“A man is wealthy who has enough.” Rule five says we should distinguish between what we need and what we desire. But studies say the vast majority of people, even those whom we would consider very wealthy, still look with envy at those who have more. Those in the top “one percent” have social pressures, financial pressures and emotional pressures; they face health concerns and ultimately death. Money isn’t everything, and Lao Tse, quoted above, is undoubtedly correct. But we have observed that the materially wealthy often face those pressures in more comfort and more beautiful surroundings.
Over the next few days, we drove from Pismo Beach to Santa Cruz. The portion from San Simeon to Monterey is the least crowded and most beautiful. And while there is a small town called Big Sur, the approximately ninety miles from San Simeon to Carmel is also known as Big Sur and is quite beautiful, even when the sea fog lasts all day as it did during much of our trip.
We learned about George Hearst in Virginia City. He and his partner packed over thirty tons of ore over the mountains to Sacramento on mules. Others thought the ore was lead; it was silver. He invested his profits in, among other things, a 250,000 acre ranch along the California coast where he took his family camping. His son, William Randolph Hearst, took the family fortune and grew it immensely bigger by creating a publishing empire.
At age 56, W.R. Hearst began construction of his “castle” on top of the hill where the family camped. Construction continued for the next 28
years, and he told people it was only forty percent complete. The main house, Casa Grande, has 115 bedrooms. He also constructed a small, medium and large guest house, tennis courts, and two large swimming pools. His “yard art” included four Egyptian sculptures over three thousand years old.
Many famous people, politicians, businessmen and movie stars were Hearst’s guests – his wife preferred to live on the Long Island, New York estate he bought for her. Now it is a state historical site and we all can take a bus from the welcome center to take one of several tours offered. The grounds are beautifully maintained with flowers everywhere.
There is an excellent film that talks about George Hearst and the construction of the estate, but does a poor job as a biography of William Randolph. It spent a lot of time on his travels in Europe with his mother from which he supposedly received his inspiration – I think the producers wanted an excuse to travel. Unfortunately, flash photography was not allowed, and our pictures do not do the place justice.
Just north of San Simeon, there is a vista where one can look at hundreds of basking elephant seals. These are not pretty animals to begin with. When they are molting, they are even less so. But it was great to see them in the wild.
The Big Sur coastline continues to Carmel, a very pretty town with lots of material wealth – probably what Georgetown in D.C. or Naples in Florida would be like if they had money. We joked about how we didn’t fit in very well but noted Alie was wearing a Beijing Olympics jacket (given to her), Eddie Bauer coat and a scarf from a Colorado resort. She lacked the gold earrings and pearls some of the women were wearing this morning, and Ray was hopeless, even in his PGA shirt (bought at a discount at the Bay Pines VA hospital). Carmel began strict zoning in 1906. They don’t even allow house numbers; addresses are identified by the intersecting street names.
Just outside Carmel, we entered 17-Mile Drive, a toll road ($9.75), that winds around the very beautiful community of Pebble Beach and its four golf courses. The road was first build in 1881 and among those who used it were Samuel F. B. Morse, the “Duke of Del Monte” and distant cousin to the inventor of the telegraph. The views are gorgeous and the homes are spectacular. But I wondered if the people on the hill envied the homes on the water.
Morse, who was a conservationist and owned Del Monte Properties, developed the resort at Pebble Beach and eight golf courses. Despite his construction of hotels and golf courses, he took more care than most to preserve the natural beauty of the communities they were in.
The Lodge at Pebble Beach, where four U.S. Amateur Championships and five U.S. Opens were held, is spectacular. We just enjoyed seeing it. We contemplated eating there – orange juice $8 – but opted for a picnic near Spanish Bay.
Fanshell Overlook was closed because the harbor seals return each spring to bear their young, and the area was protected for the privacy of the moms and their new pups. But further along, we stopped at Bird Rock – its white covering was not snow. The rock was covered with cormorants, but more interesting to us were all the California sea lions playing in the water and basking on the shore. And there was one “cuckoo in the nest,” a huge stellar sea lion.
Leaving the land of the one percent, we passed through Pacific Grove to Monterey, famous for John Steinbeck’s 1945 Cannery Row, a book about tough depression era life in the neighborhood of the sardine canneries. Today, Cannery Row is a shopping mall devoted to tourists.
Highway 1 is a freeway from Monterey to Santa Cruz. As we are wealthy in time and spirit, when we saw huge kites near the intersection that led into Marina Beach, we drove to the next intersection and turned back. Marina Beach (near the former Fort Ord) was having a kite festival in the neighborhood park.
There were wonderful huge kites. There were creative small kites. One little girl was flying a kite barely four inches in length. There were plane kites, box kites and dragonfly kites. There was a circular kite that spun rapidly.
But our favorite was beneath the huge bear and octopus kites. It was a large puffer fish, and its owner did not get it off the ground the entire time we were there. Instead, he rolled it back and forth along the ground, while hoards of little children ran up to it and let it roll over them as they screamed with laughter.