Sunday, May 22, 2005

Hearst Castle

I spent this weekend (or atleast the whole of Sunday) visiting "Hearst Castle" . This was a very different and interesting experience, in comparison with the various places I have visited in the (nearly) 3 years that I have lived in the US/ California.

If you have some idea of the Geography of the United States, you probably know that Santa Barbara (the place I live at) is kinda in the central cost of California, about 100 miles N or Los Angeles. With that as a reference, Hearst Castle is located at a place called "San Simeon" about 150 miles N of SB, beyond San Luis Obispo.

Hearst castle was built by William Randolph Hearst , an extremely wealthy business tycoon in the publishing business. Hearst had a passion for collecting antiques and art from around the world (primarily Europe), which he developed while on a tour of Europe, as a kid, with his mother.

The tour of Hearst Castle is very well organized. The castle is located on a mountain and visitors drive to the base and park at the tourist center. Buses, drive tourists up a very scenic drive with beautiful views of the pacific ocean. The castle itself is so huge that there are about 4-5 different tours that visitors can choose from, each of which show about 20-25% of the whole castle.

The drive to Hearst Castle from Santa Barbara (or LA) is very beautiful too. The first 100 miles till San Luis Obispo are covered on the US-101 and the last 50 miles take you on a drive on the famout CA-1 (or better known as the Pacific Coast Highway or PCH). Its a drive just along the pacific ocean, with Vista points (points where you can pull over and enjoy the views before moving on) all along. Some of the cool places to look out for along the way include the famous "Morro Bay Big Rock" , which is this huge rock sticking out in the middle of the ocean, and the extremely beautiful pismo beach with its characteristicly long pier, extending into the ocean.

Monday, May 09, 2005


Driving home from work this evening, I couldnt help take notice of a sticker on the back of a car stopped in front of me at a red signal. The sticker read:

I don't know if it was the fact that I've always held a strong belief that California, is the most beautiful state of "sunshine throughout the year", and the "L" in the Land of opportunities, if you will (and if you consider the US that, even now that is ;-) ).... or it was the simple reason that I cant get my mind off a catchy phrase or some creative writing when I see one, but I just had to type the words into google, while I caught up with my nightly surfing for the day.

So, it is interesting to note that California does have a serious population explosion problem. So much so, that this website reports the following statistics:

Quick Fact
California's population increased by 539,000 last year to total over 36.8 million. California's growth rate is higher than that of India.
(Sources: California Department of Finance, United Nations Population Division)

Some stuff to ponder about I guess.... so ponder away to glory :P

Sunday, May 08, 2005

From skates to blades!

Its been a while since I scribbled away to glory.... 22 days to be precise, the longest I have gone without posting anything since I started this blog. Well, its been a pretty hectic few weeks with "product releases" and "deadlines" all over the place so I haven't had much time for anything besides the basic routine stuff and, more importantly, I havent been "observing" stuff (remember my blogs "mission statement" ? :P)

Hmm... well... its the end of the weekend and in keeping with my resolution to try my hand at something new from time to time, I decided to take a shot at ROLLER BLADING yesterday. I used to be a pretty avid roller skater when I was in high school (6th grade tp 10th grade to be precise). I am not sure if I gave it up because roller blading in India (thats where I spent the first 22 years of my life) has always been considered a kids hobby/ sport or because I simply got bored of it. Anyways, its been on my mind for a while to try out this distant cousin of the roller skate ;-). For those of you who are wondering what the difference is, essentially, they both have 4 wheels on each leg but in skates, the wheels are arranged in 2 parallel rows while blades have em all in one single row (kinda like ice skating)

So, before I knew it I and a buddy had spent almost 2 hours roller blading and covered nearly 10 miles on the beautiful Santa Barbara beach. And I enjoyed it so much that I decided to get myself my own pair of blades (I had rented blades for todays "trial run"). The best part was that I didn't suck at it as much as I thought I would. The only part that I thought was a little tricky (and that people had warned me about) was "braking". And this is one important difference between blades and skates - while traditional skates have brakes in the front, and on both legs, in roller blades there is only one brake provided on the rear end of the right leg. I haven't really gotten the hang of braking yet, but I realized that if you look ahead and adjust speed accordingly, you seldom need to use the break. But, I do plan to research into finding the right way!