Wow, 10 weeks without blogging. I might be cured (or just busy). But since the Bay Area weather has definitely taken a turn for the worse, I finally got around to uploading my Thanksgiving pictures from San Luis Obispo and Big Sur.
Nice, tourist free trip and my friends finally dragged me to Hearst Castle, the original Xanadu. I've now come to CA for over 20 years and always passed it and it's $20 entrance fee by. Probably a mistake, because it's really interesting and atmospheric in a big way. Seeing it from the beach, it looked absolutely beautiful, even more so when I got to the entrance, palatial swimming pool and the Spanish-styled guest houses.
But as soon as I got into the main house (modeled after a Spanish church), the walls started closing in: dark wood, dark lighting, weirdly mixed art in the wrong places--for example a quire as a wall decoration, a 14 century wall covering as a ceiling, bare concrete staircases behind medieval hearths--all gave a sense of loneliness, strange ambition, and isolation. The fact that it is built on a hilltop 30 miles from the nearest city doesn't help either. Not even the Christmas decorations and upbeat patter from the tour guides "He loved entertaining.", "the dining room was always full with the most fascinating people like Emilia Erhard and Clark Gable" helped. By the time we hit the billiard room, the entire group had gotten silent and vaguely unsettled.
No wonder his heirs couldn't 'donate' it to the state fast enough. It's amazing, beautiful, and eccentric, but I can imagine that most of the illustrious guests ran like hell after a few days. Even with the free horses, hunting, the zoo and the exotic animals that used to roam the hundreds of square miles of Hearst Ranch.
Since it never snows, Rosebud was nowhere to be found, though.
Anyway, Elephant Seals! I got a 3 foot stuffed toy octopus for my niece, and a huge shout out to Bon Temps Creole Cafe on the 101 on ramp in SLO! I love restaurants that sell six packs.