California Trip Day One

For Christmas, my mom and dad took our family (Noah, Me and Tyler, Brittany and Max) on a trip to San Francisco. None of us had ever been to California before, so needless to say, we were all pretty excited. The day before our trip, Tyler and I packed up our bags. We had to fit all of our things for a week (minus toiletries) into carry on bags for the plane ride. Therefore, I brought only one pair of shoes: my hiking boots. I tried to tell Tyler that it was all the rage to wear hiking boots with a dress and wool socks over leggings. He didn’t believe me. I suppose in all those pinterest pictures the boots were a bit more dainty than mine…

The night before, everyone stayed at my parents’ house. Tyler and I slept in the basement on the pull out couch. Well, actually on an air mattress on the pull out couch because the couch mattress is no good for sleeping. The next morning we woke up very early, very early! Tyler and I were bouncing around, so excited to begin our trip. The seven of us piled into the van with all our luggage and headed to the parking deck. At the deck, we astonished the peopled on the airport bus who wanted to know just “What kind of car is that?” and remarked “It was like the clown car. People just kept coming out of it!” That van has made many college moves much easier, that’s for sure.

The airport was nothing special. We were there early so getting through security was quick. Because the flight was full, they requested that some people check their carry on bags. We volunteered since we had to get our checked bags from the baggage claim anyways. Best decision ever! It is so wonderful walking down the airplane aisle, not having to lug my suitcase along or worry about finding a spot to store it. Nor do you have to worry about getting down after the flight. It was wonderful and I would recommend that everyone take advantage of this if possible! Totally worth it. They check your bag for free!

I have fond memories of riding in airplanes as a child. I remember looking out the window with delight. As you gain elevation the buildings, cars, and fields appear to be made from clay. I remember how impressive the lights looked when flying at night and the excitement of take off. While I do still enjoy those things (take off it the best) I can now recall the discomfort of air plane travel. My biggest complain: stale air, especially before take off and after landing. Why does the air cut off? Have you noticed, when you are bussing around the ground, the airflow is nonexistent. Then, when you are up in the air, woosh, here comes all the air to freeze you out. But wait, you just got a comfy temperature after getting down your jacked from the compartment you shoved it in at the beginning of the trip, now you land and the air cuts off again. The stuffy air makes me want to hyperventilate, but not because I don’t really want to breathe anymore of that air than necessary. In case you were wondering, no I do not sleep with my head below the covers for the same reason. Bleah, I shudder just thinking about it.

When we arrived in California we rented a van, which was not as roomy as my mother’s, and went in search of food. This was Christmas Eve, so not much was open. We opted for In-N-Out Burger. Tyler was very keen to try In-N-Out because a friend of his had been raving about how good it was, joking that he was going to send Tyler an In-N-Out burger in the mail! In-N-Out was good; it was definitely the best fast-food burger I’ve ever had and a pretty good burger even not considering that it was fast food. It was nice and light, not overly greasy. I wish we had In-N-Out instead of Burger King. Ah well.

Tyler sleeping in the car on the way to the Winchester Mystery House.
Tyler sleeping in the car on the way to the Winchester Mystery House.

After lunch, Dad drove us to San Jose to see the Winchester Mystery House. It was one of my favorite things from the whole trip! Sarah Winchester was married to one of the owners of the Winchester Repeating Arms Company. Their child died at a young age, which caused her to spiral into depression. When her husband died 15 years later, Mrs. Winchester sought guidance from a medium who supposedly told her that she was haunted by the spirits of those killed by the Winchester rifles. She was told to move west and appease the spirits by building rooms for the spirits in a great house. And thus, the Winchester Mansion was born. Originally, it was an unfinished eight-room farmhouse; now it has 160 rooms. On our tour we saw 110 of the rooms, but sometimes I wasn’t even sure that I was in a room or just some weird hallway with multiple fireplaces! There are many oddities of the house including stairways that ended into a wall, a door on the second story that open into thin air, rooms with window into other rooms. In the words of my mother, “it was just bizarre.” The house itself had no rhyme or reason. As it grew, it enveloped other structures on the property, including the original carriage house. There was a beautiful and expensive Tiffany stained glass window at the top of one staircase. It was designed such that when the sunlight streamed through, it would create a rainbow inside the room. However, the rainbow effect can’t be seen because Mrs. Winchester had it installed in an interior wall. No sunlight can reach it. Other oddities included a staircase that went up down seven steps only to go up eleven more. We were amused for quite some time by the strangeness of the house and were baffled by the apparent lack of overall design. Mrs. Winchester spared no expense on decorating the house. There are several expensive stained glass windows, textured walls and ceilings, and beautiful, oh so beautiful, parquet floors.

Front of the Winchester Mansion.
Front of the Winchester Mansion.
Door to nowhere.
Door to nowhere.
Back of the Winchester Mansion.
Back of the Winchester Mansion.

Mrs. Winchester spent on the order of five million dollars (if memory serves) on house construction, twenty hours a day, seven days a week. Some people think that it was such a waste, spending so much money on a house that is so crazy and nonsensical. She wasn’t even one for company, despite having an opulent Grand Ball room! However, I maintain that at least she provided jobs for people with all that building. She paid twice the going rate and gave each worker that had a family their own dwelling on the property. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the mansion and was sad when the tour was over. However I was tired from traveling earlier that day and according to our tour guide, we walked over a mile within the house!

Our long day ended with finding somewhere to eat, not an easy feat on Christmas Eve, and collapsing on our beds in the hotel. Dad was asleep by 7:30 local time. The rest of us followed suit shortly after.

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2 thoughts on “California Trip Day One

  1. Pingback: An Introduction to Our non-Blue Ridge Parkway Road Trip – Simple Adventures Open Eyes

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