Saturday, February 27, 2010

The King's Highway

Growing up in Orange County, California, I was constantly reminded about local history during school, plus my parents took us to many historical locations around where we lived so that we knew about the local history of both Orange County and of California.  Local history, no matter where you happen to be can be quite fascinating.  When we went on camping trips in summer to other states, my dad would always make sure that if we were near a state capital building, that we'd get a picture taken near it, or try to arrange a tour of the building.

I've eaten a picnic lunch on the grounds of the state capital building in Cheyenne, Wyoming.  I've also toured the capital buildings in Olympia, WA, Salt Lake City, UT, and Denver, CO.  Curiously, though we did this for other states, we never visited the state capital.  I know one of my sisters took a field trip to Sacramento to visit the capital, but for some reason, I never have been.  This summer, I intend to remedy this with the Tadpole in tow.

Part of the history of California is El Camino Real, the King's Highway, which stretches from San Diego to Sonoma where the Bear Flag Revolt happened, that started California on its way to independence from Mexico and eventual statehood in 1850.  El Camino Real was a road developed over time to link up the missions established by Father Junipero Serra.  Fr. Serra helped establish 21 missions in the late 1700s and early 1800s along the coast of  California and there became a need to link them together for transportation and economic purposes.  Thus became, El Camino Real.  

The actual road today is, for the most part, gone, but there are bell markers along the side of Hwy 101 for most of its length between Sonoma and San Diego indicating where the original road had been.  Other highways are also incorporated into the King's Highway, but the 101 is the main artery north and south of the central coast of California where most of the missions were constructed.  As we were driving down the 101 from our trip north a couple of weeks ago, I noticed several of the bell markers.  There is a Waymarking category for the bells and since I'm going to be using the 101 on a frequent basis over the next several years because of my son's choice of schools, it makes sense to put this one on my waymarking list of things to watch out for in the future.

As is our custom, we found several geocaches on the way down from Santa Cruz, including two at Mission Nuestra SeƱora de la Soledad, which was established in 1791, the 11th of the 21 missions to be so created.  Most of this particular mission appeared to be recreated.  There were several original adobe walls near the entrance and I found it very curious that these original walls weren't protected in some way from the weather.  At San Juan Capistrano, there are some original walls and they are enclosed in acrylic forms so they are protected from the elements, yet still visible to people visiting the museum.

There also appeared to be some archeological digs going on behind several of the main buildings at the mission and it's probably a work in process.  The mission is 2 miles away from Highway 101, and probably doesn't get many visitors, which probably means that funding for projects are not nearly as plentiful as they would be in Orange County where San Juan Capistrano is located.

We toured the two buildings, which included the church and chapel of the mission, looking at the exhibits first before heading out to get the information needed for the virtual cache there or finding the regular cache hidden by the entrance to the grounds.  It was a nice quiet spot to get out and stretch our legs and learn a little bit more about California.  I have now visited 6 of the 21 missions, with Soledad being the farthest north.  I'm sure there will be more opportunities in the next couple of years to visit other missions along the King's Highway.

Pictures were taken at or near the following geocaches:
Mission Possible - by needlepointone and zieber
Mission: Soledad - by Great Scott!

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1 comment:

Steve Natoli said...

We were a mission-visitng family when I was a child too. This brings back some good memories. Thanks for the remeniscences.