Santa Cruz & the Winchester House of Mystery

On to day three of the girl’s road trip Merry and I took back in the summer of 2009! (Read about day 2 here!) After waking up from a much needed full night of sleep, we got ready for the day and headed down to our hotel’s continental breakfast.

We left our hotel and drove about 50 minutes away to San Jose. Once we made it there, we found the Winchester House of Mystery. Have you ever heard of it? It’s basically a huge mansion that Sarah Winchester had continually built and added onto for years and years. She believed that she was being haunted by all the spirits who were killed by Winchester rifles and had the mansion built in peculiar ways to confuse the spirits. The tour was not included with our Go Card, but it was something we both wanted to do. We even splurged for the the extra basement tour- Merry had hopes of spotting a ghost. (We didn’t.)

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The morning tour was about two hours, with the basement tour adding an additional 45 minutes. The mansion is HUGE, I’m not even sure how much ground we covered in the two hour tour. Our guide was very informative, teaching about the mystery of the mansion as we walked through. There were zig zagging staircases, doors on upper floors to nowhere so that if you walked through them you’d fall to the ground below, and windows in the floors. Here’s a picture of a staircase that leads to nothing.

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And here’s a window in the floor. The barriers surrounding it were added for safety reasons.

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Here’s a chandelier that originally had only 12 candles. Sarah Winchester had an obsession with the number 13, and added the 13th candle herself.

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The grounds were beautiful, as was the architecture of the house.

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For the basement tour we had to wear hard hats. Merry was a little upset about this because she didn’t want to mess up her hair:) Oh to be 19…

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The house was really interesting, but it definitely felt like they’ve changed some of the original things to make the house abnormalities more obvious, and safer I’m sure. To me, it just ruined the authenticity. Like this, for example…

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Obviously this is a door to nowhere. Do we really need the sign? It just makes the pictures look lame in my opinion. But other than that we really enjoyed the tour and learning more about the Winchester house.

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Since our tour was in the morning, we were ready for lunch by the time we were done. We drove 40 minutes to our next destination for the day: Santa Cruz. I love this little beach town. I had been there before when I was younger. We found a little pizza joint called Pizza My Heart to grab a slice for lunch. It was cheap and hit the spot.

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Next we drove to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, another place we could use our Go Card at. We spent the day on the beach enjoying the gorgeous weather, playing on the boardwalk, riding rides and eating ice cream in pure summer fashion. It was perfect!

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We had pretty prime real estate on the beach.

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We ventured into the water a little when we needed to cool off.

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We played a little inside and found a video maker where it puts your head onto a body that dances to a song of your choice, kinda like “Elf Yourself.” We paid to do this and still have the DVD- it is SO hilarious! A great souvenir:)

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Our Go Card got us an arm band for the rides on the boardwalk. This one was our favorite!

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We also enjoyed this little chair lift that takes you across the length of the boardwalk. (Well, I enjoyed it at least. Merry was having an “afraid of heights” moment at first.) The view was stunning!

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We took turns hugging a palm tree to show our love for them.

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And we found ice cream, naturally. Which Merry promptly spilled down the front of her shirt. Typical.

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We stayed at the boardwalk and the beach for the remainder of the day, not wanting to leave a minute sooner than we had to. It was about an hour and twenty minute drive back to our hotel. When we made it we both planned on showering. Merry headed into the bathroom first when I hear her go, “OH MY GOSH!” I hurry in to see what her problem is and she’s staring at her chest which is SO RED!! I was laughing so hard, which sounds mean- but you have to understand… while we were at the beach I was putting on my sunscreen when I asked Merry if she wanted some. She took a little bit and only smeared it on her face because she wanted to get a tan. So she ended up with a really bad sunburn while her face remained nice and white! She did end up getting a tan, but she had to suffer the sunburn first:)

Another funny story- we learned later on that night that our hotel room was haunted. As Merry was in the shower, I heard her go, “Kayla???” in a scared voice. I yelled back at her, “What?” She yelled from the shower asking if I had turned the light off in the bathroom. I yelled back at her that I hadn’t gone in the bathroom since she’d been in there. I opened up the door, and sure enough, the light had turned off on her mid-shower!

With the amount of sun we’d gotten that day, we fell asleep with ease that night- another awesome day of vacation under our belts. Come back soon to hear about our next day!

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