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San Simeon elephant seals

The beach looked like it was littered with corpses. Turned out, they were the San Simeon elephant seals, and very much alive, albeit a bit lazy. Occasionally one would flip sand on itself (maybe to regulate its body temperature), and one particularly adorable seal shoveled his nose forward in the sand, carving a path. It’s always funny to me when humans stand around marveling at animals, but in this case, we couldn’t help it. We were disappointed that we didn’t see any of the seals with the proboscis that gave them their name “elephant” seal. Those are males older than four,…

San Simeon schoolhouse

The fog had rolled in the night before and hadn’t lifted by 10 am. Fog wasn’t such a concern in San Diego, so we were a bit taken aback when we hit it on California’s Central Coast. Still, it made for an interesting backdrop for our visit to the tiny town of San Simeon (population just over 400). What started out as a one-room schoolhouse (pictured here) fishing town ended up being the support staff for the construction of Hearst Castle just across the road. I think nearly everyone who lived in San Simeon after 1918 was involved in some way…

“Look! It’s an Easter Pirate!” I gasped. I may or may not have just had a mimosa or two in Morro Bay, so I wasn’t sure I could trust my eyes. But there before us, on Easter Sunday, was this guy. Pirate Steve used to be a commercial fisherman, but given the decline of that industry, it should be no surprise that he’s now plundering on the high seas…or a street corner in Morro Bay. He’s been entertaining folks for 20 years, and he’s always good for a pirate joke.

Hearst Castle lion

Exploring all of Hearst Castle would take days. This lion guards one of several cottages on the property (which totals 250 acres). Despite its size, the Castle, which is now a national park, has only about 100 employees, including 70 guides, 6 (!!) gardeners, and other rehab and restoration staff. But the story I want to tell with today’s photo is about Cary Grant (because I love him). Cary was a frequent guest of William Randolph Hearst, and would join other guests in the Assembly Room for pre-dinner cocktails. Cary complained that the drinks they served were weak so he…