12.12.2008

Date Day

After I got home from yesterday's spin night, I decided it was time for us to get out of town. A quick spin down the innerwebs and I had tickets for today at Hearst Castle.

Dick and I love visiting La Casa Grande but didn't realize how long it's been since our last trip. This visitor's center was completed in 1996 and we've never seen it before. That's just sad.

The castle doesn't look very imposing from the center (see it up on the hill?);until you realize that it's over 5 miles away. Close up, it's every bit as imposing - and beautiful - as you may have heard, with unimpeded views from the coast, to the mountains, and back again. Begun in 1919 and finished in 1947, it was donated to the State of California in 1956. Everywhere you look there are statues and artwork and incredible details on every surface. The two pools - outdoor and indoor - are both in pristine condition. Our tour guide said that during August, staff and friends are allowed to swim in the outdoor pool. Makes me want to move up there just for that.

Each of the approx. 165 rooms in the house are overwhelmingly ornate - and the gorgeous ceilings, many brought intact from Europe, are among my favorite things. But if you look closely, you can also see touches of whimsy and humor. Like the 'mooning' cherubs hanging their bare behinds over the front entrance and along the front facade. Cheeky little devils. The reason we went to the Castle now was to see the holiday decorations. Lights, trees, poinsettias and garland in the 2500 square foot front assembly room (that's not a typo; the scale of everything on the hill is unimaginably oversized) - along with the priceless tapestries and choir stalls - and in the dining room, where the table is still set with bottles of mustard and ketchup along with the antique silver and china. The day was gorgeous, with temps in the 60's, and flowers in bloom everywhere. December in California; it's such a hardship.