First Time in San Jose

As a Christmas present for ourselves we bought two things with my last corporate bonus check.  One was a second DSLR camera package.  I have been using the Canon T5 Rebel and love it, but switching lenses in the field is a hassle, and it’s nearly impossible to do without getting dust on the inside of the lens and cause some pictures to have spots on them. Plus Lee loves to take pictures also and passing the camera back and forth, especially in a wildlife situation, doesn’t always work.  Finally, he can use the extra camera for video shoots and we can write it off as a business expense, so ultimately we decided to take the plunge and buy a second one. As cheap as I am, I do not regret this camera purchase one little bit, because it has paid off in hours of free entertainment.  We also decided to buy an Instant PotMy friend Kelly got one and my interest was immediately piqued.  It cooks rice, makes stews, acts as a pressure cooker, and tons of other things.  It uses 1000 watts, which is doable with our inverter while boon docking, and most importantly, allowed me to give away three other appliances.  Space is at a premium and the crock pot, pressure cooker, and rice maker were taking up valuable space.  I left the crock pot and pressure cooker at the volunteer annex in the Redwoods (with their approval) and am giving the rice cooker to my youngest daughter, pending a rice taste test with the new pot.  Some purchases are no-brainers for me and the fact that it does seven things and takes up less space absolutely put it in this category.  Because this campground doesn’t receive mail we sent the purchases to the local UPS store.  Generally shipping to a UPS store works out just fine, and although you have to pay an extra $5 for them to receive things for you, it is so worth it for some items because you can guarantee safe delivery and pickup.  

Instapot

Instant Pot

On Saturday we decided because of the rain to stay at the camper.  Nick, our friend from New Hampshire, has lived in this area for the last few years and we were very excited about seeing him. We also just needed a day to get organized and chill a little.  Unfortunately we didn’t realize that the Mazda Racetrack was rented for the day by a local racing club and from 8:30am to 4:30pm cars were zooming around the track.  We are camping right on a curve and the squeal of brakes and tires as cars took that turn too hard really started to get on my nerves after a while.  Ironically, we decided not to stay at the military campground near Kay because it was also near the JetPort and instead chose this campground.  Lee specifically asked about noise when he made the reservation and was told it would be very quiet because it was off-season.  Not cool.  If you like racing, this probably would have been fun for you, but the high level of noise drove us inside and we could hear it everywhere in the camper.  Oh, and did I mention there is a gun range next door as well?  When we weren’t hearing the cars, we heard the constant sounds of shooting.  Again, this might not bother some people but I like my quiet.  I will say the evenings are incredibly quiet, so we have booked things to do almost every day now to be away from the camper.

Nick is about 1-1/2 hours away so he drove down and we spent a lively evening catching up and having dinner.  We covered a wide range of topics, got some advice about marketing our business (Nick started his own production business specializing in 3D projection mapping, Lucid Creative,  two years ago and is doing great), and ate some wonderful cupcakes that Kay made. We also laid in plans for the whole week and luckily since this is a relatively slow week for Nick he is able to come to some of the activities with us. For those of you who don’t know, Nick starting interning for Lee at Cheshire TV  when he was 15 years old. Then he became a part-time employee and with Lee’s encouragement went to Full Sail University for production.  He has worked on cruise ships, gone around the world multiple times doing projection, video and lighting for several touring concert performers, started his own business.  The company creates 3-D projection mapping video effects, which is a truly beautiful cutting edge technology. His company is doing really well, and his client list just keeps growing. The sky is the limit for him and Lee and I are so proud of him.  

The next day we went to the Winchester Mystery House with Nick, his girlfriend Slushie, and his younger brother Max.  The Winchester Mystery House is a place Lee had heard of but never gone to.  The widow of the founder of Winchester Repeating Arms gun company was super rich and extremely eccentric.  She was a great believer in spirits and was very concerned that the spirits of the Native Americans that her husband’s guns had killed were haunting her, so on the advice of several psychics she continually was building her house for over 30 years, and in such a way as to confuse the spirits.  Stairs and doors that go nowhere, rooms that just end with no seeming purpose, it’s like a real life fun house.  We took both the back stage tour (which was not that great) and the mansion tour (which was OK but way over priced) and although pictures were not allowed in the main house, Lee and I snuck a few.  I’m not usually a rule breaker, but the only reason you couldn’t take pictures is because a movie was going to be shot there soon and I thought that was pretty dumb.

One of the many cuppolas on the outside of the house

One of the many cuppolas on the outside of the house

Waiting in the gift shop for our tour. From left: our daughter Kay, Nick, Max, and Lee.

Waiting in the gift shop for our tour. From left: our daughter Kay, Nick, Max, and Lee’s back.

The widow was only 4 ' 10" and created a shower just her size. Showers were highly unusual at the time

The widow was only 4 ‘ 10″ and created a shower just her size. Showers were highly unusual at the time, but with her arthritis she had difficulty getting in and out of a bathtub

The stairs had very tiny stairs as she had arthritis and could only lift her feet a few inches. Fun to walk on them

The stairs had very tiny risers, just a few inches. She had arthritis and could only lift her feet a few inches. Fun to walk on them. One staircase had seven turns, and over 100 steps to rise exactly 8 feet.

My favorite room was the conservatory, where the wood floor could be pulled up in squares. The zinc grates beneath the floors allowed for watering the plants where they stood

My favorite room was the conservatory, where the wood floor could be pulled up in squares. The zinc grates beneath the floors allowed for watering the plants where they stood

My second favorite thing was this beautiful one-of-a-kind Tiffany window that was designed for her

My second favorite thing was this beautiful one-of-a-kind Tiffany window that was designed for her.  It has beautiful prisms to catch the light except she built new sections of the house around it and actually closed it in…weird

Lots pf pointed roofs

Lots of pointed roofs.  She was fascinated by the number 13 and the kids on the tour had a good time finding all the instances of 13 in every room.  13 windows, 13 panels, 13 coat hooks in a lot of rooms, etc.

This skylight traveled through four floors to give the servants extra light

This skylight traveled through four floors to give the servants extra light

A view of the courtyard

A view of the courtyard

View from the back

View from the back

Front View

Front View

Closeup of the deer

Closeup of the deer

She was extremely generous with her staff paying double the normal daily wage and allowing them residence for free

She was extremely generous with her staff paying double the normal daily wage and allowing them residence for free

She installed these metal corners throughout the house to stop dust collecting in corners and make the servants jobs easier

She installed these metal corners throughout the house to stop dust collecting in corners and make the servants jobs easier

These wooden sinks were amazing. And they had wooden boards on top (like in an RV) to allow folding to be done in the same room

These wooden sinks were amazing. And they had wooden boards on top (like in an RV) to allow folding to be done in the same room

Unfortunately none of the rooms have the original furniture but I enjoyed some of the period peices including these kid sized chairs

Unfortunately none of the rooms have the original furniture but I enjoyed some of the period pieces including these kids chairs

This organ was beautiful

This organ was beautiful

Overall, I thought the tour was way overpriced and I don’t recommend the behind the scenes tour at all.  Everyone had a good time though and it was a good thing to do close to Nick’s house.  After our tours we drove to Nick’s new apartment and met his roommate and business partner Kyle.  Normally I wouldn’t recommend this arrangement, but when I saw their work setup (12 computers and a 3D printer) I understood how helpful it was for them to work close together.  Kyle sous-vide   rib eye steaks and made asparagus with poached eggs and homemade walnut vinaigrette.  It was a menu worthy of Top Chef .  Sous-vide preparation is putting the meat in a hot water bath (he used an ordinary cooler) and maintaining a temperature of 130 degrees for a couple of hours.  Since the meat is slowly cooked it is very tender and has the consistency of a good prime rib.  I’ve never actually eaten anything cooked this way and was fascinated by the preparation, plus it tasted really good!!  They also had a great selection of wine, the conversation was intelligent and fun, and we really enjoyed ourselves.  I liked Kyle very much and was glad to see Nick has surrounded himself with such great people.  Plus it truly was the best dinner party I have ever been to in my life.  Absolutely loved it.  

YIMG_0482

Nick in front of his home office, Kyle had an equally impressive setup

Monday Lee was supposed to go to Alcatraz, but unfortunately all of the tickets were sold for the entire week, so instead we went to see the new Star Wars Movie.  I loved the movie as well and definitely felt it did the franchise justice.  Then we went to eat dinner at one of Kay’s favorite little restaurants on Alvarado street.  This is the “downtown” of Monterey and was lit up very pretty, but unfortunately it was pouring.  We had to park the truck pretty far away (Lee is doing an excellent job parking the truck in these tight quarters), and walked down.  The food was plentiful and reasonably priced and I can see why the DLI students like to hang out here and study.   They also have a really cool Farmer’s Market/Street Festival on Tuesday evenings (we were going to go but it rained really hard).   So, we dropped Kay off at her place and then came back and took a breath.  Lots of running around the last couple of days and Lee’s back really started bothering him.  We just took it easy for the rest of the night and prepared a bit for our work kamping job interviews the next day.

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3 thoughts on “First Time in San Jose

  1. I grew up in San Jose. It was a tiny farm town, now it’s just part of a sprawling, never ending high tech city that melts in to the next one. It’s still a nice city, just HUGE now and crazy expensive! The Winchester house is one of those things ya gotta see once. We spent many nights at the funny looking movie theaters next to it.

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