Day 9: I swear the world better prepare for when I'm a billionaire

2 Moose on the Loose California Car In-N-Out Burger Making friends travel YOLO

So we didn’t wake up and be out of the motel and AT the Hearst Castle by 8 as planned. In act, we weren’t out of the motel by 9. We grabbed some pastries and coffee from the check-in desk and pulled in to the castle by closer to 10. We were a little confused as we pulled in because despite them signs, there was no castle. Then we saw it. All the way up in the mountains, a tiny speck of it. What?

This was not going to be like other places where you just walk in and look around, was it? Nope. You had to book a tour and you had no access inside once your tour was up. Additionally, there were 4 choices and there was no package to combine them so you had to choose what you think is worth it: the “grand” tour (main floor: living room, dining room, pool room, and theatre). The “upstairs” tour (offices, bedrooms, library, bell tower), “cottages and kitchens” tour (because there were 3 guest houses separate from the castle itself), and the “evening tour” which we goofed and could’ve done the night before. Whoops.

We got both the grand tour and the upstairs and got in line for the bus to go up the hill. As we were driving up, to the narration of Alex Trebek, we got a bit of a run down on the castle owner - William Hearst. Quick recap: as an only child born in 1863 to a farmer that became rich during the gold rush, he inherited a ridiculous fortune and this wasn’t even his main home. This was the 7th “castle” with the others in various countries across the world. This was supposed to be a summer home until he moved in permanently leaving his wife in New York and running off with Marion Davies, making her a film star in the 1920s. Really interesting history, but I won’t go into that as the post will end up being longer than it will already be.

As it was, this was probably THE most lavish castle we have ever been to, and we realized we have never travelled anywhere and not visited a castle. So this says something.

I don’t even know where to begin describing it. This guy had so much money (he took his father’s fortune and started a publishing company and basically ran most of the big newspapers across the country, most of the big magazines we know today, media, radio, television; he was behind practically everything and ran an enormous empire). He took that money and together with Julia Morgan, the first female architect, built an estate that today still doesn’t have a number it’s worth. In its front yard stands a 4000year state FROM THE ANCIENT EGYPTIANS. There are Ancient Roman statues all over the gardens, there are original pots dating to Ancient Greece (and Rome) all along the library with the painted chariots and god’s, there are original paintings by various artists that would sell for 50-60 million each today, the ceilings are imported from 14th and 16th century building in Spain, Venice, etc etc. Everything is painted in GoldLeaf, and every single item in the building is an antique. The dining room tables are from monestaries, the amount of silver decor is unreal (his father became rich mining silver, so that was appropriate) but there were septas and elaborate candelabras bigger than me lying around. Not an inch of the building went unplanned, literally. I forget the exact number, but about 36 bedrooms and 42 bathrooms? Definitely more bathrooms than rooms because he believes guests should not have to share. There were 3 “cottages” which started out as the original residence before it grew, so guests didn’t get a room, they go a whole house (bigger than ours) for their stay. No one ever rejected an invite to the castle and guests were all presidents, Hollywood stars, the founder of the Bank of America, Walt Disney, Charlie Chaplin, Cary Grant, etc etc. Hearst would let his guests do whatever they wanted all day as long as everyone met in the living room to talk, followed by dinner together, and a movie in his giant theatre every single night. After that, guests were off to do whatever they wanted, but those were the requirements. Oh man, I can keep going. This was SO mesmerizing. We were terrified of flying the drone - there was security around every corner, but Justin managed and got some breathtaking footage! Ninjas!

We exited through the indoor goldleaf pool surrounded by ancient Roman marble statues located UNDER the 2 tennis courts and rode the bus down the 20 min drive down to the visitor centre passing by TD now empty cages where he kept his polar bears and giraffes and whatever zoo animals he owned. We kept an eye for the zebra herd still running around on the 30acre territory today but didn’t see them.

How do you follow that?! We were stupid hungry at this point but we had a plan. As of yesterday, we were dead set on having an In-N-Out Burger and the only one in proximity was an hour away near San Luis Obispo. The pastries were supposed to tie us over until we got there but we were at the castle too long. The hunger didn’t even creep in, it full on charged in. But we had a stop to make before we could leave San Simeon and Cambria behind us.

On Piedras Blancas beach, we found a bunch of elephant seals lounging around. They’re in the water 10 months of the year and only come out for November to early January to lay on the beach. They are 500-800lbs and have a bit of trunk, hence the name. They were amusing to watch and I got a few videos but oh man, they’re practically sausages. What a life!

It was about 3pm and we had 2 hours to make it to Pismo Beach before we lost the sun. We drove down to San Luis Obispo without any stops. It was gorgeous scenery but nothing requiring a stop until we got to the college town. It was buzzing and we started debating staying the night here instead of Santa Barbara as we had planned earlier that day. Justin just really wanted nightlife and after Cambria and it’s one bar on a Saturday night, we seemed to have kept missing the breweries and such. Also, biggest disappointment is that we’re in prime wine country BUT EVERYTHING CLOSES AT 5. So we never make it anywhere to do any of the flights since Justin has to drive during the day.

Back to SLO. So we parked the car and got through the crowds to Bubblegum Alley. It’s exactly as it sounds. An alley where you can’t even see the brick walls on either side because there is chewed bubblegum attached EVERYWHERE. It was absolutely disgusting, but it was really cool. So we added our contribution, of course. Justin grabbed a coffee at a really neat shop where I could see both of us spending full days working in, and checked out all the live music and things going on that weekend. We really debated stayed the night here where it’s pumping, but we had a plan and we had to get In-N-Out Burgers. It was practically a scene from Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle.

We made another stop in the way for food - the Madonna Inn. Oh. My. God.

It’s a hotel just off the highway that’s all uniquely decorated. The main dining area is so pink with fluffy/puffy old school chairs, one can’t describe this. The bathroom has a urinal waterfall, and even girls run in to take a peak. Every room has a theme from safari room to cavemen to honeymoon frills. Just google it, I can’t do it any justice whatsoever. Justin wasn’t too keen on making a stop but I insisted and we both walked out with our jaws down to the ground.

We made one last stop on the way before getting food, and that was at Pismo Beach. The sun was setting and we HAD to get some drove footage of the area. It was cliffs and caves below, pelicans everywhere, and with the sun setting, the caves were shimmering and it was just stunning. I can’t get enough of this view. We got one last shot at the Dinosaur Cave Park - a children’s playground with seals and dinosaurs you can climb on, and hatching dinosaur eggs you can climb in. Obviously we both got in and had some bored mom laugh at us and take our picture.

Finally. Hangry, and determined we got our burgers. There are 3 things on the menu and we completely forgot their notoriously famous off-the-menu menu, so we ordered the normal stuff. For a first time, it was absolutely delicious but definitely noted for future. Make sure to look it up if you ever go!

Finally satisfied, we hit the road and since it was dark and the Internet said there’s nothing worth seeing from here to Santa Barbara, we just took the direct route.

We found a nice place to check in on the beach, and after an hour in the room figuring out what’s worth seeing, we hit up the wharf where everything was closed and wandered down State Street. Basically, the only street wth anything going on. There was The Red Piano with a life pianist playing until midnight that we went aiming for, but it was near the beginning of the street and we wanted to scope it out. We planned on coming back and to just go bar hopping. The most talked about bar here is the Good Lion, so we decided we’ll grab a round of fancy cocktails and migrate over. We sat at the bar and started chatting with the bartender only to befriend the couple beside us. It was so eerie, they were practically us. We even had the same drinks! Anyway, one round turned into I don’t know how many, and we chatted away with them until closing. They’re from LA and are going back today so we might meet up tonight. They were so passionate about LA, they convinced us to move! Ha.

Seriously though, 35 degrees all year long....

But yeah, got super excited when they found out we work for Shopify, he works with the company and is a big fan. And she was really cute and excited for us going to LA giving us the rundown of where to go and what to see. Definitely a bunch of stuff we would’ve missed and not even thought of seeing! But I’ll save that for another blog post.

It was a super fun night; good drinks, good company, and the walk home was hilarious. Justin found a palm tree branch and dragged/carried it most of the way home. We were practically peeing ourselves laughing. Also, Justin emitted the weirdest sound mid sentence, I almost keeled over in laughter because he then tried to explain how he did it (he didn’t even know himself and couldn’t reenact it) but I just kept picturing the Carol Burnett elephant skit and I couldn’t breathe for a mile. Look it up if you haven’t seen it. SO FUNNY.

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