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“Pullitzer and Hearst they think they got us, do they got us? No!” — Newsies

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Be still my media-history-and-disney-musical-loving heart. The last major visit of our short Carmel trip before heading home was to a glorious place just north of Los Angeles (in San Simeon) called Hearst Castle.

There are ZEBRAS there (but we didn’t get to see any.)

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They kept bears here in the heyday

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Some of the wildlife still on property

More importantly Hearst Castle is the lifelong project of Mr. William Randolph Hearst — the newspaper/media mogul of the 20s-40s who was the real-life inspiration for the movie Citizen Kane.

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Hearst Castle is also the inspiration for Xanadu in the movie.

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Mr. Hearst is also the bad guy in the musical Newsies — the true life story of the Newsboys Strike of 1899 (in song!)

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But back to the estate…

The castle is built on land that Hearst’s parents purchased in 1865 — his mother was completely against his plans to build a lavish home on the land. So he waited until she died and then did it anyway. Construction on the castle estate started in 1919…and continued for the next twenty-eight years until William Hearst got sick in 1947 and halted work on the grounds.

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Everything behind us (waaaay in the distance) is part of the estate

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According to our very informative tour guide, Mr. Hearst had a huge shopping addiction, which explained why there were SO many knickknacks (very expensive, one-of-a-kind knickknacks…) on the property. There were SO many gorgeous marble statues. His shopping was actually so out of control that he had to send his employees out to buy things for him — if an art seller or antique dealer knew it was Mr. Hearst looking for a piece, they would automatically TRIPLE their prices!

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The entire property sits at the very top of a hill, and is absolutely drop-dead gorgeous. It consists of the main house Casa Grande:

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Casa Grande

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The main parlor -- and Charlie Chaplin hang out spot

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This solid silver lamp belonged to Hearst's mother

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A lot of European inspiration...

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The formal dining room (seated 22!)

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A fan of Heinz ketchup, I see.

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Overstated opulence...and paper napkins

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His personal movie theater

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I've always wanted a chair like this

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And three “smaller” (a relative term) guest houses:

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Inside Casa del Sol -- the medium sized guest house

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Lovely fashion choices of the time

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GORGEOUS ceilings

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Delicate details everywhere

There’s also an outdoor pool, and an indoor pool.

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Neptune Pool

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The tile of the indoor pool is made of pure gold.

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The estate also has its own airfield, which was used by entertainment and political persons. Getting an invite to Hearst Castle could propel a Hollywood career to superstardom — frequent guests included Charlie Chaplin (whom guests nicknamed the court jester, he was there so often), the Marx Brothers and Clark Gable.

Hearst Castle is now a California State Park and a historic landmark, which is why large pieces of the property are open to tours.

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We were on the entry level tour — it gives a great overview of the estate. I’m considering going back sometime between April and October for a garden tour since all the tours are so reasonably priced. It’s a really great place for film buffs and historians alike, and I highly recommend it if you’re in the area!

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Confession: I never went to preschool. I’m pretty sure I escaped unscathed from that little situation, since there were a TON of kids my age in my neighborhood growing up and therefore I was never without playmates my own age. Besides — instead of naptime and fingerpaints, my mom took me to the zoo, and the aquarium and the movies (and I may of occasionally taken a nap too, though I was apparently VERY anti-nap as a child.)

And I’m pretty sure that (and driving around wild African animals for 7 months…) made me a little bit in love with zoos and aquariums. So I was definitely excited that aside from some shopping/eating/wandering around Carmel, the other main thing we did up north was go to the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

On the way to the aquarium (it was about a mile walk from our hotel) we saw a preview of local marine life:

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Seals!

Their large outer-ocean exhibit was being refurbished, but we got there just in time for a Kelp Forest feeding session:

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And there were LOTS of jellyfish:

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And they had special exhibits on various seahorses, flamingoes and penguins.

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A Sea Dragon

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They get their pink coloring from the crustaceans they eat

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Sleepy little guy

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There was also a lot of information about the California coastline — including safe fishing practices and endangered habitats. It was somewhat smaller than I originally thought it would be, but it meant it was easy to get up close and personal with some of the marine life:

Overall, if you’re in the Carmel/Monterey Bay area, I definitely recommend going by if you have the time.

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The Monterey Bay Aquarium

Next up: My Newsies/Citizen Kane obsession come to life!

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I really like the Bob Hope/Bing Crosby “Road movies”. Our trip wasn’t quite as hilarious as theirs tended to be, but last week my parents and I did take a short trip up to Carmel. We drove, since my parents said that the trip up was supposed to be absolutely gorgeous along the coast.

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Not us.

We took the PCH most of the way there (and back) and it was definitely beautiful:

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Cows!

The twists and turns that come with winding your way around enchanting mountains and gorgeous coastline…well, while there were no “STOP THE CAR NOW” moments, I will say I was quite disappointed in my roller-coaster-raised constitution. It simply would NOT hold it together for more than 20 minutes or so before I would start turning a “delightful” shade of green.

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I called this the Bridge of Doom.

On the way back it was a lot easier to access the numerous turnouts created along the road so we were able to get some really great pictures.

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Me & Dad

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We also made a couple of friends 😉

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You have food for me?!

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Yum!

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Showing his good side for the camera

During our trip we made two really fun stops, but I took so many pictures that they’re getting the separate posts they deserve — so look for those soon! (Hint, one involves some marine life, and one involves someone in one of my favorite movie musicals…Newsies!)

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