Chuck & Jan - 2008 & 2009 travel blog

Hearst "Ranch"

Wild Zebra on Heast Ranch

New friends - trying to share our lunch

Pacific Ocean

A succulent growing in the sand dunes

A valley - cattle and wine

March 6, 2008

Santa Margarita CA

WARNING; California is a North-South State. Driving East-West is messy! We looked at maps, and decided that the easiest way to get from Isabella Lake to the Pacific would be to drive West on State Highway 58. The maps looked really good, so off we went.

First off, we left Isabella Lake on a four lane freeway. About 30 miles later, we were on a two lane, though well paved, road following the Kern River, and down to 15 and 20 miles per hour as we negotiated switch backs. Actually a fun road, but not with a trailer behind! After about an hour, we squirted out from the mountains and were traveling a pretty good two lane road at 55 to 60 mph.

Took a couple of deep breaths, and thought "OK, we're on the way!" We were, til we got well through Bakersfield, and past it about an hour. As we drove, right in front of us was a range of mountains. We both felt that there must be a pass that we couldn't see. The closer we got the more trouble it looked like. Back to 15 to 20, and switch backs! There was a sort of pass, but it had to be about 3000 feet up. Again, a fun type of road, but not with the trailer.

Really great to see the increase in rainfall as we came west. After we crossed the first range of mountains into Bakersfield there was pastureland, and far more trees. It was obvious that the mountains stopped the rain. Lots of wildflowers, and a great deal of green. Beautiful! The park manager/owner said that there has been about twenty inches of rain so far this winter as opposed to less than three all of last year. No wonder they burnt out a batch of California last fall.

The road west just out of Bakersfield was like driving through a cloud of pink! The apples are in bloom! Miles and miles of them. Everything from mature trees to "sticks" in the ground - the new planting.

Up and over, and again on pretty good secondary or tertiary roads to Santa Margarita and the park. After we got here, the park owner asked us if we hadn't seen the signs which suggested that trucks and trailers should go around. Apparently, it takes about a half hour longer, and is far more relaxing. We hadn't seen the signs. Oh, well!

Nice, country campground about a quarter mile from a lake (we haven't been there yet) and good services. It's built on a series of terraces, and is full of mature trees. Nice. No cable TV again, and my decision to get satellite is reinforced.

Wildlife lives in the campground - Raccoons, skunks, squirrels, gophers, lots of birds, and even the occasional black bear. We'll be careful where we walk!

Semi-goof-off day today. Laundry and groceries.

March 7 2008

Santa Margarita Area

How do you describe way over the top "conspicuous consumption"? I haven't a clue how to describe William Randolph Hearst's "ranch". The place was built to resemble ancient Roman architecture, and 15th/16th century Italian. Almost all the furnishings are antiques from the Italian, French and Spanish. Huge amounts of original statuary, and new stuff done in that style.

Hearst gave a new definition to "the back forty" He meant the back forty miles, since that's how far you could see from up on the mountain, and how much he owned. He OWNED 50 miles of beach front, a one mile airstrip, with appropriate hangars. For the comfort of walkers or horseback riders, he built a mile and a half of pergola, covered with plants and vines, so one could ride or walk in inclement weather. The "small" guest house was 3600 square feet. His architect was on retainer, one day per week for about thirty years. The swimming pool was redesigned twice, and was the largest in the United States when finished. All Italian marble and tile. The indoor swimming pool was built after the tennis courts, and was excavated under them, by hand so that they would not be disturbed. It turned out that the area was granite, and had to be removed by hand - two and a half years in the making. He had two bowling alleys started in a basement, and then when he visited someone who had three, he had construction stopped and abandoned, because it wasn't possible to increase the size to three or four. For years he had the largest private zoo in the States. (The animals were treated better than any zoo in the states at that time.) There are still elk, zebra and wild sheep from the Middle East loose on the property. The main house had a carillon installed in two towers. Each bedroom had its own bathroom, done in marble.

I didn't even take a picture - just too overwhelming. Not possible to show what it looked like - not by me, anyway.

March 8, 2008

Same area

We drove down to Morro Bay today, just to look at the ocean. Nice breeze blowing in from the sea, and fairly warm - around 65. The waves crashing on the beach are a never ending source of fascination. All the same, but each one different from the next. Lots of sand dunes along the beach where we were, and I got a couple of pictures of the plants that grow mostly in sand. A succulent with a beautiful flower, in huge patches. Interesting too was some kind of plant that helps stabilize the sand. Central plant and very long runners extending the plant five or six feet.

Up the shore a ways there were some wind surfers that were almost flying. Back and forth across the waves pulled by parachute like apparatuses. We stopped for lunch in a small town along the beach, and thought sea food was the obvious choice. Mistake, at least at this place. You can get deep fried everything, with French fries anywhere.

On the way home, we stopped at a couple of wineries, and sampled their wares. Still think I like Cabernet Sauvignon best, so bought a couple of bottles from different places. They don't "showcase" their cheaper vintages, and I'm not really a connoisseur. Will bring them home to share.

Lots left to do!


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