Friday, September 07, 2007

Movin' On Out

Last weekend, Hubs and I went down to visit DS#1 at his new apartment in his new college town. I had never seen the campus and we also wanted to pick up the car that he usually drives. DS#1 wanted to see Hearst Castle in San Simeon, now a State Park, which none of us had ever visited.

I remembered to bring the camera.

This is the entrance to campus. It's one block from his apartment. The College of Engineering is about a half mile up the road. Which is why he chose this particular apartment.

This is the large guest house at Hearst Castle. It's 2400 square feet, which is larger than my house. It's the same size as the Reception Room at the main house.

Life as a media mogul/ politician/ businessman/ movie magnate/ rancher was very tough, indeed.

William Randolf Hearst lived at the "ranch," as he called it, most of the year. He kept tabs on his empire by telephone and by having daily editions of his newspapers flown in to his private airstrip every day. He was probably the first telecommuter.

I found myself most fascinated by the statuary that is all over the gardens, the pools, the houses. Mr. Hearst collected many objects d'art and told his architect, Julia Morgan, to find a place for them. Choir stalls from ancient churches in Spain are used as paneling. Flemish tapestries hang on the walls. Persian tiles are set in the walls.

The buildings are made of reinforced concrete and anchored in bedrock to be seismically safe--a radical innovation in the 1930's and '40's when the castle was built.

And if he didn't like the way something looked, he ordered Ms. Morgan to tear it out and rebuild it.

But because we were in a college town, we went from the sublime to the ridiculous.

This is Bubble Gum Alley. Generations of students have plastered their gum on these walls. (There was a reference to 1967.) There are fish made of bubble gum, words, symbols, bubble gum wrappers stuck on the wall with gum. Kind of neat in a gross sort of way.

And then on the way home, there was a fire in the hills just south of San Jose. It started in a state park and it's still burning. In fact, by Monday evening I could smell the smoke as I left work. The sun is red in the morning because of all the haze.

Golden brown hills are the norm during the summer. The fire danger is always high, especially with the warm, dry winds. Summer fires, earthquakes, fog, and winter floods are facts of life out here.

We also went to visit the local mission (this is California, after all--there are 21 missions in the state). This mission is still an active parish church, so I whispered a reminder to Hubs to take off his hat. As we walked down the center aisle, I commented on some of the art work.

DS#1, "Why are you whispering? It's not like we're in church."

Me, "Yes, this still is a church."

DS#1, "How can you tell?"

Me, "See the tabernacle and the light in front of it?"

DS#1, "Oh!"

He also noticed the microphones hanging from the ceiling in what must be the area for the choir. The mission has a gift shop (of course) and a museum near the entrance, so we looked over the artifacts, from baskets and arrowheads to altar vestments from Spain. And even pictures from the present: First Communions and blessings and fiestas. The despairing parent in me thinks this might be the only time DS#1 actually sets foot in this church, but, on the other hand, he didn't do his familiar anti-Catholic/anti-religion rant. So maybe--maybe--there's a tiny mustard seed of faith inside.

DS#1 was sad to see us go, but I think he was more sorry to lose the car. Freedom and mobility are synonymous in his mind and now he's limited to where he can walk, ride his bike, or take a bus. The train station is within walking distance and it's about a five hour ride to the Bay Area. Classes don't start for another week and right now he's bored--no TV and the local night life has limited options. Once class starts, he'll be too busy to notice!