Mission San Miguel Arcangel
To clarify for those of you who didn’t have a chance to read my blog yesterday I am the mission nerd. I am so hooked on seeing all 21 California missions now that it is a slight obsession, please note that it is a healthy obsession. Right now I have seen 15 of the 21 missions in California.
Leaving Paso Robles I headed 5 miles north to Mission San Miguel Arcangel with my friends Lisa & Michelle plus Michelle’s dad and girlfriend. It was the only mission that I visited with friends on this trip. I learned from Michelle’s dad that the mission had only reopened one year ago after becoming damaged from an earthquake in the town of San Simeon in 2003. I didn’t mind seeing the other missions alone on my weekend away, but it was nice to have friends around to talk about how beautiful that mission was.
Mission San Miguel was founded in 1797 and is the 16th of the 21 California missions that were built by the Spanish friars. We arrived and mass was about to begin. We visited the grounds, and gift shop before I said my goodbyes to the group knowing that I had many miles to cover and two more missions to see that day on my way south to Los Angeles. It was 11:00am at this point! Yikes.
I had to peek in the mission before heading off though. I opened the door and took a look in. A man sitting near the door welcomed me in and I sat down a few minutes to be a part of the service. While taking everything in I took two quick photos (without flash of course).
Driving towards the freeway I stopped at the front of the church to take photos of the mission bells and the rugged grounds of the mission.
Mission Santa Ines
Other than typing out directions from the freeway to the missions and their physical addresses I knew nothing about the missions that I visited on this trip other than their names. Driving to Mission Santa Ines, which I figured was in the Santa Ynez Valley, I became surprised to see that it is downtown Solvang. Solvang is a Danish themed town 45 miles north of Santa Barbara. I know this town well because it was an overnight stop when I was a tour guide. I never knew that there was a mission at the end of the main strip of shops and restaurants. Had I researched or been assigned to visit here with my tours I would visited here much sooner, and by foot at that. For the record Mission Santa Ines was founded in 1804 and is the 19th of the 21 California missions.
After taking a few photos and trying to open the door of the mission with no luck I headed over to the gift shop and discovered that the entrance to the mission was through a door in the shop. I nicely asked the woman at the front desk if I could go see the mission and she said that there was a tour at 5:00pm. It was 3ish at the time and there was no way I could wait until 5:00pm to visit the mission. I have to tell you I was a little pissed. I had seen 3 missions over the weekend at this point and was amazed that I could not see this one, the last one of my day! I asked if it were possible to just take a quick peak since the mission was closed and she said firmly “no”. I then recapped how I had seen so many missions over the years and had never been told that a tour was the only way to experience visiting a mission.
It was at about this time that a man came up and gave the woman some money, walked over to the entrance door to the mission and walked in. I was in shock. I asked if he was visiting the mission and she said yes. I then asked why I couldn’t visit the mission as well. Her reply, “You have to pay to visit the mission”. Oh my goodness, she had been giving me the run around for 10 minutes because she thought I didn’t want to pay the admission fee. AMAZING. I paid my $5.00 and entered the mission.
It was a crazy drive home from there going through Santa Barbara, but I did see that last mission of the day and ultimately made it home to my family that evening at 7:00pm. My goal of visiting 4 missions over a 3 day span was complete. All I can say is that I am very excited to see the other 2 missions in Southern California before the end of the year.