Missions pt. 2 – Soledad

Next on the list from my trips to see the missions in Central California was La Soledad, near the town of the same name.

Back of the restored church with the classic Camino Real bell

Unfortunately, due to the materials used and neglect, the original church is no more

But this is what part of it looked like back in 1953

And another

This is now preserved outside

The adobe construction is perfect for the climate, but not durable

It was made of sand, clay, mud and used pottery

Which kinda melts in the winter rains over time

A natural spring fountain, very old with all the mineralization under the slime

Cute pool

Inside the church, still active

It was quaint but beautiful

Like this stained wood ceiling

Prayer candles

And another of these nooks. Anyone?

There is a museum on site as well, these are artifacts from the first inhabitants of this area


More recent artifacts

The property abuts very productive farmland and was almost lost

They have re-created some of the plant culture of the missions, with this citrus


Olives for oil (other missions make and sell oil from the oldest trees)

And this ancient wine grape

A good six inches across and maybe 100 years old

A new grove of old ,

Next up, San Juan Bautista



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Mission San Antonio – Off the Beaten Path

Again sorry for delay, you’ll see why with this gigantic post.

I was working in southern Monterey County last year and was able to check out the mission outside of town before heading home one week. Mission San Antonio is the furthest mission from highway 101, which normally follows the old camino real that connected them. You have to pass through a military reservation to get there as well, but they just ask for ID if anything.

Most of this is reconstruction, but we will get to original ruins in a bit. Here is founder Junipero Serra

Still under renovation, never-ending process really

Lots of spare roof tiles

They are stacked like this to efficiently move water off roofs

Ny favorite part, old trees

That tree is older than the city I live in, which is one of the oldest in the state

They make great oil, I highly recommend you buy a bottle if in the area

They were perfectly ripe

This is some kind of really cool cactus

I wondered if the fruit was edible

Old pomegranate tree

You can even rent a room for the night in a rehabbed wing

It is lovely

Inside is a main square they have filled with old roses

A sundial in the middle

A well with very old grape vine

More old grape

Founded in the 1700’s

Fountain on one side

Cool drainage, also mortars

Giant pot for collective meals

I want one at home


Inside the church was beautiful. There is an active congregation with services here


Cool nook

I want to sit up there please

Dedicated souls

Lots of amazing religious art





Outside the grounds had some more significant ruins of the old buildings

Like this


Not as easy to see here

But the back was lined and obvious

This is why it all disappeared, adobe construction just melts over time if not maintained


What those barracks might have looked like, sans screens

That reservoir led to this mill

It allowed them to process the harvest

Long ditch

Not a lot of that was original though

Mountain named after the father, highest in the range

Thresh it up

Grinding stones

Mules would turn then as you placed the raw grain in that hole

It then came out here ground up


And an amazing sunset to leave you

Next up, another mission on the way north

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The Road to King City

Last winter and spring I was traveling for work to King City in southern Monterey county. There is a back road that takes you to San Benito county and the Pinnacles National Park, so I took that way once.

Let’s start at this amazing restaurant called Jardines de San Juan, in San Juan Bautista. Great mexican food and a ton of beautiful gardens surrounding it

That was a christmas cactus in bloom

So many cacti and succulents

It was like a demonstration garden or arboretum

They even had a plot for cut flowers and produce, the persimmons were overly ripe on the tree

There is a state park here where the mission and old town are, the town square here is dressed for the holidays

This pepper tree is hundreds of years old

The area hosts many farms, particularly these artichokes

But also lots of barren looking pasture

A few winter wildflowers

With the southern Diablo Range to the east

And Gabilan Range to the west

A good many vineyards

Nice green hills after drought

The area has a diverse array of agriculture

And mud, stay on the road

The pinnacles, sorry for the terrible lighting

BLM manages a good amount of land out here, including the clear creek management area that contains very rare and spectacular minerals and rocks due to unique geology. This is the west end of a road I took with my dad there from the central valley to the east, a post for another time

But these are the San Benito mountains, you can kinda see how interesting the rocks look compared to everything else

Laguna mountain

This view just went on and on….

Desktop material right there! Next up, the many missions of central california

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Snowy Sequoias in Calaveras

I headed out to Calaveras Big Trees, which long-time readers will remember I head out to a couple times a year, in early November to see the dogwood and maple trees in fall color. Timing is always hard with such outings, and we were a week or two late. Also impacting the trip, there had been about three inches of snow the week before.

Just a few hints of snow at the visitor center

Slowly burning off in the sun

One of the pacific dogwood trees we were looking for, stripped pretty bare from the rain and snow

The amphitheater looked pretty

Just a dusting in places

Or none at all due to the warming effect of these giants

Other places were harder to navigate with greater depth

This was my first visit here with snow on the ground in the grove

They are quite spectacular, but even more so with the snow

I’ve seen pictures from winter where you can snowshoe on the trail and see them with billowing mounds of snow all over

But this was a much more comfortable alternative

Tall trees too

A little color on these out-of-focus dogwoods

Tree tops

Dusted on its toes

I liked the afternoon lighting too





Someone made a little snowman!

The field/meadow was particularly stunning with the light snowcover

So pretty, yikes

I did find one dogwood with great fall color at the end


Till next time 🙂

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