Our first stop was the classic Winchester Mystery House, the only attraction in San Jose to regularly feature in documentaries on the Discovery Channel and the History Channel. The basic story is this: Sarah Winchester, wife of the heir to the Winchester Rifle Co., moved out to San Jose after the deaths of her husband and daughter. She did this on the advice of a medium, who told her that as long as she kept building and building, the spirits of those killed by the Winchester rifle couldn't get her, and she would live forever. So for several decades, Sarah had crews working on her home non-stop, and the crazy mess of a house that she created has become a local landmark. There are stairs that lead to nowhere, windows that face into walls, cupboards only an inch deep, and doors that open into the air - two or three stories off the ground.
It's gotten really expensive to visit the House - a single adult ticket now costs $33.00! Seanie and I thought it funny that the House now offers a "season pass" - it's not as if the house changes, so I find it hard to imagine what one would do with a season pass. The tour isn't that exciting. Our guide knew her script and she did her job well enough, but we were constantly getting held up by people straggling off from the group. It was pretty obvious that a group of 3-4 people was taking pictures in each room - which is theoretically forbidden - but she didn't do anything to stop them, or even reprimand them to try 'n' keep up. I remember from the good ol' days at the Egyptian Museum how frustrating it could be to stop people from behaving badly. It seems a pity that the House can't just add a second guide to each tour - with one person leading the way and one person bringing up the rear, the problem would be fixed easily enough. But as my husband said, that would double their costs, so it would never happen.
The next stop on our list of MUST DO things was the Tesla show room. The guys had ridden in the back seat of a Tesla over the weekend at their work conference, and Alexis was super-excited to visit the show room in Santana Row. So we must have spent at least half an hour at Tesla, as the two boys crawled around the car and debated the merits of buying a Tesla hat vs a Tesla t-shirt, and I played Solitaire on my iPod.
After Tesla, my husband drove us to Fry's Electronics. It's a store that sells, well, all the computers and TVs and appliances and DVDs and tech-things you can imagine. Apparently, it's a fairly local chain, so Alexis wanted to see this legendary superstore of geekiness. Who knew that Fry's could be so exciting? Not me. After five minutes I was squirming and having flashbacks to being dragged around Fry's as a child with my mother, but the two men were in heaven. Randomly, Fry's was having a sale on freeze-dried "astronaut" ice cream, so Seanie bought a package of mint chocolate chip ice cream for us to snack on. As we were leaving Fry's, a guy came up to us and asked for money to buy food. We didn't have any cash, but Seanie offered him the ice cream - and to our surprise, he took it. I hope he enjoyed it, and that he managed to get some real food because he must have been pretty hungry for astronaut ice cream to sound appealing.
One of Seanie's other coworkers, who hails from Utah, was still in town so we met up with him at Minato's in San Jose's Japantown. The three of them spent most of the evening talking about work-related this and that, but they had the grace to feel bad about it. I didn't much care - whenever they launched into technobabble my eyes glazed over, but drama between coworkers is universal so that gossip was certainly entertaining, even if I didn't know the men involved. After we ate, everyone came back to our place to hang out and watch Back to the Future.