Our plan was to make it through the traffic of Los Angeles and pick up the Pacific Coast Highway in Santa Monica. But first we stopped in San Juan Capistrano for a break and to visit the mission there.
After visiting the Mission San Diego de Alcala on Monday, we wanted to see what is said to be the most picturesque of all the twenty-one missions. San Juan Capistrano, the seventh of the California missions, was founded in 1776 by Father Junipero Serra. It is probably the best known mission, judging by the numbers of visitors who were there today.
The mission is a beautiful property and features the ruins of the Great Stone Church, a cathedral-like building that was constructed between 1797 and 1806. Tragically, the church was mostly destroyed by the earthquake of 1812. The walls crumbled and the domes caved in, killing forty-two neophytes who were attending mass. Although the church was never rebuilt, the ruins have been stabilized.
|The Bell Wall and Great Stone Church Ruins|
|The Great Stone Church|
The Serra Chapel, where Father Serra is known to have held mass, has been restored, and features an elaborate baroque altar from Barcelona. The mission is also known for its beautiful landscaped grounds, particularly in the central courtyard, or plaza.
|The Serra Chapel|
|The West and North Wings Face the Central Courtyard|
|The Central Courtyard|
|Water Lilies Are Blooming in the Moorish-Style Fountain|
|Arcades Line the Wings|
|The Flowers Are Spectacular|
The most endearing story associated with San Juan Capistrano is the return of the Cliff Swallows to the mission around March 19 every year from their wintering grounds in South America. Tim and I purchased a CD recording of the famous song “When the Swallows Come Back to Capistrano,” and listened to it as we drove away. It will be a nice memory of our visit.
After leaving San Juan Capistrano, we made our way through Los Angeles, and were pleasantly surprised that the traffic moved more smoothly than expected, with just a few back-ups. We exited at Santa Monica and were on the Pacific Coast Highway, one of the great scenic roads in the United States. We drove through Malibu and watched the surfers waiting for the perfect wave in the Pacific Ocean. We enjoyed the ride, where the road hugs the coast for much of the way.
|Mugu Rock at Point Mugu Along the Pacific Coast Highway|
|Strawberry Fields Forever|