

{Fountain on the grounds of the estate.}

{Statues on the grounds of the estate.}

{Stairs leading to one of the many terraces on the property.}

{The estate offers dynamic views of the Pacific Ocean from many of the terraces and rooms of the castle.}

{This picture is the interior of the library.  The ceilings in every room are amazing!}

*Interior photos are a little blurry and they do not allow flash photography.

{Almost each room has it's own distinct decorative ceiling.}

{This his Hearst's own private study where he actually worked remotely and edited his newspaper's and magazines.}

{The formal dining room of the estate, as seen on our tour.}

{The indoor pool of the main house, covered with decorative tiles.}

{But my favorite part of the entire estate is the main outdoor pool, with the Greek Key tiles on the pool's floor.  Our tour guide told us once a year they allow employees along with two of their chosen guests to swim in the pool.  I am looking forward to my invitation!}

{Additional views of the swimming pool.}

{The wall of the pool as seen from below and one of the first things you see upon arriving at the estate.}

After our two extensive tours of the property, we cruised along the coast up Highway 1 and stopped for dinner in Big Sur.

{View of the California Coast at dusk from Big Sur.}

The next day, we toured the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, Ca.

So, this house is a little weird to say the least.  It was built by Sarah Winchester, an east coast transplant who had been widowed and inherited millions. After her husband's death she was advised by her physic to move west and build a house that she would never finish to appease the spirits and grant her eternal life.  And so the construction began in 1884 and continued 364 days a year, 24 hours a day until her death in 1922.  The story is each night she would go into her seance room and the spirits would tell her the plans for the next day and then she would advise her workers on what to build.  Mrs. Winchester had no design background whatsoever, and therefore the house is oddly constructed.  Most rooms are built as add ons to rooms, there are doors and staircases leading to nowhere, cabinets that open to reveal no storage, and many many other eccentric things.

{The exterior of the Winchester Mystery House.  Unfortunately, interior photography is prohibted so I only have photographs of the exterior grounds.}

After that strange tour, something more exciting!

This probably looks completely out of place but I just had to squeeze it in! Some may recognize the address - it's Apple Inc Headquarters in Cupertino, CA!!! I am a cult Apple fan, so visiting here is like Mecca for me.  Yes, I made the pilgrimage and visited their MotherShip Store.  I came back with a mug.

Pilgramage's can make one hungry, so after we headed south to Santa Cruz, CA for lunch on the wharf with a view of the boardwalk.

After lunch, we headed into the forest's of Santa Cruz to go check out the Mystery Spot.  Unfortunately, it had just closed.

So it will remain a mystery for me for now...

{All photos taken by me}

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