Monday, January 26, 2015

New Year's Trip to Montana & Pismo Beach with Mom

Thurs, Jan. 1st - Mon, Jan. 26th

I think my princesses were almost as excited to see me as I was to see them, when they picked me up at the airport on New Year's Eve!  Carter and I spent New Year's Day skiing up at Great Divide and had a great time, but after that he said my 10% of his attention was up and he went back to his busy teenage social life.  Ah, to be young again!

Happy kids!

They had lots more snow than usual and Carter had built a snow slide and another little hill in the yard, so the girls were having lots of fun sledding.

Tally liked to just lay down in the snow and roll and roll.

Dallas found his own kind of fun by standing next to the dish washer when it was running and enjoying the heat and vibration.

This little princess got her hair cut a lot shorter, so it's a little easier to get the tangles out and she can even manage to get it into a pony tail by herself.  So she's happier and Mom's happier.

Back to Vegas on Jan. 11th where Mom's plane came in just a couple hours after mine.  We went back to Havasu City for two nights and one night at Emerald Cove, before we left to see Kathy and go to the coast again.

Kathy and Barb took us over to the coast on Friday to show us around a bit.  They took us on the famous 17-mile drive at Carmel.  No, we didn't run into Clint Eastwood or Doris Day, but we did see lots of sea lions and birds and a few surfers.

Lots of these pretty flowers growing wild along the rocky shoreline.

Amazing views.

The famous Lone Cypress Tree, which is now held up by a cable.

Mom with Barb and Kathy at Cypress Point Lookout..

Carmel Beach is famous for its white sands.  The California Coastal Trail extends 1,200 miles from Oregon to Mexico.  Over half the trail is completed and new segments open each year.  Just what is Barb watching so intently?

Let me zoom in and see if I can find out.

Ah yes, that beautiful golf course across the bay, of course.  Hmmm?

Sunday we headed over to Pismo Beach for a week with Mom.  Pismo Beach where we stay is actually in the city of Oceano.  It is called Five Cities Beach, because the cities are pretty much all connected, Pismo, Oceano, Grover Beach, Shell Beach and Arroyo Grande.  One day we drove to the quaint little Danish village of Solvang for lunch and a little walkabout.  We walked around the Mission Santa Inez (1804) and the Hans Christian Anderson Museum and stopped for the famous cream puffs at the bakery.

We walked down to the beach each evening to watch the sunset.

Wednesday we drove up to San Simeon to visit Hearst Castle, built by William Randolph Hearst.  His father, George, came from Missouri in 1850 seeking his fortune in the gold fields.  With two partners he found his fortune in silver in several of the most productive mines on the Comstock Lode.  He eventually owned mines in Utah, Nevada, California, Peru, Chile and Mexico.  He later invested in two of the most profitable ventures, the Homestake Gold Mine in the Black Hills and Anaconda Copper in Montana.  He bought Rancho Piedro Blanca 40,000 acres in 1865 (where the castle is) and eventually grew it to nearly 1/4 of a million acres along 45 miles of coast land.

He became senator in 1886 and died in Washington, D.C. in 1891 leaving only one child.  William's mother took him on two extended tours of Europe as a young boy.  He started collecting books while he was at Harvard and moved on to collecting furniture, silver, Egyptian mummies, Greek urns, paintings by Rembrandt and others.  He furnished his several homes, including St. Donat's Castle in Wales, with his treasures and stored the surplus in two 5-story warehouses in New York.  The sculpture collection here at the castle above the little village of San Simeon dates from 3,500 B.C. to the 20th century.  He took over one newspaper, the San Francisco Daily Examiner, in 1887 and expanded until he commanded the country's largest publishing operation.  He hired prominent and talented writers and paid them well, like Mark Twain, Rudyard Kipling, Jack London and E.L. Thayer, who wrote "Casey at the Bat" while working for a Hearst paper.  In the 1890s he was in a circulation battle with Joseph Pulitzer.  He did much to establish comics as we know them today with comic strips such as Buster Brown, Mutt and Jeff and Krazy Kat.  In 1914 he started King Features, the first major comic strip syndicate, with favorites like Barney Google (with the goo-goo-googly eyes), Popeye the Sailor Man, Blondie and Beetle Bailey (the last strip approved by him before his death).  He was one of the first to use techncolor and do a musical.  Historically accurate costume epics were his favorite movies with high moral standards where honesty and virtue triumphed.  By 1935 he owned 26 daily papers, a features syndicate, 13 magazines, 8 radio stations and newsreel and motion picture companies.  William R. Hearst once owned property in California, New York, Texas, Florida, New Mexico, Arizona, South Dakota and 1.5 million acres in Mexico.

They were doing a little maintenance on the front of the castle.

Side view with Mom and John standing in front of the castle.

The main castle is surrounded by the original cottages where family and guests stayed while the castle was being built.  He started the castle at age 56 and work continued for 28 years until his death at 84 and it remains unfinished.  The family gave it to the state and it is now a state park with 80,000 acres of the original Hearst Ranch preserved.  He had one of the largest private zoos and game preserves in the world with 30 species of carnivores and jungle animals, and 70 species of grazing animals roamed 2,000 acres enclosed by an 8' high, 10 mile long fence.

This is the back side of that "little" cottage.

This is the dining room where things such as hot dogs, fried chicken and biscuits and gravy were often served with ketchup and mustard bottles and other condiments containers straight from the store on the table with the fancy china and silver.

This is one of the sitting rooms where you could enjoy a cocktail before or after dinner.  He brought over entire ceilings from deteriorating castles in Europe and used church choir stalls (high-backed seating) to panels many of the walls.

Game room.  Fabulous tapestries from old castles on the walls in every room.

The pool was also having some refurbishing done.

So I took a picture of a post card for a better idea of what it usually looks like.  He loved to have parties and invited business associates, politicians and lots of Hollywood people, such as Clark Gable Greta Garbo, Charlie Chaplin and lots of others.  He paid their expenses to travel up from L.A. on a private train or by limousine and some landed at his private airstrip.  For those invited to La Cuesta Encantada (The Enchanted Hill) he provided valet and maid service, swim suits, riding costumes, etc.  He put on eleborate costume parties in the 1930s to celebrate his birthdays.  The largest in 1937 had 500 guests with side shows and a cake shaped like a circus tent.  A carousel was brought inside by removing an entire wall.  Hearst ordered costumes, costumers and makeup people from L.A. to assist all the guests.

Turning around from the pool, looking back up toward one of the cottages

Heading up the stairway.

And a close-up of Mom and John taking a break up at the entrance to the cottage.

One of the many beautiful views down toward the ocean. Each summer for 8 years Hearst invited 12 to 20 guests for an all-expenses-paid educational tour of Europe.  They left in May or June on an ocean liner to London and stopped in France, Germany and Italy, ending at his castle, St. Donats, in Wales.  Now that's my kind of friend!  Wish I could find one like that!

Mom hiking up some more steps to get a peak in the windows of the cottage that the Hearsts lived in while the castle was still being built.  There is another fountain and stairs like this going right down the other side in front of her.

Looking back toward the winding drive up from the ocean.

Just hiking around one cottage like this on a daily basis would keep you in shape.

Last, but not least, the indoor pool done entirely in 1" mosaic tiles.

Note the pool goes off into a side room and the high diving platform above on the left.  Outdoors on the roof of the pool are 6 or 8 tennis courts.

Riding the bus back down, we go by a herd of Aoudad, a sort of mountain goat from Africa.

They are descendants of some of the original animals Hearst had here in his zoo, which included bison, musk ox, elk, antelope, giraffes, camels, ostrich, elephant, polar bears, lions, tigers, leopards, chimpanzees, etc.  When we were here about 25 years ago we saw giraffes and camels and there is still a good sized herd of zebras here.

We took Mom to see the elephant seals along the beach about four miles north before we headed back to our place at Pismo Beach.  There were many, many more than we saw in December and lots of newborn pups.

Two pups having lunch.

A Mama trying to round up her twins and warning them to stay put.

Two Mamas having a little tiff.

Thursday we stopped over at Pismo State Park to see the Monarchs.  There are thousands hanging in clusters on the branches together to keep warm.  They just look like dead, brown leaves with all their wings folded shut.

But as the daytime temps get up around 70 degrees, they start to open their wings and flutter about.  There are 120,000 varieties of butterflies and that does not include moths, which are different.  Moths cannot fold their wings shut like butterflies.  Loss of milkweed and deforestation is severely endangering Monarchs.  Monarchs normally live only a few weeks, but those hatched in late summer or early fall live up to 9 months and travel up to 1,500 miles, as much as 200 miles a day.  They have never been here, but live long enough to make the migration, but not long enough to return again.  They normally begin laying eggs at 1 week old, pin-sized eggs on the underside of milkweed leaves, from 0 to over 100 eggs at a time for 3 to 4 days.  After 4 days the eggs hatch into larva or catepillars and eat their egg shells and then feed on milkweed leaves for 2 to 3 weeks and will grow from 1/16" to 2" and increase in weight by more than 2,700 times. Then it attaches to a twig and forms into a beautiful green chrysalis and in 15 days emerges as a beautiful black and orange Monarch.

Just another pretty view at Dinosaur Park in the city of Shell Beach.  The green in the foreground is called ice plant and grows all over along the beaches and spreads everywhere.  It has pretty flowers when it's blooming and the green plant turns a beautiful reddish color in the fall. 

Another sunset back at Pismo Beach.

Some days the big waves really rolled in here.   We saw people fishing along here for sea bass and a few people digging for clams.

The Saturday before we left it was like grand central station on the beach.  You can drive your vehicle on the beach for $5 and you can camp overnight on the beach for $5.  You can rent ATVs all along the beach and the traffic was just crazy.

Our last sunset before heading back to Yuma on Sunday.  More after Mom leaves us in mid-February.