Wednesday, August 22, 2012

On the road again...



Clark Gable's 1935 Duesenberg
MODEL JN Convertible Coupe

Gable's love for this platinum blonde
(one of only four of the convertible model ever made) 
was rivaled only by his love for platinum blond actress Carol Lombard


Listed as one of the greatest film stars of all times by
The American Film Institute, Lombard was a smart, sassy and timelessly gorgeous

During a break in the filming of GONE WITH THE WIND, 
Lombard became Gables third wife in 1939 after a three year affair

The car's history was a significant factor in  fetching such a high bid
at the car auction in Pebble Beach

Clark Gable- always very mechanically inclined -
had the car modified with his own design additions- often tinkering on it himself.
He also had the car repainted from the original pale green to  the creamy luminescent platinum 

In 1942, Gable and Lombard embarked on an epic road trip in the Duesenberg...
from Encino, California 1,300 miles to Vancouver British Columbia. 

Did they overnight their first night at San Simeon- with friends William Randolph Hearst and Marion Davies ?  

We were not as fortunate- a motel in neighboring Cambria had to do...


Imagine Gable navigating the elegant 18 foot long convertible up the winding road from the beach to the top of the hill, Lombard at his side. 

Today tours begin with a 20 minute bus ride up that same road. 

Plan ahead and get a group of six together,  you can make special reservations for a private tour which makes it possible to visit without crowds and to linger in each space and really take in the amazing details. 

One way or another you must make tour reservations and plan to spend the entire day or you will be miss out.   

DO NOT MISS THE MOVIE about William Randolph Hearst's life at the end of the tour.

The Enchanted Hill
as Hearst called his creation, 
perched on the crest of the Santa Lucia mountains overlooking the Pacific ocean- 
Hearst had camped here as a child with his parents,  George and Pheobe Hearst

WR Hearst worked closely with California architect,  Julia Morgan to create
La Cuesta Encantada,  now known as Hearst Castle.  Built of re-enforced concrete
the many structures on the property were designed in Mission, Spanish Colonial and Moorish Revival styles .  

Dinner for just a few close friends...

The table set with Pheobe Hearst's Blue Willow china 
which was originally the set used for camping on the site
Ketchup and the mustard were status symbols 
as they were the very newest in packaged condiments

A souvenir postcard of William Randolph Hearst's study
The indoor pool built beneath the tennis court 
despite Julia's warning that it would have 
constant ceiling leaks

Morgan worked on San Simeon  from 1919 to 1947

The first woman to graduate from the Ecole des Beaux Arts- Paris

In her lifetime Morgan designed 700 buildings.  Because of her then unusual knowledge of working with re-enforced concrete , she was hired to redesign the landmark Fairmont Hotel on Nob Hill which had been badly damaged in the 1906 earthquake.  It's sad to think that when Morgan died she was uncelebrated and overlooked because of the modernist trends that swept architecture in her later years. 

One of the guest houses surrounding San Simeon

Founded in 1797

I have to believe that Morgan paid a visit to the 
Mission San Miguel Arcangel, 
not very far from San Simeon.

You Should !!!

The original buildings, mostly burned down at the end of the 18th century 
but were rebuilt in 1806 as they stand today 

The interiors are original and the best preserved 
of all the California missions . 

The muted blues and terracottas are spectacular fading into
the oyster white of the old plaster.

On the road again.. 

Did Gable and Lombard also visit the mission 

or did they just whiz by on scenic Highway 1
past the little church at the foot of San Simeon 

"...seein' things that I may never see again" 

where Hearst's herd of zebras still roam freely
William Randolph Hearst had the world's largest private zoo
during the time he lived at San Simeon.  

Just south of Big Sur the  Lucia Lodge
perches high over the Pacific coastline.  
Make reservations -avoid dissapointment

Not everyone arrives in a Duesenberg

Lunch on the deck  of the Lucia Lodge

There's that ketchup again...
There is no substitute for the Porsche of ketchup

The Lone Cypress 
17 Mile Drive
Pebble Beach

The Salinas Valley north of Carmel famous for artichokes

The Golden Gate Bridge

Mr. Lyon signs copies of his book of  work - 

A collection of black and white vintage and historical 
photographs of San Francisco
To Order Contact

"..Goin' places that I've never been"

Just a few exits north of the Golden Gate the Stinson Beach exit leads back to Scenic Highway 1
via Muir Beach- home of 
built by an English innkeeper in the 1970's
the building is a wonderful recreation of 16th century English architecture
Cozy accommodations - pub fare -afternoon teas-
Prime rib and Yorkshire pudding crowning a full dinner menu

Carol and Clark would have loved it - both were of British heritage

The only give-away that you are not really in England 
is that the beers and ales are

There's that Heinz again for the Fish and Chips  

An old farmhouse along Highway 1

- boarded windows stare blindly onto unkept fields
Were the lights still on when that Platinum Dusenburg roared by ?

"Mr. can you spare a dime ?"

At Nick's Cove on Tomales Bay
the wires are cut in the old phone booth
Death by  Cell Phone

McLoud, California

Did Gable and Lombard stop in McLoud to visit Hearst and Davies 
at Wyntoon- the Hearst family enclave built at the bend of the McLoud River ?
The town is located at the foot of Mt Shasta

Gable was a guest at Wyntoon on several occasions - 


William Randolph Hearst contracted Julia Morgan to design a Bavarian Village
at Wyntoon in 1931 at the same time she was still working on San Simeon


The quaint humility of the structures is due to the Great Depression 
having vastly diminished the Hearst fortune, 
much of which was still being lavished on San Simeon.
Wyntoon remains the very private and exclusive retreat of the Hearst family and there
are no tours available.  

The only way to see Wyntoon is by private invitation 
floating down the McLoud River

In the 1930's and 40's McLoud was a bustling logging community
with a thriving railroad,  but with the demise of the lumber industry the town
is withering 

The old safe,  rusted and abandoned

The rairoad  shut down

I completely understand the Hearsts wanting to maintain their private retreat but it would be a huge boon to the town if they would open WYNTOON even on a very limited basis to outside visitors.  

"..and I can't wait to get on the road again"

Crab Trap

Anywhere along the Pacific coast 
between San Francisco and Seattle
is a great place to have fresh Dungeness Crab

A perfect beach picnic

The Oregon Coast along Highway 1

I love the graphic rythm of this old wooden railroad bridge

Not on the general road trip itinerary
a stop just south of Portland, Oregon 

Acres and acres of every variety of boxwood
Field dug and available in full grown sizes
pruned in a range of shapes

Available through landscape contractors and design professionals

On the northern border of Oregon, Astoria
reflects a town that prospered in the early 20th century

Granite pediments

and elaborate movie theatres 

There is no question that Gable and Lombard 
both had their names on the marquis of The Liberty

...and you can still get a good old fashioned malt with your burger

Responsibly harvested logs still make their way
from forest to lumber mill

...but evidence of other times is everywhere

at a roadside stand at the foot of Mt Ranier, Washington

Reflection Lake in Mt Ranier National Park

Mt Ranier National Park

Built in 1916 with weathered timbers salvedged from a 
building that burned down in 1888, the inn is built in the 
National Park Rustic Style

I love the roof lines

The great Room at The Inn is
 furnished with Old Hickory Furniture 

You know you have crossed the US border when the foam 
on your Cappuccino is in the shape of a maple leaf

This is the Vancouver that greeted 
Carol Lombard and Clark Gable when they drove into town
and pulled in across the street at The Hotel Georgia 
now operated by Rosewood

Contemporary architecture interprets the older structures

and pierces the skyline

A beautiful and vibrant city where life revolves around living
on the water

This is where we part company with Gable and Lombard.  They had reached their destination
The Duesenberg was put in storage and the two mega stars returned to Los Angeles by train

Carol Lombard was killed in an plane crash in 1942 .

The distraught Gable lost interest in the car and it remained in storage in Vancouver until it was sold.

                                                             ... and the rest is history

                       "just can't wait to get on the road again"