I started today’s trek with a visit into the mission, which was closed last evening. I was looking forward to meeting with Father Tom Elewaut after his mass, but we failed to hook up. The garden provided some special moments and views for pictures, after which I saw the morning buzz in downtown Ventura. I would have been remiss not turning up California Street and paying my respects to the large statue of Fray Serra in front of our City Hall, and having a photo taken. The short 7.5 mile walk took me to the east end of Main St. and then out on Telephone with a slight detour to our house.
The 18-mile walk started after “home shuttle service” dropped me off at Carpinteria, of course after devouring a huge breakfast and packing lots of lunch food. After leaving Carpinteria, I found myself walking on the shoulder of 101–noisy but adequately shouldered. Once on the old Pacific Coast Highway (PCH), the walk became a pleasant walk along the beach front. Strange to be walking along a “tsunami hazard zone”–bet Juan Bautista de Anza had no idea of that hazard! The photographer from the Ventura County Star met me about a mile out from the mission and started shooting away. To my surprise nearly thirty hometown friends made an appearance at the mission at about 4:30pm to congratulate me on this 16th milestone (with only 5 more missions to go). It truly warmed my heart to see the support. Hanna, reporter from the Ventura County Star Newspaper interviewed me and then a group of ten of us finished the event at Yolies with some good Mexican food and drink–a real fun occasion. Particularly noteworthy about the mission is that it was the ninth and last to be founded by Father Serra (March 31, 1782). Like so many other missions, earthquakes, fires, and other disasters have necessitated numerous reconstructions of the church itself. It matters little how close or far what we see today corresponds to what existed early on–it’s a joy to feel the history! Here are a few photos along the way:
When I came down from the San Marcos Pass, Lucille (our family friend) picked me up and coddled me for the evening (hot shower, great home-cooked meal and a comfy bed) and gave me a send-off with a hot breakfast, sandwiches, and snacks for later. A short, six-mile walk later had me meeting Father Charles at the Mission Santa Barbara. He was about to start mass, but took time out to give me a special blessing and wished me well in my adventure to see the remaining 6 missions! Honestly, it was the warmest welcome thus far. Santa Barbara Mission was founded Dec 4th, 1786 (10th in order). The mission’s nickname is “Queen of the Missions” because of its beautiful exterior–the only one with two towers. I’ve attached two photos. The rest of the journey (another 13 miles, making a total of 19 miles), headed through the city of Santa Barbara down to the beach then along frontage roads to Carpinteria. “Home shuttle service” picked me up for a special night at home and will take me back to Carpinteria tomorrow a.m.
Spent a night getting reacquainted with my tent at Lake Cashuma Campgrounds. The area is quite pretty and the camp store served me well the night before in helping me quench my thirst.
The first five hours were a steady climb up the San Marcos Pass along route 154 (2700-foot climb in all). I might add with an extremely skimpy shoulder one needs great vigilance. Once at the top, I walked along 154 some more, but then turned onto the old San Marcos Road, which has its history linked to the stage coach route. Check out these pictures first of lake Cachuma and then the view of Santa Rosa channel island as I walked on the old San Marcos Road.
Really short day so far up to Mission Santa Ines (Saint Agnes), and a warm welcome by the volunteer staff and one of the Franciscan priests. An early post in case I find myself without service at the Cachuma Rec Area tonight.
The church had an audio tour one could activate by pushing buttons within the church–well done. In stark contrast to Mission la Purisima, Mission Santa Ines is warm and befitting a venue still used for mass. BTW, a marker in the garden tells of this location as the first place of higher education within California. Here are several pics:
The early parts of my 19.5-mile walk had me looking directly into the bright sun–I was walking to east climbing out of the Lompoc Valley into the Santa Ynez Valley. I was observing an amazingly interesting phenomenon: nearly all mountain ranges on the North American Continent run north-south–not this one! Of course, it wasn’t always that way. Some 12 million years ago it was orderly, then rotated 110 deg clockwise and thus we end up with a beautiful traverse range some 70 miles long that stretches from where Point Concepcion meets the Pacific all the way to Ojai! What’s more it’s a single-crested range with “phenomenal” character. It also screws most of us up who live in its shadows, because when we look out into the ocean, we’re looking south (not west).
Besides seeing an increasing number of vineyards, I noted a few sites unique to this part of the country: Chumash Indian Casino buses making their runs to Lompoc (the Casino is just east of Solvang); black/raspberries enshrouded in plastic to avoid the birds’ damage; and at least three bicycle groups with guide motorcycles and support vehicles. It was a fun day, as all of them have been!
I meant to add this photo of a stretch of the walk because it so reminded me of Cappadocia, Turkey, the venue of my novel, Storm over Cappadocia. Although the scale of these structures is much smaller, the same kinds of erosion effects have taken place–awesome!
I started today’s journey riding the bus some 30 minutes along with students going to their schools that seemed a long way from their home. We headed south from Santa Maria to Orcutt. On the trail, it was a gentle climb until I found myself on the legendary Harris Grade Road which, in fact, used to be the old PCH–Route 1. It connects the Los Alamos Valley with the Lompoc Valley and is so dangerous in terms of sharp and blind curves and numerous switchbacks, that Santa Barbara County voted in 2010 to ban all semis / trucks longer than 30 feet. To avoid the blind curves, I had to switch sides of the road numerous times.
The pluses of the Harris Grade Road are stunning panoramic views of Lompoc valley, passing through a 100-year old oil field, and seeing rare Bishop pines who release their seeds only during a forest fire!
Arriving at Mission La Purisima, I was reminded that the California State Parks manages this mission, the only other one being my first one, Mission Solano. It was the 11th mission founded (Dec 8, 1787 by Padre Lasuen). See the enclosed pics.
Today’s 12.5 mi followed more of the Juan Bautista de Anza Trail paralleling the Santa Lucia mountains, which by now are more properly “hills.” A huge breakfast, a short walk, a half of a backpack (the other half staid at the motel), and a praline malt at Orcutt’s Doc Burnstein’s Ice Cream Lab made for a hugely successful day. I am ready to bus down to Orcutt in the morning and walk the 22+ miles to my 13th mission, La Purissima.
Old town Orcutt was the highlight of the day, starting with the faux water tower to house cell-phone antennas–mighty clever, as they said in the old days (check out the pic). The town is trying to project that 1904 flavor when it was established. It was named after the Union Oil Company “dean of petroleum geologist” William Warren Orcutt who BTW discovered fossils in the La Brea Tar Pits! The town was founded as a boom town riding the success of the oil production going on in the early 1900s. Orcutt was assigned to survey the area; his findings urged Union Oil to be aggressive which in turn led to huge successes.
Today’s 13.3 mi. was 7.5 less than I expected–what a pleasant surprise, despite the intermittent light drizzle throughout the day! Coming out of Oceano, I gazed at the familiar vegetable fields, and couldn’t resist capturing a shot of the team planting lettuce seedlings by machine. It’s still a person-in-the-loop operation, but much more automated than doing it entirely by hand.
Something else that struck me as I walked the Juan Bautista de Anza Trail was that when he brought his settlers north there wasn’t a single of the now ubiquitous eucalyptus trees to “greet” him. So many of my rest stops are under the shade of these tall trees. Note the picture through the eucalyptus branches where you can see an “ocean” of plastic-covered fields recently planted with strawberries. The other big attractions are the dunes off in the distance to the west. The photo doesn’t do justice to their imposing expanse.
From Guadalupe I took the Flyer Bus east to Santa Maria and took a room for two nights. I’m staying in the county court house/police station area–the 2005 Michael Jackson trial comes to mind as the BIG event here 7 hears ago.
Tomorrow I’ll take the bus back to Guadalupe, walk the short 10 or 12 miles to Orcutt, and take the bus north to here.