Over the years we have enjoyed some spectacular and wondrous sights in our home state. California boasts everything from beaches to mountains, deserts to plains, and just about everything inbetween. We enjoyed a trip to Poway one year, just north of San Diego, and found a beautiful little park complete with bandstand and (as it happened) a Memorial Day band celebration in progress. Another year we took a trip to Lake Tahoe in the Sierra Nevada, and wove our way home through Gold Country.
This year we wanted to visit the beach. Or, more specifically, we wanted to visit that beautifully rocky expanse of coastline that constitutes California's Central Coast where the waves break on jagged volcanic rocks that jut out into the ocean for mile after mile.
San Simeon is about three miles south of the entrance to the famed Hearst Castle (one of the highlights of this trip) and is itself just a community of motels and hotels close to the water with Highway 1 passing through it. We booked ourselves into a place called "The Silver Surf" motel on the north side of the highway, but with enough of a view of the ocean and surf that we felt quite pleased with our choice.
If you hear theme music from "Psycho II" running through your mind, I ask you to please ignore it until I've told the whole story.
We took advantage of the evening meal vouchers that came with our package deal on Friday, then settled into our room to enjoy the spectacular sunset and enjoy some relaxation before having our adventures on Saturday.
All was well until about 9:00 that evening. Suddenly, it seemed, the rooms immediately surrounding us to the west and above us (we were in a corner room) exploded to life. These three rooms were inhabited by a single family apparently there to attend a wedding that weekend, and also apparently unable to communicate below a shout. They had evidently invited the entire wedding party to visit their three rooms, and we learned three important things about our motel:
- Paper thin walls. At one point I swear I could hear blow driers in the upper bathroom, and what sounded like a roulette wheel at 5:30 the next morning. These walls are incapable of blocking communications such as, "HEY. DO YOU WANT ME TO BRING IN THE KEG?" "NO, WE'LL JUST DRINK IT IN FRONT OF OUR NEIGHBORS' ROOM. THEY WON'T MIND." "GREAT. CRANK UP THE TUNES, WOULDJA? THEY'RE TRYING TO GET SOME SLEEP."
- Being a beach town, just miles from San Luis Obispo (home of one of the Cal Poly campuses), San Simeon is also a magnet for every punk kid with a car and stereo capable of skyscraper demolition who refuses to keep his or her windows closed. They apparently believe that merely by driving through and thumping everyone's ear drums into submission that members of the opposite sex will just jump right into their vehicle and enflame their passion. That may very well have been happening, but my closed doors and windows were the only things standing between me and permanent brain injury, so I refused to investigate. Of course, it could be they believe that their car stereos are somehow assisting the elephant seals that line local beaches with their annual molting, but I doubt it.
- Even if you survive the punk demolition experts, the town boasts "live entertainment" somewhere in the strip of hotels across the highway which cranks up to full volume at about 9:30 in the evening and does not subside until about 12:30. Thus my brain has now memorized the bass lines (the only notes I could actually discern) to every beach song they played over two successive nights.
Aside from the fact that I didn't get a wink of sleep until 2:00 in the morning on Saturday, we actually had a pretty good time on our adventure. Hearst Castle is incredible. We took a special tour designed for those with mobility challenges (the other tours are extensive walking tours) that included the indoor Roman pool, one of the guest "cottages" (three cottages, each one a mansion unto itself), and portions of the main house. The idea of living among such opulence is ludicrous, of course, but it was meant after all to be a sort of private resort. Hearst could invite his friends and luminaries from Hollywood's Golden Age for a visit, which automatically made everything a media event.
Then we drove up the coast a bit to see the elephant seals. Or, at least, the ones that survived the punk demolition kids. We found a small pocket of about five or six animals that were lazing on the rocky beach below the vista point. Quite a sight. Farther down the road we could see a much larger rookery, but couldn't quite get close enough to see them. Yesterday before leaving town for good (and to make an appointment with my ear doctor) we managed to get closer to the rookery. It reminded me of old Jacques Cousteau specials where the animals just lay there, flipping sand up over themselves to stay cool. By about that point on our journey they appeared to have more energy than I did. A few animals were bobbing up and down in the surf, but they were the radicals. Everyone else just lay around, idly wondering who the next president of the country would be.
The long drive home was broken up only by a visit to a ward in Santa Maria for Sacrament meeting, plus a stop or two to eat along the way. Then a wonderful visit with my sister's family, who had been gracious enough to watch our Woodyettes for us while we were away.
I'll be interested to see what kind of spin Mrs. Woody takes on this trip when she gets around to scrapbooking it. It was definitely a memorable experience. I just hope we retain the right memories.
Hopefully I won't read my own blog too much. ;-)