We got out of Anaheim as early as we could, every time we drive through LA we get stuck in some horrible mess of traffic, so this time we used the GPS for routing, and traffic information on the iPhone to avoid the worst sections of freeway. We got across LA in about 45 minutes, which was phenomenal. The traffic outside LA was clear and we made amazing time through southern California. We made one stop for gas and another for dried fruits, but other than that it was a easy, clear shot up.
We were doing so well that we decided to detour through San Jose and see the Winchester Mystery mansion. This took us through some really beautiful farming areas before dropping us onto 101, and traffic was good all the way to the mansion. They do a real good job of keeping the “Mystery” flavor of a semi-haunted mansion by having the folks from the Jelly Belly factory have a stand outside in the parking lot. I was able to correctly tell the difference between a Banana and a Booger jelly bean, and won a very small bag of Jelly Bellys from them. Sasha couldn’t identify hers, and won the same. I like those odds.
The mansion itself is a great example of that American architectural period of when they made really low doorways that I smack my head on. About the third time that I smashed into something valuable and irreplaceable, the tour guide began reminding everyone to WATCH YOUR HEAD while looking right at me. I can’t imagine why. Yulia and Sasha pretended I was with another group, and retarded. They were half right. Apparently my cries of pain were the only thing keeping our tour guide awake, since once I stopped smacking my forehead he was having trouble staying awake, just having come off a grave yard shift from somewhere else. I though smacking into something might wake him back up, but dirty looks from Yulia and Sasha kept me in line.
Finishing, the tour Sasha got totally creeped out by the place, and didn’t want to tour the garden. So we just left and got stuck in the San Francisco rush hour. It was a nasty crawl back into downtown, but we finally made it and it was well work the drive. We are at a Larkspur hotel, and the place is fantastic. Real beds, clean, a great lobby bar and wireless internet. As an added bonus it is right on the Cable Car line. We dropped off our stuff and walked over to Chinatown to grab some food. We found a Sushi place that had little floating boats that delivered the plates. Every time someone rocked or stopped the boats to get a plate, Sasha make Pirates of the Caribbean noises and said ”Pirates have interrupted our ride, please stay in your boats…”. It was most humorous.
They went back to the hotel and I went to the local drug store to get stuff. I picked up Dog food and carpet cleaner, which I think really ought to be sold as a two-pack. They pretty much are ends of the same cycle. I then walked across the street to a little gift shop that had some bottles of wine in the window, thinking they might have some wine cheaper than the lobby bar. They had a pretty nice shelf of wine at the front of the store, but once I walked around the place I saw that in back they had a MASSIVE wine collection on the upper floor. I went up there and looked around, but found no French wine. Trying to find French wine in California is like trying to find Wisconsin cheese in Switzerland. Finally, one of the guys walked up and asked if he could help. I asked if he had French wine and he said that was downstairs.
He unlocked a chain going down and there was an even bigger room of wine below. Fantastic! I got two bottles of wine, and headed back, grabbing a few pastries from the lobby on my way. Good way to end the day.