A large family, homeschooling, adoption, special needs, whatever strikes my fancy, sort of blog.

A large family, homeschooling, adoption, special needs, whatever strikes my fancy, sort of blog.

Friday, September 8, 2023

Mission Santa Barbara

This was the last mission we visited, but far from our last stop.  The mission was hosting the Michelangelo Sistine Chapel Exhibition while we were there.   Various artworks had been reproduced on a large scale so we could walk around and enjoy them up close.  

Standing before this panel, I was focused on the book, but Katie wanted to know when her arms would get bigger.  She obsessed about arm size for most of this visit, and has brought it up a few times since.  

"Mom!  Look!  A caduceus!"  I may have been a little proud at the eyebrows that raised from such an obscure vocabulary word.  

This panel was quite moving.  I was absorbing the horror of those outside the ark at the start of the flood.  The girls were disquieted by the nudity.

After the exhibition rooms, we focused on the mission itself.

I really am glad these spaces have been preserved; although it's a complicated story, they're very tranquil.  

There's a nice mix of indoor and outdoor areas to wander.

Katie and I took a moment to appreciate the California poppies.  

The interior of the church

I don't think I got pictures of the little "nooks" off to the left and right in the back of the church.  Inside those archways were some beautiful, poignant sculptures.  

There's a fountain out front, and there seems to have been a chalk event there shortly before our visit.

Kicking myself for not walking a bit further to get this shot straight on.  You can see how large the church is from how small the person on the steps is.  

One of the chalk drawings.  I thought Jack might appreciate it.  

Checking for fish in the fountain.  

I bought this cross in the gift shop.  When the cashier was ringing it up, she showed me that it was reversible.  

Maybe I'm easily amused, but that fun bonus made me silly happy.  Actually, I wore it to work yesterday.  

By the time I finish blogging about our JULY road trip, we'll have gone somewhere else.  

Friday, August 25, 2023

Mission San Miguel Archangel

The next day of our trip we visited two missions.  First, San Miguel Archangel, to the east of Hearst Castle.  

Even though it's a complicated part of California's history, I'm glad the missions were preserved (or rebuilt).  

There's a tranquility about them that belies the suffering that occurred long ago.  

I think with the 3 we saw on this trip, I've now been to 10 of the 21 missions.  

Hannah took this picture for me.  Notice I happen to be wearing a skirt that day.  We took a walk outside the mission, and my mom wanted a picture in front of the bell tower.  

Note we're laughing hilariously.  This is because, to get to the front of the bell tower, we had to climb over a wall.  (feeling grateful for slip shorts) 

See the tiny gap between the bell tower and the brick wall on the left?  Yeah, that's what we passed through.  I should have had the girls stand in front of the tower so you get a better idea of how high it was.  

Speaking of a lack of visual perspective, we saw 2 huge bellows on this trip.  The first was at Hearst Castle, in one of the outbuildings.  This one was big, too.  The model mission on the right gives you an idea of the size.  It was bigger than a guitar.  

I watch a lot of history documentaries.  One tidbit that struck me recently was that religious artists in the Dark Ages drew inspiration for the "Madonna & Child" paintings from the statues of the Egyptian goddess, Isis with her son, Horus.  

Old music with square notes

A fountain

The back of the chapel

Many of the missions have these peculiar cupolas.  

Front of the church

This was interesting.  It was different natural pigments that were used to paint the mission.  

Smaller bells

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Elephant Seal Lookout

As we drove away from Hearst Castle, I saw a sign and pulled over for a quick peek.  

Turns out there's elephant seals on this beach.  It's a thing.  

The wind was chilly, the seals were stinky, and the humans might have been a wee bit crabby, so we didn't walk far or stay long, but I was glad we took a minute to appreciate these funny creatures flipping sand over themselves.  

I could use more ocean and more nature in my life.  

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

Hearst Castle

After leaving Santa Cruz, we drove to San Simeon to visit Hearst Castle.  We ended up arriving 5 minutes late, so instead of the "accessible" (less stairs) tour I'd booked, we were dumped into the next available tour group.  

The way it works, you park, go through the ticketing area, go to a theater, watch a movie with the history of the castle, wander around a mini museum, and then you take a tour bus up to the actual site.  This is a Good Thing, because it's up a mountain, with narrow, windy roads.  I imagine tourists would crash on the regular.  

I took this picture for Paul, of course.  Old fire engine sitting in the theater lobby.  

Big honkin' candlesticks in the museum area.

And then we're on the bus.  We didn't see any of the zebras, but there's still a wild herd of them on the property, descendants of the ones William Randolph Hurst brought in many years ago.

There were a lot of stairs, but Hannah was a trooper, and never complained.  

The views were incredible.  I think we could see the private airstrip from here.  

This is one of the "guest cottages."  Hearst and his mistress did a lot of entertaining.  There were lots of famous names dropped during the tour, but I've forgotten them at this point.  It was over a month ago now.  I'm not the most prompt blogger.  

Nice little swimming hole.  

They're actually letting people swim in it a couple times this month, which is hugely rare, and hugely expensive.  

I can think of other things I'd rather spend that much money on.  

Another of the guest cottages.  There were several.

Actual ancient Egyptian artifacts, sitting out in the elements.  Mind boggling.  

Lotus blossom tiles

There really isn't a photo that conveys the entire... house? property? folly?  

We saw only a fraction of the main dwelling, plus the outside of some outbuildings.  

I think part of my eyebrow raise is that it felt kind of like when I was at the British Museum.  

He plundered Europe for things to bring here, and then Julia Morgan (his architect) had to design space to accommodate them.  

After a while, it just felt... wrong.  

As it happens, there's a historical fiction series, Her Royal Spyness, by Rhys Bowen, that I've been reading.  Yesterday, I finished book 8, Queen of Hearts.  I'm utterly certain she was inspired by Hearst Castle for the setting of the film mogul's property.  

Everything about this room is designed to make you look up.  The plundered ceiling is carved with the apostles.  

These are specifically NOT stained glass, because it would have made the room too dark.  

Just a little musician's loft where your ensemble can play while your guests dine.  

I'm sure this was incredible in situ, but we'll never know now.  

Tapestry in the game room.  

And the indoor pool

With it's gold leaf tiles

The sun coming through the ceiling is from glass bricks on the tennis court above it.  

I know I sound a little down on it.  It was an incredible place, and I'm glad we went.