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Big Sur and The Hacienda

James Andrew at the Hacienda

James Andrew at the Hacienda

After a lovely al fresco breakfast in the Cypress Inn courtyard we headed south along HWY 1 to Big Sur – around every bend there were breathtakingly beautiful views, and a leisurely itinerary provided us ample opportunity to stop here and there along the way and take it all in.

Our friend Philip Bewley suggested we make a stop at the cliff-side bar and cafe, Nepenthe in Big Sur. A destination for poets, artists, and travelers alike, it has been in business for sixty years. Designed in collaboration with student of Frank Lloyd Wright, Rowan Maiden, the building seems to grow out of the hill side. It is still a family run affair and offers the most amazing views.

We stopped for lunch at the Post Ranch Inn – a truly gorgeous treat. It’s a perfect combination of stunning vistas and equally delicious food, and as it turned out, it was a nice bit of luxury before the next portion of our journey, The Hacienda.

Our drive through Big Sur

Our drive through Big Sur

The Hacienda, aka the Rancho Milpitas, was built for William Randolph Hearst. It was one of the many projects completed by architect, Julia Morgan. Once part of Hearst’s massive estate, the Hacienda, along with a huge parcel of land, ended up being sold to the government to settle a tax debt, and said property became Fort Liggett. The Hacienda was recently opened as a B & B of sorts, and I thought it might be a brilliant addition to our itinerary – a way to experience the Hearst/Morgan collaboration as we ventured south on our way to visit Hearst Castle.

The Hacienda

The Hacienda

Long story short, this was one of those times when listening to my intuition and conducting a bit more research would have had us making alternate plans….

It was an unexpectedly long and winding trek from HWY 1 – about one and a half hours inland to get to The Hacienda from Big Sur – and as mentioned, it is actually on a military base – there was absolutely nothing nearby. Once you’re there you are TRAPPED.

The structure of the Hacienda remains intact, but sadly it currently has a rather institutional feel to it – the staff was lovely and gave us a tour of every bit of the building, but the place is in dire need of some proper decoration and landscaping. To add to our disappointment, some of our fellow guests were rather unwelcoming troglodytes (are you starting to get the picture?) and the only dinner option was supplied by the army base’s bowling alley!

As you might imagine, McBee and I thought it best to pack up our Vuitton cases and get the hell out of there. As I’ve learned, it’s often a good idea to listen to my intuition.

Perhaps only the most die hard Julia Morgan fans would want to include this on their itinerary. I certainly would never suggest it to anyone. We did however find a portion of the Hacienda that evoked its former glory, and we took a few snaps then turned in our key.

I’m sporting a Ralph Lauren cream cotton cable knit sweater with a shawl collar, orange silk shantung pants, orange suede espadrilles and a linen serape stripe scarf, Michael Kors ivory cotton knit top, Gucci sunglasses, Rolex watch, KJP Croffice Sailing belt, and my fragrance is Tom Ford Lavender Palm.

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  1. Regina says:

    That drive was the MOST FRIGHTENING drive we ever took…from the Hacienda to Hwy 1. After a leisurely day strolling around green hills, lush oaks and wildflowers without seeing anyone, we were told by the one person we saw as leaving, a Guard, to take this meandering road to see such beautiful views…well it started like the yellow brick road and turned into a dirt road as we drove deeper into fog, rain and then almost a one lane road precariously perched along sheer cliffs at times…we finally made it to Hwy 1, myself clutching a St. Joseph’s rose which I picked at the Mission San Antonio – another jewel owned by Hearst and restored next to the Hacienda.

    Paso Robles would have been perfect for you or Cambria. LOVE your troglodyte description…a nice place to visit, but not too stay. In the late 80s early 90s there was a restaurant there for the serviceman and wandering guests in this then little known historical complex.

  2. Dean Farris says:

    James !

    This post had me smiling and almost laughing-! How funny and smart of you to write about what happens to all of us- making a wrong decision about where to go when on a trip! I love this- you know, even though there were land-locked Troglodytes- maybe one day in the future, you’ll remember the visit to The Hacienda- and be able to use some aspect of it in a project. As well, having been there now, you can add it to your wildly vast arsenal of design and architecture knowledge- surely your strongest weapon in the war we all fight against mind numbing mediocrity! Good job! I love reading WIJW…

    Dean (who almost moved to L.A. from N.Y.)

  3. George Cruz says:

    Big Sur and The Hacienda make for a very relaxing backdrop for WIJW. It’s a perfect summer location for the blog and for the sunny colors of your coastal summer wardrobe. The Ralph Lauren cream sweater and the Michael Kors knit top, look so elegantly relaxed and easy on you, James. It inspires a hug! The orange silk pants and orange espadrilles brings some “joie de vivre” to the whole look. But it’s the linen striped scarf that adds the superstar touch, as it gives the whole ensemble a refreshingly updated, 60’s vibe. Very charming! And the Gucci sunglasses completes your outfit with an extra dash of sex appeal, here in Cali. (Sunglasses being a California must have!) You have me California Dreaming and I live here, James!! You always do it better, you always do it right, my friend.

  4. James Andrew says:

    Hello Dean,

    I thought it a good remind to always be extra diligent when making ones travel plans.

    You are exactly right as well in always looking for the good in every situation- indeed my mishap may turn into a gold mine.

    I can certainly see why you almost moved to LA – I may have to become bi-coastal.



  5. James Andrew says:

    My Dear George,

    You are so delicious!

    Quite the poet as well – these terrific comments are just beyond sublime.

    Thank You!


  6. Ohmigod! I almost woke Adam up here at my laptop! (You KNOW where the bedroom is) I was laughing LOUD!!!

    So smart……”cut your losses”!! Once I was on a bus tour of ” Wallace Neff” buildings (he was totally fab); out in the “Valley” (San Fernando) and I ditched the tour and took a cab back to Pasadena………this was years ago…..I think it was $200 dollars! worth every penny!!


    So funny!!


  7. James Andrew says:

    Dear Regina,

    I would have loved to have seen the Mission San Antonio- sadly by the time we arrived it had closed.

    I thought it a good tale to tell as a reminder to always do enough research and one always as the option to cut ones losses and move on.



  8. James Andrew says:

    My Darling Penny,

    SO Happy you got a chuckle from this story!

    Indeed it was about cutting our losses and avoiding any further unpleasantness.

    It was fascinating to see the structure and what it must have and could be if you or I were to have our way with it.

    Love and Light


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