Summer Inspiration: Hearst Castle

News flash: yesterday was my five-year blogiversary! The moment may have been an invisible blip to the whirl of the internet, but it was a significant moment for me. It meant that five years ago, fresh out of college, full of dreams and determination, I gathered my courage, faith, and naivete and put up my first blog post. It’s embarrassing and awkward to me now, but I firmly believe that each leap of courage and faith makes possible other, bigger leaps down the road. So hooray for five years of blogging! Thanks for your participation in this small internet living room over the years.

Now for a fourth installment of summer inspiration: a fun, whirlwind girls’ weekend trip to Hearst Castle with my mom, aunt, and cousin.IMG_2991

I’d been to Hearst Castle once as a teenager, and I remember collecting story ideas there for my very first novel. That high school novel ended up in the proverbial drawer, but it taught me that inspiration can be found in all sorts of places. Visiting it a second time, more than ten years later, brought me different inspiration, but inspiration all the same.

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Not all the rooms were equally inspiring. Of course I had to see the library. But while it was impressive, I didn’t fall in love with it. For one, the books were behind metal cages. For two, if you had basically all the money in the world and a hilltop with an ocean view, why would you build a dark-wood library with hardly any dedicated window space? I would have made the room almost entirely out of glass. Okay, with curtains to protect the books from direct sunlight.

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Similarly, some of the decor left me with mixed feelings. These lampshades, for instance. They’re made out of old vellum pages–music, in this case. While that’s incredibly awesome on one level (BOOK lampshades, yes!), another part of me cringes. Who would take apart a beautiful book, probably quite old, and make lampshades out of the pages? It’s like making furniture out of body parts. Really conflicted about this one. 20160723_115704On the other hand, some parts of the house were breathtaking and loaded with writing inspiration. For instance, the matching “Celestial Suites” at the top of the Castle’s twin bell towers. Got that? Bedrooms at the top of bell towers. Already awesome. But to make it even better, their Moorish-inspired design allowed the lamplight from inside to compete with daylight flooding in through the lace-like symmetrical perforations in the walls. The room was full of light. One guest said it was like “sleeping in a jewel box.” I wrote that down in my idea notebook. We even got to hear the bells ringing as we started down the stairs.
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Probably my favorite sight of the tour, though, was the Roman Pool. A cool, dim, indoor room entirely covered with blue-and-gold tiles, it’s a magical play of light, reflections, and symmetry. On the hot day of our visit, I could just imagine a dip in those quiet, deep-blue waters, where the tiles below the water compete with the reflection of the ceiling. It was hard to tell what was real and what was a mirror image. Also, I kind of have this thing for blue and gold.

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This California landmark brings on a swirl of mixed feelings. The Castle is an architectural marvel and also a display of opulent self-indulgence; it’s an amazing art museum and also an exhibition of mishandled historical treasures (case in point: lampshades). But whatever else it is, it’s certainly a feast for the senses. Which, for a writer, is a pretty great find.

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All in all, it was a lovely weekend, with some great family time and amazing sights (like this beautiful sunset in Cambria). And I collected some inspiration to take home with me.

2 thoughts on “Summer Inspiration: Hearst Castle

  1. I went to Hearst Castle a few years ago with my parents, older brother, and cousin. Your trip and beautiful pictures have made me want to go back and get some inspiration, especially now that I’m a writer! I forgot how much I loved that place! Thank you so much for this lovely post.

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