photo courtesy of karith
Half way between San Francisco and Los Angeles is a little known portion of the original El Camino Real known as the “Valley of the Oaks”. The road (popular with cyclists) winds through vineyards and rolling hills . The landscape is dotted with gnarly old oaks draped in Spanish Moss. Little has changed since the Spanish missionaries discovered it in 1771. It is a nature lovers dream. Deer, multiple species of birds, and even a herd of bison can be seen at dawn or dusk roaming the landscape. The population is less than it was in 1800 when mining ventures resulted in the development of a thriving mining district. The small town of Jolon rapidly grew into a thriving town that served the developing area. Mexican land grants were broken into small homestead parcels.
photo courtesy of mike mcquiggan
Hidden inside of Fort Hunter Liggett (designated as a military reservation in 1941) is William Randolph Heart’s Hacienda. Today it is operated as a hotel. Before he built his "castle" on the coast, William Randolph Hearst built The Hacienda . The rambling Spanish Colonial Revival structure was built in 1929 and originally called the Milpitas Ranch House. Designed by Hearst Castle architect Julia Morgan, it was a working ranch, drawing inspiration from the nearby Spanish mission for its white stucco walls and Spanish-tiled roof. In 1929, construction of the complex began on the site of the original Milpitas Ranch House that recently had burned. A south wing originally in the designs and intended to be Hearst's private quarters was never completed. Julia Morgan and Hearst correspondence indicates that original Hacienda plans were to house 20 employees; these plans were expanded to house 30 employees. Construction cost reached $200,000. Hearst used the Hacienda as a hunting lodge, and he enjoyed it so much that even after he built his big house at nearby San Simeon, he built a private road to facilitate travel between the two properties.
photo courtesy of Betsey Malloy
Northwest Tower of “The Hacienda”
photo courtesy Wilkepedia
photo courtesy of wilkepedia
The Hacienda once housed a modest restaurant that I believe is presently closed. You might wonder where might one find a bite to eat out in the middle of nowhere? We travel this road on our way to Villa Cantina twice every weekend. I must confess when we noticed that the Lockwood Store now housed a restaurant it was primarily a source of amusement . Well the joke was on us. If you love a great burger in a funky 50’s inspired diner you will love this place. The owners are friendly and the service is spot on. I believe they are open for dinner Thursday through Sunday .For more information you can call 831- 385-5750, or take a peak at their facebook page for their menu. http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lockwood-Stores-Hungry-Flats-Diner/104154066331361#!/pages/Lockwood-Stores-Hungry-Flats-Diner/104154066331361?sk=info