Infineon Raceway and Hearst Castle

An interesting trip


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Kathleen rips the straightaway at Infineon.

The Experience

The objective of our northern California road trip was to race at Infineon. As part of the planning, we decided to pre-pend the trip with a visit to the Albion River in and the Ft. Bragg area. See this link for the trip report and photos . Once we left Albion, we headed to Infineon for the high performance driver's school. We had done this several times before, so we knew how much fun we were going to have. I did not take a bunch of photos this time, instead purchasing photos from a pro that worked with the BMW club. He had some good shots, so I bought big prints for framing. But, I did get several photos of Kathleen racing.

The photos below are what we saw.

Ouch. Vectors is showing her age. If you look closely here, you will see 3 battle scars. The deck took 2 hits and the bumper one. The deck suffered shopping carts in the Von's parking lot as well as a plastic garbage can. The bumper took a shot in, of all places, the customer parking lot of Seattle BMW. The person was kind enough to back into me and then leave without a word. Thanks, buddy. Here, we are cleaning the goodies out of the car prior to the first run group. Note all the stuff on the ground to the right.

Later in the day, when the light was a bit better, I caught Kathleen on the back straightaway.

Kathleen rounding one of the hairpin turns in the track.

Kathleen nails the front straightaway.

We had a great time at Infineon, as always. The SF BMW club does it up right and are very well organized. As part of the group dinner, they roasted the region's chief driving instructor and it was a hoot.

When we were finished with the bay area, we headed south to Monterrey to spend the night in an unmemorable motel. We had an acceptable dinner down on the Fisherman's Wharf, but nothing more. But, what did I expect? It is a tourist area after all. The next morning we headed south along Highway 1 with the destination being Hearst Castle. I had hear fantastic things about the site, but nothing I heard or anticipated prepared me for the reality of the experience. Sadly, the fog that day was heavy. So heavy in fact that during the bus ride up from the visitor's center, you could see NOTHING out of the bus windows. The visibility was so restricted that I was getting vertigo. I managed to contain the urge to barf and we got to the disembarkation area before it became critical. The entrance to the main area blew me away. Aside from some locations in Europe, I have never seen anything like this. So, rather than digressing into political comment, I will just stick to photos and light banter. It seems that W.R.'s daddy had become rich due to a small silver claim he had in the Sierra Nevada. That claim would later turn into the Comstock Lode, one of the biggest silver strikes in North America -- ever. When daddy-o was flush with cash, he bought a small ranch on the central California coast from the original Spanish land grantee. The ranch was 50 by 40 miles with one side being the coast. Since the ranch was remote, even with somebody with infinite funds, there was a bunch of infrastructure development that needed to be done. Roads, air fields, water storage areas, aqueducts, farms, etc. But when it was done, it was a fully self-contained world.

I really don't recall all the specifics, the tour guides fire-hosed us with facts. If you are interested, Google it and you will get the dirty details. For me, I was aghast and the unbounded opulence, so elected to just "take it all in". Sadly, in the photos below, the fog and dim light diminished the grandeur of the "castle".

The entrance to the lower pool area.

The other side of the pool area.

A lot of the statuary was from Europe, some of historical significance.

Nice statues on the house-end of the main pool.

The change rooms.

Looking at the pool from the upper stairs.

Interesting fountain. Note the heavy fog.

The fog deposited heavy dew on the flowers in the garden.

One of the rooms in the guest house.

Nice white marble.

The detail on some of these is remarkable.

Imported from ruins in Egypt.

The first view of the main "house". The upper stories disappear into the fog.

The entrance to the main house.

The entrance looks like an old cathedral

Some of the stone work around the entrance was purchased in Europe with the pieces originating from old churches.

The fireplace in the great room.

Medieval tapestry.

More rare tapestries.

More rare tapestries.

The main dining room complete with heraldic flags from Italy. The fireplace is on the far wall.

Over one million individual gold gilded tiles comprise the walls, floors and pool of the indoor pool. It took a large crew of workmen many years to complete the effort.

Words do not do the Hearst Castle justice. This is something that you have to see in person to get a feel for the situation. For me, it made me start to question the limits of capitalism. The whole thing was so over-the-top that it defies normal analysis. But, what was even more incredible is that we saw only a small fraction of the entire place!

I would definitely go again. But, if we do go, we will allocate several days to see the whole thing. There is no way to take all of the tours in one day; it is just too much. Check it out for yourself and draw your own conclusion.

We had a reasonable trip back to San Diego from the "castle". We crossed LA after 9pm so the traffic was reasonably light (for LA). All in all, the whole NorCal road trip was great fun and Hearst was the topper for an excellent trip. Thanks to Kathleen for planning accommodations.

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