Wednesday, July 24, 2013

La Cuesta Encantada

Today was a (as Annie would say) super fun day!  We got up and left early to head down to San Simeon and Hearst Castle.  It was about a 3 hour drive from where we were staying.  We bought our tour tickets in advance, so we left really early to make sure we were there with enough time to run all the kids through the restrooms beforehand.  (I was getting pretty tired of public restroom stalls by this point.  Any time I had to "go," I had at least 2 other kids in with me.  And we made frequent trips to restrooms, as 4-year-old bladders need to go often, and no one wanted to go to the boys bathroom with Dad.  Like ever.)

We got in line, and loaded onto our bus to take us to the top of the hill.

(Seriously, honey, a smile for the camera won't kill you.)
We listened to the dulcet tones of Alex Trebek narrating as we made our way up the hill.  Yes, the road was constructed windy on purpose, so you would catch fleeting glances of the castle now and again.  Also, the cattle and ranch land are still owned by the Hearst family, and you can buy beef from the ranch at the visitors center. (Awesome.  That was exactly the kind of souvenir I was looking for.)

The tour started.  Our guide's name was Andy, and he hoped we all would participate in the tour and ask questions.
We headed inside.  Ryan has always talked about when his grandparents took him to Hearst Castle, and how cool it was.  Since I probably won't be seeing any European castles any time soon, he thought this would satiate my desire for now.  The castle did not disappoint.
The living room.
The dining room:

So much of the ceiling/wall panels/tapestries/paintings came from old churches far across the Atlantic Ocean.  Just the sort of religious things I would want to surround myself with living with my extra-marital roommate.  (Pardon my sarcasm.)
I thought the castle was amazing.  I would have loved to have had more time to admire everything, but it was a 45 minute tour, and we had to move rooms every 5 minutes.  Emma was also entranced.  The rest of the hooligans were more take-it-or-leave-it.  By the end, Annie and Maddie were lying on the ground attached to my legs.
After the tour officially ended, we were allowed to roam the grounds and look at the pools to our hearts content.  I guess that's a new feature since Ryan last went.
The grounds were, as everything else, amazing.  Being a big Percy Jackson fan, Emma thought the Greek and Roman statues were cool.
We had been listening to Rick Riordan's Kane Chronicles audio books in the car, so when we saw Egyptian statues, Emma thought those were cool too.
This was one of three guest cottages.  Each one bigger than our home.  Loved the front door on this one.

Then there was the pool.  Awe.some.  If I ever had an outdoor pool, I would want it to look like this.
There were chairs set out for us to pretend we were actually cool enough to hang out at a place like this.

Family photo time, courtesy of another passing tourist.

Finally the Roman pool.  When I am filthy, stinkin' rich, I will tile my floor with gold for people to walk on.
The mosaics were stunning.
I would totally (attempt) to swim here.  If allowed.  Which we were not.  Darn.
Afterwards, we picked up a my souvenir (a magnet for my fridge- I am so cool), and we headed down the road to find a beach.  We found one very, very windy one and tried to eat our peanut butter sandwich lunch. 

Afterwards we drove down to Cayucos beach to play. 
 Ryan buried the kids in the sand.
 Elizabeth got a little stuck, and Ryan had to pull her out.

 Once we had our fill of digging in the sand, Ryan offered to take the girls in the ocean.  I "took one for the team" and offered to stay on shore to take pictures.  It was not because I don't like getting into cold water or anything like that.

Here they are trying to get used to the water temperature.

Then they started chasing waves.

 (Used to it now.)  Elizabeth wanted to go all the way in, so Ryan took her alone.  She went through the wave.
They lasted a half hour, then we shuffled back to the minivan to change into dry clothes and head back to our temporary place of abode.

On the way back, we stopped at a Jack in the Box attached to a gas station for dinner.  While we were eating our dinner, a limo pulled up to the gas station, not for gas, but for the passengers to run inside the AM/PM.  They walked out with munchies and a corn dog.  (Guess they spent the budget on the ride and had to scrimp on dinner.)  If that wasn't enough, limo #2 arrived to do the same thing.

Wow.  California is unbelievable.

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