July 20, 2014

The Enchanted Hill

Like I said yesterday, sometimes life or just your plans in general, go a very different way than you had originally planned. It's then your job to work around it and try not to drive yourself crazy.

I woke up at 10 (after my mom told me to get up, because I'd ignored my earlier alarm), thinking we'd be leaving pretty soon for the beach. However, we were still waiting on my dad to get home from running errands and taking care of business, and didn't know what time he'd be getting home. I put my makeup on, got dressed, etc. while my mom ran out to get a few things and brought breakfast home. We ended up having to wait on my dad a lot longer than any of us had anticipated, so I found other things to do. I finished watching "License To Wed" with John Krasinski and Mandy Moore, worked on some videos I'm going to upload to YouTube, and just lay down on the couch for a bit. We ran to Subway to grab sandwiches, then came home.

I think it was around 2:30 when we were able to hit the road. I also forgot to mention that it's about a 2 1/2 hour drive to the coast and we had a tour at Hearst Castle to make at 5, after already having rescheduled. We'd also already payed for it. Let's just say we were really cutting it close and praying we'd make it. Either way, I was so glad to be getting out of town! I love road trips with the scenery like we were graced with; plenty of wide open spaces and nothing but time to think and daydream. And then I couldn't remember whether I had remembered to unplug my straightener, so I was a tad paranoid about that the rest of the day. Don't you just hate it when that happens?! Or maybe it doesn't happen to you that often...and that's good. We spent most of the ride, listening to this new station on Sirius XM called Y2Kountry, which plays a lot of the older 90s/2000 songs. I was loving it. There are so many great songs that our station doesn't play anymore, and it's a shame.

The drive felt long, but I always forget how gorgeous the area is that we have to pass through. It's wine country, so there are a lot of vineyards, gorgeous stone buildings and a lot of greenery and mountains. It almost felt like we were in Tennessee for awhile, but alas, we are still in California and it was still gorgeous.

We eventually made it to Hearst Castle, right about 5 p.m. My dad dropped my mom and I off at the front and we ran to pick up our tickets. Dad met up with us a few minutes later, and we were able to get in line for the tram, catching our breath; thankful that we didn't miss it. We took a bus up this winding hill where the castle is perched, while Alex Trebek narrated about the history of the castle and why Hearst had decided to build there, along with painting a pretty accurate picture of what it would have been like back in its time. I was picturing the party scene in The Great Gatsby, since it was built in the roaring 20s. The winding hill gave such a great panoramic view of the ocean stretched out in front of us.

We all filed out of the bus and bunched up to meet our tour guide. As we were waiting for further instruction, I heard a deep voice that I would recognize anywhere. I'm pretty sure it was my old drama coach/history teacher from high school. It was the most random thing. Our tour walked up the steps and made our way to the front of the mansion/castle. She explained how it took 27 years to build, because Hearst was a perfectionist; constantly changing designs and switching things out if it didn't look right. He kept the same architect throughout all of those 27 years, which is a pretty big deal when you think about it. We took the "Grand Rooms" tour. There are so many rooms that they have to break it down into separate areas of the house, so we chose to see the "entertaining" rooms.
Everything was (pardon the pun) so GRAND and "ornate," as my mom said. What I love paying attention to are the little details in the carvings, the patterns and everything that makes it so beautiful. We weren't allowed to touch anything, even if you were to accidentally bump something or walk off the designated carpet, the alarm would go off. They don't mess around with that.

Room #1 - Where the main event was usually held before dinner. Mingling and doing whatever fancy people do.

 Room #2 - Dining Hall

Room #3 - This is where guests would come after dinner to just lounge and mingle as they waited for the movie to begin. 

Room #4 - Game Room (self-explanatory)

Room #5 - Theater

The tour was 40 minutes long, but it felt really quick. There are so many people in the group that it does take awhile to move from room to room, so I think that's where most of the time goes. And someone cut the cheese in the game room...It was awful. And there was no air, so it was really stuffy..And after awhile, crowds start making me feel closed in, if there isn't a lot of room to move. I was kind of glad when we were outside again; fresh air and much cooler than at home. We were able to explore the gardens, the outside of the castle and the pools. You can take as much time as you want around there, so I enjoyed being able to go at our own pace. I was absolutely mesmerized by everything, especially the view. You could see the ocean and city for miles. Hearst went BIG when he built this place, and I just can't get over how beautiful and romantic it all was. 

I was having way too much fun taking artsy selfies and putting filters on them. There were so many different angles and things to try...I just had to. That view was to die for. I could have stayed there all day, wandering around and enjoying the crisp air. We also saw the pools (indoor and outdoor), including the one that Lady Gaga just recently shot the video of her latest single at, and I believe stirred some controversy. What else is new? LOL. 

"I know people make promises all the time, then they turn right around and break them..."
~J. Timberlake~
 “I was within and without. Simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life.”
~F. Scott Fitzgerald~

After we finished checking out the indoor pool, there was a bus waiting to take us back down the hill to the parking lot/visitor's center. Alex Trebek continued to talk about the castle and how it used to operate, even adding that you can feel and imagine the romance of the place, especially after dark. I could just imagine big gatherings with people dressed in fancy clothes as the sun set. How enchanting and mystical. It's almost like a real life fairytale. There was also big band/swing type music and some that sounded like Fantasyland at Disneyland. I need to download some of it; it just puts me in SUCH a good mood, like I'm taking on the world. As we made it down the hill, the recording said they hoped that visiting the castle had inspired us to dream. I joked with my parents that I now want a castle, but as I looked over at the wide open spaces of country fields, greenery and horses chewing on the grass, I realized what I want. I want more than anything to have a ranch style house with a husband, maybe a couple kids and a dog. It just warmed my heart that I just want to love and be loved. I smiled knowing that God is faithful to his promises and He will follow through.

After we pulled back up to the Visitor's Center, we went to the gift shop and decided to look around for a few minutes. We had to go to the bathroom, but they only had porter potty's (Call me a snob, I just can't do those...EW!), then we were off to dinner. As we drove, God was painting with the sky and using beautiful colors. I was in awe and wonder...And the word that kept coming to mind is "grandeur" and realizing how LARGE and in charge God is. He is doing something crazy and beyond my wildest imagination. My ideas are so small compared to what He is doing, and I cannot wait. We stopped at the perfect edge to overlook the ocean and to take it all in, then we kept going along to Templeton.

We made our way into Templeton and it's the cutest little town; totally deserted with a little general store and several restaurants. It's just like you see in those Christmas movies on Hallmark or Lifetime. We went to one of our favorite restaurants, AJ Spurs, that we used to go to all the time when I was younger. It looks like an old saloon and is all western-style. I LOVE it. We had beans, soup, bread, salad, then my mom and I shared a steak. It was so good, but we were incredibly full after. There was also live music in the bar area, a couple people were doing covers of some Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan. It was an interesting mix.

We got our Root Beer floats to go, and walked out to the empty little town, where all of the lights and signs were turned on. Then, it was time for the long drive home. We made a short detour, driving by the Mid State Fair, so I could get an idea of where I'll need to pick up my passes on Tuesday for the Lady Antebellum concert. I don't feel quite as worried about it now. Finally, we hit the highway; listening to tunes, talking about country music and playing 20 Questions. I love our family car rides more than just about anything in this world.

There are few days that I want to just put in a jar and hold onto forever, but this was one of them. We came home and I got ready for bed, even though I've been really paranoid and freaked out with every little noise at night for the last few months, but I was much calmer last night. I said my prayers and did my devotion, then watched a little TV and fell asleep.

That's all for now,
Shelby :)

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