|The local club kindly provided tools in case I wanted to do a little trail maintenance|
It wasn’t long until I got off the main road & headed up the Hazzard Peak trail. At the start of this trail, the local bike club had installed a box of small cow bells – for riders to borrow to warn other trail users of fast approaching riders.
The ride off the top was fantastic, some of the most fun, flowing downhill I’ve done in quite a while. There were ample little bumps to catch some air off, some loose rocks to make it interesting & plenty of banked corners to throw the bike into. About three times there would be a tight right-hander all of a sudden & you really had to make those as the outside edge was really sandy & off-camber. The last little part of the trail was called Manzanita & was also excellent, much bigger water bars to jump over with confidence. Back at the car in less than two hours, I was pleased I went around the direction I did.
Back at the motel in SLO we hurriedly booked the last two tickets for the 3.30 tour of Hearst Castle, had lunch & set off up Highway 1 for about an hour to check out William Randolph Hearst’s sprawling complex. Seriously rich from newspapers at the beginning of the twentieth century, he & architect Julia Morgan designed & built a huge place to house his extensive European & Egyptian art collection (he bought something like twenty percent of the big European art firesale after the First World War). The castle & its three guest houses are up a five mile driveway overlooking the Pacific on a site where Hearst used to camp with his parents when he was a kid (his father having built up an extensive holding of ranching land previously).
My first impressions were that it was just a big place of someone who had too much money just throwing all sorts of very old European artifacts together & it was all a little weird. But the place grew on me & as I saw more & more of the collection & heard where various pieces were from & how staggeringly old they were. For instance, in the main living/sitting room in the house were four gigantic Flemish tapestries – these four are part of an original set of ten, only five of which remain – these must be important as the Louvre has had replicas made of all ten. It was some serious art. The last thing we saw was another pool (the outdoor one was built three times before Hearst was happy with it & had pillars next to it about two-thousand years old) built under two tennis courts. The indoor pool was for the most part three metres deep & laid with thousands of beautiful tiles, quite a few of which were coated in 22 carat gold leaf. The guest list was quite something too – Bob Hope, Churchill, Chaplin, Cary Grant, Clark Gable & Carole Lombard, Hedda Hopper, WC Fields & all sorts of others I’ve never heard off. Quite an interesting place all up – unfortunately we didn’t see any of the zebra grazing the land as we drove out. Descendants of originals that used to be in the private zoo (which also included giraffes, polar bears, kangaroos, antelope, impala & others) they have managed to stick around.