The year was two thousand and six, and I was on what I refer to as my virgin adventure, a solo road trip from my hometown to beautiful, sunny California. It was the start of me traveling solo, although that was unbeknownst to me at the time.
I just wanted to get the hell out of town.
I drove along highway one to San Simeon, and stumbled upon the Hearst Castle. I went to the front, had a sandwich and a beer, but didn’t go inside.
I wasn’t anywhere near as adventuresome as I am now. At the time, I felt silly going at it alone.
The year two thousand and fourteen is a different tale altogether. I craved to learn more about William Randolph Hearst, the inspiration behind the movie Citizen Kane. I wanted to know why someone would build a mansion in the middle of nowhere, halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, in the 1920’s.
As the tour bus slowly made its way up the winding path to the house on the hilltop, the driver informed us that back in the day, Mr. Hearst had all kinds of exotic animals imported from around the world so that he could entertain his guests with the wildlife. After his death, it was understood that having polar bears, lions, leopards, etc…were a huge financial burden and most were put in zoos to be cared for.
The zebras however, were difficult to capture and so were left to roams the hills of the castle. The driver ended the story telling us that if we were lucky we might spot one. I smiled to myself, but paid no mind to the tale…..
The entrance was approaching.
Walking through the castle was akin to swirling your head in decadence, over indulgence, and a sea of vast riches. I find it a nice place to visit, but not sure I’d want to live there.
After a few hours, I left to enjoy the long drive back up the coast. With a passing glance to my right I noticed a strange sight among a herd of grazing cows….
Was it white on black, or black on white?
Either way, the Hearst zebra tale is true, alive and well in the hills of Central California!