Saturday, February 9, 2008

San Juan Capistrano

After that Super Bowl letdown we spent Monday visiting San Juan Capistrano to do something upbeat. Although we had been there years ago, little recall about the mission remained in my memory.

It was a warm sunny day, perfect for exploring the mission grounds and because it was a week day, only a handful of people were there. This mission, founded in 1777 by Father Junipero Serra, still has a chapel that is thought to be California's oldest church. The spot is also famous for the fabled swallows that return every year in March after a 6000 mile journey from Argentina.

I was amazed at the section of the mission called the "industrial area", where tallow was rendered, hides were tanned, wine was made and olive oil processed. Quite a crew of natives must have been required to produce the mission's source of income.

Replicas of the original mission bells

This is the ruins of the original old stone church, built between 1796 and 1806, but destroyed by an earthquake in 1812. Efforts to preserve the ruins as they exist today is the current goal. Work continues to protect the structure from the effects of time, wind and weather.

Ceiling of the Sierra Chapel, restored to the original condition.

The retablo in the Serra Chapel. The scaffolding is for on going repair work in the building

The new Basilica, build adjacent to the Mission, is a replica of the Old Stone Church that was distroyed in the 1812 earthquake

The same evening, we drove north a few miles to meet my sister-in-law's sister, Kay, in Mission Valejo. We had dinner with her and spent the evening catching up on each others lives over the past 35 years. She was pleased we had called and made contact. After dinner we returned to our camper in San Clemente.

One of the rewarding things we have experienced in our wanderings has been visiting with friends and family that are scattered about the country, most of whom we have had limited contact with for years. Everyone is pleasantly excited to see us. Of course, we limit our stay to the three day rule, when fish, as well as visitors, begin to stink.

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