Day 9
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After we left Capitola we headed south, hoping to find a place to camp.  We were skunked and ended up sleeping in the mini-van at a parking area for beach access near the town of Seaside.
We hit the road before sunrise, bumbled around and arrived in Monterey around 6:30.

Gregg showed me a few of his old haunts from when he was at student there at the Defense Language Institute and a member of the Army Run Team.  Because of "911" we weren't allowed on base.

We did pay the fee to follow the "17-mile Drive".  It was very early in the morning; lots of fog; not many people.  It was good.  From there we drove to Carmel and then continued down the Pacific Coast Highway to our destination of Hearst Castle.

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Along the 17-mile drive in Monterey, California.  Early in the morning in July 2005.
 
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During his one year of Chinese language study with the Army, Gregg was on the run team and ran through here for training.
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Gregg was assigned here during 1989 - 1990.
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Near the end of the drive, of course we had to stop at was must be the most photographed tree the world.
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Being a tourist, I insist at partaking of all the corny, typical stuff.  Too bad my tropical print shirts are packed away.
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South of Carmel.  Along the "PCH"... so many beautiful sights.  It is difficult to decide where to stop and look; every curve in the road is worth a picture.
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Look!  A wave breaking on the rocks!
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Well, it was a pretty place when stopped the car up on the road.
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We were taking our time.  We did have 5 o'clock reservations for Hearst Castle, but even with these winding roads, we had plenty of time.
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By mid-morning most of the clouds were burning off.
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By this time, we wanted to take a shower.  This is at Limekiln State Park in California.  We stayed for an hour or so on the beach, but we weren't "registered campers", so we aren't really allowed to use the showers.  (Follow this link for some great aerial photos of the park along the coast.)
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This park offered a nice river the flowed to the beach.
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That is PCH up there.  The camping area, showers and restrooms are over there.
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In spite the hiway just a few feet away, it was a very nice place to spend some time.  But the noonday sun was brutal.  We couldn't stay here too long, there was no place for shade.
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No Gregg... this is not a nude beach.
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Here we are at the Hearst Castle.  This was one of those things I wanted to do on this trip.  It seems for all my life, I have heard about this place and seen lots of pictures.  This road trip was the perfect opportunity to finally see it for myself.
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Gregg always thought it was a real gothic castle, with a moat and stuff... a place for dungeons and dragons.  (By the way, Gregg is not at all into D&D.)  He was happy to be here with me, but it wasn't something he would have chosen to do on his own.
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The castle lived up to my expectations and maybe even more.  It is quite over top as an example of  conspicuous consumption.
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In spite of the nice things they were saying about the man the built the place, it was easy to hear the unspoken words... I don't think I would have liked him.
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In spite of my own opinions, his family's life is a slice of American history... starting with the California Gold Rush and still having influence today.  It is impressive; his life and the museum his heirs have left to the people of California.
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Enough of this antique art and history stuff.  We went camping just a few miles south of the castle.  There we had a nice camp site; over the fire dinner and breakfast; a good night's rest to get us ready to driving to Los Angeles the next day.