Links to all of the trip reports from this trip:
Saturday: As I got up and staggered around the house, I could see that this was not going to be a clear sunny day…clouds and rain. The boys had a small project to take care of before we left the house, replacing the headlight and blinker bulb in Nick’s car. Ken had sounded just like his dad the day before, “You know, you need to get that replaced.” So they tried, but there is still a problem with the bulb for the blinker, so that one is still not fixed. We discussed our options for indoor activities. I had no idea that San Jose wasn’t really that far away and that is where the Winchester Mystery House is located. This is another location in my book that I have wanted to visit for a looooong time. April thought it sounded cool and the boys were willing if not thrilled.
We didn’t really have firm plans for lunch, and it occurred to me on the way down to San Jose that WE ARE IN CALIFORNIA, WE CAN GO TO IN AND OUT BURGER! I had never been before but it is kind of one of those things that you have to do at least once. So with the help of Nick’s iPhone, we figured out where one was and that was where we ate. Of course, I had my burger Animal Style and my fries Animal Style and everyone else just had normal food, but it was pretty good. Next time I would get more beef patties because the meat kind of gets lost in the bun/tomato/lettuce ratio. Then we had to find a gas station and fill up the car with the overprices San Francisco gas – $3.19. Yow. (This was written in 2010 when I had not yet paid $3.50 and up for gas in Colorado.)
The Winchester house was built by Sarah Winchester, who was the widow of one of the Winchesters who made all the guns. After her infant daughter and husband died, she went to a psychic who said to appease all the ghosts of all the people that had been killed by Winchester guns, she needed to build a house that would never be finished. She had a fortune of 20 million dollars, and she went to town. In 1884 she purchased an 8 room farmhouse 3 miles west of San Jose and for the next 38 years, the building never stopped, with carpenters working 24 hours a day. The mansion eventually grew to 160 rooms. Now, if this were a mansion that a rock star were building today, it would cover city blocks, but this place is really relatively small. The rooms are not giant. The whole house covers about six acres. Now, from the book I read, I thought this was kind of an isolated place, but it is right in the middle of San Jose, with streets and a movie theatre right next door. They still have preserved a large part of the grounds, but not miles and miles. They were pretty busy, people getting away from the rain maybe, and out of town T-giving guests? We bought our tour tickets, decided to go for the basic tour plus the “behind the scenes” tour, and then perused the gift shop until it was time for the tour. Let me tell you, their tour guides are a little more rehearsed than we used to be working at Rushmore Cave during the summer. I think they have a script that they pretty much stick to. They do not emphasize the ghostly spiritual angle much. But it is quite a tour around switchback staircases, narrow halls, windows in the floor, elegant bedrooms, some of the earliest elevators, stairways that end at the ceiling, doors that open onto a large drop, etc. The tour groups aren’t too large so you kind of stay together and you can hear the guide well. THEN we went on the behind the scenes tour. Our tour guide for that part was studying for a future career in used car commercial announcing. She really needed to work on appearing to have a natural style at least. It was interesting to traipse around the grounds, tho, and see the grapefruit tree and yew tree that are original plantings, and then go into some of the more unfinished rooms and into the basement (hard hat required, Ken bonked his tall head a couple of times on the pipes) so we were glad we did that. And then we were about toured out. We had to get our traditional souvenir of a magnet, and of course the book.
Got in the car, the rain had settled down, and drove back north toward Richmond/Berkeley.
Next stop: IKEA!!!! We are getting one in Denver next fall but I wasn’t about to pass up the opportunity to get an idea what they might be like. Ken’s idea was that we were just going to make a “quick visit” there but from my reading about IKEAs, I was pretty sure that was not even possible. Those stores are just huge and take a long time to wander through. I restrained myself to only buying finger puppets (there was a shark one in the assortment, I HAD to). If there was one of these close to us, I would go just for the food and the toys, never mind everything else. Plus, they had a large bin of wind up kitchen timers, and you know what I had to do with them. I hope the people shopping the rest of the night enjoyed them going off randomly.
Dinner tonight: Spengers Seafood Grotto. They have well-known cioppino, and that was one of my foods I wanted to eat in SF. I had the cioppino, april had mac and cheese with andouille sausage and shrimp, Nick had the stuffed salmon, and Kenny had the fish and chips. Little oddities: the crab fork I originally received had one of the tines bent at almost a 45 degree angle. We were pretty sure that was NOT the way it was supposed to be. Then April got her mac and cheese, and it had chicken chunks instead of Andouille, we told the waitress about that but never got an explanation. She was still happy with it. They were busy, probably had run out. I had creme brulee for dessert, and Nick and April had the pumpkin pie. Kenny tried the creme brulee, and decided that hey, creme brulee is pretty good. Well, there goes me having that dessert all to myself. On the other hand, he might let me get a torch now, to make my own. “Under close supervision” he says. Hmmm, just because of a few minor oven fires and that one burned up toaster oven, he is hyper cautious. Excellent dinner all around, but I did decide that I prefer squid in my cioppino over crawfish.
Then we came home and I talked everyone into playing Trivial Pursuit and a Christmas/Birthday gift to me. They were more willing when I said it could be all of them against me. Nick and April have the 20th anniversary edition, I think those questions are on average a little difficult, because they center on the 20 years of 1991-2001 that the game has been in existence, so there aren’t a lot of history questions. I of course had to go get my shark finger puppet to join in the game. His name is Bruce, he was a big help. Then everyone else had to have a finger puppet. At one point Nick had one on each finger, so that greatly added to the amusement of the game. Nick is really good at coming up with the correct answer and then talking himself out of that answer and going with his second impression so that helped. We got down to the last question for each of us, and they kept giving me sports questions, and I kept giving them the literature category, and of course they got the question about George magazine, which we had already had a question on previously in a different category, so they won, but still it was great fun. And the finger puppets enjoyed it. And then we all fell into bed as it was 11:30 or so.
Sorry, no pictures from today, here is another one of Rodeo Beach.