2013 – California Dreaming (part 4)

We were up early this morning to take our leave of Carmel.  We now know that if we ever come back this way, we’ll spend more time in Carmel.  What a cool town!

We really enjoyed our stay at the La Play at Carmel By The Sea.  We enjoyed complimentary wine & cheese before dinner, the girls had milk & cookies before bed, and they served an amazing breakfast on the Pacific Terrace this morning.  We lingered over breakfast, but the road was calling.   So, we took our leave and pointed the rental car (a convertible Mustang) south.

Like every morning of the trip so far, the skies were gray and fog was settled low over the coast.  Unfortunately, these conditions robbed us of much of the view of the rocky Pacific coast that we had been anticipating.  However, there were many opportunities to view the landscape between breaks in the fog and more often at lower elevations.

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As we approached San Simeon, we were getting on to late morning and the combination of lower elevations and warmer temps began to reveal a lot better view.  We spotted a lot of activity at Piedras Blancas so we pulled into the parking lot to find the beach covered with Elephant Seals.  The males were sparring in the shallows while most of the females and smaller Pacific Seals were sunbathing on the beach.  Pretty neat!

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But on we went, until we reached the Hearst Castle.  I didn’t really know what to expect from this stop, but when we got our first look at the castle towering over 1,600 feet above the Pacific coast, we were eager to get our tickets and check it out.  We started with a movie about the family, the architect, and WR Hearst’s creation.  Then, we boarded a bus for the 5 mile ride up the mountain and a recorded tour by Alex TrebeK.  Now why we’d have a Canadian gameshow host narrating the ride up to Hearst’s castle is beyond me, but I digress.

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We opted for a 45 minute tour of the grand rooms and grounds. The views from the castle grounds were amazing. We all enjoyed the stop, but I don’t see the need to go on additional tours to see other rooms in the castle. The state of California got my hundred bucks and that’s all that I’m willing to commit to preserving Mr. Hearst’s folly. Don’t get me wrong, it was cool, but I was a little annoyed at the sales pitch by Mr. Trebek on the way down the mountain to donate more to the organization that is preserving the castle.

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After a quick snack, we headed south again with the goal of reaching Santa Barbara. We settled into our room around 4:30 this afternoon and got freshened up for dinner. We enjoyed window shopping along State Street in downtown Santa Barbara and after dinner, we headed back to our hotel. We were anxious to walk across the street and onto the beach where we all dipped our toes in the (very chilly) Pacific Ocean.

Carie & I posed for a photo op and got a bit of surprise when a cold wave hit us a little higher and harder than we had expected. Madison managed to catch it perfectly.

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Tomorrow, we head for LA. Today’s photos have been added to the others on the Flickr Photo Set.

Cheers,
Jay

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