Happy Earth Day! This is one of the most intriguing cases of DIY that has ever crossed my path. I hope you check it out some day.
I wrote earlier about how I preferred staying in Cambria over staying in San Simeon, and a large part of the reasoning was that Cambria wasn’t as saturated with Hearst Castle merch as San Simeon – at least across from the Castle – is. Cambria’s pace is a much sleepier town. I think it’s safe to say it’s somewhat desperate for tourism and commerce. A sign for the local theater read “It’s not funny!” and then described how they’re going to close unless they can scrape up $2,000. Its shops are filled with the type of stuff you’d find at any oceanside town, metal art in the shape of marble-eyed birds, carved wooden puzzle jewelry boxes, and kitschy books aligning illustrated women with cats and chocolate. At least when it comes to Billiam‘s and my interests, the walks and hiking were more interesting. (Did I mention we saw a skunk?)
This isn’t to say Cambria is without its must-see sites, though. After a super hearty brunch, very much on a whim because it just so happened to be fifteen minutes away from Michael O’Malley’s next scheduled tour, we headed over to Nit Wit Ridge. It was the best spur-of-the-moment decision of the weekend. You really have to see the place and read its lore to appreciate it, but in so many words:
Nit Wit Ridge (with various spellings) is a pretty remarkable house built out of refuse by Cambria’s old trash collector. It is now a landmark heralded for its folk art and industrious creativity. Arthur Harold Beal, the solo builder, owner, and eccentric, was also known as Captain Nit Wit or Tinkerpaw – “Cause I tinker with my paws!” He started the work in 1928. Fifty-one years later, it became his unfinished project as the state of California moved him into a nursing home. He passed in 1996.
The guy was obviously skilled and had an interesting affinity for…toilets. But again, this poor man’s castle truly needs to be No. 2 on your list of Things to Do in the Central Coast, right after Hearst Castle. And I really mean it. Both buildings had an equal effect on me and couldn’t have been constructed through more opposite means. I ended up taking more pictures at Nit Wit than I did at Hearst. I only list Hearst above Nit Wit because that’s what the masses tend to appreciate more, but even so, Nit Wit actually includes a bit of Hearst’s runoffs in it as well.
And now, Nit Wit pics:
Absolutely experience Nit Wit Ridge. It’s just so creative and abundant with interestingness:
881 Hillcrest Dr.