It’s been a crazy couple of days, getting ready for our trip to Japan. Today, we picked up our rail passes (it’s cheaper to buy train tickets here than in Japan), bought gifts to give to people there (it’s a custom that I think should be more common here — I want more gifts!), and ran various other errands. I also finally accepted all of my pending MySpace friend requests. (That took over an hour, as I always verify that the request is from a real person, not a stripper or some band I’d never listen to.) Tomorrow, we’ll pack, and then it’s off to the airport on Wednesday morning. Our flight leaves at noon, and the flight lasts 12 hours, but by the time we arrive, it’ll be 4pm the next day. Gotta love an 16 hour time difference. And coming home will be even better. We’ll leave Tokyo around 4pm, but arrive in Los Angeles at 10am on the same day we leave. It’s some crazy form of time travel or something. I’ve no idea how I’ll adjust to the jet lag.

Last week, AEJ and I drove up the coast to San Luis Obispo for a performance of “Turbine” at the American Bandmasters Association convention. Gary Hill conducted a (typically) spectacular performance of the piece with his ensemble from Arizona State. Before the concert, AEJ and I took a tour of the Hearst Castle. Man alive, it’s spectacular. Here’s a guy who knew how to spend his (insanely massive amounts of) money. It was a beautiful day for a tour of the grounds. This chicken agreed. (AEJ calls all birds “chickens.” It doesn’t matter if it’s a robin or an ostrich. It’s “chicken.” I assume they all taste roughly the same anyway.)

This is the view from the deck of the house. Imagine owning as far as you could see.

Hearst had a collection of sarcophagi, some authentic, some not. Not sure which this one is, but I like the random fruit on the ground next to it.

The castle has over 60,000 square feet, and over a hundred rooms. This is but one of the libraries. The books were all locked behind bars — not by the people who run the museum, but by Hearst himself, who didn’t want his guests — unseemly types like presidents and actors — wandering off with his stuff. Dude, I’m right there with you. I’m not one for sharing, either. I tell myself it’s because I skipped kindergarten, and therefore never learned to share, but maybe it’s just because I’m a bastard.

I’m digging this bedroom. It’s kind of bordering on creepy, which would make for a fascinating night’s sleep.

Now THIS is a kitchen. Like the view from outside, it goes on as far as you can see.

Awesome sink. CHICKENS!

Kind of the best thing in the house is the indoor pool. This picture doesn’t do it justice, but it was pretty spectacular. If I had this pool, it might be enough to convince me to learn to swim.

For contrast with Hearst Castle, we stayed at The Madonna Inn.

This place is insane. Every single one of the 109 rooms is decorated individually, each room more over-the-top than the next. The rooms range from “American Beauty” (a misnomer, I assure you – but also not related to the film) to the “Caveman Room to “Just Heaven”. We stayed in “The Chestnut Foal” room. Yeah, it’s horse themed, ’cause AEJ is a “horse fancier.” Check out the merry-go-round horse mounted on the ceiling.

Now here’s a palette for you: crazy multi-texture high-gloss blue-heavy wallpaper in the bathroom, a green door, and the reddish-brown western-theme wallpaper in the main room. I almost had a seizure. The good kind of seizure, though.

The beautiful bathroom sink. Totally our style.

One of the horse wall-hangings.

It’s tough to tell, but not only is that a popcorn ceiling, it’s a glittery popcorn ceiling. And did I mention that there’s a pony hanging from it?

Outside, there was more beauty to behold — like this fountain. Again, totally our style.

And here’s the building that houses the reception desk. (The whole complex was huge.)

We loved the place. It was actually one of those places that was so awful it was fantastic. As AEJ said, “it just plows right through tacky, straight to the land of awesome.”

So, there you are : Hearst Castle and The Madonna Inn. Two completely personal, but fantastically different, achievements in memorable design.


Connie says

I don't think I could sleep a wink in that room. I'd be too busy marvelling at how unbelievably amazing the decor is.[shudder] They've made tacky an artform!

jim says

Truly a tour that took you from the sublime to the ridiculous... too bad they closed THE GOBBLER... that would've been a great place for you to stay, next time you were in the Midwest!

Cathy says

What...NO food???

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