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California or Bust

As it’s almost 11pm and I’ve plans to get up ridiculously early to meet Aaron and June, this installment will be necessarily short.

For those not in the know, I’m out in San Jose for a business meeting on Monday that I’m thankfully able to make a long weekend out of. As these chances don’t exactly grow on trees, I’m trying to make the most of it.

Unfortunately, the road here was bumpy. We spent two long nights preparing, and as a result, I’m beat. Thursday night, we left the office around 11pm and I still had to go home and pack. Oy!

This led to excitement Friday morning. You know, the variety where you wake up and sun is streaming through the windows when it shouldn’t be. My flight for San Jose was taking off at 9:48am. I woke up at 7:30am… Ohhhh boy!

So, I was off from the gates. No breakfast, just a quick jump in the shower, toss on clothes and run for the door. Thank goodness that school traffic hasn’t hit yet. I think that’s the only thing that saved me. I arrived at my gate ten minutes before take off. In my worse dreams, I never thought I’d cut it that close. But I made my flight!

I tried to no avail to sleep on the plane. I hit one good nap for maybe 5 or 10 minutes and then they came by with a snack. Even though I could stand to miss a meal, not having had breakfast, I really didn’t see myself sleeping through the closest thing to that morning meal. So, I spent the flight catching up on e-mail and listening to some music.

Landed here at almost noon. Got my bag (first off the belt, so my luggage had to be among the last loaded). I seriously wondered if it would make the plane. I got the rental car and headed on my way.

First stop, the Winchester Mystery House, which was a short drive from the airport and very close to my hotel. I’ve seen this place on TV before. Apparently, Sarah Winchester, heiress to the Winchester Repeating Rifle fortune, was convinced that the spirits of the people killed by that gun had caused the untimely deaths of her husband and child. It’s said that the spirits were responsible for the helter skelter design of her last home. Variously the spirits either told her how to build it or she was told to build it as she did to keep them confused and unable to find her. Whichever it was, the house, tho beautiful, lives up to what I’d heard about it. Doors open to second story drops. Other doors open to nowhere. Windows open to walls and cupboards turn out to either go nowhere or everywhere. Spent around four hours there taking both the grand house tour and the behind the scenes tour. There were parts of the house that reminded me of the Biltmore just because of the vintage, but otherwise they are on opposite ends of the spectrum in planning. The house that thought of everything versus the house on a psychotic break.

After that, got checked in and unwound for a few minutes before hitting the road for San Francisco. I don’t think I really had time, but I wanted to see the Golden Gate bridge. In retrospect, I’d have been just as well taking in some of San Jose instead. It was a long drive for about an hour looking at the Bay and freezing. Yes, I left home in shorts. In San Jose, no problem. But at sunset on the bay, it was 64 degrees and a strong wind was blowing. My hands literally shook when I tried to take a picture. I had to use the tripod for a shot I could have normally hand held. It was fun to see the mixture of people, though. And plenty like me that obviously had no idea what type of weather to prepare for. I did walk about halfway across on the pedestrian part of the bridge. Between the wind and cold, that was pushing it as far as I could.
All in all, I didn’t see enough of San Francisco to really form an impression. There’s definitely some beauty, but I can’t say I left my heart there this time. But I think I narrowly avoided leaving my arms and lower extremities due to frostbite.

On the way back, I ended up going a slightly different route. I saw more of downtown that way, but it got me so turned around that when I saw I-280, I was fooled by the signs that said “San Jose” for Highway 101. They were, in fact, both right, but my hotel is on 280… I wasn’t able to confirm that I had goofed until I stopped to eat (yes, meal #2 for the day). By then, I was pretty far along on the other route. And when I looked at the map, I realized it wasn’t that bad a goof. Added a little to the trip, but not much.

And that has to be that for the night. Back in the hotel. About to offload the photos from my cards so that I start tomorrow with a clean slate.

More to come!

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