Hearst Castle & Piedras Blancas | California Coasting, Part 1


How do I convey the magic of getting in a car and simply driving down the California coast– on a Tuesday morning, all by myself, no less?

Nothing in particular prompted this trip, other than my love for travel and a well-timed week with no other obligations. But of course, I am no stranger to road trips, and I am also extremely lucky to live the type of lifestyle that allows for my little whims to be manifested in such wonderful ways. In short, this is my kind of paradise. At the end of day one, I was left with this sentiment: I love this roadtrip. I love California. I love the ocean. I love this little town. Life is amazingly good, and I am lucky, lucky, lucky. And very, very thankful.

I began my drive at 7:30am from Oakland, driving through the Bay Area (getting stuck in the morning commute along the way), going through Gilroy, Monterey, Big Sur, and finally reaching the first point on my map, Piedras Blancas, around 12:30pm. Unfortunately, I reached the light station only to discover it closed at noon. But not to worry, it was still lovely from afar.

The first of my many animal sightings to come: a turkey vulture.

After eating the ham & cheese croissant I picked up in Big Sur, I headed down just a couple more miles to San Simeon, home of Hearst Castle.

This over-the-top estate is the brainchild of newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst and the amazing Bay Area architect Julia Morgan. I’ve loved photographing some of Morgan’s other spaces in the Bay such as the Julia Morgan Ballroom and the Berkeley City Club, but seeing this gigantic castle was a completely different experience.

It was kind of refreshing to see this back corner of La Casa Grande, one of the many unfinished aspects of the house. To the left, the fully decorated facade completed in the 1920s. To the right, the plaster walls that remained bare when Hearst experienced “money troubles” during the Great Depression.

Even with over 125 rooms and decadence to the max, I am always drawn to sweet simplicity.

Though I admit I would love for this to be my swimming pool.

And that is just the first half of the first day of my solo road trip. Next, a small town, tea, and elephant seals.

Like what you see? View the rest of the California Coasting solo road trip so far.

California Coasting:

  1. Hearst Castle & Piedras Blancas | California Coasting, Part 1
  2. Cambria | California Coasting, Part 2
  3. San Simeon | California Coasting, Part 3
  4. San Luis Obispo | California Coasting, Part 4
  5. Solvang & Santa Barbara | California Coasting, Part 5
  6. Ojai | California Coasting, Part 6
  7. Ventura | California Coasting, Part 7
  8. Pasadena & Alhambra | California Coasting, Part 8
  9. Orange County | California Coasting, Part 9
  10. La Jolla | California Coasting, Part 10
  11. San Diego | California Coasting, Part 11

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