"Paintings have a life of their own that derives from the painter's soul." Vincent Van Gogh

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Magical Mystery Tour

In July, my husband and I got some very good news and decided on the spur of the moment to celebrate with our very own California magical mystery tour – no hotel reservations, no planned sightseeing – just spur of the moment fun!

And so we drove through California farm country and saw massive fields of strawberries, cherry farms and numerous other edible green things. Next we drove through the hilly and very beautiful wine country with grape vines covering almost every hill and vale and a place to stop for wine tastings around each curve in the road. Our next stop was the mountaintop home of William Randolph Hearst, aptly called Hearst’s Castle. It is a gigantic estate home of over 65,000 square feet full of European and ancient Greek and Roman antiquities. It covers over 250,000 acres of breathtaking California land, from mountain to sea. The drive to the top took about 20 minutes and was harrowing on a very narrow and twisty road with no guard rails and cows randomly crossing back and forth along the way! The castle itself was spectacular but it was very hot – making the outdoor pool extremely inviting.  Fortunately that night we found a room in a lovely Inn right on the Pacific Ocean. The wind was blowing and it was chilly seaside but we walked on the beach for a couple of miles and breathed in the wonderful salt air. I had forgotten how much I love the coast and the ocean and this trip was a wonderful reminder. Then we drove along the Pacific Coast Highway to Carmel by the Sea and then on to Monterey. Stopping at Elephant Seal Beach we actually saw two huge males fighting in the water. The deep bellowing sounds they made were  unforgettable – a true National Geographic moment!

Carmel is one of the most beautiful little seaside towns –as there were lush and lovely gardens in full bloom everywhere you turned. The air smelled intoxicating! Staying overnight at the Portola Inn in Monterey, we visited the Aquarium then sauntered around Cannery Row. The weather cooperated fully the entire time! 

Beach at San Simeon

Outdoor pool at San Simeon - the indoor pool was just as large!

Entry to the main castle with tour guide reminding us not to touch anything!

One of many magnificent tapestries lining the walls

Gorgeous ancient Russian icon in the main reception area

View from the drive along Big Sur

Elephant seals in full battle!

My husband strolling along the beach

And me enjoying the salt air!

And now its time to get back to the easel!


  1. Thank you for including me in your very own "Cirque du Soleil" Susan! Often in my visits to these estates of the wealthy... I am angered (not out of a sense of jealousy" but simply out of a the feeling I have that so many other folks cannot even find a safe haven in spacious countries... where the wealthy again create the decisions that divides up the wealth and determines the karma of so many unfortunates.

    On the positive side however... such wealth permits these collections to survive the ravages of time and war too.

    Thanks again for this wonderful tour Susan!

    Back to the easel... with good luck and new energy!


    1. Thank you for commenting, Bruce - our trip was wonderful in so many ways but I am glad to be back home!

  2. Bonjour ma chère Susan,

    J'ai beaucoup apprécié la promenade avec toi... Tes écrits et tes sublimes photos m'ont entraînée à la rêverie. Que du bonheur !
    Ici à Saint-Tropez nous souffrons de la chaleur et de la sécheresse. Les matins tôt, je pense pouvoir faire plein de choses mais dès qu'il arrive le milieu de la matinée mon appétence s'effondre ! Je suis épuisée par le trop chaud !
    Je suis contente que toi et ton époux vous ayez pu profiter de ces belles traversée dans la nature, des balades au bord de l'océan. C'est tellement vivifiant. Chez moi, j'y vais de bonne heure ou en soirée.
    Avec toutes les belles choses que ton esprit a emmagasiné et s'est nourri tu vas pouvoir peindre joyeusement...

    Gros bisous 🌸

    1. Bonjour, my friend - this trip was a great respite from the summer heat and the scenery was awe inspiring as well. So glad you enjoyed the photos and hope your heat wave soon comes to an end.

  3. I was so excited to read your post!! What a great spur of the moment trip you had. I just ate up each stop you described as Monterey and Pacific Grove were our homes for 15 years. We've gone back several times to see friends and eat at familiar restaurants and just to smell that salty air. So glad you and your husband enjoyed yourselves!

    1. How fortunate that you lived by the California coast - surely one of the most beautiful places on earth! We had such a wonderful time, Carol. I wish I could do it all again!


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