B. Johnson in 1964.
Our first night was spent in Cambria, a deceiving 280 miles from our
home in Orange County. Our room at the Fireside Inn was hard to come by
on the Presidents Day weekend, and we paid the premium price of $199. But
as with most real estate, we paid for location, location, location, for
steps away from our motel door was Moonstone Beach, where we found
thriving tide pools and views to die for.
With a fireplace, whirlpool tub and vaulted ceiling, our spacious room
was more suited for a lovers' hideaway than a family romp, but on short
notice -- we booked it that morning after someone canceled their
reservation -- it suited us well. A heated pool, large outdoor hot tub
and a continental breakfast took some of the sting out of paying that
price for what is essentially a motel room.
We dined that night at the Moonstone Beach Bar and Grill, which was
competent but had no particular attraction in the evening. During the
day, however, the restaurant has a large heated patio with umbrellas that
makes it irresistible. We were told that a quarter-mile down the road,
the Sea Chest was the place for the best food on the beach, but the wait
was far too long.
The following morning, after our hungry children got every nickel's
worth of the free breakfast, we headed north to Hearst Castle. This was
my first trip -- and the first for the kids -- but my wife had been once
in high school.
Our tour began with a 40-minute movie explaining Hearst's motivation
for building his "house," which was followed by the "experience" tour,
one of four guided tours available. Hearst Castle is worth building a
If you go to Hearst Castle -- again highly recommended -- be on time.
Our movie started precisely at the announced time of 10:30 a.m., our tour
started on the dot at 11:40 a.m. and ended at exactly 1:15 p.m. as
promised. This tour so captivated our children, they forgot about food
the entire time.
Leaving Hearst Castle, we faced the choice of every traveler headed
north to Carmel or Monterey. Do we drive a few miles south, head back to