San Simeon, CA || Hearst Castle & Elephant Seals

One of my goals for this fine year of 2015, is to do more things.
Ya, I know how broad and general that statement sounds, but it is what it is.
I have lived in California my entire life, I have been to the beach, shopped at the farmers markets and gotten more sunburns then I can count. 
I have also taken great advantage of the beautiful place I live in.
There are so many "tourist" things I haven't ever done and so many places I have never been to.
You don't really appreciate things until you see it through other peoples eyes, I think. Like the beach for example, I think the only time I have ever been to the beach in the last ten years is if someone is visiting from out of town, or I am joining in on an activity with my nephews. Never, do I go of my own accord. 
Why, you may ask. Well, because it's always there.

So this year, before I leave the country and live in a place covered in rain and with fewer beach opportunities, I am going to try to be more of a tourist in my own town.
It's easy for me to think of all the places and adventures I'd like to have when I'm in Europe, but I have to remind myself that people from there are also dreaming of adventures over here.

To start off my new tourist antics, why not go with a little taste of Europe in my own side of the world?

Last week, I joined in on a little field trip with my sister/nephews/niece to the Hearst Castle.
If you don't know about this place, you can go to their website and learn all about it
I kid, I kid. Well, not really.
Basically, it is a home built by Mr. William Randolph Hearst to resemble the castles he had seen through Europe.
Because when you are a spoiled kid with more money than you know what to do with, you build a castle. 

I think being fresh outta Newsies gave me a negative perspective towards Mr. Hearst.

(Pulitzer and Hearst they think they got us, do they got us?! No! )
I have been to the castle once before, back on an elementary school field trip and I remember it being a lot more majestic. I think living in a day and age where fancy buildings with large pools and home theaters a plenty, kind of ruins the appeal a bit.
The construction and lack of water, also kind of ruined it. 
Especially the bit about the visitor center bathrooms all being replaced by port-a-potties to conserve water. 
It took me a good five minutes to decide if I could hold my bladder all the way home or not. (the answer was not)

I got home to a memory card filled with nine hundred something pictures, so here is a small catalog of my time at Hearst Castle!

We went on the grand rooms tour, which started with us watching a documentary type movie in the visitors theatre, a bus ride narrated by Alex Trebek,  a tour of the grand rooms (living room, dining room, sitting room, billiards room, and the theatre.) then a self guided tour of the grounds and pools. The self guided tour of the grounds is a newish feature of the last few years, and I loved that element. You can wonder around as you please, look around then leave when you feel like it. Which means I could totally have a photo shoot there if I want. 
Which I do want.
There where these awesome choir chairs lining both the living room and dining rooms, that were apparently only used for acoustics but looked way cool. 
No flash was allowed in this incredibly dimly lit castle, and my camera didn't like that very much. I know it's all expensive fancy stuff, but still open a window or something.

There are a few other houses on the grounds, besides the main castle. I'm not exactly sure what they all are about but they sure look purty, I guess I just have to go take the other tours. ;) 
All the fountains and the Neptune Pool were pretty lame without water in them. Without the bright blue water reflecting all of the architecture, it just looked like a bunch of old structures. The orange cones across the bottom of the pool didn't help with the appeal either. 
After the tour, we grabbed some five dollar waters and chips and headed up the road to the elephant seal beach.
There are elephant seals all along that area of the coast, but this specific spot they all kind of congregate throughout the year. There are some times in the year when there are more then others, based off the breeding schedules and all that. But we still saw plenty!

Until next time, xoxo.

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