Sunday, February 25, 2007

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Hippo's mission to the Missions

Posted by Hippo Bean at 10:07 PM
So he walked most of the way, a long journey covering lower California from today's San Diego to Sonoma, establishing missions on the way. I wasnt sure how it all began but I guess it was in 2004 when we visited Solvang and by chance visited the Santa Ines Mission right there in the old town. Then, on our way back, on impulse we stopped at San Juan Bautista, and after this one, a flame for the California Missions ignited. We promised we would visit all 21 missions from the oldest in San Diego to the very last one in Sonoma.

Following Fray Junipero Serra footsteps (or perhaps on a donkey's footsteps), we went the modern way, driving that is, counting all the El Camino Bells along the way. Each of the missions has its own unique history, good intentions and sad tragedy. Some, like the Mission San Miguel Arcangel, just north of Paso Robles, was neglected, rundown and forgotten, but fortunately now, it is closed for restoration (somebody remembered it finally!). While others, like San Luis Obispo de Tolosa, situated right in the center of town, perfectly preserved, a living breathing church. Still others, like La Purissima Concepcion, had turned into a state park. This is the one I like the best (so far, I havent seen them all yet) because it is well preserved (no keeping, you need to pay 4 bucks to get in) and it shows how the community had once lived (that is, the Native Americans quarters have mud floors, 2 rooms in each unit, with a kitchen right in the living room, while the priest's palace has tiled floors and tapestries, a separate kitchen, a refectory, a study and a bedroom!). I love the way how these buildings are laid out. Front doors to the main drag and back doors to a common courtyard where the bread ovens are located. A covered veranda runs the entire length of the adobe structure, a perfect place to relax with a fruit juice during the hot summers.

The new stone church at the Santa Barbara mission took our breath away. Once it was an adobe church but too bad it was burnt down (everything eventually burns down, and with it our history). This is the only mission with 2 bell towers. The wall paintings inside it was a marvel to look at, and the Hippo took pictures because they look good enough to be used as webpage backgrounds. The left transcept has a statue of Jesus with his arms raised while Magdalen (I think) knees beside him. On the right transcept, a statue of a very young Francesco d'Assisi and his mother St Clare. Transepts are my favorite parts of any church. This church is quite amazing and so it's the city where it's located. We wanted to go back and explore more of this lovely Mediterranean looking city.

We spent the night in Solvang at the Storybook Inn. Oh, those Danish cookies, chocolate and pastries! We gorged on them and then decided we also wanted dinner, so we braved out in the pouring rain. Since we didnt have any reservations, we ended up having sandwiches at Subway, can you imagine!

On this trip we visited the missions at Soledad, San Miguel, San Luis Obispo, Santa Inez, Purissima and Santa Barbara. Next we'll go down to southern California and do 6 more! We will cover all 21 and perhaps even the forgotten ones!

mission soledad
 Nuestra Señora de la Soledad

mission san miguel
 San Miguel Arcangel

mission san luis obispo
 San Luis Obispo de Tolosa

bell at mission san luis obispo
 One of the old bells at
San Luis Obispo de Tolosa

mission santa ines
 Santa Ines

mission purissima
 La Purisima Concepcion

mission santa barbara
 Statue of Father Junipero Serra and
the El Camino Bell at
the Mission of Santa Barbara

mission santa barbara
 Mission Santa Barbara

mission santa barbara
 Mission Santa Barbara and
the Santa Inez mountains

mission santa barbara
 Left Transept of the church

mission santa barbara
 Right Transept of the church
St Francis of Assisi and St Clare



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