Tag Archive | Winchester Mystery House

Napa by way of San Jose

We flew down on Sunday, July 25th and arrived at the Oakland Airport.  First on the agenda was a stop to the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose.  I have been wanting to see it since I was about 8 years old and saw it on Ripley’s Believe It or NOT!  For those of you who haven’t heard of it, like Jon, Sarah Winchester was the widow of the 2nd President of the Winchester Repeating Arms Company.  Her only child died in infancy, and her husband died when she was in her forties.  She bought an 8 room farmhouse in San Jose, hired a team of carpenters and set to work renovating and adding on.  Legend has it that her spiritual advisor told her that she was cursed, and that she must build continuously in order to confuse the spirits of the people who were killed by Winchester guns.  At the time of her death, her  home had 160 rooms and all sorts of crazy architecture.  Of course, I didn’t realize that now it is right in the middle of San Jose.  There is a mall across the street, and a huge movie theater right next door.

Winchester Mystery House

So, the final verdict…. It is touristy, and we had to wait about an hour for our tour.  They do small group tours though, so you can ask questions and interact, and they give you enough time to look around.  It was certainly worth it and we had a great time.  It had it all: a door that opens onto a second floor drop, windows that look into other rooms, skylights in the middle of the floor!  You can see the progression of her insanity  – at the beginning her renovations made the home much more ornate, but then later it seemed to get more “builder grade”.  I wish they would have told us about the ghosts though!  It did make me wonder if she had lived today, would she had been deemed insane and committed?

We drove to Napa in the late afternoon.  Once we checked in to our lodge, we drove around downtown Napa a bit and got our bearings.  We had dinner at ZuZu, a tapas place in downtown Napa that focuses on locally grown ingredients.  Their mussels were fantastic!  Their paella was good… but we’ve had great paella at a couple other places.  I’m still looking for a paella that can beat the paella I had in Grand Rapids, Michigan of all places!

All in all, the first day was a great day.  The only low point was definitely Jon hitting the squirrel running across the onramp on the freeway.  We had to drown our sorrows in wine.

Countdown to Napa Valley

In less than a week Jon and I will be Napa Valley bound for the first time.  We are very much looking forward to getting away on our first of many honeymoons, and celebrating our one-month wedding anniversary.  Cheesy, I know, but it is fun anyway.  Having never been there before, I scouted out the non-wine itinerary.  We are detouring to San Jose to go to the Winchester Mystery House, and then we’ll be heading into the valley, for 3 days of wine tasting, good food eating, relaxing, and more.  Our lodge has an outdoor pool!  It doesn’t take much to make me happy.  I’m also going to try to talk Jon into going to Calistoga to see the geyser (a regularly spouting geyser like Old Faithful, but probably smaller).  And…. they have fainting goats!  The kind that get startled and fall over into a semi-sleep trance state.  I’ve seen them on TV, but never in real life.  This is a real draw for me – call me immature, but you know you want to see them too.  I’ll take pictures, but somehow I’m sure the stills won’t really capture the whole “fainting” concept.

Jon is in charge of all things wine-related.  He is hemming and hawing about which wineries to visit, since we obviously can’t visit them all.  He probably won’t have it narrowed down before we go, and I’ll just have to say – STOP! Go there!  This is usually how it works.  That’s fine, I’ll be happily consumed with Mystery Houses, swimming pools, and fainting goats.