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 The Great Around-the-USA Adventure

California: Hearst Castle, San Simeon

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Begun by publisher William Randolph Hearst in 1919 with work ceasing in 1947, the Hearst Castle is now owned and operated by the California Dept of Parks and Recreation, and is open to the public. Visitors can choose from several different tours and can view an Imax-like movie depicting the building of the Castle.

800-444-4445 (Reservations)

www.hearstcastle.com

Date of visit: April 2008

hearst05 Here's something I've never thought of trying before: using one of those pay telescopes as a zoom lens - it didn't turn out too badly. This is looking up the hill from the Visitors Center.

The only way to access the Castle is via bus from the Visitors Center. Tours leave frequently and buses ferry visitors up the 1600' hill. Tours are carefully monitored and besides your tour guide, a security official follows along to keep everyone moving and ensure that no one leaves the group or otherwise violates any rules.

From the bus we see this view of the Castle atop"La Cuesta Encantada" - The Enchanted Hill.

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 hearst08  Your first view of the Castle grounds as the bus pulls up.
 Naturally the grounds are exquisitely landscaped and filled with sculptures. hearst11 
 hearst12 One of the three guesthouses.
George Carter, our guide, did an excellent job leading us through the grounds and some of the buildings' interiors.  hearst13
hearst16 Hearst was a big swimming fan, and built and re-built the swimming pool three times before he was satisfied. Among his guests were famous swimmers such as Johnny Weismuller.
A guesthouse bedroom. All the buldings were filled with antique furniture and artworks hundreds of years old. hearst23
hearst27 This guesthouse reflects an Italian inspiritation.
The view of the Pacific from the terrace in front of Casa Grande, the main house. hearst33
hearst34 Architect Julia Morgan spent years bringing Hearst's ideas to reality. He was renowned for his constant changing of plans. Eventually the Casa Grande and three guesthouses totalled 165 rooms and covered 127 acres. But it started with a simple instruction: "Miss Morgan, we are tired of camping out in the open at the ranch in San Simeon and I would like to build a little something".
The front entrance to Casa Grande. hearst36
hearst43 The dining room, where guests gathered to eat with Hearst. It is said that as a visitor's stay went on, he or she found him/herself slowly moved further down the table, away from the host. Beyond the dining room was a large billiard room with two pool tables, and beyond that was Hearst's private theater, where he screened movies and newsreels after dinner.
The ceiling in the dining room. hearst44
hearst49 The indoor swimming pool, located under the twin tennis courts.