Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Vacation! Winchester House


Candy House, originally uploaded by Petie_in_Cbus.
So I was able to pull JG away from very important things, like work (the awesome reason why he's out here and why I get to mope around in SF instead of Cbus between
job A and job B.)
He doesn't really ever not work, so when he actually gets away from it, he likes to have his time structured and defined. As opposed to me who thinks that structure and definition defeat the word adventure. Plus my lack of core organizational and decision making skills make trying to plan anything stressful. And vacations shouldn't be stressful. Needless to say the 3 nights prior to trip were spent planning/bickering. So it was an AMAZING feeling to finally get out of the city away from it all.
First stop was theWinchester Mystery House in San Jose. We didn't hit any traffic and San Jose was surprisingly close to SF. And the Winchester House was surprisingly close to... EVERYTHING. We were expecting a sprawling mansion with acres of land surrounding it, looking massively over a hill. NO WAY, not like that AT ALL. You pull off the exit, and you almost miss it as there's a new shopping mall on the right side of the road, office buildings before it and theaters and condos surrounding it. Photos shown of the house usually show it before the 1906 earthquake, when it was 7 stories tall. Now, at 4 stories, it is lost in the sprawl. Expecting an exquisite, breathtaking mansion- we fell out of the rental car into a huge gaudy tourist trap. The tour had less information than PBS specials I had seen on it, but the house itself was quite impressive. Sarah Winchester believed that the ghosts of people killed by the Winchester rifle haunted her and only continuous construction would keep them at bay. She worked on her house for 38 years, spending as much money as possible. There was amazing woodwork, press wallpaper and Tiffany glass. Oh yeah, I spotted a dragon too. JG & I had questions like "How did it go from 162 to 4.5 acres?", "It's a CA registered Historical Landmark- is that the only thing saving it from being bought by Macy's?". "What year did Sarah build the surrounding theaters?", "What is the term used to describe the intricate chandelier toppers?" "Do ghosts of The Gap haunt the house?", "Why isn't the glass in our house this clear?", "Will this dragon attack us?", "Why are there machines to take your money along the outside tour?", "Is it sad that we know more about the historical context of the games in the arcade than architecture or flowers?"
Well, the 16 yr old tour guide couldn't answer our questions so we gorged on nachos with the other tourists and just enjoyed our visit. Plus the nachos were pretty damn good.
Winchester mystery house
We took advantage of the surrounding terrain and had an enormous ladylock/eclair like slice of dessert goodness at Flames, quick stop at the motel then rode around downtown San Jose. Ended up being a pretty awesome vacation day.
San Jose

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