Saturday, March 28, 2009

Lighthouses,castles and ghosts?...

" You may feel like you are in a Stephen King novel"...these were the words the guide said to us as our bus crept down the fog covered gravely road. We were headed for the Piedras Blancas Light Station...

...this is the last part of our circle of central California. We began in Carpinteria, headed out through the Sespe Wilderness, Pine Mountain and the Los Padres. We spent two days camping in the Carrizo Plain National Monument, eventually heading back to the coast to San Simeon...
...oh sorry my friend, you can't come with us...

...we all started to laugh when our guide told us we were not driving into a horror novel, where we would become captives away from all civilization...I think everyone was feeling the same thing...

...after all, just because a place is in complete isolation on 18 acres (7 hectares) of a fog~enshrouded rocky promontory, is no reason to feel...sketchy?...

"Piedras Blancas" means white rocks and was named by the Spanish explorer and navigator Juan Cabrillo in 1542. The tower was built in 1874 due to increased shipping traffic following the Gold Rush. President Andrew Johnson authorized the construction of 8 lighthouses on the west coast, including Piedras Blancas.

Photo- Illustration by Mark Arnold
Mark is one of the tour guides. If you've ever had a tour with him, you'll remember his stories about life at the point.
He says he is trying to tell the story of when the light still functioned with these images.

These prints combine modern photographs with vintage shots and are further manipulated to show what the light at the point must have looked like. For more info or to purchase a beautiful print go to

...Our first stop was inside the fuel~oil building where we were given an introduction and learned a little about the history of this place...

....our friendly and knowledgeable guide...

...the area is also managed as a wildlife sanctuary, see the elephant seals lounging on the beach below? we watched a great whale migrate so close we could hear his spout, do you think he knows the area surrounding Point Piedras Blancas recently received designation as a Marine Reserve? your safe here California Grey...
...let's go inside...

...yes, it was cold, and damp and everything turned black and white (kidding) although it does feel as though you've stepped back in time...

...looking straight up. Can you imagine climbing these a few times a day? we were not allowed up, repair work and all. That was ok. We got the feel of the place. Light~Keepers were dedicated folks, with a most important job. Did you know they actually lit a lantern with a wick (5 wicks) that were used along with a lens? What a tricky job that was. It would take at least a half an hour to light the lantern, and then only after the lens rotation time was exactly adjusted, the keeper would begin the more relaxed portion of his watch....
...beautiful or creepy, I couldn't make up my mind, beautifully creepy then...
...they let us go, no one got locked up, whew, we'll be back for another visit to Piedras Blancas, it's a very special place...

Good thing, we don't want to miss our next tour which is of

Hearst Castle

Yes, there is a castle in California...
... there are many books and websites devoted to this "hilltop estate"so I'll not say too much. The former residence of media magnate William Randolph Hearst, it was gifted to the State of California in 1957 and opened to the public in 1958. Now operated as an historic house museum by California State Parks.

You just have to see it to believe it. The building pictured above is only one of the three "smaller" guest houses...

...this is the house...

...filled with antiques, artwork and treasures dating to 800 B.C. ...

...our thoughtful guide...

...there are 4 or 5 different tours you can take, there is even one for the gardens...
...Marble sculptures...
...the casual dining room... ghosts here...

...after watching a movie, the guests would go back to one of the 56 bedrooms, after washing up in one of the 61 bathrooms...

...the underground pool..

...time to leave the Enchanted Hill, back to reality.
You know you are a lucky person when you can go into a palatial pad like this and be ohsograteful for your humble little home, and life. I would way more rather have experiences than things...(unless we're talking about Chanel, those little black compacts and #5 perfume and oh, oops! carried away here!)

So, it was time to start for home. We talked all about the fantastic time we'd had, all that we'd seen in a few short days, hoping we'd gotten those shots and the g.p.s. info so necessary.

But there was one last thing on the list, a quick stop at Montana de Oro again. Chuck needed to get coordinates for one of the hikes we did in the past. When we got there it was at the tail end of a storm, the wind and waves were howling. I opted for the warmth of the truck while he went and took care of business. Deciding to go have a peek in visitors center, I found the woman working there in a panic. It seemed a couple of trail runners had just happened on a mountain lion taking down a deer! Her phone wasn't working and she wanted to use my mobile to call the rangers. Mine had no service. But she showed me a map and pointed out the exact location. Then she warned, do not! go on this trail. Take any other, but this. Ok, I said, and thanked her. Then I ran. And luckily Chuck was running back towards me. I told him what I'd learned. And within minutes we had the truck up to the trail head, where we shouldn't go, and then he was gone. This is the kind of thing he lives for. I sat there in the warm truck hoping he would and wouldn't find this drama. But he did. The deer anyway. Poor thing, laying there with her belly all eaten out. I know I know, but that's nature, it's either that or the butt.
A lions got to eat too.

One more adventure coming to an end...
'till next time ;)
xxx love, lori


  1. Simply beautiful photos, Lori! My spouse and I have wanted to visit Hearst Castle for years now and something always keeps us from making the trip. Seeing these gives me a yearning desire to get there now!

  2. There is no doubt where I'd have been after finding out about the kill. . . .
    Lori I absolutely love your photos. You've inspired me to go out and look for things to photograph today.
    Pity I'm not close to the sea as I would have liked to go to a lighthouse.. maybe later I'll look up what lighthouse pics I have.

  3. Excellent photos! My husband has never been to California before so he was in awe of the pictures too!
    I have been able to show him a "decent" look at my former home state via your blog! Thanks again!

  4. Not all the photos came through for me, but it didn't matter as the ones there where, were very impressive.
    I've driven past the Hearst estate, when I spent a summmer in SF and the last week going down the Pacific highway to Anaheim and inland on the way back.
    keep meaning to tell you I have four antique fruit packaging labels and one is for Carpenteria Fruit growing association.

  5. Lori, your blog is so beautiful!! Can`t you just print it all out and make a book of it? I would look at all the pictures again and again, and chuckle at your own comments (I like the others` too!)and would dream myself to California... I was once there but did not see all the places you show us. So that is one thing on my "bucket list" ( a word you taught me, haha)

  6. Nice photos. The area you live in is really gorgeous. I love those foggy rainy days. To me you get some of your best shots.


  7. Wow, thanks for the photos I had no idea California had places like that - its has really opened my eyes.

  8. Lori Ann, Thanks again for another wonderful tour of central California. I knew there was a lot I've never seen in CA and I am so thrilled to be able to almost taste and smell and experience it for myself!

    I ditto Angela. You should make a book of your travels.

  9. wow - Lori you are doing wonders for California Tourism industry. So many places now on my list of places to visit.

  10. Lori .I love looking through your pictures..I do it every so often. These were like a Stephen King movie! just awesome.
    Gosh...10 12 yrs ago...I had a friemd who I had met on line and we talked a LONG time before we got the idea for me to fly to CA.
    She lives in Paradise...near Chico. She picked me up at the Sacremento airport and we drove and drove and drove. Our final desination was Morro Bay. We were house sitting for her in laws.
    She took me to Cambria, San Simeon, San Luis Obispo, we decided not to see the hurst Castle..but saw it from afar :(
    We went through wine country and about every where else that we could go! We shoped and shopped and really had fun. I couldn't believe the amount of cows I saw in CA. I mean I am from Nebraska and there are a LOT of cows here! But in CA...well, who wouldve guessed :-) anyway it was a fab trip and unfortunately we lost touch with eachother because of life circumstances.
    I have lots of pictures...I think that was before I had a digital camera with the memory card. I had a Sony that used floppy discs....
    I think of her often and have such fond memories of my 1st (and last) trip to Ca.
    So I love looking back on your pages at your a lot of it looks familiar :-)

  11. Thanks for stopping by Lori. I am visiting my sister. I will have to go home to Georgia next week. I plan on coming back within a month of that.

    I have more photos to post over the next week so check back with me. I think I took around 500 photographs yesterday. Of course I will not be posting ALL of them. Thank goodness for digital cameras. No more wasting film on bad shots.


  12. Beautiful photos and clear information. What a lovely way to parade California to the world. Most people in California have not seen these sights either.

  13. gandpLori - your posts are always so incredibly beautiful in vision and spirit. thank you for these amazing travels around California - and you blog will make an amazing book! x

  14. Wow! Those pictures are amazing! The mist and fog completely make the pictures seem so surreal! Hard to believe in this day and age we still have places like that here in the States!

  15. Thank you Lori D, I hope you get a chance to get there, I think you will love it.

    Haha Janet, well, perhaps if the lion had eaten his fill before being scared off...he was still hungry! Share your shots when you get them!

    Tulsa, that's really gratifying to hear, these places should be enjoyed and preserved!thanks so much for the kind words.

    Mandy, that is a great drive, one of the most beautiful in the world i've read! Thats so cool about the labels, yes, there have been a lot of fruits and flowers grown in this valley(and labels!)thats great you have some.

    Geli, you can print out your blog! it's so funny you said that, i was just telling Val about it. There are companys that'll do it for you, including the comments. Let's do it at our 1 year anniversary?

    Coco, i agree with you, sometimes its just perfect. thanks.

    Thank you L.B., i love your name. It's surprising how much is out there.

    Thanks so much Aden, now if i could only get to Ireland...oh my gosh it looks beautiful there.

    Bhavana, It's a great big beautiful world isn't it? I know what you mean, it seems my list is always being added to also.

    Dear Wayward, that sounds like a great time you had. And you do still have your photos to pull out from time to time?

    Have a great time with your sister Coco, and yes, digital is great!

    Thank you Lakeviewer for saying my photos are beautiful. My blog is my journal, the same one i've always kept except now it's here online and not in my notebooks(which I may go back to someday).It's never my intention to Parade.It's just my record.

    Val, that means alot to me coming from you, except you'll be the one with the book? right?

    Unwritten, ALL over this big beautiful land of ours.All over. Thanks for the lovely comment!

    Thank you for lovely comments, I ALWAYS appreciate them very much.
    xxx lori

  16. I loved going on the lighthouse & castle tours! You are so good at taking us along.
    I could have done without the lions~deer story! I know a lions gotta eat, but I didn't want to hear about the poor deer ) =

  17. Im just glad you didnt post a pic of the deer ;) But the lion would have been cool...

  18. Sorry Janis! i know its hard. Perhaps you better stay clear of here for the next couple months (africa, will hopefully bring more stories).

    Lifestudent, I could if you wanted to see it? Still working on the mountain lion, I've never seen one in the wild.

    xoxo Thanks! lori

  19. Beautiful, Lori! I'm sorry to be late in my comments to your bellissimo post, but I had to recover from yesterday's food extravaganza. The photos are beautiful, that fog at Hearst Castle makes it all the more mysterious and surreal. Thank you for sharing your beautiful life with us, I'll never tire of saying that!

  20. Your photos are stunning. You have visited some very interesting places. Loved that pool.

    CJ xx

  21. That was a great adventure. Fantastic photos. My weekends are spent in differents cities and states, but always working. The most excitement I get is an interesting restaurant. I love being able to travel with you.

  22. It really felt like S.King´s landscapes. It was touching to hear about the whales, oh, my, so beautiful.
    And I could never imagine there was a castle in California! There´s so much to know, to study about California!!!! Thank you Lori, your way of describing your trip is so incredible, I love it!

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  24. Wow! Wonderful journeying with you, Lori! LOVE!!!your photos! Stunning shots, so moody. And isn't that Hearst Mansion something else - I recall watching a documentary about it a few years ago and just shaking my head.
    And yes, a lion's got to eat too. I'm sure it was "good practice" for what you'll experience in Africa! :-)

  25. That was an awesome read.

    What's that about lions??
    I didn't know that you guys had lions in the wild. Is that true?

    I've had the odd kangaroo in the front yard, but that's nothing like a lion :-)

    best wishes Ribbon

  26. Sometimes I read/view your blog posts and feel like I read a really good short story. :) I loved the picture of your second tour guide. It was the best out of all of the pics (for me).

  27. Lola, you are so kind and please never apologize to me, i am honored whenever you can find the time to stop in for a visit and then to leave such lovely comments. It is always my pleasure ♥

    William, thank you so much.

    Dear CJ, thank you for liking my photos. The pool, we learned that once in awhile the employees are invited to go for a swim!

    Butternut(i just bought a beautiful one at the farmer's market and thought of you!) it's my pleasure, thank you so much for taking the time to come along, you are always welcome!

    Mina, thank you, it is so much fun for me, I'm so glad you enjoyed it too!

    mmfiore, well, ok. Thanks!

    Nicky, muchas gracias my dear, I am honored.

    Ribbon, thanks alot! yes, absolutly. we have mountain lions, i wrote about them in a previous post, i think it is titled, Reading Rolling Stone, Reading Vogue, but i'd better go check. And to me a kangaroo sounds completly exotic! and fantastic! Wow!

    Bodaat, you are such a sweetheart. Thank you for all your comments, and i am glad you are blogging again!

    xxx lori

  28. Another beautiful journey with you, Lori, you are such a wonderful guide. The way you allow us to see the places you go through your eyes never ceases to be a magical delight.

    I love the first photo - what a fantastic painting that would make. How about it, Lori, you are a very talented artist? (I remember the birds you painted for the cover of your Roberts guide - brilliant!)

    The photo of your 'thoughtful guide' is an absolute tour de force. He should be painted by Rembrandt himself - just look how the light falls on his face and hands. Wow!

  29. LOVE the spooky, foggy pictures and the frozen-in-time guides you had! great stuff.


xoxo lori