California Mission Trail 2012

Day-53: UC San Diego to Mission San Diego de Alcala

The final 16.7 miles landed me at the Statue of Junipero Serra at the very first of the 21 missions. I was full of emotion as I embraced him–882 miles with lots of mini-experiences that have re-charged me in their own way. I have an AMTRAK ticket back home where I need some time to reflect on all of it. Thanks to all for their support and good wishes–they had their magical effect in the background.

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Day-52: Oceanside to La Jolla (UC San Diego)

Today’s oceanside trek of 26 miles brought me to the UC San Diego campus where our son picked me up just in time–I was pretty tired from the long haul. A dinner at Old Mex Cafe rejuvenated me. The brisk morning started out with breakfast at Angelo’s–you can see Alfonso with an apprehensive stare about the trip coming to an end tomorrow (check out the photo). Neither of us want our adventure to end, but both of us need time to reflect on it all and move on. The route saturated us with so many scenes of beautiful beaches and quaint beach cities (Carlsbad, Encinitas, Del Mar, Solano Beach, etc.) and of course state beaches all on historic route 101, the El Camino.

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Day-51: Oceanside (Motel) to Mission San Luis Rey and Return

A 14.7-mile round trip took me to Mission San Luis Rey via the San Luis Rey Bike Path that ran along the (you guessed it) San Luis Rey River. The low of 38 deg F didn’t deter any cyclists or joggers (or even hikers) from plying their sport. This 18th (of the 21) mission was named after the French King Luis IX (as was St Louis, Missouri) who ruled in the 13th century–and hence called the king of the missions. He was the only French King to be canonized. (I’m standing next to the statue of St. Luis, normally situated above the main altar.) The mission is still undergoing a state-mandated seismic retrofit, due to be completed by Jan ’13. Although mass is now held in the huge Serra Center, one can still visit the old mission and sense its former grandeur. It was built in the shape of a cross (only one other one was as well) and it claims to be the largest of the missions.

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Day-50: San Clemente to Oceanside

Today’s nearly 22 miles was totally coastal taking me past the San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant, that’s been shut down indefinitely since Jan 12 due to the release of small amounts of radioactive steam caused by premature wear found on tubes in the steam generators. I included a photo of the iconic containment vessels (aka the Dolly Parton Memorial). The path then continued through the San Onofre State Beach, a scenic coastal canyon park (I included just one of many breathtaking views).

Then a turn under the freeway to the other side led me onto Camp Pendelton. Cyclists can enter with just an ID, but hikers need a military ID. That also means that anyone with a military ID can sponsor a group entry!

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Day-49: Dana Point to Mission San Juan Capistrano and on to San Clemente

Cumulative mileage now stands at 817 mi with only two more missions and 73 more miles to go. From the motel it was only 3.6 mi along a creek (with concrete bed) that actually had water flowing and ducks in the water. Mission San Juan Capistrano was the 7th mission founded by Father Junipero Serra on Nov 1, 1776. Unique among all the missions is the presence of a great stone church ruin caused by an 1812 earthquake. The stone church was started in 1797 and completed in 1806. It was never rebuilt and not structurally stabilized until 2004. So much activity there: no less than three school groups on tour; a funeral mass in the Serra Chapel (which is the only known mission still standing where Fr. Serra celebrated mass–it was completed in 1788); at least four artists busy at heir easel; and a large construction crew building a new entrance. I took the audio tour and found it quite interesting. Wine is purported to have started being produced at this mission, from where it spread to other missions! One can see the outdoor grape press.

After visiting the mission, I returned the same way to Dana Point and then pretty much walked along the ocean beaches to San Clemente. From here it’ll be more oceanfront as I pass San Onofre nuclear power plant and Camp Pendleton.

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Day-48: Newport Beach to Dana Point

Today’s intermittently drizzly 21-mile walk through wall-to-wall beach cities was exciting. There’s a different air about everything. Shops with hoity-toity names featured a range of products and services you’d only see here (and surely in Beverly Hills). I point to just a single example: a car spa with membership provisions, on and on–this is obviously for your very high-end cars! I couldn’t begin to explain all this to Alfonso. Oh, speaking of him, I managed to capture a photo of him as he usually sits to dine with me– check it out.

And a final thought. Nature knows how to “go with the flow.” Check out the photo of the tree blown down by nature’s forces. The tree simply hugs the ground and keeps right on growing! It’s going with the flow–a lesson for all of us. BTW, so many breathtaking views of the ocean brought be to the doorstep of the 19th mission (Mission San Juan Capistrano) that I’ll see tomorrow.

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Day-47: Anaheim to Newport Beach

I’m very grateful for Joanie’s and Jim’s hospitality in hosting a pilgrim in their lovely house last night–thank you! Today’s trek of 15.3 miles includes a mile or so going north on the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) to avoid the high-rent district and to avoid using my tent, which I didn’t even bring on this leg. My walk was nearly the extent of Harbor Blvd. heading due south. One of the more interesting photos captures some great garden sculptures–nearly an entire zoo. I also had some explaining to do to Alfonso about what these machines were doing just a few blocks from our motel.

I’m also recapping the end-game as I arrive in San Diego: Arrive: Thu, 11/8 Dana Point (20 mi) Arrive: Fri, 11/9 mission San Juan Capistrano / San Clemente Motel (14 mi) Arrive: Sat, 11/10 Oceanside Motel (walk through Camp Pendleton) (23 mi) Arrive: Sun, 11/11 Mission San Luis Rey and return to Oceanside Motel (10 mi) Arrive: Mon, 11/12 Cardiff by the Sea (stay with Sean) (12+ mi) Arrive. Tue, 11/13 San Diego (15+ mi) (stay with Sean) Arrive: Wed, 11/14 Mission San Diego (15+ mi) (stay with Sean) Arrive: Thu, 11/15 Ventura via train

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Day-46: Whittier to Anaheim

Alfonso was aghast during today’s 15+ miles as we went from one city to the next–all that concrete! We woke up in Whittier, went through La Mirada, then Buena Park, a tad of Fullerton (which brought back memories of working a proposal with Hughes Fullerton back in ’89), and finally Anaheim. He had trouble comprehending the concept of “Disneyland.” Nothing like that existed 200 years ago! “Going on rides” was completely foreign! I had trouble explaining it to Alfonso! Note the record shot in front of the Disneyland entrance.

Tonight I have the pleasure of staying with fellow American Pilgrims fairly close to Disneyland! They’re friends of Grant’s/Anita’s and have graciously opened their house to me. The kindness that’s come my way on this adventure is astounding!

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Day-45: Rosemead to Whittier

It was nature’s last chance to lash out at me with a 93-degree temperature during this adventure. With only an 11.5 mile trip, it had little effect on me except to drink more. Rumor has it that the temperature will fall markedly during my final 8 days. Daydreaming about my ensuing book on the Mission Walk and captivated by one of my American Pilgrim’s (Grant’s) suggestions of using a historical figure (rather than simply my “Hugo” buddy), I dwelled on, we’ll call him Alfonso, his utter disbelief of the miles of concrete we were walking on. When Alfonso last saw this area there were dirt paths connecting pueblos and missions. But Alfonso’s eyes lit up as we passed Pio Pico’s hacienda–he was familiar with the haciendas of his day. He also asked me if the black thing in front of the Pio Pico Marker was an offering. I simply said, “Maybe,” and changed the subject. Incidentally, Pico’s history pervades that of Southern California, but no less important is Pico’s medical history of his acromegaly and almost miraculous cure in old age caused by a pituitary apoplexy–it’s amazing and worth a google!

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Day-44: Glendale to Mission San Gabriel and on to Rosemead

My 19-mile journey started in the heart of Glendale then went east through Pasadena. A hearty breakfast at the Pasadena Central Park Cafe had me backtrack a bit, but it was well worth it. Turning south on Los Robles and onto Garfield, I passed through San Marino and Alhambra, and then turning east onto Mission Rd, I finally arrived in the small city of San Gabriel with its beautiful mission (4th in the series of 21). Bottom line: wall-to-wall cities. Of course it’ll be that way for nearly the rest of the walk (except for Camp Pendleton). Cumulative mileage stands at 739 miles with only 3 missions left and 9 days to go!
So many pics to choose from, but here are the finalists–things you don’t see every day: a 36-line high-power electric feed (this is NOT a small town getting electricity!); taking a break across the Norton Simon Museum; waiting in line to buy their iPad Mini; a huge mural on the Alhambra US Post Office; and several photos of Mission San Gabriel.

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