Cambriawesome Team Bridal Weekend, Part 1!

Hey y’all: While I’m waiting for our amazing photogs to finish up our pro wedding pics, I’m gonna be catching up on all the things I didn’t have time to write about before the wedding. Actual wedding recaps are forthcoming. Promise. 

On an unseasonably cool weekend in August, I was lucky enough to have all my best girls in one place for three whole days! This was not an accident. This was a weekend masterfully orchestrated by Team Bridal, and most especially, CraftyPants McGee, my Matron of Honor.

personal photo

personal photo, me on the left, CraftyPants on the right

See that pin wheel? She made that. This pic is from our engagement party, which she also expertly crafted and planned. So, she does not come by her nickname ironically.

In our little family of friends, we don’t do bridal showers. Back in 2006, when SmartyPants was planning her wedding, she asked for a Girls Weekend in lieu of a shower. So, we took Las Vegas by storm and had a ball.  In 2008, we did the same for CraftyPants – although the destination was Palm Springs, and the vibe was decidedly more chill.  As soon as Bob the Builder and I became engaged, the natural question from Team Bridal was, “Ok, so where are we going?”

One of the great things about living in Los Angeles is there are a lot of very cool destinations just a short drive away. I didn’t want to repeat trips, so Vegas and Palm Springs were out. Solvang was on the list early on, but B the B and I go there on occasion, and really, there’s not that much to do. San Diego seemed boring, and Napa Valley, too far away. I wanted to go somewhere I had never been.  My other criteria were: relaxing, wine drinking/tasting, and not having a jam-packed schedule. In short order I decided. “Let’s go to Hearst Castle!”

Just about a year ago, I attended Camp Mighty, and I made a Life List. (You can read all about that here and here and here. Better yet, just go to Go Mighty and start on your own Life List!)

Visiting Hearst Castle is on my Life List, although I didn’t remember that at the moment that I suggested it.

personal photo

personal photo

That’s the funny thing about the Life List. It sneaks into your brain, and then before you know it, you are checking things off like a boss.

Side note: I couldn’t attend Camp Mighty this year, because it was the weekend after the wedding, and I (rightly) assumed that I would not be in the right frame of mind for a weekend of empowerment. I was more in the “don’t burst the wedding bubble” vibe for the better part of the weekend. Anyway. See ya next year, Camp Mighty.

After picking The Professor up at the Long Beach Airport, Team Bridal piled into the car and headed out of Los Angeles. I always feel such a sense of relief when I drive away from the city. As much as I love it, I spend nearly all my time in my car, in traffic. The congestion of Los Angeles can really mess with your head and your happiness. So this sight was a welcome one:

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personal photo

Look! No traffic! No smog! No clouds in the sky! It’s a glorious day on the 101 North!

In short order we arrived at our fantastic home away from home for the next few days, Cambria Pines Lodge. This place was amazing! First of all, it’s HUGE. And it’s oh so quiet. I mean, except for the five of us. We are super loud. But, the rest of the place…quiet.

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personal photo

I took this photo from our balcony. So peaceful.

As soon as we arrived, and got settled, Team Bridal started with the gifts and the wine. Or, the wine as gifts. SmartyPants made these awesome labels for our airplane bottles of wine. SUPER CUTE!

personal photos, thru Instagram

personal photos, thru Instagram

Also, MOH CraftyPants gifted the gals an assortment of nail polishes that coordinated with their bridesmaid dresses. I didn’t take a photo of that. Darn. Bad Blogger!

The next day, we woke early, took a little walk around town (so cute!), ate breakfast and then headed to the main attraction – Hearst Castle!

Hearst Castle’s history begins in 1865, when George Hearst purchased 40,000 acres of ranchland. In 1919,William Randolph Hearst inherited what had grown to more than 250,000 acres, and was dreaming of ways to transform it into a retreat he called La Cuesta Encantada—Spanish for “Enchanted Hill.” By 1947, Hearst and architect Julia Morgan had created Hearst Castle: 165 rooms and 127 acres of gardens, terraces, pools and walkways—all built to house Hearst’s specifications and to showcase his legendary art collection. William Randolph Hearst died on August 14, 1951, at the age of 88. Hearst left his San Simeon estate in 1947 to seek medical care unavailable in the remote location. While the Castle was never completely finished, it stands as the remarkable achievement of one man’s dream.

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personal photo

Team Bridal, on the bus to the entrance of the Castle. It’s not close to anything, you guys. It’s a CASTLE.

We took two tours – the Grand Rooms tour and the Upstairs Suites tour. I highly recommend both tours, although it’s worth noting that it is A LOT of walking, and A LOT of stairs. I’m in pretty good shape, and after the two tours were over, I popped some Advil because my back was killing me. Also, wear comfy sneakers if you go, and not stylish (but perhaps not the most supportive) flats. You will thank me in the long run, peeps.

I took a TON of photos of the house and gardens and well, everything.  Here’s some of my favorite highlights from our morning tour, The Grand Rooms. I’ll try to remember the story behind the photos.

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personal photo

 This is the front door to the main house. It’s EPIC. Imagine being invited to a party at this house and upon arrival, seeing THIS. Can’t you just picture Marion Davies greeting Cary Grant at the door with a martini? I can!

photo from hearstcastle.org

photo from hearstcastle.org

personal photo

personal photo

Main dining room. Hearst liked to have the table set with paper napkins, and condiments in their jars. Considering his enormous wealth, this one detail struck me as very human. Very ordinary. I mean, the rest of the room is decorated with whole pieces of european churches – the walls are lined with confessional stands, I kid you not. But, paper napkins on the table. Hilarious.

personal photo

personal photo

This is a detail shot of a sconce in the screening room. I tried to get a decent photo of the room, but they keep it way too dark. All of the couches that face the screen are upholstered, and it’s all original, so it’s closed off to the public. It’s beautiful though. If you go visit, be sure to spend some time in the screening room. You can really feel the history there.

personal photos

personal photos

This is one of two pools on the Castle grounds, but it’s the only outdoor one, and it’s my favorite. I mean, it’s amazing. There is no way to describe how epic and glorious and decadent it feels in person. There is a marble pool ladder. It’s marble. In. The. Pool.

Ridic.

We were told that when the docents pass their extensive training to become a tour guide, they are thrown into the pool as a “rite of passage”. I seriously considered doing the training just to be able to go in the pool. It’s gorgeous.

This is my "I-really-wanna-jump-in-the-pool-but-I-know-we'll-get-kicked-out-if-I-do-so-I'm-trying-to-control-my-impulses" face.

This is my “I-really-wanna-jump-in-the-pool-but-I-know-we’ll-get-kicked-out-if-I-do-so-I’m-trying-to-control-my-impulses” face.

More pool shenanigans:

The Professor, Red, Me, SmartyPants and CraftPants. Clearly we don't want to leave the pool area.

The Professor, Red, Me, SmartyPants and CraftPants. Clearly we don’t want to leave the pool area.

There is too much goodness to fit all in one post!

Up next, the highlights of our afternoon tour, the Upstairs Suites!

Have you ever been to the Hearst Castle? What was your favorite part? And how long do you think it would have taken us to get kicked out if I actually HAD jumped into the pool?

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