July 20, 2005 – Wednesday – Day 25

48 States or Bust – The USA on Two Wheels
Miles Today: 84 – Total Miles: 5,933 – Average: 237.3 (travel days)
(-staying at a Motel 6-)

On this 25th day of our journey around the country we awoke at 6:30am in the Lucia cabin. The cabin was completely socked in with fog. Couldn’t even see the quarter-mile away store or the road. And even the Pacific Ocean right down the cliff was blanketed in fog. Karen went back to sleep and I finished typing up the recent days’ events. I lifted the thin blinds slat at 8:30ish to check on the fog. The scene was a bit different – the fog was thicker!!! Same for 9:15!

We finally made our way up to the store/restaurant area by 9:50am, and found a superb breakfast awaiting us. Delicious breakfast foods arrayed on tables set in a splendid dining room with fire roaring – and a big picture window displaying an ever-de-fogging view of the Pacific.

By 11:30am we had the bike packed up and we headed up into the mountainous fog. It wasn’t too bad by then. Low overhanging stuff that occasionally touched the road, but for much of the way it totally shrouded out the ocean far down on the right. I don’t know if that was a good thing or not. It surely made it feel like boxed-in riding, but it saved us from the tortures of making those narrow curves while actually seeing into the deep down awing depths below.

We passed the campground where I spent my 33rd birthday, celebrating back in ’80 with two cheese sandwiches right on the Pacific shoreline.

There were some of the roughest of roads we’ve encountered – usually due to landslides and the unfinished road work on the highway. And the turning in and out of the canyons was tighter than before – once I swayed over the middle line while turning – and I was sure glad that the guy coming around the mountain hadn’t begun his trip 30 seconds sooner!

The worst and most nervous times for me were when the road was rough ON those tight turns way up over the ocean – and there wasn’t a guardrail. I tried to keep my thoughts on the navigating duties at present instead of all the ‘what COULD happens’!

At one o’clock, we passed a beach full of elephant seals along the way. Karen said they looked like big slugs. And that they did. Most were just lying there seeming like they were sunning themselves on the beach. Odd looking creatures to be sure. We got a couple pictures from the road since I didn’t want to risk pull into the gravel vista point.

A bit further down the road came my only opportunity – as it turned out – to touch the ocean. It was a deserted motel and there was access to the beach. Although that access was roped off we lifted the rope, headed across some dune like areas, and I jumped down to the waves and actually touched a few of them as they lapped up to the shoreline. Karen got the picture from high up on the crusty hard-packed dune.

It was rocky along that bit of shore. Near some of the bigger rocks about a quarter-mile away a couple had gotten out of their red car and were frolicking in amongst the huge boulders thinking they were unseen from the world.

Along the coastline the air has been so fresh – from the ocean on the right and the millions of trees on the left. I’ve always thought it was the freshest air in the world – certainly the cleanest and sweetest smelling of my life. And here right on the beach – it was fabulous.

Shortly, we scrambled back up to the mc and headed down the road a short way to a little house on the hill.

Those who know about Hearst Castle, and who have been there know that no descriptives in the world can fully describe the place – or even come close. And those who don’t know about Hearst Castle can have no idea about its wonders or it’s amazing story. (I would suggest a google on the place.) I can only say that if one wanted to make a get-away home, without a shred of limitation as to money or imagination or material, then this might be that home! Imagine living above the clouds in a dream castle that had everything you might possibly want or desire.

We parked in the lot, took most of our gear and a couple bags, and headed to the main entrance. Kellen Riley, with the Park Service at the Ranger Station, helped us immeasurably with his kindness of letting us put our heavy riding coats and a few carry bags in a locked side room. (The lockers at the Park were all being used or were broken.) I handed him one of the pens I carry that has our internet information on it and his face brightened up saying, “Hey, we really NEED pens.” So I handed him another one.

After getting one’s tickets, it’s a fifteen minute bus ride just up to the mansion itself. The mountain grounds used to hold a zoo of over sixty types of animals. Some of the descendants of those animals are still roaming around the place. There we met our affable tour guide, Bree. She was wonderful with the group, segued great into the next topics, was very informative, and had a good sense of humor.

The castle itself remained as I remembered it from my 25-year-ago visit, but there was a huge new entry way, and a wonderful theater. The I-Max type movie we saw after the tour was a bit smarmy and self-serving but full of interesting details none-the-less, and the quality of film making was quality personified. It was my third time taking a tour through the place and it was even more fascinating and downright amazing than each other time.

William Randolf Hearst was quite the icon. He was over 6 feet tall. It’s said he had the body of a bull mastiff with the voice of a Chihuahua and that may be the reason he didn’t win the Democratic nomination in the year he ran. He died at 88. He inherited most of his money at age 56, before he hit it big in yellow journalism. His dad was a miner who had a good sense with the earth, and dug into it, gambled that what most people thought was worthless was actually silver – and it was!

William assembled works of art from antiquity (a statue over 3,000 years old) and from his time. The place, which lies on 188 acres of prime coastal land, cost over ten million in those days dollars. He didn’t like to mingle with high society types.

The bus driver on the way down the mountain had a good sense of humor. We sat in the first two seats in the front of the bus. We got to asking him about the trips he took up and down the mountain and if there were ever any accidents and so on. He joked, “Well I took my seizure medicine an hour ago and I’m feeling fine now.” This as we hurtled over steep grades and around ultra sharp turns. From where we sat on the bus it seemed like the big bus was going over the roadsides, or about to. And the drops were as dramatic as they were deep.

We learned from the driver that Bree was the youngest to fly coast to coast in an airplane at 13! And that Hearst Castle frequently takes guides who have been well known in other things – among the 100 or so guides there were some former Miss Americas, a rock star, and scientists of note.

Another reminder of being in a particular generation came when the 30ish couple in line at the Hearst Castle café turned and asked me who Patty Hearst was and wasn’t she involved in something in the sixties?

We spent about three hours at the Hearst Castle complex. Then left for a wonderful ride down the coast a bit before turning the third corner of the trip – and headed east for the first time in awhile.

We found a reasonable Motel 6 in Los Robles. After supper, we had some serious mapping and routing discussions. Because of our lost time we were disappointed to have to decide that we wouldn’t be able to swing down into southern Arizona but would be heading right toward Las Vegas and national parks north of Vegas. (I was especially disappointed not be able to meet on-line friend Clark Isaacs who has written us on the road more than anyone else, and who had invited us to stay in his log house on top of a mountain surrounded by 42 acres!)

We had internet service for the first time in a couple days and I dispatched our recent notes, and we were asleep relatively early. Needed the rest for what must be a big mileage day tomorrow.

Author: Joel Perlish

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