Ride to Hearst Castle

Last weekend, the wife and I, along with a handful of members of our riding club did an overnight ride up to Hearst Castle. If you live in ...

Last weekend, the wife and I, along with a handful of members of our riding club did an overnight ride up to Hearst Castle. If you live in California, it makes a great one or two day ride. Lot's of great scenery along Highway 1 and Highway 101, and a great reprieve from the triple-digit temperatures throughout much of California. More about Hearst Castle later.

We left Temecula at 7:00am on Saturday morning (May 21), and headed north along Interstate 15, from there we followed several other freeways until we got onto Highway 101. Our first gasoline stop came about 130 miles later in Westlake Village.

Once we got into Ventura, you could feel the cool ocean breeze, and by the time the 101 came up to the coastline, it got kinda cold. But there was some great riding through Santa Barbara, Goleta, Buellton, and all the way up to Santa Maria. That was our first destination.

That whole weekend, the town of Santa Maria was host to the "2005 All American Motorcycle Madness". It was definitely an "all American" motorcycle show, but I wouldn't call it "madness". "Anti-climactic" would have been a better adjective. There were some really cool looking bikes there, lots of vendors, and that's about it. There was a band playing there, but they didn't put out very many covered tables where would could watch in the shade. The sun was beating down on everyone, and not very many people were willing to stand there and watch the band.

We had lunch in Santa Maria at a place called "Stinky's Grill". I guess Stinky's had good food. The servers there were all very young and cute, but ours seemed to have memory problems. She just couldn't seem to remember what we ordered, and talked as if she grew up in the San Fernando Valley. I suppose "ValSpeak" doesn't really matter, but it does matter when she forgets to bring your chow.

We continued north up to Pismo Beach to our motel, the Rose Garden Inn. The Rose Garden Inn is basically a dive. The rooms are rather old-looking, no air conditioning, and hard mattresses. But it was the only place that had rooms for under $100.00 on weekends.

At Pismo Beach, we all rode into downtown to find a place to eat. Not knowing anything about Pismo Beach, we wandered into Chele's Food & Spirits, about a block up from the pier. The food was "so-so" and the service sucked. I think their biggest problem was a lack of adequate help. I had the salmon, and it was on the dry-overcooked side. One guy in our party had the halibut, and they forgot all about him! The steaks were not very tender either, and they didn't have A1 steak sauce. I mean come on, everyone else has A1 sauce!!

Anyways, across the street was Harry's, a nightclub frequented by bikers. Apparently, their claim to fame was that John Madden met his wife there. It would have been interesting to have a beer there, but after a day of riding and walking, we were tired at this point. So, we went back to the motel from there.

The next morning, we had breakfast, and continued north along Highway 101, and then took Highway 1 along the coast. We rolled into Morro Bay, where the air temperature went cold on us. We had to pull over, and put our jackets on. We finally arrived at the entrance to Hearst Castle about another 30 minutes later.

Hearst Castle was just one of several homes owned by William Randolph Hearst, the famed owner of the Hearst Publishing Company, which owned numerous newspapers, magazines, cartoons, and probably just about everything else in the world. The place is massive. Unreal. You have to take four separate tours just to see and appreciate the whole thing. The guy obviously had a lot of money. Some of us took Tour #1, while others took Tour #2.

If you've only seen Hearst Castle in pictures, or saw a television documentary about it, you'll never really appreciate how massive this place is, and how luxurious it was, at least for its time. Standing in front of the outdoor swimming pool alone will make you shake your head. And then, wait until you see the indoor swimming pool with its gold leaf tile and naked statues of men and women.

I imagine Hearst Castle has some hidden chambers and stairways that maybe even the tour guides don't know about. If you saw those movies where someone pulls on a wall lamp, and it causes the bookcase to swing open, revealing a staircase that leads to a hidden chamber, Hearst Castle is the kind of place that would have those things. I wanted to pull on some candlesticks and wall lamps, just to see what would happen, but they're pretty strict on you not touching anything.

After leaving Hearst Castle, we continued north along Highway 1 for about another five miles, until we arrived at the Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery, a small beach where thousands of elephant seals come to breed their young. There were thousands of elephant seals there, most of them just sunning themselves. There were maybe a few in the water, and there was one just inside the water "barking" for some reason. There were also lots of squirrels, that apparently were well trained at begging for food.

Viewing the seals marked the beginning of the return home for us. From that point on, we pretty much slammed it home. We refueled and had lunch in Pismo Beach. It was there that my riding glasses broke. I had another pair in my saddle bags. When we rolled into Santa Barbara, we hit the traffic jam. We had to split lanes pretty much all the way to the Ventura County Line.

We got gas again in Westlake Village, and then rode it all the way to Tom's Farms. We had dinner there, and rested a little while. From there we said our goodbyes, and each of us headed home.


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