Tuesday, April 15, 2014

San Simeon: Hearst Castle and Elephant Seals!

We knew from very early in this adventure that we wanted to stop in San Simeon and see Hearst Castle after hearing great things about it from friends and family. WOW are we glad we did! What a unique place! It's hard to imagine that kind of wealth, actually. The entire place is fascinating architecturally, but also from a design and artwork perspective. Ol' William Randolph collected ceilings - yes, you read that right - so every room in the house had an amazing ceiling -- either carved or painted or both. And that doesn't begin to mention the tapestries, objets d'art, sculptures and more filling each room. It really was like being in an art museum! I was surprised to find out that while he was building this place he had seven other similar projects going in other places around the globe. Now that's a lot of money!
View of the main house at Hearst Castle

The "little" library used by guests. Check out that ceiling!

The "big" library used by Mr. Hearst. Again with the ceiling!

The Roman Pool. It sits underneath the tennis courts and is illuminated by the glass blocks above in the floor of the courts.

After we left the castle we headed just a bit north to the Elephant Seal Rookery that Jeff had read about. This was a fascinating visit! We were there during the time when the females come ashore for a month to molt. They don't eat the entire time and lose a good percentage of their body weight before going back out to sea. The sounds they made and the way they interacted with each other was fascinating - we'd never seen anything like it! So it was quite a day of extremes for us!

It's a little disconcerting at first - you think the beach is full of dead seals for just a moment

Here is one in the process of molting

Short video so you can see the crazy way they move and how they flip sand on themselves.


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