There’s no place on earth quite like Hearst Castle, and in the first half of the twentieth century there was no media titan quite like William Randolph Hearst. He commissioned the castle to be built on his immense ranch along the then, quite remote, central California coast. Construction on the castle continued for more than three decades but wasn’t finished at the time Hearst died in the early 1950s. A few years later, Hearst Castle, with its vast collection of art from Europe, was given to the State of California and visitors have been flocking to see it ever since. I’ve been many times and feel as if I’ve just begun to grasp a few of its many details and strange idiosyncrasies. The story of Hearst and all the glitterati of the twenties, thirties, and forties who visited the Hearst Castle are well-interpreted by knowledgeable and entertaining docents. Fine art, Hollywood gossip, affairs of the heart and vistas to die for are all here. So is the ketchup and mustard Hearst always required to be on the long table in his ornate dining hall. But what I like the best, and apparently Hearst did too, is the land itself. He had the Castle built on the high ground where he once camped as a child. It’s one of the most beautiful locations in all of California, the sea far below and his ranch disappearing over the ridgelines of the coastal mountains. I could easily imagine being quite happy there in a simple, warm, and rustic cabin enjoying the commanding views and toasting every sunset. Then again, I’m not William Randolph Hearst. He was larger than life in many ways and needed a castle to match his vast and varied appetites and plenty of ketchup and mustard to go around.