MISSION POSSIBLE

Mission Possible: Maitaitom’s California Mission Tour

P1040693Our Crazy Quest to Visit all 21 of California’s Missions

After living in California all our lives, Tracy and I have decided to see some of our state’s history by visiting all 21 Missions.  Our first stop was the San Gabriel Mission, and we have added on from there.  Let’s see if we can get it done!


Mission San Gabriel Arcángel

The Godmother Mission San Gabriel Arcángel Tracy asked me what I wanted to do on my 59th birthday. After a moment of thought, I said, “Let’s go visit something that’s even older than I am.” Of course, in California, this is not an easy task, since once something gets old, they usually tear it down. This was going to take some thought. Then it came to me. “We haven’t ever gone to visit any of the California missions.  Let’s go to one today?”  So, we were off to the Mission San Gabriel Arcángel, located near where we live.  I hadn’t been here since 1978, when I was in a friend’s wedding.                   … Read more…

Mission San Juan Capistrano

“Jewel Of The Missions” Mission San Juan Capistrano The last thing you expect on the last day of July in Southern California is a driving rain storm, but as we drove southward toward San Juan Capistrano thats exactly what we encountered. Tracy and I met Kim and Mary in Dana Point, and after a good French breakfast at the appropriately entitled Bonjour Cafe (getting ready for our big 2012 France trip), we arrived at Mission San Juan Capistrano a little before 10 a.m. We found out that the $9 entrance fee to the “Jewel of The Missions” also includes an audio guide. Getting to the Mission early is a good idea. When we entered the spacious grounds, it was still … Read more…

Mission San Fernando, Rey de España

Mission Of “Hope” Mission San Fernando, Rey de España It was our third straight Sunday in our relatively newfound quest to visit all 21 of California’s Missions, and today Tracy and I were on our way to visit our third Mission in as many weeks, the Mission San Fernando, Rey de España, which was founded on “The Feast of the Birth of Mary,” September 8, 1797. After visiting Mission San Juan Capistrano last weekend, we thought the next Mission would be quite a letdown. Boy, were we surprised!   Not only were the grounds pleasant to walk around, but the Mission San Fernando, Rey de España has a plethora of historical artifacts and interesting relics, not to mention the tomb … Read more…

Misión San Luis Rey de Francia

King Of The Missions Misión San Luis Rey de Francia After our initial burst of three California missions in three weeks, Tracy and I finally got back on the road the last weekend in April to visit the two San Diego County missions.  We stopped and picked up our friend Mary, and it was on to the Misión San Luis Rey de Francia in Oceanside. It was a beautiful, but rather windy, afternoon when we visited, and there were only a handful of people who had the same idea. The mission was founded on June 13, 1798 by Padre Fermin Lasuén, who was the successor to Junipero Serra.  Prior to Spanish occupation, the Luiseno Indians inhabited this area for hundreds … Read more…

Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcalá

“The Mother Of Missions” Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcalá Just another perfect day in America’s Finest City, so after a little detour to an art fair in San Diego’s Little Italy, the four of us (Kim, Mary, Tracy and I) headed off to California’s first mission.  Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcalá is known as “The Mother Of The Missions.” It’s located not too far from Qualcomm Stadium, yet there has been no divine intervention to help the Chargers win a Super Bowl. Calling itself “the birthplace of Christianity in the far west,” Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcalá, founded in 1768, is California’s “first church.”  While the Russians were content to go seal hunting up in Northern Alta … Read more…

Mission San Francisco de Solano

California’s Final Mission Mission San Francisco de Solano Although only the sixth mission that Tracy and I have visited, this was the 21st and last mission built in California.  It was the only mission to be constructed under Mexican rule and is named for Saint Francis Solano from Montilla, Spain. It was founded by Padre Jose Altimira on July 4, 1823, but Altimira was not a good man. Altimira had a nasty habit of flogging and imprisonment to keep his control of the natives. That didn’t last too long.  In 1826, the natives were restless and formed a group that stormed the mission, looting and burning the buildings. Father Altimira was forced to flee to San Rafael. Unable to return … Read more…

Mission Santa Clara de Asis

A Mission With A Feminine Side Mission Santa Clara de Asis What makes Mission Santa Clara de Asis unique is it was the first mission to be named after a woman, Saint Clare of Assisi. It is the 8th mission founded in California and was founded on January 12, 1777, by Friar Junipero Serra. Although only the church remains, it is located on a pristine sire on the campus of Santa Clara University. The wooden cross in front of the mission (above) is the original dating from 1777. It has been destroyed by flood, earthquakes and finally a fire in 1926, started when faulty wiring set off the fire in the church’s north bell tower. A priest who was performing … Read more…

Mission San Buenaventura

Mission By The Sea Mission San Buenaventura Known as “The Mission By The Sea,” Mission San Buenaventura was the ninth (and last) mission founded by Junipero Serra, and one of only six that he personally dedicated. This was the eighth mission Tracy and I have toured on our California Mission Quest to visit all 21.                                      Located in Ventura (about an hour up the coast from L.A.), Mission San Buenaventura was able to maintain flourishing orchards and gardens in its time thanks to a system of aqueducts that were built by the Chumash Indians between 1805–1815 to meet the needs of the Mission population.  Of course, like most of the California missions, this one was seriously damaged by both fires … Read more…

Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolusa

Ring That Bell Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolusa While in San Luis Obispo (located about 3 1/2 hours north of Los Angeles) on business, I decided this would be a great time to pick up my ninth mission on my mission to hit all the missions. It would be my first of three missions to see this week (I’m getting there slowly but surely). Although not in my top echelon of missions visited, Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolusa still was a pleasant, albeit pretty short, visit. It is named after Saint Louis of Anjou, the bishop of Toulouse, France. One of the first things you notice as you walk up to it from the Mission plaza below is … Read more…

Old Mission Santa Inés

An Unexpected Gem Old Mission Santa Inés After visiting Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolusa, I headed south on the 101 until I saw the sign for Old Mission Santa Inés.  To get to Old Mission Santa Inés (located four miles to the east of the 101), I first had to navigate the traffic in Solvang, an incredibly touristy little Danish community. A few moments later, I turned into the driveway of the mission, away from the smell of ebleskivers (addictive Danish pancakes).  The first thing I noticed was the view from the mission parking lot of the Santa Ynez River Valley plus the Santa Ynez and San Rafael mountain ranges. Founded in 1804, the mission is named after Saint … Read more…

Old Mission Santa Barbara

“Queen Of The Missions” Old Mission Santa Barbara On a rather overcast Saturday morning, Tracy and I got an early start for our trip to Santa Barbara that would culminate with a fun and interesting lunch with my relatives visiting from Norway.   First, however, we would pay a visit to the first mission that was established by someone other than Father Junípero Serra, the Old Mission Santa Barbara, dubbed “Queen Of The Missions.”                                             Serra had planned to establish the mission in Santa Barbara, but he died in 1784.   Padre Fermin Francisco de Lasuen succeeded Serra and raised the cross here two years later. From the mission website (which I guess would make it a Mission Statement): “The original buildings … Read more…

La Purisima Concepción

A Little Off The Beaten Path La Purisima Concepción/La Purisima Mission State Historic Park I had taken a break from my goal to reach all 21 missions, so it was back on the trail in late November for me in my mission quest to visit all 21.  In reality, La Purisima Concepción was the 11th of the 21 Alta California missions to be founded; however for us it became #12 on our ultimate Mission mission. For some reason, I had a preconceived notion that there wouldn’t be much to see at La Purisima (located between Solvang and Lompoc), which only proves that preconceived notions are often incorrect. Tracy and I (along with friends Greg and Gloria) decided to take the … Read more…

Misión San Francisco de Asís

Just Call Me Delores Misión San Francisco de Asís We were long overdue in renewing our mission quest, so over President’s Weekend Tracy and I were able to knock out two of them in one day. Driving from Napa (after visiting Tracy’s dad and stepmom), we coasted (well not literally or we’d be dead) over the Bay Bridge on a gorgeous Saturday morning and headed into San Francisco for our journey to Mission #13 (of 21).                                         Here we would meet our traveling-partners-in-crime Kim and Mary, and pay a visit to Misión San Francisco de Asís. Misión San Francisco de Asís was the 6th mission in the 21-mission-system and was named for St. Francis of Assisi. Although St. Francis is known … Read more…

Mission San Rafael Arcángel

Most Obliterated California Mission Mission San Rafael Arcángel After a morning spent touring the Misión San Francisco de Asís, the four of us (Kim, Mary, Tracy and I) decided we could chalk off another mission shortly after crossing over the beautiful Golden Gate. We had two cars, so I asked Kim for directions, and he said, “We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.” Our car has GPS that unfortunately wasn’t much more help than the “directions” Kim had just given me… …but after navigating terrible San Francisco traffic and, yes, crossing that bridge, in a little more than 15 miles we found ourselves in San Rafael, home of the Mission San Rafael Arcángel. This would be the 14th mission … Read more…