Saturday, April 01, 2006

Man, Nature and Cocktails

So there was this California Baby Boomer couple in the breakfast nook of the Sands hotel in San Luis Obispo, talking about where they wanted to go next. "Hearst Castle?" says the guy. His wife sneers. "I'm not so much into man-made things. They don't interest me. I like the beach, the mountains, the slopes. The waves call to me, the wind calls to me."

Well, Mrs. Gaia McWheatgrass, the Hearst Castle calls to me. I was so excited at my first glimpse of the great Fortress of Hubris that I giggled aloud. The story of W.R. Hearst is one of the great twentieth century Power Broker tales, and the only thing that would have made me happier touring the house is if I'd been able to wander it on my own. See, tour guides are great and all, especially if you're not familiar with the history. Me, I don't give a rat's dingle how many pounds of concrete were hoisted up the mountain or how long the polar bears stayed on the property. I just want to look out over the electrically lit tennis courts and imagine all of Marion Davies' "trashy" Hollywood friends hanging out.
I want to inspect the artifacts for signs of Hearst's involvement in secret societies. I want to sit in the billiards room and see the dirty-rich bastards making power deals and talking shit about women. I could make the whole movie in my head, were it not for a tour guide filling me in on the age of some tapistry. Someday, when I'm rich, I'll have myself a private tour, with a docent who will follow close behind silently until I ask a question. Or need my cocktail refreshed.

Oh, and by the way, Molly McBirkenstock, Big Sur also calls to me. I did a day and a half powering through as much as I could take of the pants-crappingly beautiful* scenery. I watched a herd (Herd? Group? Gaggle?) of plump seals frolicking amongst the craggy rocks, laughed as they hoisted themselves ashore and plopped down for a nap.
Jade Cove and Sand Dollar Beach were spectacular, even in the off-and-on drizzle. At Jade Cove, I climbed underneath a massive boulder and sat about a foot from where the foam washed over the rocks. I had a nice conversation with the sea. I asked permission to take the fist-sized chunk of jade I found, and it said sure, go ahead, I got tons of the stuff. You fully understand the color aquamarine once you've sat so close, as well as the power of water. I was both enchanted and a little afraid.

The Henry Miller Memorial Library is nestled into a grove of tall redwoods, it's little chimney puffing away. I spent an hour reading and smoking while the "curator" played Stevie Wonder on the guitar. A Perfect Moment.

Ate lunch at the Nepenthe, a 60-some-odd year old restaurant where Orson Wells, Rita Heyworth and later a host of beat-generation personalities hung out. Today, it's a destination restaurant for the Beautiful People. Still a gorgeous view, though, great food; the Bloody Marys are wildly popular and the wine list does not suck at all.

Hiking at the Pfiffer/Big Sur State Park was cut short by the rain once it really started to pour. My entire 2-ish mile hike was wet and muddy, but I didn't mind. It felt invigorating to be trudging up the hill on my own amongst the redwoods. I felt like Survivorwoman again. But once your jeans are soaked through, it's time to give it up.

I would have loved to continue my adventure in Big Sur; I didn't get nearly enough. But the lodgings are muy expensivo, and scarce due to a concert going on at a local venue. Plus the rain was settling in, and so I've moved on. I'm definitely coming back, both to spend more time at the Castle and more time with the whales and the seals. Life is lovely, especially when you don't limit yourself to only one category of experience.

Oh, and seriously: check out the photos with the badge on the right. Good lookin' stuff.


*(thanks, Maggie)


Blogger Collin C. said...

Sweetness. Jade can be so generous...sometimes.

I see survival on the road has become 2nd nature & no longer a struggle between life & death.

Rock on.

1:52 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home