June 5, 2010

Hearst Castle II

Hearst’s Castle from far below at the visitor center, 2010.

Himself: His face is looking thinner…as are other parts. Two estate sales….at one we bought a Japanese kitty print. We ate out….no breadsticks and two bowls of salad plus one bowl of soup each.

Herself: Swim, worked at the Discovery shop with the fascinating donations…little stuff today. Estate sales. These houses are fascinating to see…in one the new owners are yanking out the California Cooler….darn it. New kitty print, dinner out, handful of almonds for desert.

Gratitude: Lessa called.

We ate lunch perched in the car then went back into the visitor center to explore. They have a nice little, hands on museum where they encourage you to stroke, touch, and feel to your heart’s content. The sun crept out, and from far below I took as many pictures of the castle on its hill as I could hoping they would work.

On display is also one of WR Hearst’s four fire engines. The Ranch was too far from a fire department so they built their own.

Back on to a bus, we returned to the castle this time to saunter in the gardens.

A massive set of stairs greeted us….unfinished. “Hearst,” said the guide, “wanted to create a new gateway to the castle. It was never finished.”

“Because of a water leak,” the guide continued, “excavations were made under the massive stairs and walls of an upper plaza.” Another whole curved double stair and small pool were found, and after research, they found a photo of the stairs before they were covered up. Today you can see the supports for the deck above, and they use the space not only to show how Hearst changed his mind but how tiles and pottery were also made on site.

This second tour walked us through the gardens, the cabana’s for the Greek pool, Casa del Mar, and ended us at the indoor pool a second time. The tour guides for both tours were very professional, and the woman guide who took us around the gardens not only knew the details of the plants, but she told us of all the ongoing restoration efforts to return the ranch gardens to the original designs.

I found all the walking and climbing much easier than I had expected. Mr. Hearst planned many of the stairs to be broad and flat so his favorite Dachshunds could easily follow him about. There were no handrails, and they were added only after the estate became a state park. Since the guides stopped often to point out a ceiling detail or some other unique note, no matter what we climbed, I had a chance to comfortably catch my breath throughout the tours.


  1. Interesting that he thought of his dachshunds and how that inadvertently and eventually translates to us humans.

  2. I love the Terra cotta sidewalk and steps. In my cold climate it would soon be cracked and uneven.

  3. Oh that's a good idea. I'm going to start campaigning for all steps to be built for dachsunds. Love it. That's the kind of stairs I like.

  4. Tours can either be wonderfully full of interesting details, or mundanely routine. Glad you had a good one. I want to see this place someday. Now I know what to expect!
    Is your new photo of the gulls from your trip? That is a great one, too.

  5. Thanks for the great tour. Now I know what I've missed.

    Have you ever been to the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose? Lots of strange rooms and stairs that go nowhere. Probably had the same architect.

  6. I love these photos and am glad you're enjoying yourself!!!!

  7. I can handle steps like that!


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Peter in front of a wall sculpture. We were invited up to Peter Knego’s home to see the latest installation.   Abstract flat ...