Sunday, March 28, 2010

Morro Bay, Cambria, and Hearst Castle in San Simeon

I think I’ve found my favorite area so far….from Morro Bay up through Cambria and San Simeon. We arrived in Morro Bay on Thursday and we stayed at a place called Cypress RV Park…not very big, but well maintained and the manager was very friendly and helpful. The RV Park is right on Main Street so we can walk to anywhere. After settling in, we took Emma for a walk down along the ocean. It’s a boardwalk type atmosphere with restaurants, shops and fishing docks all along the water. After our walk I did that never-ending chore…laundry! I found a clean little laundromat right down the street so the whole process was pretty quick and easy. Later that night we walked down to a restaurant for dinner…the food was delicious!

The next day we drove up Route 1 to San Simeon and the Hearst Castle…the shoreline was beautiful and the Hearst Castle was unreal! There are 4 guided tours that you can choose from. We chose Tour 1, as that is the one recommended for first-time tourists and it shows the main rooms on the first floor, such as the dining room, the lounge, and the game room, as well as the indoor Roman Pool and the outdoor Neptune Pool. The tour also included the main guest room…I can’t imagine being a guest there…the castle is just so over the top! At the end of the tour, there’s a movie that takes you through the story of William Randolph Hearst as a little boy, and his dream to build this castle on the land he inherited from his father, George Hearst, who owned 250,000 acres. Prior to the Hearst Castle construction, the location was known as Camp Hill, where the family retreated to 'rough' it in huge tents with wooden floors. Hearst's ideas for the castle came from his year-long European tour with his mother when he was a little boy, and much of the castle is built around what he saw then, in the Mediterranean Revival style. He and his architect, Julie Morgan, spent 28 years building the castle, beginning in 1919 and completed in 1947. He often made changes that required already built structures to be torn down and rebuilt. The main house has 165 rooms, 127 acres of gardens, terraces, pools, and walkways, and 3 guest houses. He entertained many Hollywood movie stars, as well as anyone who was famous or interesting during his lifetime. We were going to take Tour 2, which shows the upstairs bedrooms and Hearst’s private suite, but for each tour you have to start at the visitor center and take the tour bus up to the castle and then back down again…5 miles each way…and once you’ve seen the first tour, you become numb to the extreme opulence. If we’re ever back in this area though, I would definitely take all of the tours! Although the Hearst Corporation still owns much of the land, the Castle and guestrooms belong to the State of California and is an Historical Monument.

On the way back to Morro Bay, we made a few stops. The first was to walk on the rocks along the shore. We had seen several people out on the rocks and went out to see what was going on. It turned out to be bus loads of kids on a class outing and they were soaked…and having a great time! This particular area along the rocks is where sea lions rest and we saw several sunning themselves. From there, we stopped and had lunch in a quaint little ton called Cambria, with shops and restaurants lining the main street and cottages lining the hills above the town.

When we got back to Morro Bay, we took Emma and drove out to Morro Rock (too far to walk but hardly far enough to drive), which is a 581 foot tall volcanic plug that looks like it came right up out of the ocean millions of years ago. We drove around it till we found a spot that we could run with Emma…she loves the sand and getting her feet wet!

Next stop, Mariposa, CA and Yosemite!

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