Day 8 was not only a big day for us, but it was a big day FOR AMERICA!
But yeah, it was the 4th of July. And it’s pretty awesome waking up on vacation, in California, across the street from the beach, with your family and friends. It’s kind of overwhelming sometimes how incredible this vacation was.
To start off the day, Matt and I went for a run along the boardwalk, which ran all down the beach and up to a park where they were setting up for the 4th of July celebrations. Since I was dying erm running, I didn’t get any pictures of it. But Nickie, Tony, Larissa, and Mia went for a walk that morning along the boardwalk as well. And Larissa was in much better shape to take pictures.
Moonstone Beach is a beautiful beach. Legit, how lucky were we?
Also beautiful? This.
But Wayne, what’s so beautiful about that? It just looks like a picnic basket hanging on a hook.
Well, dummy. This was breakfast. And it was waiting for me when I got back to the room.
As I mentioned in my last post, we put in our order for breakfast at the Sea Otter when we checked in. And breakfast arrives via this adorable little picnic basket hanging on a hook outside our room.
Here is a peek inside.
And here is everything spread out on the table in the room.
Nickie, Myles, and I each got bacon, egg, and cheese breakfast burritos while Owen got the croissant and fruit cup. The boys got milks and we also ordered a carafe of orange juice. Coffee was available in the lobby, which was right across the parking lot.
Also, there was the option to get a split of champagne with your meal so as to make mimosas. It was only an additional $8 but for some reason Nickie didn’t order this? A lapse in judgement for sure. But we still had another breakfast ahead of us since we were spending two nights at the Sea Otter!
Which in and of itself was insanely exciting. Not that I don’t love road-trippin’ but it was a good feeling to know we had one day where we didn’t have to pack up the cars. And the Sea Otter Inn actually ended up being one of our favorite places we stayed at over the entire trip. The staff was super friendly, the rooms were comfortable, the breakfast was great, it was right across the street from the beach. Pretty great place.
Plus, they really celebrate otters. So, something we have in common.
Annnd they had a nice pool and hot tub. Which we all made use of after breakfast.
So just to refresh. Run. Breakfast Burrito. Hot tub. All by 9:00AM. Kinda crushing your birthday, America.
But yeah, a great morning. But eventually, we had to get going. We had 11:00 AM tickets to visit Hearst Castle, a stop I was really looking forward to. I kinda have a thing for castles.
The drive to the Hearst Castle was a 10 minute drive or so. We arrived at around 10:30 to a line at the ticket booth. Which we had to get in. Even though we pre-purchased tickets. We had to obtain a wristband to board the bus for the ride up to the castle. And by the time Nickie reached the counter, it was close to 10:50, which the woman behind the counter said was too late to make our scheduled bus.
Again, to summarize, we arrived at 10:30 for our 11:00AM reservation. And we were too late. Seems like that’s not the best system they have going there.
We got put on a later bus, which left us hanging out in the Visitor Center for a bit. Well at least Mia was excited.
Since we had a little bit of time until our bus, we decided to just have lunch at the Visitor’s Center. I ordered up a bunch of chicken fingers and fries for the table to share and we grabbed some sodas and beers for the wait. I didn’t take picture of it or anything but you guys have seen chicken fingers before.
And as we were sitting at the table, our phones started blowing up with notifications about the Southern California 6.4 earthquake. Being that we were in Cambria, we were too far away to feel it. In fact, the next few days were filled with other quakes and aftershocks, including a 7.1 quake on Friday night. The weird thing? We never felt anything. Either we were too far away, or on the water…but nothing. Later in the trip, Laura said she thought she felt an aftershock in Disneyland, but overall we were relatively unaffected by any of the quakes.
And whose fault was that? Get it? Fault? Earthquake? Is this thing on?
Anyways, soon enough it was time to catch our bus up the castle. Remember? We were visiting Hearst Castle today? I know it’s been a few paragraphs since I mentioned that.
Onto the bus….
The drive up to the top of the hill was actually pretty long. That Hearst had some land, yo.
This picture that Laura took really shows all the winding roads up to the castle. And the water beyond. It was a really nice ride up.
Plus, it was narrated by Alex Trebek. So it was both informative and condescending.
For our time at the actual castle, we booked the Grand Rooms Tour. The tour started outside where we roamed the gardens, saw the pool, and got a good look at the castle.
See that woman in the big hat on the stairs? She must have thought she booked a photo shoot instead of a tour with a bunch of other people. On account of she kept leaving the group to have her boyfriend take pictures of her alone in different poses. Ugh, Millennials.
The pool was insane. And our tour guide told us they were offering swims in the pool this summer for $1250 ($950 for members.) Which seemed crazy. Since Nickie and I just bought an inflatable pool for like 40 bucks. Just go to Ocean State Job Lot.
The gardens were probably my favorite part. The colors were amazing and it smelled super good out there.
Walking the grounds and seeing the gardens and the pool and everything was great. It was a beautiful day. But the Grand Rooms tour is called the Grand Rooms tour for a reason. On account of it takes place inside the Grand Rooms – the Main Room, the Assembly Room, the Refectory, the Morning Room, the Billiard Room, and the Theater.
I feel like this decorating aesthetic is very Wayne’s college dorm room. Lots of naked people and tapestries.
The tour ended in the Theater with a short movie showing some old footage of people visiting the castle when Hearst was still alive.
Like I said, I loved walking around the gardens and seeing the outside of the castle. The inside? Not as much. The inside definitely did not live up to the beauty of the outside. And the tour guides were kind of off-putting. Our main tour guide was super hard to hear and the other guides’ primary functions were to keep us ON THE GREY CARPET. It just didn’t feel like they loved their jobs all that much.
If you listen closely, you can hear one here telling Laura to stay ON THE GREY CARPET.
The last part of the tour was cool actually. When you go to catch the bus back down, you walk by the indoor pool.
So the whole Hearst Castle thing was a roller coaster. Lots of ups and downs. The gardens were super duper. The grey carpet haunts me in my dreams.
But I am glad we did it for sure.
On the docket for the next couple hours? Seals and pie.
The next stop for the day was down at the beach, at the Elephant Seal Rookery in San Simeon.
I am on record as saying something to the effect of, “elephant seals? Not all that cute.”
Well, in the word of Vampire Weekend – I stand corrected.
Because these guys were the best, Jerry. The best.
I have decided that when I retire, I want to be an elephant seal.
And now that we could check the “seal” box on our itinerary, it was time to get some pie. And the place to get pie in Cambria is Linn’s.
They have other good stuff to eat for sure…
But we were here for one reason and one reason only. And that reason was, “Ohai. Pie.”
There were, like, lots of different kinds of pie. Both Myles and Owen got Apple. I had a bite of this, it was very good.
Nickie went for Pecan. I had a bite of this, it was very good.
And I don’t have pictures of what everyone else got, but I know Tony got chocolate cream pie and Larissa a banana cream pie. And I think Laura got a strawberry rhubarb pie. I had bites of these, they were very good.
I hope you’re sensing a theme here. An “I had bites of everything” theme. And I bet you’re like, well…I am sure you didn’t also get pie since you seemed to be sampling everyone else’s.
Which means you don’t know me at all.
Because of course I got pie. Linn’s specialty is Olallieberry pie. Olallieberry is a raspberry/blackberry hybrid. Which promised all kinds of sweet-tart goodness. And it delivered on that promise. Thing was goooood.
Pie definitely felt apropos on account of the 4th of July. And you know what guys? I really love pie. I know I know. Hot take.
After pie, it was back to the hotel. Some of us hung out in the pool and the hot tub for the afternoon while a few of the boys started watching Stranger Things 3 (since it came out that day.)
Keeping things pretty chill, we decided on pizza for dinner.
Tony, Matt, and I were going to call in the order and pick it up but that would have negated the possibility of having a beer while waiting for the pizza. So we obviously DID NOT call in the order.
Instead, we drove over to JBJ Round-Up Pizza. Located in downtown Cambria, it’s a pizza place that has a Western theme. Which I guess makes sense. In that it makes no sense at all.
But at least they had Magic Sword.
We ordered a couple pizzas, which we figured would be relatively cheap. If you click on their website, though, you will notice the prices are very very light-colored. I feel this is on purpose. On account of 1 pizza is about 30 bucks. When I was there and Tony and Matt commented on the prices, I felt like I was vacation Wayne so I didn’t really care. But looking back, this is most definitely some type of insanity. But oh well. What are you gonna do, right? We ended up ordering 4 pies.
And keeping true to plan, we also got beer.
Once the pizzas were ready, we picked them up at the counter, brought them outside, and loaded them into the trunk of the Mustang. And back to the Sea Otter we went. Con pizza.
Everyone back at the motel secured us a spot at one of the fire pits. We grabbed some wine and beers from the room and set up for…well…just a lovely little dinner.
We hung out at the fire pit for a while as the sun started to go down. And man, it was COLD. I can honestly say this was probably the coldest 4th of July I have ever experienced. Finally, the lyrics to The Wallflowers’ “One Headlight” made sense.
But yeah, it was cold. So we all bundled up, grabbed some blankets and towels and walked across the street. We hit the boardwalk and walked a little ways down to make sure we could get a good view of the fireworks. We had no plans to go to the park or anything, but we still wanted a good view.
At one point, Matt and the boys went down on the beach and started setting up camp but we came to the conclusion that we probably wouldn’t be able to see anything from that vantage point so we soldiered on. And throughout the walk, everyone had different ideas on where to sit but we ended up with some of us in the wet grass, and us more intelligent ones on the boardwalk. But we were all within shouting distance of one another.
As we waited for the fireworks to start, Mia told me a spooky story.
And it turned out we had a pretty good view for the show.
Do you ever feel like a plastic bag drifting through the wind, wanting to start again?
After the show, on our walk back, Will played some music on his phone. I distinctly remember singling along, very loudly to Coolio’s “Gangsta’s Paradise” at one point. So obviously it was a really fun 4th of July.
Pretty great Day 8. But just wait. Day 9 is first rate. Don’t hate.