Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Summer's Last Hurrah-Casa de Fruta, Winchester Mystery House, and the Beach

August 17, 2011

Seemingly before it even began, summer came to a close. Suddenly, we found ourselves upon the last week before I had to go back to work in August, and once again, I hadn't done nearly all the things I wanted to do with the kids. Bree worked and was in a play, Nicholas was involved in robotics meetings and weekly Hobby Town game nights, and Danielle had soccer two days per week, and scheduling out of town trips around all of that was a little tricky. Even though Bree was making the rounds of goodbyes to all of h friends before she moved away for college, I thought I had to get at least a day trip in with the younger two--our last hurrah. I had been wanted to visit the Winchester Mystery House for several years, so we made that our destination.

Bright and early on Friday morning, we loaded up the car and hit the road, belting out tunes to pass the time and the miles. Winchester Mystery House is about three hours away, so we took a little break at Casa de Fruta on the way. We've all been there, but mostly as a bathroom break on school trips. We decided to take our time and do a little exploring while we were there. We visited the beautiful peacocks who nap together on the tall barn in the back parking lot, watched the fish and the turtle in the pond, followed the ducks roaming around the lawns, and checked out the 'haunted' railroad tunnel. It was very nice to be able to take a leisurely stop instead of hurrying in and out of the bathroom and jumping back on the road. It's really a pretty cool place to hang out.

We got back on the road and headed to the main attraction--The Winchester Mystery House. Winchester Mystery House was built by Sarah Winchester, wife of the manufacturer of the Winchester Rifle. This was a widow with lots of money to burn, an irrational fear of the supernatural (she believed she would be haunted by spirits of those who had been killed by her husband's inventions), and a general eccentricity. She invested her considerable wealth in a non-stop building/addition project to her mansion which consisted of such oddities as second-story doors which open to a sheer drop-off to the outside patio below, windows in the floor, and a staircase leading to nowhere (a brick wall), just to name a few. It is now preserved as a tourist attraction and historical monument. I've been really fascinated with the idea of seeing this place for many years, and both Nicholas and Danielle were really interested in seeing all the architectural oddities as well. Bree was perfectly happy to have passed on this trip, though, since the whole premise and lore behind the place was just a little too creepy for her.

We knew the tour was only going to take an hour and a half or so, and since the journey to get us there was a three hour drive, I really wanted to do something else to round out the trip. Danielle, especially, was offended that I had taken a trip to the beach with Bree, so I thought we'd include a little jaunt to the beach to our vacation day. It only took us an additional forty-five minutes or so from where we were, and we were at the shore. I had packed suits and towels and snacks, and at the last minute surprised them with this last-minute addition to our itinerary. It was a little cold for me, so I only got in for a bit, but my two litle polar bears spent quite awhile swimming and wave-jumping before reluctantly emerging back to shore. Before we piled back into the car, we walked out onto the pier to marvel at all the birds congregated on the broken down abandoned ship at the end of the pier. Danielle even stopped to converse with one of the birds who was a bit more people-friendly.

Finally, happy, tired, and a little bit weather-beaten, we were ready to head home. As a special treat to round out the trip, we stopped by by Casa de Fruta on the way home for dinner and dessert. It really was a great day of just hanging out with my two youngest--a wonderful way to close out summer.

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