All too often we overlook local destinations as an enjoyable way to spend a few hours on a weekend getaway. For me (Cat), the forgotten gem is Mission San Antonio de Padua, the third of 21 missions established in California by Father Junipero Serra on July 14, 1771.
As the crow flies, the mission is only a little over 14 miles from where I have lived for most of my life. When I was a very young child, I remember driving by the mission on my way home from a day trip to the Indian Caves (official name La Cueva Pintada, now protected and listed on the National Register of Historic Places) on Fort Hunter Liggett. The route that we went that day was part of the old route used by Father Serra and others living in Jolon, which was up Pine Canyon Rd. to the end of the road, which was a non-locked gate leading into Hunter Liggett.
My first actual visit to the mission itself happened in the spring of 1965, as part of the 4th grade history curriculum. I have a vivid memory of riding the school bus up the harrowing Jolon Grade (which has since been bypassed), and the first glimpse of the mission while the bus driver was careful to adhere to the speed limit. After all, the mission is located on a military base and the MPs love to make civilian traffic stops!
I remember being fascinated by several things that first visit, factoids and sights I can easily recall. I remember being so interested in the fact that human beings were buried under the steps leading into the church, and that there were five priests buried underneath the altar in the church. Horse-crazy me remembers an exhibit of a late 19th-early 20th century antique saddle and brands used by each mission. We walked the grounds and I wondered how old I had to be to help excavate the foundations of long-gone buildings that were plentiful on the mission’s grounds. I still would like to participate in an archaeological dig!
There are all sorts of websites you can find that give a history of the California missions, so I won't bore you with a history lesson. This article is intended to be all about the photographs. What makes the photographs so unusual is that they were taken in July, during an obviously unseasonable heavy rain during a several-year drought in California.
In keeping with this blog's theme of "all things wine," the Mission hosts an annual "Evening in the Garden" fundraiser in the Padres' Garden, featuring Mission-era live music, gourmet food and local wines. This year's event will be held on Saturday, November 7, from 4 to 8 p.m. Tickets are $50 per person in advance, $60 at the door. There is a limited "sensory package" available for $120 where participants will be guided through the wine tasting experience. Participants in the sensory package will receive a special branded Mission San Antonio set of wine glasses. Weather in November is still nice, though a sweater or light jacket is all that is required for comfort. Please call 831-385-4478 ext. 10 for more information or to reserve your spot in this very special event!
For information about the Mission, upcoming special events, and lodging or retreats at the Mission, go here.
From San Francisco, take Highway 101 South into the Salinas Valley. Take the Jolon Road exit (if you get to King City, you went one too many exits!). Follow Jolon Rd. until you see signs for Fort Hunter Liggett, which will be to your right. Turn right at St. Luke's Church. Be careful of the speed limit, as you are on an active-duty military installation! Follow Mission Rd. and the signage to the Mission.
From Los Angeles, take Highway 101 North. Go past San Miguel (San Luis Obispo County). Just past Bradley (Monterey County), take the Jolon Rd. exit. Follow the road to Ft. Hunter Liggett and follow the signage to the Mission.