We got back today from a trip to the Central Coast of California. Itwas weird for us to take a trip where our primary transportation there andback was a car that one of us owned. So often of late our transporthas been airplanes. It was a nice change to pace to take a trip in acar.

On our trip we stopped in San Simeon and saw HearstCastle. This was interesting and disappointing. The buildingand grounds themselves were very interesting and well maintained. Thesheer number of fruit trees was unexpected, as was the small size of themain building on the property. What was also unexpected was theDisneyland style circus at the foot of the hill where the property islocated. The State of California constructed a brand new visitor’scenter at the foot of the hill and this center exists solely to draw moneyout of tourists’ pockets. There is a snack bar. There are twogift shops. Before you go on a tour, your picture is taken in front ofa scenic backdrop and you are given a number to view the picture at one oftwo picture stations. If you like the picture you can buy it. To reach the castle, a bus ride is necessary. On the bus ride, moreaudio plugs for the snack bar and the like are played out. All in all,we really disliked how commercialized the whole establishment was. Ifyou go to Hearst Castle, avoid the movie. Forty-five minutes ofcomplete dreck is the best summation I can give you. Fifteen minutesof the movie are spent showing scenes of buildings in Europe. The restof the movie is, at best, only loosely tied together. Major portionsof Hearst’s life and career are not even glossed over, they are simplyignored. Ten minutes of the movie is a reenactment of how Hearst’sfather discovered silver in the Sierras. That same topic (which haslittle bearing on the overall story of the castle) could be summed up as,”Hearst’s father, an extremely wealthy silver magnate…” We also visited San Luis Obispo. Nice town. Different in manyways from the Bay Area. While we were in town we visited the local”Farmer’s Market.” Unlike the Oakland Farmer’s market thatwe frequent on Sunday’s, the SLO Market is more of an outdoor streetfestival with food, music, and just a few farmer’s stands forauthenticity. The SLO market was more fun for wandering and passingtime, but the Oakland one is better for actually buying food that you mightwant to take home and turn into interesting dishes to put on your dinnertable.

On our trip we also stopped in Morro Bay, Big Sur State Park, RaggedPoint, and Carmel. Unfortunately, it’s late now and I’m going to bedso writing about those places will have to wait.