Sunday, February 16, 2014

Hearst Castle-La Cuesta Encatada, A Very Special Place Filled with Magic

Our new destination was Hearst Castle.  This particular trip hasn't been so much about being tourists but more about enjoying the peace and beauty of nature.  But we weren't going to miss “La Cuesta Encatada”.  We pulled into the visitor center about 11am and had just missed the tour bus-the next one wasn't until 2pm and we were pretty road weary and slightly stinky so we decided to head to San Simeon State Park just down the road. (About 5 miles).

It’s a fairly large park-no hookups-but hot showers!  And during the busy season they have a shuttle that will take you into Cambria, a lovely little town about 7 miles south of the campground.  Filled with restaurants, shops and what was important to us a Laundromat!  I read the reviews on Yelp and the Laundromat lived up to them-very expensive-$3.50 per load and of course we hadn’t done laundry all month so we blew our laundry budget on one visit-spent almost $45 between the washers and dryers. But it is so nice to have clean clothes-it’s the little things that make me happy these days.

Warning-the parking lot where the Laundromat is located is very small-and challenging even with a Roadtrek.  This was the scene of one of our “driving arguments”.  Jim thinks that I think he can easily maneuver Ruby into any spot.  Honestly, I know the challenges with the turning radius, watching out for trees and people and other vehicles.  But sometimes I do get impatient and while I wouldn’t exactly describe myself as “barking” orders at him, I think he would describe it exactly like that.  These little nonsensical arguments are something we are working on-being in close quarters and a “city” environment are both challenges we are working on.  Sometimes very successfully. Other times not so successfully.  I don’t want you to think we are on some magical flying carpet journey-we still have lots of the day to day things that drive couples crazy about each other-no matter how much you love the person you are with.  We both are working on our patience levels and letting go of our control issues.

While I did laundry I sent Jim out on a scouting trip to find a restaurant for lunch.  And oh boy did he pick a winner- Robin's!  Our friends in Santa Barbara told us we ate at the best restaurant in Cambria and I would definitely agree.  Robin’s was within walking distance of the Laundromat so we didn’t have to experience another episode of parking lot wars!   We were seated out on the enclosed patio-nice sunny day with a very slight breeze added to the wonderful ambience of the restaurant itself. Jim ordered the house lasagna special-which he described as unusual tasting (meaning not like mine), but the best he has ever tasted (even better than mine!).  I ordered something called Robin’s Chow which was a combination of vegetables and noodles cooked in a Wok and seasoned with a ginger sauce-oh so good.

After a few brews and a slice of the house carrot cake to go (delicious and highly recommended), we walked around town checking out the stores.  I discovered some wonderful wind chimes at the Art Glass store and had to have them for the condo.  There was a gorgeous glass door-a mold of different sea shells (which I’m sorry I didn’t get a picture of)-I would have loved to have it for the condo-but the 4300$ price tag took my breath away-oh well I can dream can’t I ?

We also stumbled onto a lovely little garden shop-I wanted to buy a zillion things-fortunately the small amount of space restricted my purchases.  I did buy a pretty piece of recycled glass that was such a glowing aqua color it looked like a wave captured in the glass.  I love funky unusual pieces like that.

Jim guided me back to Ruby before I went over our “for the condo” budget-he really is good at that-thank goodness one of us is!

We headed back to the campground and took the hike down to the ocean which is across the highway from the campground.  We should have looked carefully at the map because we would have discovered a trail only 300 ft away.  Instead we hiked the boardwalk which turned out to be about 1 mile-oh well we walked off the brews, lunch and carrot cake.  Another  gorgeous sunset.  I’ve been collecting seashells along the way so we walked and walked along the beach before we headed back to camp.

The next morning after hot showers we packed up and headed to Hearst Castle.  My brother had told me we shouldn't miss this and suggested we take the Grand Rooms Tour.  Words cannot express the beauty and the experience of La Cuesta Encatada-other than magical.  The mood is set if you watch the 45 minute movie before boarding the tour bus.  The movie surrounds you with the era when the castle was built and makes it so easy for you to imagine Clark Gable sitting in the living room in a smoking jacket or David Niven sitting at the dining table. I literally took hundreds of pictures-every turn we made there was some beautiful piece of artwork or craft-work.  If you haven’t been please put this at the top of your list when you visit this area of California-you will not be disappointed.  We plan on returning and doing all the other tours available next year.  

Wandering around you don’t even feel like you are in the United States anymore-you feel like you are a guest at someone’s villa on the Mediterranean.  Mr. Hearst certainly achieved his goal in wanting to transport people to a place of beauty and imagination. Besides the landscaping and the overwhelming beauty of the castle itself I fell in love with the pools-indoor and outdoor.  I felt like I wanted to glide down the marble stairs to the Neptune Pool and dive like Esther Williams into the blue waters.  And the indoor pool immediately took my breath away when I entered the doorway.  The blue and gold mosaics, the soft yellow glow of the lights and the sunshine shining in the middle of the pool-like I said –magical.

Enjoy the little (oops sorry very large) video I put together of the hundreds of pictures I took.   Happy Trails and I wish that each of you have a little magic in your lives every day.

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