Our Christmas trip was nearly done and it was time to head back home. We had seen some cool things like the McDonald's Museum, Solvang and one of the California Missions. Before driving home though, we still had one stop to make. We had gotten a tip that Michael Jackson's Neverland was close by, and some of the fans still go there to morn their idol.
I still remember when the news broke about Michael Jackson's death in 2009. I was still living in Finland but I was vacationing in California. I saw the news when I woke up and I think I even woke up my friend because of it. On that same trip we drove down to Los Angeles and to Hollywood. It was touching to see all the flowers and notes the fans had left on the Walk of Fame. I am not one of those super fans, but Michael Jackson does have a special place in my heart. My first concert that I went to was the Dangerous tour in 1992 in Stockholm.
Michael Jackson bought the Neverland Ranch, which was then called Sycamore Valley Ranch, in 1988. It is located in Santa Barbara county, in a little town called Los Olivos. He wanted to be away from people, and Neverland really is in the middle of nowhere. He made the ranch his home and his private amusement park. Neverland was named after the imaginary island in Peter Pan. Among the rides, there were many gardens on the ranch, a flower clock, zoo and a train station. In 1991 Elizabeth Taylor got married at the Neverland Ranch.
Michael Jackson moved away from the ranch and closed it in 2006, after the police searched it due to the molestation charges. He felt that his privacy had been violated and he didn't want to live there anymore. He was later acquitted of all charges. Now the ranch is owned by an investment company and it has been on sale for a long time for $67 millions. While they have been searching for a new owner for the place, they have also gotten rid of things like the amusement rides and all the animals.
We found Neverland by using Google maps. We drove from Solvang about 20 minutes north. We passed downtown Los Olivos, many horse ranches and a lot of fields. Neverland really is on a small countryside road far away from everything. The gate comes up suddenly, and is not very obvious, so we first passed it without stopping and had to turn back around. Basically, what you get to see of Neverland is just the gate and guard house located behind it. But every spot on the wall is full of text written by the fans, and pictures and flowers. Many of them have been faded by the sun, but this has for sure been a mecca for so many fans. Now, the traffic has slowed down and we were the only ones there. Another car drove by but we weren't sure if they just accidentally missed the gate like we did. We were reading the texts for a while, took some pictures and left.
It was interesting to see how Michael Jackson has affected so many peoples' lives. Even after ten years of his passing, the fans still drive over to Neverland to remember him. And I'm sure there are also as many fans who wish they could visit there but just can't.