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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Dark Day Fungus and Camptonville Cemetery

After the limited fall rains in 2015, I headed up for some mushroom hunting to see if I could find some fungus in the dark, wet corners of the national forest land. Bullard’s Bar is a lake in Yuba County at the transition between foothill oak terrain and pines that dominate higher up.


This is a boat launch and camping area, vibrant winter berries


These mushrooms were growing on a leaf




This is a cottony type veil I have torn open to reveal the gills


These are likely honey mushrooms, or armillaria mellea, which are edible but at times can be a risky pick


Inside it was kind of hollow


Fun little log-huggers


Turkey tail and witches butter






Burnt mushroom with little tiny neighbors


What!!! This is a toothed mushroom, a relatively rare find and beautiful Hydnum species


At the time, like Folsom, this lake was drained down to its lowest level since filling


This steep boat ramp is usually at the edge of the water


But the coast has moved down so low


That you have to look far off to find water


Or walk all the way down


Too steep, heading back up


The dam was so exposed it looked like it had been abandoned


Nearby a town called Camptonville is small, mountainy and gruffly friendly to outsiders


I came for the old gold rush era cemetery, which long-time readers will know are a thing I find interesting. This head stone was blank


But looks like made of marble


The carving on the stones is quite interesting, a willow on this one


Obelisks were quite popular in this cemetery


This was the most elaborate carving around


But there were also more modern graves, as this is still an active site


This oak was hundreds of years old, providing shade and a park-like setting for their eternal rest


So big!


The views were quite nice


This was the oldest grave I could find, 1860, and it is hard to imagine all that time


Next up, snowy sequoias

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