We are heading out of town on Sunday morning to visit Kristen and Adam in San Jose. (If you are a burglar reading my blog, we aren’t really going out of town, we will be home the entire time feeding raw meat to our two guard dogs, Freddy and Jason.) We are hoping the Easter Bunny will have hidden eggs to find when we get there, and we know that Adam is making lamb for dinner. Adam is a foodie, and he cooks like no other, so we’re in for a treat. I am giddy with delight that I will be having a holiday meal with loved ones, and that I’m not cooking. Adam, I will do the dishes with the deepest gratitude.
Since I will be traveling with my laptop (because I am taking my March NaBloPoMo responsibilities seriously), there is a strong likelihood that there will be a list or two about what we are doing in San Jose. Last time we were there (in October of 2007), we had a grand ol’ time, mostly just hangin’ out. We did a lot of hangin’ out because (1) that’s how we roll, and (2) we had the presidential suite in which to hang. Make no mistake about it, staying in a hotel’s presidential suite is not how we usually roll, but because my ankle was swollen up to the size of a tennis ball on account of the suitcase I dropped on it at the airport, the hotel manager took pity on me when we were checking in and upgraded our room for free. We had a dining room that seated eight and two full baths. Laura was thrilled. When we weren’t living in the lap of luxury, we got out to see a few sights, and if you’re going to be in the Bay Area anytime soon, you might want to check out some of these places too. So, as you might have expected, here it is . . . wait for it . . . wait for it . . .
1. The Winchester Mystery House
Sarah Winchester, heiress of the Winchester rifle fortune, had too much money, too much time, and not enough mental health. She began building a house in San Jose, California in 1884 and construction continued 24/7 until she died in 1922. The story goes that Mrs. Winchester believed that she was cursed by the ghosts of those who had fallen from the rifles made by her deceased-husband’s family. She thought that the house would appease the spirits and that if she stopped building, she would die. She paid carpenters and craftspeople to work around the clock. The house is known for its size (40 bedrooms), lack of any master blueprints (staircases leading no where and windows opening to other rooms), and superstitious themes (spider web-paned windows and chandeliers with thirteen candles). From one window’s view, a modern movie mutliplex was spotted. Kristen said, “Wasn’t Mrs. Winchester smart to build her house near a mall?” Cheeky Kristen. The Winchester Mystery House is now on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places and is open for tours.
2. San Jose State University
We visited SJSU because it is where Adam gets his learn on. But if you don’t have a prospective son-in-law as your excuse for a visit, it is still a nice place to stop by. The Martin Luther King, Jr. Library is fantastic, and the children’s library in it is worth a visit.
On campus is a statue commemorating San Jose State student activists and 1968 Olympic Medal Winners, Tommie Smith and John Carlos, and their world-famous salute. In the 1968 Olympic Games at Mexico City, Tommie Smith won the gold medal for the 200m in a world-record time 19.83 seconds. He and a teammate, John Carlos, who earned the bronze, gave a Black Power salute while receiving their medals. Smith and Carlos were suspended from the U.S. team and banned from the Olympic Village. I was almost Laura’s age when this happened and I remember watching on TV and my parents talking about it. (OMG, I’m old!) Those who opposed the protest said the actions disgraced all Americans. Supporters, on the other hand, praised the men for their bravery.
3. The Exploratorium
The Exploratorium in San Francisco is a hand-on museum with hundreds of exhibits to touch, handle, interact with, and explore. It is designed to pique the interest and curiosity of children and adults alike regardless of your familiarity with science. The Exploratorium is located in the Palace of Fine Arts near the Golden Gate Bridge. We spent hours going through this place.
4. Cable Car Museum
The Cable Car Museum has mechanical displays, photographs, and actual cable cars on exhibit. You will learn about the inventor, technology, and the history of cable cars, including the near loss and efforts to rebuild the cable-car system in San Francisco.
5. San Francisco Sights—The Usual Suspects
We took a ride over the Golden Gate Bridge and down Lombard Street. Lombard is “America’s crookedest street” with its sharp switchbacks to enable automobiles to get down the very-steep hill. We ate in an authentic Chinese place in Chinatown. DO NOT order sea bass unless you want to watch them pluck the poor sucker out of a tank and take it away to its untimely demise, only to return it to you on a plate, fully cooked with all its body parts reassembled and displayed, including its severed head and pathetic eyes staring at you in horror. I was traumatized and could not eat a bite, well, maybe I had one, but I didn’t enjoy it. I much prefer to be in denial about my fish entrees; they need to be served to me in fillets, under a rich sauce, sitting on fine china, and glowing in the candlelit ambiance of a fine dining establishment, thank you very much. We avoided Fisherman’s Wharf only because crowds attending an air show that day made it unpleasant to get there, and tickets to Alcatraz were sold out. We bought tickets in advance for our visit next week, so look for some sort of list about what I learned at Alcatraz in an upcoming post . . .