February 1, 2010
This morning I awoke to temblors. At first I thought it was just the after effects of too many beers but sure nuf it was an actual 4.4 earthquake. I took this as a sign from God to either get religion or get out of San Diego. Not wanting to get sent to eternal damnation because of a simple misunderstanding of a heavenly sign, I decided to do both.
I said goodbye to Belle and Lou who were in awe of the ground shaking. These are people who live on the coast and go through a cat 3 or better hurricane every couple of years. Every place has its own version of natural disaster. Every place thinks the people who put up with those disasters should move to somewhere else where there are different and more benevolent disasters.
I saddled up my three legged burro and headed out of San Diego. This covered heavenly sign interpretation number one. I decided to visit every on of the 21 California Missions on the way home. This would cover heavenly sign interpretation number 2. Besides I could use the extra grace.
Visiting all of the missions was planted in my pea brain by a grade school teacher who thought it would be cool if I did this, wrote about it, and then she could use it to school her little dunderheads in some California history. She obviously was kidding if she thought I was going to do in depth research into all of these missions. Her kids are bright enough to get that sort of thing off of the internet. But I like to have a mission when I ride around, so visiting the mission became my mission.
First on the list was the first California mission, San Diego de Alcala which is right past Qual Com Park. (I know how to peak a kid’s interest in history, don’t I?) It was established in 1769 by Junnipera Serra, who was the Baron Hilton of this early motel chain. This mission has been destroyed twice by earthquakes in the early 1800’s but had come through the morning’s temblor with no visible damage. Unfortunately, I was there too early for the mission to be open and too late for daily mass. My attending mass would have probably just precipitated another earthquake, so that is just as well. I took a few pictures and then got on my three legged burro and headed to the next in the string of missions that line the coast of California.
While they were not necessarily built in series, the missions were spaced 30-40 miles apart which was about a days travel for a good burro. Since my burro has 106 full- fledged horses available, I got there a lot faster. I arrived at San Luis Rey de Francia which was established in 1798. It is a very photogenic mission and the sun was just right on its white walls for some good shots. It is large and named after King Louis IX of France so it is nicknamed the “King of Missions”.
Then is was off to San Juan Capistrano (est. 1776) and is located in beautiful San Juan Capistrano. There are a lot of old ruins at this mission and a lot of it has been rebuilt. On my first day of mission hopping this was by far the most interesting of the missions. Capistrano and the mission are known for the swallows visiting once a year at which time hat sales are the biggest business in the city. The chapel is considered to be the oldest in California.
San Juan Capistrano
Then it was off to San Gabriel Arcangel (est. 1771) which was 60 miles away. This is a long stretch for the average burro. But I noticed that there were a lot of Motel 6’s and In and Out Burger along the way so I expect they made use of these to bridge the gap. On my burro it meant crossing Los Angeles which is now my least favorite ride in the world. There is no way to avoid freeways on this stretch and I really hate freeways. In any case I made it to San Gabriel and while the mission, is nice it was not necessarily any more noteworthy than any of the others.
Next was San Fernando Rey de Espana (est. 1797) which is known for having its floor dug up by gold prospectors when gold was found in the nearby area.
Then it was to Ventura but I ran out of steam before I got there. It got cold, the light went away and I was getting careless in my driving. This is a sure sign that it is time to turn in. A sign that I heed on some days. I was so tired that I stopped for the night at a chain motel next to an In and Out burger joint. The night looked like it was going to have a generic flavor. Belle had been told how awesome In and Out burgers were and I had to inform her they were not that great. I had one for dinner and I reconfirmed my opinion.
But the day had been a rather interesting one. I have seen some interesting places in Southern California that I would not have seen in any other manner. I have gotten north of the dreaded concrete maze called Los Angeles. I feel that I have heeded the sign and maybe even garnered some extra grace. You can’t have too much grace.