2001-12-03 - 6:34 p.m.
The California Chronicles -- Coastal Highway, Winchester House, Alcatraz
This is part five of the California Chronicles. Damn, it's getting long.
For easy navigation, here are all the chronicles:
So after the best night ever on Wednesday, we got up on Thursday, and got the hell out of dodge. We jumped on the freeway and drove up the coast all day.
For those of you who have never driven the Coastal Highway, you *must* make this drive. It's beautiful.
Again, the weather was crappy. It rained most of the morning, and we only had the cojones to put the top down for about an hour.
Still, it was beautiful.
There are these spots where there are mountains on your right, and gray sky washing into gray sea, with white waves pounding the shore, which is a hundred feet below you, with cliffs in between, and the whole coast for the next twenty miles is spread out before you.
I'm not doing it justice.
Trust me. Beautiful.
We ate lunch in Pismo Beach, overlooking the sea. Fish tacos, with *fresh* fish. Yummy.
We arrived at Hearst Castle too late to do the tour, so we skipped it and pushed on. We were in Big Sur around sunset, but the clouds hid the sun early, so no pretty colors, alas.
We dragged ass into San Jose around seven or eight. I can't even remember what we did for dinner. I was tired, though, let me tell you.
Friday morning we toured the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose. It's a house built by the widow of the second president of Winchester Arms. She was afraid of the spirits of those killed by the Winchester Rifle, and believed that they wouldn't get her if the house was never completed. The place was under construction for close to thirty years. It has 160 rooms, and things like staircases that lead to the ceiling, windows backed by brick walls, closets with an inch of useable space. Weird stuff. It was a pretty cool tour.
After that we drove up to San Francisco. Again we stayed at some incredible hotel, right downtown. We checked in, took cable car (run by bitter, unhappy, rude people. Probably because they have to deal with tourists all the time, but damn.) to Fisherman's Wharf. We went out to the end of Pier 39 (big, big tourist trap, and by then I was getting *sick* of tourist traps) to see the sea lions (sleeping), then hopped the 4:20 Alcatraz Tour. The sun was going down as we crossed the bay, and it was cloudy (again), but I took some pictures of the Golden Gate anyway, though they probably won't turn out.
Alcatraz was pretty spooky at that time of day, and was a pretty neat tour. They did a demonstration of the opening and closing of the cell doors. Did you know that that sound was used in the Star Wars movies? Me neither.
The next day was our last full day in California, and the end of these Chronicles.