Thursday, October 25th
We left Shell Beach early in the morning for the hour and 15 minute drive to the Piedras Blancas Light Station. We wanted to join the 10 am tour and were successful (there's no reservations and tours are limited). This was another excellent tour. Volunteers are doing a wonderful job restoring this historic light station. Here's the website:
The tour was also very interesting because about half of it was about the marine mammals in the area. There's a number of viewpoints where you can see harbor seals, sealions, elephant seals, sea otters and lots of birdlife too. Throughout the tour, we were serenaded by the barking of sealions and the sounds of the hundreds of elephant seals in the water and lying on the beach.
After the tour, we drove back to San Simeon Road and found Sebastian's Store where we had lunch. A great spot for huge sandwiches, great burgers, and large selection of beer as well as a wine tasting room.
Then it was off to Hearst Castle for the 2 pm tour of the Great Rooms. We booked this tour by phone after knowing that we would be on the light station tour that morning. It was a really beautiful, warm day and we spent about 45 minutes lounging around the Neptune Pool after our tour. The new policy of not rushing you back to the Visitor Center is very relaxing and we got to tour the gardens as well.
We stayed the night at the Sea Breeze Motel in San Simeon. This is a great choice for the budget traveler. The breakfasts are weak but can't complain about that for the price we paid.
I've posted a more detailed description of our day as well as a few pictures on a blog page: