No family and too much money makes Mrs Winchester something something.

Sunday, March 23

Looking back at the pictures, I can believe we packed so much stuff into one day! It seems like this had to have been spread over several days!

Another view of the exteriorCari and I got up bright and early Sunday morning to go to the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose. We thought we were going to be the only people out being touristy on Easter Sunday but there turned out to be a sizable tour group. This was one of my favorite parts of the trip, I think, just because it was something I knew nothing about before going there, and even the locals didn't know that much about it. So Cari and I got to experience it for the first time together. It was CRAZY!

The house was built by the widow of the second president of the Winchester Rifle Company. She was off living on the East Coast somewhere, as East Coasters do, when her husband and her less-than-a-month-old daughter (and I think her sister and her father) died. I don't really remember the chronology so I don't know if they all died within a short amount of time, or if she just had a lot of people die on her over the years. She got pretty interested in the occult, because she wanted to contact all of her departed loved ones. Something that a medium told her made her decide that she had to move to the West Coast and buy this random farmhouse in San Jose and build a ginormous house around the existing house. She could, of course, afford to do something crazy like this, because she had More Money Than God. Between her investments and her inheritances and the money she made from the company, she made about $1000 per day, which would be more like $100,000 per day nowadays. So... little bit crazy plus way too much money equals crazy house.

The house just goes on and on for miles and miles, with all these crazy little details like fake windows and doors (which it's believed she had installed to 'trick' the naughty spirits when she was trying to contact friendly spirits), these rather ingenious sets of shallow little "easy riser" steps that she had installed when she couldn't scale normal stairs due to her arthritis, a staircase that goes nowhere, her favorite design elements (spider-web designs and the number 13) popping up all over the house, a hugely expensive Tiffany stained-glass window that she then went and built another room behind, so the sun never shines through it, Mrs Winchester-sized doors (she was about 4'10" if I remember correctly), a random exterior door to nowhere on the second floor and a chimney that comes within inches of the ceiling on the top floor instead of going all the way up and out (and therefore a whole lot of useless fireplaces connected to it). Plus, when the 1906 earthquake happened and Mrs Winchester got trapped in a room (the doorframe bent and she couldn't open the door... and the servants couldn't find her right away in the miles and miles of house) she decided it was a sign that she had spent too much time and money on the front of the house and she should be focusing on other parts. So she had that part of the house boarded up and abandoned, which means that it's one of the few instances of earthquake damage that wasn't fixed or replaced later. You can still see where the plaster came right off the wall.

Anyway, it was crazy-nuts and AWESOME. I wish Paris Hilton was building crazy-nuts houses instead of just flashing the paparazzi. That is what rich people should do when they go crazy.

After the Winchester Mystery House, Cari and I went and got bubble tea (for me) and an avocado shake (for her). I thought an avocado shake sounded as crazy as a staircase to the ceiling, but she let me try it and it was actually super good. My bubble tea was also very good, and not as sweet as some. Nowadays I sometimes find bubble tea too sweet.

Turtles on a rock, with garden behindThen we went on to Hakone Gardens, a Japanese-style garden in Saratoga. This was also a popular Easter spot, probably because of all the flowers and because we went around the time that services were getting out. It was very pretty and peaceful, with some adorable turtles and koi and lovely flowering plants.

We met up with Matt and a friend of his and our friend Olga at Saravana Bhavan in Sunnyvale for South Indian food. We ordered a lot of food and split it, family-style. So many yummy dosas and things had a party in my tummy. SO GOOD. For the record, I am ALWAYS getting a cheese dosa, whenever I have the opportunity. Paneer and I are in love and we're getting maaaaaaaaarried. Yum times!

Next, Matt played Designated Driver so that Cari and I could go wine tasting in the Santa Cruz Mountains. We went to two different wineries and got a little bit squiffy. The second one had a nice Viognier, a delightful dessert wine served on ice with a twist of lemon and a port which they served with Dove chocolate Easter eggs. YUM!

Fence showing shift due to 1906 EarthquakeWe had a bit of windy mountain driving to let us sober up a bit before Matt took us on an Earthquake stumble hike and showed us the San Andreas fault. DO NOT TELL ANYONE, INTERNET, BUT FOR SOME REASON I THOUGHT THE SAN ANDREAS FAULT WAS AROUND LOS ANGELES INSTEAD OF SAN FRANCISCO¹. We learned a lot about earthquakes and how to tell where they've been (ridges and marshy areas, which have a special name that I forgot).

Then we went back to Mountain View for another SI reunion (with Noor and David) over tapas and veggie paella at Cascal. We went out for ice cream again and this time I got one scoop of hazelnut (I love hazelnut!) and a scoop of honey-lavender. Sometimes I'm overwhelmed by flower flavors, but the lavender was just subtle enough to make it DELICIOUS.

¹ Oh Internet. You will never divulge my secrets, right? RIGHT?

srah - Tuesday, 8 April 2008 - 8:22 PM
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Comments (13)

gravatar Princess Sparklepants - April 9, 2008 - 2:32 PM -

Dude, Srah... You eat all sorts of foods I have never heard of. I need a table that tells me what this stuff is. Because if it doesn't start with "Southern Fried-" or "Chicken Fried-", I've probably never heard of it.

gravatar srah - April 9, 2008 - 2:38 PM -

Which ones do you want to know more about? Wikipedia has the answer!

I don't normally eat like this in Ohio, which is why I took the opportunity to eat exotic things in California!

gravatar Evie - April 9, 2008 - 3:03 PM -

You are not wrong!

gravatar srah - April 9, 2008 - 4:58 PM -


(When I write in all caps like that I feel like I'm God in Dinosaur Comics!)

gravatar kir - April 9, 2008 - 8:53 PM -

i'm loving your Californian posts -- you've inspired me to do more stuff! I went to the Winchester house a few year ago, and admittedly, I was a little disappointed. I guess I thought you could just walk around, unguided? While I understand the need for supervision, it would have been way cooler otherwise (oh, and at night!)

gravatar srah - April 9, 2008 - 10:26 PM -

I do wish we'd seen some evidence of ghostery!

gravatar pistols at dawn - April 10, 2008 - 10:51 AM -

Regarding this house, all I can say is: "Zoiks, Scooby."

gravatar nancypearlwannabe - April 11, 2008 - 9:38 AM -

The Hakone Gardens look amazing. I am so planning a Cali trip in the near future!

gravatar moe - April 14, 2008 - 6:02 PM -

I would have liked to listen to the dinnertable conversations of the workers that Mrs.Winchester employed after the part that went "how was your day at work, honey?"

gravatar srah - April 14, 2008 - 6:04 PM -

She paid her staff in cash so that she could hire and fire people quickly if she overheard them gossiping about her!

gravatar Mike - April 14, 2008 - 7:56 PM -


gravatar srah - April 14, 2008 - 9:04 PM -

THANK YOU. I have been waiting a week for someone to say that.

gravatar Mike - April 14, 2008 - 9:18 PM -

Sorry I'm tardy to the party ...

... now give me the bat.

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