Monday, October 5, 2009

San Juan Capistrano

This weekend The Husband decided to take a little detour, as we were speeding down the freeway on our way home after meeting the kids at the airport, he decided to take the Ortega Highway over to the coast. I was bare-knuckling it, I can tell you that much, as we climbed the windy road up and over.

We stopped in at San Juan Capistrano. The mission is Orange County's oldest community. We had an appetizer and a glass of wine at Sarducci's next to The Capistrano Depot, then made our way across the tracks to The Los Rios District. Forty homes remain, three are the original adobe structures that housed workers building the mission. Circa 1700-1800's. The houses are private residences, many house businesses open to the public. There's a museum, nursery, and petting zoo as well. I was intrigued by the giant pepper trees. And, naturally couldn't resist snapping pics of the quaint houses. We didn't visit the mission, as The Husband had visited before, and I've been many times. I am the official tour guide for friends and family, from, Canada, Florida, and Michigan, it seems.

I wanted to stop at the beach but we had to get home, as I'd left the dogs outside and it was getting chilly. Hope you enjoy the pictures I took.

A Little information about the Swallows:

They're on their way.

The famous cliff swallows leave town every year in a swirling mass near the Day of San Juan (October 23), are returning from their winter vacation spot 6,000 miles south in Goya, Corrientes, Argentina

They land at the mission in San Juan, California, on or around St. Joseph's Day, March 19, to the ringing bells of the old church and a crowd of visitors from all over the world who are in town awaiting their arrival and celebrating with a huge fiesta as well as a parade.

Legend has it that the swallows took refuge in the Mission San Juan Capistrano from an irate innkeeper who destroyed their muddy nests. The swallows return to the old ruined church each spring knowing they will be protected within the mission's walls. In fact, the city has taken their safety seriously passing an ordinance against destroying their nests.

So-called "scout swallows" precede the main flock each year by a few days but the majority of the small birds usually arrives on the 19th and begins rebuilding the mud nests that cling to the ruins of the old stone church and throughout the Capistrano Valley

The mission, originally built from 1776–1806, was seriously damaged in 1812 by a deadly earthquake and was never fully rebuilt. It is the seventh in a chain of 21 California Missions all supposedly separated by the distance of a day's walk. The adobe Serra Chapel section of the mission has been rebuilt and it is now the oldest building in California still in use today.

If you come to Southern California, you ought to visit Capistrano. So much to see. I'm adding this town to our list of towns we might consider retiring to!

All Rights Reserved. © 2009 by Elizabeth Bradley.


Elspeth Antonelli said...

I've never visited here, so thanks for posting pictures. I love the shot of the quaint pastel-coloured house surrounded by a jungle of tropical vegetation. It looks magical.

You have swallows; we have bald eagles; they fly through my town every November. And geese. Lots and lots of geese.


Jemi Fraser said...

Beautiful :) The foliage is incredible.

Like Elspeth, we have geese. Other species as well, but it's hard to ignore the geese.

ellen abbott said...

Back in my river guide days, we would see their nests in the canyons of the Rio Grande. when they were in residence and we would paddle by, they would all swoop out of their nests and away to distract our attention from their young.

Joanne said...

Charming homes, love the colors of them. I have often heard about thw swallows of Capistrano, but never knew the story. It must be an amazing sight!

Alix said...

The story of Capistrano and the swallows is such a romantic one. Such a miracle too. I know migration is all instinct, and yet the fact that they return to the Mission for protection.... well that's just poetry!

Thank you so much for the gorgeous photos and for the facts on Capistrano. I knew a little of it, but not all those wonderful details. Amazing!

Barry said...

Stunning photos and an interesting write up about the swallows of Capistrano. What a fascinating place.

GutsyWriter said...

Where do you live Elizabeth? I live very close to San Juan Capistrano and my favorite Breakfast place is there called: Ramos House. They make everything from scratch.

Shirley Wells said...

Wow, what wonderful pictures. Thanks for sharing. Gosh, yes, I'd definitely consider it as a place to retire to.

Lauri Kubuitsile said...

Lovely photos and thanks for the info about the Mission and the swallows. When I was a child I was always fascinated by bird migration. I think it's amazing that they find their way back.
Seem a lovely place to retire.

Nancy said...

Thanks, I would love to visit there. I'll put it on my list. It seems the travel list doesn't stray too far from the West coast these days. That's alright. We have plenty to see, don't we?

I always left the swallows nests on my eves in my house in Minnesota. Many of the neighbors washed them off as soon as they started building them. A shame, I always thought.

Maria said...

Hello Elizabeth,
Thank you for sharing your personal experience about San Juan Capistrano. At Fox Rent A Car blog, we try to give travelers information about different cities, such as the inside scoop on local restaurants, or off the beaten path sights to not miss. I believe you post presents great information.
Thank you for sharing.