Road Trip…..day two
September 29, 2017

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We woke up early and had the continental breakfast that came with the room. This was the Ramada and I’d stay here again. Very quiet structure (cement floors), close enough to the freeway without the noise, comfortable room and only about a mile and a half walk to the downtown area. We booked all of our hotels ahead of time and also our tours of Hearst Castle, which would take up most of today. We booked three tours. Two in the morning with a break for lunch and then an afternoon tour of the cottages, kitchen and wine cellar. The tours are not cheap ($200.00 total) and when we were checking in at the Visitor Center, a person next to me said “I don’t have a reservation, could I get a tour?’ The response was “We’re sorry, but we’re fully booked for the day.” That’s what happened to me in 1984 when I first arrived in California, and I tried to see the castle. Still a busy place.

We drove straight to the castle (the scenery and ocean views along the way were stunning), by passing Cambria, Morrow Bay and Morrow Rock. We will do those on the way back from the castle. We didn’t want to lose our reservation. After checking in, we were guided to the bus loading area, and we boarded for the twelve-minute ride to the castle. Our first tour was the Grand Room, Dining , main rooms adjacent and the Theatre.

The guide we had made the whole tour. About 50 people were on this first tour, and he waited until all of us were together before he would start talking about the history and details of each room, who the guests were (all the famous people from the 20’s, 30’s & 40’s), and savory stories that accompanied them. He allowed us to ask questions, he made us laugh and overall we learned so much about Mr. Hearst and his life and how the castle came to be. The tour ended with a movie taken from clips at the castle and made the whole experience truly memorable. After the tour, our guide extended an invitation to explore the rest of the grounds before we took our bus ride back down the hill. However, we had to make our way back to the bus drop off location to start our next tour.

Our second tour was for the second and part of the third floors of the castle. This included Hearst’s private study/office, the library and numerous guest rooms with all of their art and antiques. Our guide for this tour was not as exceptional as our first guide. As she led us through the maze, she would begin talking before all of us were in the room. She was less than enthusiastic about telling us any details and the ones she did mention on a piece of artwork (“this is a fleur de lys and is French, or this is an olive leaf and it’s Italian”) I’m sure were told to us to make us think she knew what she was talking about. She mumbled, didn’t ask if we had questions and her memories of events that had happened in the castle amounted to her meeting Elizabeth Taylor and Mel Gibson. Near the end of our tour she looked at her watch and said; “We have just enough time for me to show you one more thing”. She pointed to some stairs and said “Go down this stairway and I’ll meet you”. It was the last we ever saw of her. We all went down the stairs and waited while she never showed up. Basically she showed us ‘the door’. I think it’s time some one did it to her.

By the end of this tour, we had just one hour to go back down the hill, have a bite to eat and then head back to the castle for our final tour of the kitchen, guest cottages and wine vault. At the visitor center we went to their cafeteria where they serve Hearst grass fed beef and other items from the ranch. The food we ordered was great, but they had only one cashier on and the line-up to pay was so long, all of our food went cold before we could eat it. It took so long for people to cash out it left us with only 7-10 minutes to gobble everything down and head back to the bus loading.

Our third tour guide was efficient, but she had a sense about her that made us feel…. “When will this end?”. And so we began our tour of the first construction on the site, which were the cottages. Each cottage was named for the view it entertained: House of the Sea, House of the Sun and House of the Mountains. They were the main residences of the Hearst’s and guests like Winston Churchill during the early years, while the main castle was being built. None had kitchens as everyone was required to eat together (a Hearst rule). One of the most surprising aspects to these cottages and the main castle were the bathrooms, which for the 20’s were as modern as we have them today. Hearst even experimented in these cottages with ideas like seven shower heads and ideas he used later on in the castle.

The last part of this tour were the kitchen(s) and the wine vault. Being in the cooking field for over 45 years I would have given almost anything to work in or even have a kitchen like this. For when it was built it is absolutely amazing and modern.

After the kitchen, we were taken to the basement to view the wine vaults. The photos say it all. It held over 7000 bottles of fine and rare wines.

The photos below were of a sarcophagus (Roman above ground tomb), the Neptune Pool (under construction…it was leaking 5000 gallons of water a day…now sealed and ready for the marble replacement), the indoor Roman Pool, tennis courts above the Roman Pool and the view of the hillside coming down to the Visitor Center.

 

This ended our tours for Hearst Castle and we headed back towards Cambria and our home base San Luis Obispo.

Cambria is a quaint seaside city hugging the coastline with numerous accommodations available and some wonderful restaurants and shops. We stopped for a few photos, but had to move on for timing purposes to Morrow bay and Morrow Rock.

After Morrow Bay, we headed back to the outskirts of San Luis Obispo. To finish our daylight hours, we passed our freeway exit and the Ramada and stopped at the famous Madonna Inn. It’s filled with surrealist items and construction. We sat at the bar and ordered ourselves a glass of wine each and took in the uniqueness before heading back to our hotel.

It was about 7:00pm when we got back to the hotel. We took a small break and freshened up. Then we walked over the freeway bridge to downtown and the Mission. We lucked out again. As we approached downtown, we could hear all of this music filling the air. It was Thursday and we found out, like Palm Springs, they have a street fair Thursday evenings. The street fair here has a vibrancy that we are missing in Palm Springs, but I think it is because of the youth factor. The streets and shops here, which remind me of Old Town Pasadena are filled with boutique shops and a population of young and old….heavier on the young side. GREAT Energy! They have a creek that runs parallel to the main street (which was closed for the fair) where you can dine Creek Side. Very charming and romantic with the night lighting. Lots of people milling about and all seemed carefree and happy. We searched out another attraction called ‘Bubble Gum Alley’ and found it. You can see from the photos why it has its name. After that we walked up and down the fair and enjoyed all of the excitement. Lots of musicians…guitar players, violinists, a group of about 12 students all doing percussion only, and many others too numerous to mention. One food kiosk stretched almost a half block and the servers for it made you feel like you were part of a movie with their antics, acting and fun-loving attitude. Great job! By this time, I wanted something small to eat to tie me over till morning. And I wanted to sit down away from all the commotion. We found a place called NOVO. A wonderful restaurant which I can honestly say gave me the best Lamb Salad I’ve ever eaten in my life. The flavors took me back to the Mediterranean. Every spice and flavor was balanced to perfection. Amazing: www.novorestaurant.com.

After this we headed back to the Ramada for some shut-eye and the start for our third day tomorrow.

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Oh Lordy, Let There Be No Tapes
June 12, 2017

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I wake up to birds outside screaming because I’m late. Usually I’m outside on the patio by now taking in the morning-glory of life. So I move my unresponsive legs off the bed hoping to find the floor and Eberhard says, “Careful, careful”. I make my way to the bathroom to relieve myself. All goes well except for the thoughts that start running through my head as memories from last night start to float past me. I get to the sink to wash my hands and lo and behold there’s a huge zit on my upper lip between my nose and mouth. What? Who gets this at 68? Last week it was one on my nose. God hates me.

I make coffee (I only have one cup a day, but I love it in the morning) and I make my way out to the patio to take in life for the day. I’m naked. Not a pretty site, but I’m protected (and so is the world) by an 8 foot wall around me. The birds start laughing at me in great furor. I am not my usual self, ready to take a moment to meditate. Instead I have these flashbacks….”oh my God, did I do that?” Jeff (karaoke man) why didn’t you stop me?” And Bobby,  you were suppose to keep me in check….. you even said to others that “I was never the same after my mild stroke.”

The evening was enlightening. We started out by meeting friends and their family relatives visiting from Georgia. It’s our ‘solving the world’s problems’ (Trump, etc.) get together that we have occasionally on a Sunday. Of course we discuss the delicate matters over a few glasses of wine. It was a very interesting perspective, not one we were accustomed to, as we tried to figure out why people are attracted to Trump, and why they can believe his rhetoric. We surmised, part of it was education, another part was environment and what they see around them, but mostly it was what people don’t see as they view their lives from  a finite perspective. In conclusion we decided “not to worry”…..this too will pass.

Dancing in front of the karaoke singers was just part of it. There was the bus ride from our beginning location to the karaoke bar. We got the whole bus to ‘rock’. Everyone got off at our stop and the bus driver was relieved, just hoping for a few more silent moments until his shift finished. Still, I remember Jeff encouraging myself and Bobby to sing. Not a nice picture or sound for that matter. Everyone run……run for your lives.

In conclusion, at some point in time, we all need a little release on whatever level makes us comfortable.  Just look at the TV in this moment. Trump, is surrounded by his cabinet in their absorbent moment of self-aggrandizement.  This is their moment of release.

True or False?

Beginning of………
February 3, 2017

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Fear without Knowing
January 21, 2017

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So, I’m coming around the corner to go to the boy’s room and there are two people waiting in line. The first person is standing  about four feet from the restroom doors. The second person is standing sixteen feet from the restroom doors. A line is forming, but neither of these two people move forward to take up the distance in the line.

What keeps them from moving forward?

Is this a sign of the times?

Is their fear of moving forward greater than their need to release?

One person comes out of the left side restroom and the first person takes his place. But, the second person in line refuses to move forward, even though the line behind him is forming quickly and reaching out the exit doors of the building. Finally, the second restroom becomes available and the person ahead of me moves to take his position inside the restroom. I immediately take up the lax in space of close to twenty feet and wait for the next restroom to become available.

If fear is this obvious in a nondescript environment, what does it say about the county under Trump?

Are we going to be governed by our small but innate fear of ‘not knowing’, or fear of ‘who we are’ as a replacement for I AM?

Move forward! Take a stand! Be who you were meant to BE!

Identity
November 17, 2016

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We’ve lost our identity. Our true identity. Maybe it’s social media. Maybe it’s because we’ve been trained to look outside of ourselves for respect, gratification and acceptance.

We’re feeling forgotten, left out and we’re in pain. You can’t fill that void with a new President-elect, drugs or any external means.

We have to stop, quiet ourselves…and listen to what we feel. We have to do this each and every day. And, each and every day we will learn truth and the outside world as we know it will slowly change.

We must change inside first, before our outside world changes.

 

Elect shun
November 11, 2016

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Pre-election jitters induced angst and anxiety. Post election results produced anger with one half of America’s population and joy with the other half. It’s hard to reconcile all of these emotions with so many people involved.

The ones in anger feel robbed. They feel loss and they are hurt deeply. Loss is never a good feeling and feeling pain along with the loss tends to breed more anger, hate and prejudice. Possibly the three emotions they were initially trying to remove from the election rhetoric.

In moments like this, clarity is needed. And, unless you’ve experienced and felt an elevated form of clarity throughout your life it may not seem like the solution. Clarity is learned from personal experiences. It’s a feeling which lets you know: ‘you can’t be robbed’. Nothing can be taken from you that you’ve learned, that you instinctively know within or what you won’t relinquish.

The pain must be worked through with love and understanding.

Time will take care of the rest.

“The American People”
August 5, 2011

You hear this phrase often from politicians, but what does it mean? It’s all assumption. They think by quoting that phrase, they have the support of “The American People”. It’s a selling point. No more, no less. It means nothing. These politicians haven’t personally asked everyone for their opinions. As a matter of fact, most using this phrase are expounding their own personal views/agenda and enhancing their position by including “The American People”.

How about telling the truth? You really don’t know what the American people want.

Let the American people express their opinion from the elections and not an expression of rhetoric from a politician.

Danger – Egypt – Danger!
February 13, 2011

Egypt is free. But along with this freedom, comes danger.

Years ago when I was working at Terra Mines in northern Canada, I was a shift boss at the mill. On the shift was one individual that persistently knew how to milk the hind tit. He had hiding places that no one could find, when he was supposed to be on the floor, and he knew all the right answers to say, when questioned. He made it seem like he was working, when he was visible, but he was actually on a distant planet. He always miraculously showed up when ever a supervisor was present, and looked the part of an ideal worker. However, there was no substance to his presence and I was persistent in trying to eliminate him from our shift, since we did all of his work. My supervisor refused to believe the facts and it took some time before the truth was found out and he was finally fired. In great expectation, I was promised a new employee who would be different and would resolve the problem. Finally, news arrived that the company had hired a new employee. He arrived on the plane into camp and began the following day on my shift. Lo and behold, and I couldn’t believe my unfortunate luck, the replacement was worse. He wasn’t as smooth and refined at deception as the previous worker. He was just blatantly lazy. In full view of all the other workers, he defied you to do anything, since he was on contract, and it would cost the company too much to fire him and ship him out. It was a good lesson on ‘be careful what you wish for’, it may not be what you expect.

I feel Egypt is in the same boat. They are experiencing an euphoria at the moment, but there are many forces at play in that region, and many are radical. New elections will be held shortly and with them will come promises of all the freedoms the Egyptians have been denied. The new party will swoop into power and become the sheep in wolf’s clothing if not thoroughly scrutinized from the core up. Then when there is new euphoria to ring in the new era, they may find, they have traded one prison for another. It will be called something different in name, but the results may be worse than the previous dictator.

When the Egyptians look back on this time a year from now, will they be, just as happy?

Impatience Brought Down The House
November 2, 2010

 

You may think it was this party or that party, or the economy. It wasn’t anger. It wasn’t change. And it wasn’t the administration and it’s policies. These are surface modes of transference disguised as answers.

It was impatience!

For too long there has been an expectation of instant gratification in most things we do in our lives, in America. We still haven’t let go of that fixation. Look around you and look back over the last year or two. Haven’t you been rushing here and rushing there to do this and do that. You have an unending stream of accomplishments to be made. And what has been the outcome? They’re never finished and you are no further ahead than when you started two years ago. Impatience permeates America. It’s in every news cast, every shopping trip, every drive to work, every moment at work and every moment in your life.

We want things the way they use to be. We had money to spend, time to spend it, less work and more time with our families and friends. The time has been taken away, as has the money and the freedom to enjoy its pleasures. Not having, getting no where in our endeavours and constant struggle has made us impatient.

There’s a red light ahead and speeding up to it, just to stop, is not going to make things change any faster.

Take a deep breath America. There’s a long way to go.

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