It’s the little things that we remember from big trips. And so it was for our family when we did Northern California in 10 days.
Yah, we did the touristy things but enough has been written about those. This is more about the experiences, not the sites.
When the alarm bellowed out – VACATION! I was eager to realize the savings in airfare having booked 10 months earlier, the furthest out you’re permitted to make reservations. So we left bright and early to beat the rush hour traffic to get to the airport. Straight off the shuttle we decided to do curb side check-in. My mind was racing. Maybe it wasn’t. I needed coffee to decide. Meanwhile, this guy rendered me motionless with his stare. My wife said, “tip him,” as if the man couldn’t hear her. I obliged, and all was well.
The flight wasn’t bad at all. Neither were the two dollar bags of M&M’s once I stomached that fact. When we landed in San Francisco, a terror alert flashed. Funny how you think about the potential delays rather than the possible danger. In either case, we were happy to get our bags quickly and get our rental car. Distracted by the kids as my wife wandered off, the man at the counter upgraded me for only $10 more. My wife returned to my side and informed me it was ten dollars more per day. Next purchase, swampland. Regardless, I still thought it was a good spontaneous splurge. And away we went.
Straight from the airport, we decided to hit the Winchester Mystery House before the hotel. It is billed as the world’s strangest house. And let me tell you, if it isn’t, I’d hate to see what beats it. There are disturbing architectural anomalies at every turn.
Unfortunately, indoor photos and videos are strictly prohibited.
This mystery mansion was built under the supervision of Sarah Winchester. She was the wife of William Wirt Winchester, son of Oliver Fisher Winchester who had created the Winchester Rife, “The Gun That Won The West.” She lost both her daughter and husband prematurely sending her into deep depression. She sought a spiritualist who convinced her she was cursed by all those killed by the Winchester rifle. She was urged to move from the east coast to the west coast and build a grand home that never ceases construction to appease the spirits and keep her from danger.
For the remainder of her life, the house continued to grow for nearly 40 years. As heiress to the Winchester fortune, money was not an issue. The bizarre home features seven stories and 160 rooms in a design that baffles the mind. Open a door and walk through and you’ll fall into a kitchen. There are six kitchens total and 13 bathrooms, 47 fireplaces, 10,000 windows and 2,000 doors. Oh, and 47 stairways. Mrs. Winchester was a very small lady with arthritis so each stair inside is only two inches high making for very long stair cases. Such baffling mysteries abound throughout. The architectural oddities and extravagant maze of eccentricities can leave you lost for hours. There’s even a séance room!
At any given turn, you may find danger with the slightest misstep. Another door to nowhere leads to outside and another sudden drop. This door is marked clearly …on the outside. Exploring the inside of the mansion is only half the fun. Outside, the grounds and Victorian gardens are spectacular.
Remember, the spirits talked to Mrs. Winchester. Maybe they’ll talk to you, too, while you navigate the world’s most peculiar home. All in all, this was a very cool stop to kick-off our Northern California adventure.
By Rocco Satullo, your tour guide to fun!
Yesterday: NoCal Adventures Home