The Winchester Door to Nowhere

This is my first real vacation as an adult with my family, (probably my first real vacation with my family- period) so I want to document everything, including the silly little details so this post is going to be more detailed than anyone really cares to read.  Enjoy. 🙂

Last night we arrived in grass valley, CA at my grandpa’s home. We were kind of worried because a neighbor in Grass Valley has told us she saw men and trucks at the house and assumed it was us. It wasn’t. We thought for sure that thieves would have emptied the house when we got there. We were relived and disappointed that everything was still in place when we opened the door. Relieved for obvious reasons but oddly disappointed (just a tiny bit) because, as much as we treasure everything in the house, it is nearly unbearable to pack things and remove them. If they had been stolen at least we wouldn’t have to worry about it. But seriously, we are very glad the place wasn’t ransacked.

Our regular thing when we stay in the house is to rent a Redbox DVD to occupy some of the evening since the cable has been disconnected already. We watched Disney’s “Tangled” and “Life As We Know It”. I thought “Tangled” was pretty good. Mandy Moore has the perfect Disney speaking and singing voice. I hope this is the beginning of many more Disney films for her. “Life As We Know It” was cute. I thought it jumped around to important stuff too quickly but that’s expected with this kind of movie. It was a feel-good romantic comedy and I’d watch it again of it came on tv.

With two movies, I didn’t get to bed until after 12am which wouldn’t be such a big deal except we were up to get on the road at 4:30am. Despite the early hour and lack of sleep I was in a decent mood. We got on the road at about 5:15am and stopped for Starbucks between Grass Valley and Auburn and then made the trek to San Jose. It was a beautiful drive as we watched the sun come up and drove through the foothills. Listened to some John Mayer and Jeff Foxworthy to pass the time.

We made it to San Jose, CA about an hour before our tour was to start at the Winchester Mystery House so we had some breakfast across the street at a cafe called Flames which has been I business for 20+ years and is housed in a retro building that had once been a Bobs Big Boy. The food was good and service wasn’t bad.

We headed across the street after breakfast and finally 9:30am rolled around and our tour began.  The Winchester Mystery House was pretty damn amazing. I had no idea it was so huge! We took the simple mansion tour, which lasted a little over an hour. It was neat seeing the doors to nowhere and the staircase leading into the ceiling. They’ve done a good job training the tour guides to make things fun and interesting.  The grounds were absolutely beautiful! I do have to say that I don’t think the tour is for everyone. It’s cool and all but it really is a lot of the same thing. Walking around empty rooms that are half finished and getting pretty much the same explanation for everything (“we don’t know why she put a window into the closet”-“we don’t know why she built a staircase into the ceiling”) don’t get me wrong, it really was cool, and I would totally see it again, I just don’t think everyone would love it.

Me standing in front of the Winchester Mystery House while my sister takes a picture without my consent.

One of the many cool stained glass windows in the house.  Unfortunately they don’t allow photography in the house so this one was stealthily taken by my sister.

After the tour we had to kill some time until we could check-in at our hotel so we drove around where my Mom went to high school and lived. It was interesting to see my grandparents’ old house and her high school. The high school had freaking carports for the entire parking lot! That is crazy! They barely get snow here! A high school that assumes the weather is good enough to have 6 outdoor tennis courts and a giant outdoor swimming pool but there is too much bad weather to park in the open? Are you kidding me!?

Okay. Rant over. Moving on.

Since my mom loved revisiting her old stomping ground we drove up and down one street a few times and we noticed several different “Foot Spas”. Now I’ve ever heard of a foot spa but the concept appealed to us so we pulled in at one. At first I was a bit concerned because the employees couldn’t quite explain what a foot spa was since they didn’t speak English but after a minute of gesture we were given a menu. For $20 (and a $10 tip I happily provided) I got an hour-long massage of my arms, hands, and feet! It was great! Do they have these in Reno? I’ve never noticed one but I sure hope I find one.

It was still early when we were done with our massages but luckily our hotel was willing to let us check in early. Unfortunately the Best Western we stayed in wasn’t in the best part of town so the room was subpar and we had a dumpster outside our window. We pulled in about 4pm and decided to relax the rest of the day since we’d been up early. Mom and Alicia headed out to grab some Chinese food while I jumped in the shower and then started on my homework. They showed up with the Worst. Chinese. Food. Ever! It was so sad! We were starving and it was inedible. I don’t even know why it was so bad, it just was. We decided to order a small pizza from California Pizza Kitchen since the Chinese food was a bust and I’ve heard good things about CPK.  Maybe it was the bad neighborhood, maybe it was just an off night, but oh man, the pizza was bad. Luckily bad pizza is still better than bad Chinese food.

As lame as it sounds we had a really good time staying in. We didn’t bother turning on the TV, we just talked, played silly games (tossing balls of paper into the trash, a vicious pillow fight between my sister and I), and my sister and I did my math homework.

That was amazing! I had no idea she was so good at math. I mean, she didn’t know everything but I was learning it and teaching it to her as I figured it out and we worked together to get the answers. It seems insane but I am terrible at math so it was a big deal. I think having to help her learn as well helped me absorb the information better.

As day one has come to a close I am looking forward to the rest of our trip. Tomorrow we are heading down to Solvang, CA, which is a Danish town, and we will be staying at a Spa!

Oh yeah and today I also decided to change my major from finance to Computer Information Technology with Web Development Emphasis.

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