Tag Archives: Hearst Castle

It’s an American Thing

My favorite city in America is San Francisco with its Golden Gate Bridge. I can image myself living in one of the city’s terraces on a steep hill. A New York loft in Soho comes in a close second, just a short subway ride from Central Park.

And then there is Las Vegas, where you can see the whole world in one place, San Diego where you can see all the animals in the whole world in one place and Los Angeles where you can see all the stars in the whole world in one place.

One of my favorite trips in America was a Californian road trip along Route 66 and Big Sur- seeing the natural beauty of Joshua Tree National Park and the Grand Canyon plus the man made mansion Hearst Castle along the way. California just has so much to offer. There are ghost towns in the desert, seals on the coast and redwoods in Yosemite.

My bestie is from the tiny town of Stuart, Nebraska- a four-hour drive through cornfields from Omaha. I was lucky enough to be included in their annual 4th July celebrations and it was really something special to be welcomed as one of the family.

Of course, my love affair with American culture started early on with Snow White and a trip to Disneyland. I always wondered what it would be like to go to a real American high school like in Buffy, or a real American college like in Beverly Hills 90210 or go to a football game with real American cheerleaders like in Hellcats.

Anne Rice and Twilight peaked my interest in visiting the Deep South and Washington State. The Vampire Diaries and The Originals have made me want to visit Georgia and New Orleans. Gilmore Girls makes me want to go to New England and let’s not forget Sex and the City for New York inspiration, cosmopolitan style.

Which brings me to shopping of course. You can get anything you want at ridiculously low prices compared to Australia, which probably explains why most of us shop online these days.

There is the tasty simplicity of the classic American diner, the best Mexican food and margarita’s outside of Mexico and buffalo ribs smoked the right way. If you have room for desert, there is jello pie, smores and Twizzlers.

The country is so varied, that I can see why you may never want to leave. If you want mountains, you can go to Colorado, if you want water parks, you go to Florida, if you want a history lesson, you go to Washington DC.

I would love to visit a plantation in Louisiana, party for a night in Miami and drift up the coast of Oregon. It would be great to stay in a Boston brownstone, a Chicago skyscraper or a Hampton’s mansion.

The people are friendly, welcoming and enthusiastic about their country. Yes, America has a bit of something for everyone, and I guess that’s what makes the country so great in the first place.

Related posts: It’s a Canadian Thing, San Francisco, 2007- Part 1: Falling in love again, Las Vegas, 2007, USA Road tip, 2007Disneyland, 2007, Los Angeles, 2007New York, 2005, Part 2: Sex and the City Style, TV replays and movie marathons, USA, 1990

USA Road trip, 2007: Part 2

I’d only heard of the town of Barstow in a Sheryl Crow song, so was surprised to find that it was a town of bail bondsman and cheap motels. Even the local gas station attendant didn’t know where the centre of town was! I guess it was a song about Leaving Las Vegas; and Las Vegas it most definitely was not. We found a deserted cheap Mexican restaurant, had a huge burrito and retired early.

The next day, my husband-to-be (HTB) and I drove through the Napa Valley, clearly in the off season as none of the vineyards were open for business. We bunny hopped up Big Sur in a storm to avoid possible falling rocks and got the most crazy brooding photo of Point Sur.  I braved the weather to see a beach full of Elephant seals and stop at Pigeon Point Lighthouse.

Hearst Castle was my absolute favourite part of the road trip. We saw zebra’s grazing on our approach to the mansion, had a hot cup of seafood chowder and took the first timers tour out of the 6 different ones that are offered.

Starting at the gorgeous blue Neptune pool on the terrace, the guide took us to Casa del Mar guest house where I was quite taken with a painting of French princess. The Casa Grande (main house) was decorated for Christmas with a tree made entirely of red Poinsettia plants in the main hall. We continued on through the refectory, the dining room and the after dinner room. There was a private cinema and the indoor Roman pool which I wanted for my own.

Our stop that night was in Monterrey Bay where we saw sea lions and otters from the pier. It was a place I wished we had stayed longer on our trip.

We went to Santa Cruz, but it was the one week of the year that the boardwalk was closed. Instead we saw classic blue lifeguard towers, spotted fur seals and envied at the nice houses on Pacific Ave at Beach Hill. Dinner was at a restaurant on fisherman’s wharf from where we watched the sunset over Cowell beach.

Our last stop before hitting San Francisco was the Big Basin Redwoods State Park. We went to Redwood circle, Old circle, Chimney tree and Redwood burl. The tall trees, like the father and mother of the forest, reminded me of Yosemite and the squirrels looked quite at home here.

Related posts: Grand Canyon, 2007, Las Vegas, 2007, USA Road trip, 2007, Disneyland, 2007, Los Angeles, 2007, USA, 1990

Top 5 Wildlife to Spot in California

December 2007

1. Joshua Tree National Park

We have been driving through the park for an hour- a detour on the way to Las Vegas. I am on a mission to find the Cholla Cactus Garden, after my fill of knarled Joshua trees. It’s getting towards sunset- we may be running out of petrol soon. As we round a corner I spot something moving. “It’s a coyote!” I say. “No it’s not,” says Steve. But it is.

 

2. San Simeon

On a foggy day, we are headed for Hearst Castle. Randolph Hearst was a great lover of animals, just like me, and he once had a zoo there. I look out the passenger window and can’t believe my eyes. How can that be? Am I in Africa? Those black and white stripes cannot be mistaken. “It’s a zebra!” I say. “No it’s not,” says Steve. “YES it is,” I say.

 

3. Big Sur

On our way up Big Sur, the weather is quite bad. Steve wants to stop for a driving break, so we pull off the road. I stay in the car. Five minutes later, there is a knock on the window. “You have to come and see this,” says Steve. Below are an entire family of Elephant Seals on the beach- fighting, playing and dragging themselves around the sand.

 

4. Monterey

We stopped in Monterey for the night at a hotel on the edge of town. The hotel proprietor is a lover of animals, like myself, and promises that a trip to the harbour is a must so we head out along the wharf. “There’s one there!” I say. “No it’s not,” says Steve “YES it is,” I say. Seeing otters in the wild was a high light of this road trip for me.

 

5. San Francisco

We arrive at our final destination on the road trip. My favourite Californian city- San Francisco. We enter Golden Gate Park and head through the park on another one of my missions. The Bison Paddock is water logged but they are all there at the feeding pen. Real American Bison. Not roaming the plains like they once did, but there all the same.

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