Friday, February 1, 2008

the california coast

Alex and his mom and I packed up their motor home and headed out for the coast this week. The weather up here in the foothills has been pretty awful, so we thought maybe we would catch some sun on the coast - and boy were we right. Here's what we did:

1. Hearst Castle. This is a very large home erected by former media magnate William Randolph Hearst, on whom the film Citizen Kane was based. I was excited to see the place partly because of my extensive study of the film and partly to gawk at the belongings of this one man. The tour was surprisingly not cheesy at all and quite interesting. This man collected original roman columns, 3000 year old statues from Egypt, 6th century Iranian tiles, and tapestries and paintings and whole ceilings from churches in Italy and Spain, and the list goes on. I was particularly moved by the quality of the grounds and the care taken of all of the art. In the midst of all this wealth, I could not forget that the depression was raging while these sycophants splashed around in the heated pool and ate imported international cuisine. Some people love to gawk and adore massive wealth, but part of me really hates that a place like this exists. I was also interested in the historical context in which this place exists. It took centuries for cultures to create the art and architecture that this man bought for his once palace in the 20th century. This is an effect of the early industrial revolution and an act that will -- unless we find another source of abundant energy again -- never be repeated. All in all, a quite fulfilling tour with fantastic photos to be taken.

2. elephant seal beach day. So, apparently the elephant seals all got a memo to meet on this beach just north of San Simeon, because it was a par-tay! There were thousands of them, lying on their fat bodies, rolling over their young-ins, and smelling like the outhouses at the end of the taste of chicago. There were considerably more females than males, with an obvious harem around the largest males. The ladies fought for the big kahuna's attention while sometimes suffocating their young under their blubber, and the loser, smaller males stuck over by the coast, wallowing in their tiny sorrows. I noticed one time, where a thin tiny loser male came charging at this big guy, and the guy just turned around and showed him how big his nose/trunk was, and the little guy just shamefully backed away.

3. Limekiln State Park. Here we could park the motor home with a spectacular view of the coast. This particular beach is a meeting place between the sheer coast mountain ranges, a raging glacial stream and the sharp varied rocks left by years of erosion. Just a few feet in from the beach was a pathway to a fairy-tale-esque forest. We hiked only about a quarter mile and found the warmth and windlessness of the forest enchanting. There were giant redwoods and a river carrying down the effects of the recent snowstorm in the mountains. The sun gleamed off the river and birds chirped and I wondered where Snow White was. or Pocahontas. We took a stroll on soft pathways of pine needles and found these giant kilns in the forest made of limestone and metal. I felt like an explorer, coming upon the remnants of an ancient society.

4. Point Lobos State Park. Also known as the crown jewel of california's state park system. Suffice it to say that I saw gray whales, harbor seals, otters, pelicans, sea lions, sea urchins, starfish, anemones, and deer. In this post, i'll let the pictures speak for themselves.

I have now begun to appreciate California's great natural wonders.

1 comment:

Scott & Kristen said...

You have some of the most beautiful photos! What luck with nature! Continue enjoying your adventures, cousin!