Like a lot of Arizonans, I used to live in California, so when we go on vacation there, we usually stick to familiar things. It can consequently get a little dull, and we've been going other places instead lately, but this time we went for some different things there. (Except a day at Disneyland, of course. I'm a little obsessed with that most wonderful of places. . .)
In Santa Barbara, we left off the Mission (been there, done that) for Casa del Herrero and El Precidio de Santa Barbara, along with a couple of antique shops (aka. free museums where you can buy things you like instead of coveting them.) The Casa del Herrero tour is only an hour and a half, and you aren't allowed to take photos inside the house (outside is fine), but it was a beautiful place. George Washington Smith built it for George Fox Steedman, finishing it in 1925. I didn't do research on it beforehand, so I was surprised to walk in to find medieval Spanish furniture and decorations everywhere. Beautiful. El Precidio wasn't as awe-inspiring, but it was a nice historic place to visit. We had a lot of fun with pictures there.
And then here is the amazing one: Lotus Land. I had never even heard of it, but it's spectacular. It was put together by the Polish opera singer Ganna Walska. We went as members so that we wouldn't have to take a guided tour and were glad we did. Though I'm sure they give you good information, it seemed better to take the time to enjoy everything at our own pace. Right when you walk in, it feels so enchanting. It beats the Arboretum and the Huntington Library. Its its own world, filled with the most intriguing plants. I dubbed one section the "Dinosaur Garden" because it seemed to primeval in its looks. You could spend hours just sitting in one place, taking it all in.
It was also my first time going up to Hearst Castle, though more people have heard of that one. We took Tours 1 and 2, both just under two hours. The splendor. . . I wanted to remember it all, but there are so many rooms, each with so many things, that I had to try and record it with my camera instead. Most liked by me would probably be the eclecticism of the decorating. One of the reasons I personally like the Victorian style is because you can juxtaposition differing objects, choose what you like and make it all fit together. There was a similar thing here. Patterns and materials and colors, all brought into one. Now, why hadn't I been there before? We stayed in Cambria while we were there, a charming small town (with more antique stores) next to a cold, rocky beach. I was cold almost the whole time we were in California (yeah, I know, "sunny California"), but here the cold was a part of the experience. It makes the water seem that much more powerful. Not to mention all the pieces of jellyfish strewn across the sand, including one jellyfish body (no legs, though, or whatever they're called.)