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The T. clan was out of town the last week of last month, staying at a timeshare in Windsor, CA. It's in classic NoCal wine country, but unfortunately with kids and a set schedule we didn't do any wine tasting. Next time I guess.
Our first sightseeing venture was to check out the weird architecture of the Winchester Mystery House, a mansion built by an eccentric widow over a lengthy period from 1884 to 1922. The house was in the middle of nowhere when she built it; now it's surrounded by big-time development all around, a fact that probably would've appalled the woman.
Next day we went to Great America Amusement Park in Santa Clara. I've been there three times now, previously in 1980 and 1994. I think this will probably be the last time, as the new water park was something of a disappointment (too small, and not enough big water slides), and something snapped in me that day where I realized that theme-park thrill rides just don't do it for me like they used to. I'd rather do something more relaxing and easier on the stomach.
On the way home from Great America we took a wrong turn and soon found ourselves right in the heart of downtown San Francisco. I hadn't brought my SF map that day, and it took us awhile to figure out how to get back to the Golden Gate Bridge and back up Highway 101 toward our resort.
The next day was an off day at the resort, as was the first day we arrived. (I wish we had time and money for more off days -- I value "doing nothing" on vacations more and more as I get older.) My son and I did what's now become a regular routine at the pool: a splash fight like we're kung fu warriors. The people around us might've thought we're a bit odd. Well we are.
The next day was San Francisco, a city I came this close to moving to in 1985. (I've often second-guessed whether I made the right call in not doing so.) We first went to the very cool Exploratorium museum at the Palace of Fine Arts (the Palace was one of the places I visited during my epic "homeless month" in SF in August '85), and then went down to Fisherman's Wharf where one of the stores sells XXXXXL shirts (maybe I left out an X or two.) After eating at the Rainforest Cafe at the Wharf, I almost felt like wearing one of those shirts.
I'd wanted to meet with some of my online friends who contribute (as I do) to the High Hat online magazine; unfortunately they all were working or otherwise unavailable. I'd also wanted to attend a Giants game, but I was the only one who wanted to go and I decided to spend max time with the family since, with my daughter going to college, this may be one of the last vacations we spend as a foursome.
I had proposed meeting some of the HH colleagues for high tea in SF. After that fell through, the family and I had tea instead at a nice place in San Jose which happened to be just a few blocks from the Winchester House. After tea we went to the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum, where I learned about ancient Egyptian history and a board game called Senet that Egyptian families used to play. You can buy an updated version of Senet in the museum gift shop.
The next day, after packing and before heading home, we went to the Charles M. Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa, which I found fascinating. I took notes, and Schulz's widow Jean just happened to be there that day. More on the Schulz museum in another post soon.
For better or worse, we upgraded to a higher amount of credits in our timeshare, which we hope will give us the ability to visit New York City and Disney World over the next two years. (Orlando during Xmas break '08-'09 and New York in March or June of '09 is the tentative plan.) Dog help us keep our current pay level, and keep the Cheney Administration from raising gas prices too much too fast.