Saturday, May 31, 2008

Travels ~ Fort Hunter Liggett and Beyond ~ Day 1

On Tuesday we headed south to spend a few days at Fort Hunter Liggett and to wander the area around there up and down the coast. This was one of the Army posts that my Stepdad had been stationed at years ago, and he wanted to see how much it had changed since then. Fort Hunter Liggett isn't exactly on a major highway. It's about 18 miles or so off Highway 101, so it was an interesting drive through the hills, farms and ranches to get there. When we arrived at the fort, we checked in at the housing office and got the key to our room. We were delighted to find that they had put us in one of the "tower" rooms at the Hacienda. (If you follow the Fort Hunter Liggett link above, you'll find a short history of the area and of the Hacienda itself.)

This is a photo of The Hacienda, or the "Milpitas Ranch House" built by William Randolph Hearst. The architect was Julia Morgan and she also was the architect for Hearst's Castle in San Simeon. In the photo above, the portion of the building on the right was a restaurant up until recently. The center portion in that view is the Hacienda Bar and the part over on the left is the Commander's Quarters.
The Hacienda - The tower on the right is where we stayed. Behind the two large windows on the 1st floor. The building is beautifully restored and maintained and a lot of the original details of the building that were designed by Julia Morgan are still there. Our room was large, occupying half of the ground floor of the tower, with a queen size bed, a sitting area, table and chairs and a private bathroom and shower. We also had a refrigerator and microwave oven. They brought in a roll-away bed for us, since there were 3 of us staying. The first night was horrible though. The roll-away bed they brought in was one of the most uncomfortable beds I'd ever slept on. The mattress was so worn out that I could feel every spring in it. The next day they brought a different roll-away in and it was 100% better.

Across the street from the Hacienda is a huge building that is being used as the Fire Department. I didn't know until I'd gotten home that the building is also has a "history". Again, the link above for Fort Hunter Ligget gives a little of the story. The building is known as "The Tin Barn" and was originally constructed in San Francisco for the 1915 Pan Pacific Exposition and was purchased after the Exposition by the ranch owner before Hearst. It was shipped by rail to King City and then brought to the ranch by horse and wagons. I wish now that I'd pointed my camera that direction and gotten a shot... lol

Every evening the lawn area outside our room had visitors. Cottontail rabbits feasted on the lawn and weren't shy at all. I had them come quite close to me as I sat there enjoying the evenings. Once the sun went down, though, they were gone.

Just down the road from the Hacienda is the Mission San Antonio de Padua. Naturally we had to go check it out. This mission was the third founded by Father Junipero Serra in California. It's still an active mission, although the only people we saw there that day were a few other folks like us wandering around admiring the buildings and grounds and a docent in the museum/gift shop.
Mission San Antonio de Padua (To the left of the chapel)
The central fountain and gardens at Mission San Antonio de Padua are beautiful. Very peaceful and very well maintained with a large variety of trees and flowers. The roses were gorgeous with many varieties and colors and all covered with blooms. When we entered the gardens, we were greeted by a mama cat and 2 or 3 kittens.
I found 2 of the Mission cats playing in a tree in the gardens and had to take their portrait.

Later on, we headed back out to King City for dinner. The only dining opportunities for visitors on the fort are a snack bar called the Cable Cafe and another snack bar at the bowling alley. We decided we wanted something a little more substantial, so made the drive and found a restaurant called V's Diner. If you find yourself in King City some day at meal time, I highly recommend that restaurant. Good food and plenty of it! When we headed back onto the fort, we chatted with the guard at the gate for a few minutes about the area. And he "got me". We'd told him that we'd gone into King City for dinner and he asked us if we'd gone to the "Scottish" restaurant. My mom and I looked at each other and then told him that we hadn't seen a Scottish restaurant on the end of town where V's Diner is. The fellow had a very sly grin when he told us to be sure and stop at "McDonalds" next time we went into King City. Funny guy... lol, he had us giggling all the way back to the Hacienda from the gate. And for the rest of the trip, we referred to McDonalds as "The Scottish Restaurant".

Note: I added a bit of the history of the Hacienda to a later post from our trip if you're interested. The place has an interesting story to tell. Click here for the post with the history of the Hacienda.

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