Re:California, Here We Come!
Thu, 05/9/13 2:35 PM
Saturday April 20, 2013 After getting in so late the night before, we would have loved to have slept late. But, both of our internal clocks were still on Eastern Standard Time and we were up early as usual. Instead of going out for breakfast, we lounged around the hotel unitl it was time to leave, arriving at the famous Winchester Mystery House in San Jose right before they opened at 9:00AM. For those who aren't familiar with the place, the owner Sarah Winchester was a big believer in spirits. She was a widow and thought the ghosts of all the people killed with Winchester rifles (where the fortune came from) would haunt her. According to one story that our excellent tour guide Tiffany related, a Boston psychic told her she needed to move to California and build a mansion. And never finish building it, which is exactly what she did. There are no photos inside the mansion, which is disappointing, but understandable. To confuse these spirits, there are doors that open up to a brick wall, a third story door that leads directly outside (with no deck or anything so if someone took a step they would fall directly down), huge cabinet doors that open up to maybe an inch of storage space. The whole thing was ridiculous. The lack of any kind of an architecture plan is astonishing. The rooms were very small, although there was one ballroom of decent size. Still, she kept building it for 38 straight years, until her death. The mansion is very attractive on the outside and the gardens are lovely, but the inside is just a mess. I am glad we came here to see it once, but there is no reason to ever return. And I don't complain about the price of things very often, but $30.00 a person for the tour seemed steep. By the end of the tour, we were ready to eat. Our first lunch destination is a place famous for burgers called Val's in Hayward. The parking lot is small and narrow and since there is only one way in and out, it causes a bottleneck. Eventually, another car started pulling out and we took their space. Since it was almost noon and a crowd of people were headed for the door, we walked in with a purpose. After standing inside the doorway for probably 30 seconds, a guy with a bushy mustache starts walking over to us. I said hello and asked if we seat ourselves. No greeting back, he just points and says "Booth against the wall". Seeing lots of counter seats open, I asked if we could sit there instead. He just said "Go". Not exactly the friendliest person we have encountered, that's for sure. But, the waitress we ended up with more than made up for it. Despite how busy the place was, she was very friendly and offered plenty of advice for us first timers. As usual, I took photos of several pages of the menu, to help remember what we ordered. Val's is famous for their shakes and you can combine different flavors. Johnny loves the chocolate/cherry combination at a hot dog joint near home and he was happy to order this when the waitress said it was her favorite. The Hamburger America book strongly recommended the root beer/banana combination. Although Rootanana didn't sound particularly appealing, I kept an open mind. Another employ started mixing milkshakes right in front of us, so I snapped a photo. The guy at the counter next to me, leaned over and whispered, "Hey, you aren't allowed to take photos in here". Huh? Just to be sure, Johnny asked the waitress and she immediately shot a glance over to the boss. She told us, "No, you aren't, but sometimes he lets people if they ask nicely" Knowing she was talking about the guy with the mustache, I wasn't about to go ask him. So sorry, no food photos. I probably could have snuck some and gotten away with it, but if that is the rules, then if I want to eat here, I have to abide by the rules. I definitely don't like it, though. If we were allowed to take photos, then I could have showed you the great Roadfood atmosphere, with a cool counter and a Richardson's root beer barrel. The Rootanana shake was fantastic, with large chunks of banana. When the waitress noticed that we were sharing the shakes, she brought each one of us an extra glass to make it easier. We read that they make great handmade onion rings here, but those and a few other items aren't available until 1:00PM. We settled on french fries, which were typical uninteresting steak fries. We also split a bowl of chili, which neither one of us liked. The burgers here, though, are excellent. They come in three sizes, from the 1/3lb. baby burger to the 1lb. papa burger. Though we were both very hungry, we knew there were plenty of stops ahead, so we each settled on the 1/2lb. mama burger. They use fresh ground beef and ask you how you want them cooked. We both asked for medium and they were beautiful, big, juicy patties. I asked for grilled onions with my burger and we received a plate full of excellent grilled onions on the side, more than either one us could even dream to pile on. It was my turn to pay, so I took the check up to the register to the same guy. He never said one word to me as I was paying. On the way out, I spotted this sign just outside the front door. I'm just glad I wasn't wearing cleets! Val's Burgers 2115 Kelly Street Hayward, CA 510-889-8257 We continued north towards Oakland. Much more to come.....
<message edited by buffetbuster on Wed, 08/7/13 2:02 PM>