The 1% had Its Standards

The charm of driving quickly wears off. In fact, I will say that driving stops being fun and starts being stressful at about mile 5,000. Or the first $1,000+ damange you do to your car. Which ever comes first.

Theresa and I have driven about 1,800 miles together since she arrived. I have driven about 6,000 since leaving home in September. I called a halt to driving today. We are on the California coast, in the Los Padres National Forest, about half an hour north of San Simeon and Hearst Castle.

It’s hard to know where to start with Hearst Castle. It’s a cool thing, but only if you don’t think about it too hard. Or really at all. The story behind the castle is that W.R. Hearst, of The Newsies fame, inherited a bunch of land and money from his father. His father made all his money when he discovered a bunch of silver along the California coast, and then expanded into cattle.

W.R. decided to build a summer home where his family camped when he was a kid. And he spent about 28 years doing this, buying up art from all over bankrupt, post-war Europe. He then would invite VIPs such as Bank of America founder, Amadeo Giannini, Winston Churchill and Charlie Chaplin up to his home to tell him stories and generally just amuse him.

Its hard not to feel manipulated by the opulance of it all. It’s very easy to forget about the whole robber baron thing.

One part of the whole estate that I found interesting is that it was very self sustaining. It more or less had to be because it was nearly inaccessible. In fact, a large resevoir had to be built to accommodate the house.

The Hearst family still owns and operates a cattle operation, supporting about 2,000 head of grass fed beef, and in typical mogul fashion is the largest supplier of grass fed and finished beef in the U.S. It’s very hard to find anything that is a radiant review of the Hearst Corporation, including the ranching portion. (I don’t want to cry conspiracy, but it is a giant media conglomerate)

The whole time you’re on the tour of the castle, they make mention of W.R.’s private zoo. When the depression hit, and they ran into money troubles, he decided to donate many of his animals to California zoos. Except for the ones that escaped. Like the zebras. That are just chilling with the cows on the hillside above the coast.

I guess that’s kind of cool. Just don’t think about it too much.




…………… I talk about cows too much?


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