On the way to his big event, my friend who was NOT a drinker, quietly sat in the back of my car and unbeknownst to another friend and I, drank half a bottle of cheap wine...Blue Nun, to be specific.
By the time we got into Manhattan, he was ranting. After we parked, he became so loud and obnoxious that our entire group of eleven was refused entry into the comedy club "Catch A Rising Star." The future groom was so whacked and out of control that his younger brother (Mr. I'm Too Cool For Everybody), volunteered to take him home. Our pointless night took the rest of us to an empty "old-man" bar where we chased 95c shots with 40c six-ounce Piels draughts... and went home.
Today's blog features that same friend, more specifically his wife. Before they got married, someone once said that I was jealous of his wife because she kept him and I apart. This wasn't at all true however, I was jealous of HIM...not in any kind of weird way...but because that nimrod had such a wonderful girl.
The next morning, I was elated by this change of events. She and I set-out for one of the happiest non-family related days of my life. The scenic drive through Oxnard, Santa Barbara and Pismo Beach along coast highway (Route-1) was memorable. But the one thing that was more beautiful than our surroundings was, her. The therapeutic conversation flowed as we spoke and laughed for 195 miles.
La Cuesta Encantada or "Enchanted Hill" was built as a pleasure palace by newspaper publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst (Patty Hearst's grandfather). Construction started in 1919, continued for more than thirty years and was never considered finished. This oblong complex includes: a 115-room main house, guests houses and pools as well as 8 acres of cultivated gardens, and the ever-popular "so much more."
In these corporate times, it's hard to imagine an individual could ever own so much stuff. To accumulate it, Hearst treated Europe's financial hardships prior to and during WWI like a colossal yard sale. From the aristocracy, he bought-up unimaginable volumes of rare antiques and highly-sought art. These treasures were too much to inventory and impossible to appraise. So he decorated the interior of his castle, to the delight of visitors such as: President Calvin Coolidge, Winston Churchill, George Bernard Shaw, Charles Lindbergh as well as Charlie Chaplin and hundreds of other Hollywood luminaries and business moguls.
Interestingly, each house guest was provided with their own butler. Fancy yes but these private servants' hidden agenda was to pack the party goers bags, thus assuring Mr. Hearst that everyone went home with no more than what they brought...specifically no priceless souvenirs.
After Hearst's death, his heirs donated the land and everything on it to the state of California. The curator's then divided the castle into three separate tours. I don't recall which one we took or how they differed but I would expect them to all be worthwhile.
Our drive back to L. A. was capped-off with a detour into the mountains of Santa Barbara. She recommended a favorite restaurant and I wasn't disappointed. Overlooking the Pacific, this famous shack-like eatery (the name escapes me) was rustic (open air...no windows), yet elegant.
Twenty-seven years later, I still refer to the Hearst Castle as our country's best kept tourist secret. In 1995, I wanted to recreate that day when my family and I were in San Diego but it was too far to take baby Andrew. I'd love to go back but until I do, I can still Google it to refresh the great memories. You should check it out too and tell me how right I was.