The California coastline tends toward wide and sandy shores in the south and rocky with crashing waves in the north. It seems to me that the transition between the two happens right around Hearst Castle. So it makes perfect sense to build a mansion on the hillsides overlooking this amazing part of the coast.
Hearst Castle is only one of the many mansions owned by William Randolph Hearst. The land itself was purchased by his Grandfather and originally the land was only used by the family for "camping" which my guide described as a circus tent with hardwood floors and fine dining. But young William fell in love with the landscape here and when he finally inherited it from his Mother when he was in his 50’s, he knew he had to build on the land. And he built Hearst Castle. He always had a love of classical art and antiquities and from a very early point he knew he intended to share this mansion and its furnishings and décor with the world. He wanted it turned into a museum and after his death, his children gave the castle to the State (after first trying to sell it against their father's last requests but not finding any buyers).
Over the years I’ve been on a couple tours of Hearst Castle, but the first was as a child and the last was almost ten years ago. This time I go on tour two. On every tour you get to see the deep blue outdoor pool. Ever since that first tour it has always taken every ounce of determination to keep myself from “accidentally” slipping and falling into the water. It just looks like it’s so cool and refreshing. Something about it. Everyone wants to swim in it. You only need $10,000 and you can rent the pool for a couple hours.
We get to see the library, Hearst’s bedroom and the kitchen, but the coolest room we saw on this tour was a little circular bedroom in the bell tower. They call it the jewel-box bedroom because of the cool way the light shines in through the ornate carvings on the windows. People like JFK and Walt Disney stayed in this room when they visited the castle.
Hearst Castle is just the beginning of the most scenic drive in the world (or at the end of the road depending on which way you drive). Big Sur is a strange world where hippies hitchhike down the same road that the wealthy drive to reach the posh resorts for weekend getaways. And then there are the people that live here. I imagine those people are a combination of the two: the Ben and Jerry's of the world - rich hippies. But everyone can enjoy the same scenery.
This is the kind of place where you stop every chance you get to take pictures. The first day I’m there it’s foggy, but clear enough to see fine, which is all that matters. But after camping on the other side of the ridge for the night, the next day with the sun shining the sea is now turquoise at the shore.
There have been times when I've avoided Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park because of the entrance fee, but this time I pay it, and take the walk out to the viewpoint. It really is such an iconic view, with the waterfall meeting the waves in the protected cove. I hadn't realized that there was a house here at one point and the residents donated the land to the State. It's hard to imagine that it's possible to wake up in the morning and enjoy a cup of coffee with this view out your kitchen window.