Saturday, April 13, 2013

Morro Bay and Hearst Castle, Friday, April 12, 2013

We left Oceano this morning moving north to Morro Bay.  A short trip of 33 miles and we were at Morro Dunes Campground in an easy 45 minutes.  The campground is along the Pacific coast and the Morro Rock is right in direct view from our motorhome.  The Morro Rock is a 576 foot rock in the Morro Bay.  There is a chain of extinct volcanoes known as "The Morros" of which this rock is the last in the chain.  This rock was visible as we approached the area but the top was covered with a heavy fog, then a little later the fog had covered the entire rock and then this evening it became clearly visible.

After getting settled into our campsite we took off for San Simeon, several miles further north, and the Hearst Castle.  We did stop at a Mexican restaurant along the way for lunch.  We got to the Hearst Castle Visitor's Center a little before 1pm and purchased tickets for a 2:20pm tour of the Grand Rooms.  There was lots to do during this wait period- a museum, several shops and some food shops.  At 2pm Tom heard an announcement that 8 more people could be taken on the 2pm tour so we were able to move our time up and get on this tour.  From the Visitor's Center we were loaded on buses and transported up a 5 mile winding road to the Hearst Castle.  Once at the Castle we were met by a tour guide.  Our tour included the Grand room, the dining room, a reprise(?) room, a billiards room and the movie theater- tour 5 rooms out of 165.   William Randolph Hearst was a collector of all types of art which is used throughout to decorate the castle.  After the inside tour we were free to walk about the outside  at our leisure.  The Neptune Pool is a large tile lined outside pool with sculptures around and in the pool.  The gardens were just beautiful.  We had to go through a building that housed the Roman pool before boarding the bus to return to the Visitor's Center.  This pool was also tile lined.  After returning to the Visitor's Center we saw a movie on a big screen about W.R. Hearst and this Castle.  There are 3 tours that can be taken but for first visits the Grand Rooms tour is recommended.  Our tour guide was knowledgeable and presented the information in an interesting way.  To me, the outside grounds and Neptune pool were the most appealing- the interior was so ornate that I thought it was gawdy.

On return back to the campground we traveled along the coast and saw several kite boarders sailing across the water and jumping waves.  Wet suits are needed to be in this cold Pacific Ocean.  The air coming in from the ocean is chilly.  After our return, we walked across the road from the campground to the dunes and out to the ocean to take some pictures of the Morro Rock.