Sunday, October 21, 2012

Day 25: Big Sur to San Simeon, CA

We're less than 200 miles from our final destination in Ventura, CA. Its hard to believe our journey is almost at an end, but after three weeks on a bike seat I have to admit that I am looking forward to some time away from my bike.  The trip has been amazing, after nearly 4 weeks of living out of a suitcase I am looking forward to getting home and wearing something other than biking shorts!  

Saturday's ride from Big Sur to San Simeon was in the van. The pain in my wrists and numbness in my fingers returned despite stretching and icing my forearm.  After thinking over the fact that we have 4 days left to ride, I decided to take a personal rest day. It turns out I wasn't alone as 6 other riders also opted not to ride today. With our bikes loaded on the roof and everyone packed into the van, we drove out of the Big Sur Lodge and we immediately glad to be in the van instead of riding the steep winding roads.  On the left of the 2-lane road was a steep mountainside and to the right was a sheer drop of several hundred feet to the waves below. I applaud those who chose to ride, but I know I made the best choice for me and was glad to spend off the bike. 

As we made our way south on the Pacific Coast highway we stopped along the way to see the hundreds of elephant seals sunning themselves on the beach just north of San Simeon. Hunted nearly to extinction for their oil-rich blubber, elephant seals have made a remarkable comeback. Protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act, they are expanding their range outward from remote islands and are now colonizing selected mainland beaches such as Piedras Blancas in the southern range of Big Sur, near San Simeon.

A park ranger explained that elephant seals come ashore and form colonies for only a few months of each year to give birth, breed, and molt. The rest of the year the colonies disperse and individuals spend most of their time in pursuit of food, a quest which involves swimming thousands of miles and diving to great depths.

Elephant seals basking in the sun north of San Simeon

Another reason for opting to ride in the van was that we had reserved tickets for a tour of Hearst Castle, a National Landmark located in San Simeon on the Central Coast of California. Hearst Castle was designed by architect Julia Morgan between 1919 and 1947 for newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, who died in 1951. In 1957, the Hearst Corporation donated the property to the state of California. Since that time it has been maintained as a state historic park where the estate, and its considerable collection of art and antiques, is open for public tours. 

Photo of one of the many parlors at Hearst Castle

William Hearst's library

William Hearst's office

A view looking out a 3rd floor balcony. The day of our visit it was very foggy which obscured the view, but lent an air of mystery to our tour.

The garden included quite a number of marble statues and sarcophagi

View of the Neptune Pool from an upper terrace

I have no idea what plant this is, but the flowers hung like ornaments and were quite beautiful.

This looks more like a scene from "The Legend of Hell House" than the main entry into Hearst's Castle.

This is a marble sculpture in the main garden at Hearst's Castle. The naked women reclining is holding an ear of corn that she is feeding to a goat. Notice her hair style, very similar to the whorls that Hopi maidens wear. I wish I could have found a docent to ask about the history behind the sculpture, but our bus back to the visitor's center was about to board.    

I didn't notice the name of this bronze sculpture but I decided to name it "looking for callouses after a hard day of riding." 
Even through I didn't ride, I wanted to share the map of our route. Most of our ride for the past few days has been primarily on Pacific Coast Highway, also known as California State Route 1.

View Larger Map

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