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by CareyBot

Not long ago, I visited William Randolph Hearst's renowned estate near San Simeon, Calif., now a state park better known as Hearst Castle. With its serene mountaintop setting, verdant gardens and spectacular view of the Pacific Ocean, the palatial retreat designed by Julia Morgan between 1917 and 1941 was soon nicknamed The Enchanted Hill. And indeed, soaking up its breathtaking gardens on a crystalline morning is about as close to paradise as most of us will ever get. Our guide touched on this fact when she ended the tour by sighing: "Well, it's time for us to go back down the hill to reality." This poignant comment got me to thinking. Is it only Hearst Castle's extravagance that makes it such a remarkable place? Or is there something more–something that any one of us, whether mil...