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I recently spent a week in Mountain View, California and had a chance to do some sightseeing. Click on the map below to take a gander at some of the beautiful portions of the Bay Area I was able to visit.

San Francisco Map

Pictures of downtown San Francisco  
The famous Lombard Street The famous Lombard Street “Welcome to The Rock!” This resturant was modeled after Mel's Drive-in from the movie American Graffiti
Home of the self-proclaimed “Ho King” of San Francisco! Have you had your Rice o' Roni today?
Furniture climbing up the side of a building?!?  Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit sniffing glue!    
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Pictures of Skyline Drive  

Skyline Blvd. is a beautiful stretch along a mountain ridge separating the south Bay Area from the ocean. My hopes were to find a great vantage point to watch the sunset, but the view along the Blvd. was mostly obscured by tall trees. I discovered the Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve and ran 2 miles to the top of Borel Hill with just a few minutes to spare. What an awesome sight!

   
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Pictures of Mt. Tamalpais and Stinson State Beach  
 
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Pictures of Winchester Mystery House  

This mansion, located in San José, California, was home to Mrs. Sara Winchester, heiress to the Winchester rifle fortune. Mrs. Winchester became emotionally distraught after the deaths of her husband and only child. She turned to the advice of a psychic, who told her that the deaths were caused by spirits of those killed by Winchester rifles and that if she did not please the spirits, she would be next. In 1884, she fled her home in Connecticut and purchased an unfinished, 8-room farmhouse on a 161-acre estate.

For the next 38 years, carpenters worked around the clock, building and rebuilding what would turn into a 160-room mansion that some have called the most bizarre and strangest house in the world. The house was furnished with only the most extravagant items at a cost of $5,500,000, an extravagant amount at the time. It included such innovations as carbide gas lights fed by the estate's own gas manufacturing plant, inside cranks used to open and close outside window shutters, and window drip pans and zinc subfloors in the conservatory to capture water runoff from the plants.

On her way to sleep, Mrs. Winchester would stride through the chaotic house, dashing from room to room in an attempt to lose any evil spirits following her. She refused to sleep in the same room two nights in a row to further thwart any evil sprits.

What's so strange about the house? Here's a short list of some of its mysteries and oddities:

  • It is thought that Mrs. Winchester believed the continuous construction of the house would please and provide a home for the spirits of those killed by the Winchester rifles.
  • The number 13 occurs throughout the house and the surrounding gardens. Many think the use of the number was related to Mrs. WInchester's superstitions concerning the spirits thought to be in the house.
  • One staircase ends at the ceiling, another descends 7 steps and then rises 11
  • The "switchback staircase" has seven flights, rising about nine feet and includes 44 steps only 2" in height
  • The front half of the house, including the Grand Ballroom, was sealed off after the 1906 earthquake
  • The beautiful $3,000 stained glass front doors were never used
  • The "door to nowhere" on the second floor opens to the outside with a sheer drop to the ground below
  • The smallest cabinet in the house is only half an inch deep
  • Harry Houdini toured the house at midnight in 1924 in an attempt to communicate with the spirits
  • The house contains: 160 rooms, 2,000 doors, 10,000 windows, 40 stairways, 47 fireplaces, 17 chimneys, 13 bathrooms, 6 kitchens, and rises 4 stories (there were originally 7 stories before the 1906 San Francisco Bay Area earthquake destroyed the top 3)

The house is open for tours daily and is a "must see" for anyone visiting the San Francisco Bay Area. Please visit winchestermysteryhouse.com for additional information, including maps and tour schedule.

The Winchester water tower The main enterance View of the house from the main gardens The foreman's house
Mrs. Winchester was only 4 feet, 9 inches tall and had this door made specifically for her These stairs lead to the ceiling Mrs. Winchester purchased luxurious items from around the word, many of which were never installed.  At the time of her death in 1922, the materials were valued at $25,000, but are worth millions today! Many of the rooms remain unfinished to this day
The only shower in the house Many of the stair steps in the house are only 2 inches in height.  Was it because Mrs. Winchester suffered from arthritis or did she have a paranormal reason for designing such odd stair steps? Mrs. Winchester just didn't know when to stop adding on to the house.  As a result, many of the “outside walls” became “inside wall” with windows that look into other rooms. One of the exquisite bedrooms
Each night, Mrs. Winchester would attempt to communicate with spirits in the sťance room.  Note the bars on the windows. Mrs. Winchester was very paranoid that her servants were stealing from her.  She would spy on the kitchen staff from this 2nd-story door.  Best not to walk through it. 38 years of construction resulted in a confusing and random pattern of chimneys and spires.
This conservatory contained window drip pans and a zinc subfloor that channeled water runoff from the plants to outside gardens. A window in the floor?  Now that's going a bit too far!  Note that the railings on the long sides each have 13 rails. The 7-11 stairs allowed servants to quickly get to three different levels of the house. This cabinet is only half an inch deep!
One of the six kitchens This Tiffany glass window is the most expensive in the house.  It was originally installed in an outside wall, but an additional room was installed behind it, forever blocking it off from sunlight. The grand ballroom contains a silver chandelier from Germany.  Upon installation, Mrs. Winchester had a thirteenth candle stick added.  She sealed off the ballroom after the 1906 earthquake, interpreting the tremor as a sign from the sprits that she had been focusing too much of her attention on the front portion of the house. The view from a front window
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