hearst castle

In November 2004 (just one month after the Red Sox won the World Series for the first time in 86 years) I was in Shepherdstown, West Virginia at a cultural landscapes conference. Over drinks at that meeting the idea of working on a Cultural Landscape Report for Hearst Castle first came up and I lobbied for the honor to work on it. Less than six months later I was given the project.

Little did I know what kind of journey that project had in store for me. It was a journey that contained the highest highs and the lowest lows. The trajectory it put me on led me (in no small part) to leave Boston and move 3000 miles away to Portland, Oregon in 2007. Prior to moving I completed two of three parts of the project.

This last week that project was finally completed and I was invited to attend a party and presentation celebrating its completion. For me it was both a celebration and much needed closure. You can’t second guess decisions, but I learned a valuable lesson which I never want to repeat – to never let someone bully me off a project that I want to work on or take away an opportunity that I have earned. Just by being there I was able to simultaneously celebrate and be recognized for my contributions to the project AND stand up to a bully. It was an amazing experience.

I revisited old haunts and relived highlights of my participation in the project – lunch at my favorite deli (Soto’s in Cambria), a latte from my favorite coffee shop (French Corner Cafe in Cambria), and driving around my favorite curves along the approach road to the hilltop. Plus I finally took the scenic drive from San Simeon to San Francisco through Big Sur and Carmel. Such a treat!

The highlight was a swim in the Neptune Pool along with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres under the portico in the late afternoon sun. Few people outside the Hearst family and those who work at Hearst Castle get the opportunity to swim in the outdoor pool. It’s a rare honor and I loved every minute of it, especially watching the sun set over the Pacific Ocean and the moon rise over Casa Grande.

At times, especially during the low lows I thought the Hearst Castle project was a curse. Fortunately it didn’t take 86 years of heartbreaking losses to break it (if indeed a curse existed). All it took was a little reflection and a lovely dip in the pool.

soto’s deli in cambria

french corner bakery in cambria

pier at san simeon

pier at san simeon

dipping my toes in the pacific

door to the pool dressing rooms

swimming in the neptune pool


sculpture on the neptune terrace

shadows on casa del sol

casa del sol’s curved staircase

casa del sol

moon rise over hearst castle

elephant seals napping in san simeon

Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo – I arrived just as they were starting mass

4 thoughts on “hearst castle”

  1. oh my god, that pool looks delicious! i would have taken a dip and then taken a nap with those seals. i love this blog entry.

  2. p.s. all of these photos were taken with my iphone – they came out much better than i thought they would.

  3. Great story Laurie! I wish we had been able to check it out when you were working on the project. So glad you madew your peace with that episode. Hooray for you!

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