DATE: Friday 8 September, 1995

PLACE: San Simeon to Los Angeles

WEATHER: Cool but warming

A small country retreat!

REMARKS: The morning sees San Simeon still wreathed in mist, so we go for a refreshing walk to the nearby beach. The Pacific is still there, and the beach is suitably eerie; it is also made up of multi-coloured stones - so I struggle to convince the kids that they will weigh too much to take any home. Needless to say I loose!

Another hearty breakfast before we head for Hearst Castle. This has a beautiful modern visitors centre and a typically American system for controlling visitors. The bus takes us up through the mist to the hilltop site on which stands the monument to the man's wealth and other people's tastes.

The edifice is a little like the parson's egg: good in parts; in fact all of its parts are good, it's just that they don't always go together. Some lovely imported artifacts from Spain, but one wonders why the intense urge to re-create a Spanish oasis in California. The tour is lead by a charming guide who is relaxed, and very informative, and takes what is an interesting variation. He is clearly confident of his ability to answer questions about the family, the man, and the house, and so invites questions and uses them as the starting point for his descriptions; no 'stick to the patter at all costs' for him.

One is left wondering what might have happened if the State of California had declined to accept Hearst's offer of the mansion (as a trade-off for tax breaks). And also at the megalomania of the tycoons of the era.

However, it is now time to go south again, so we do. The road continues along the coast and passes towns redolent of Spanish influences and rock music, like The Eagles' Hotel California.

We pause at a 'factory seconds' mall -which is like a collection of shops arranged in a 'wagon-wheel' circled to keep at bay the Indians, all facing inwards onto a large car-park. Interestingly, this pattern of designer shops (Levi's, Esprit, etc.) selling end-runs and seconds will shortly develop in New Zealand.

We restrict ourselves to a few items for Charlotte and Jayne and a shirt for me; however, Desiree can again say she had a look.

We are now on the outskirts of LA, although that seems something of a misnomer, as it goes on for a very long time. We find ourselves enmeshed in the peak-hour traffic on the freeway and are reduced to a crawl.

Despite this we are still in good time and, without difficulty, find the correct turnoff. The rental depot is alongside the airport and, once the car is returned, we are shuttled to the Terminal.

As on our previous visit, we have time to kill, which is just as well, as the number of tickets we have, and the need to keep track of the vouchers for the Auckland-Wellington leg almost proves too much for the clerk at the check-in counter. Again we have time to kill and, again find LA airport the least interesting one we have encountered.

A little late, we board.






San Simeon

Hearst Castle

All the photos in one place!


Hearst Castle

Maps & Aerial Photos

Our thanks to all & sundry