SAN SIMEON, CALIF. — On a rocky, meandering stretch of California coast, exactly halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, lies the region of San Simeon. If you’ve heard of the place, it’s probably because of the Hearst Castle, for the lavish and elaborate estate built by newspaper magnate (and expelled Harvard student) William Randolph Hearst sits atop a hill overlooking the coast. But while the castle is incredibly beautiful (if excessive), it pales in comparison to the beauty of the rugged cliffs, rocky beaches, and winding paths along the Pacific.
Five years ago, I discovered paradise here. The California central coast, from Ventura to Monterey, has always captivated me since I first saw its incredible wild beauty. I am not a nature lover at all — I’ve always been a city boy at heart — but something about the beaches and fields and roads here has held my attention, recurring in my thoughts again and again.
What I loved about San Simeon then and now was its simplicity — it’s not built up or heavily crowded with tourists at all. The vistas are unspoiled, wild, and natural, and the only way to get there is the wonderful two-lane Pacific Coast Highway. There are no luxury hotels looming over the ocean, but rather small, modest guest cottages within the tiny towns along the strand. Yes, many of the beaches are rocky and inaccessible, and it may seem too isolated, but nothing else quite captures my imagination so fully.
It could have been yesterday when I first walked the trails of Moonstone Beach as a 15 year-old, but I had changed so much. Instead of this trip being a high schooler’s adventure, this was a welcome detour in a summer consumed by an internship since coming back home from college. Part of me wanted this trip never to end, though I knew I’d be back home within 36 hours. I wanted to savor each second.
With each step I took, memories crashed down on me like wild ocean waves. I felt so much older and worldly wiser. I had new hopes, fears, desires, and dreams, and began thinking about who I might be five years from now. What job would I have? What career would I build? Would I live in L.A. or Boston? Who would I become? My thoughts overwhelmed me. I wasn’t a teenager anymore — those years now seemed as far away as the horizon.
I spent the entire next morning walking along beaches, piers, and rocky bluffs, always trying to capture the Pacific with my sunglasses. And as I fruitlessly tried to skip rocks across the waves, I realized my worries were pointless. What were my fears next to the vastness of the ocean? Why couldn’t I be content to just stare at the awesome power of the sea and its beautiful violence? What was stopping me from simply enjoying the view without fearing the time I had left here? There was no point in trying to answer questions I couldn’t have the answers to. The beach and the castle on the hill and the waves would always be here, always moving, always changing, but always constant.
What I loved about San Simeon then and now was its simplicity. I needed to embrace it fully and become less preoccupied, more content to live in the moment. And I flung another pebble in the ocean, smiling, not caring where it went.
Robert Miranda ’20, a Crimson Associate Editorial editor, is an English concentrator living in Pforzheimer House.