The mission nerd continues her quest

Mission San Miguel

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

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.

mass- Mission San Miguel

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).

The mission bells

the mission yard

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.

me at the mission


Mission Santa Ines

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.

mission bells

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.

inside the mission

inside the mission 2

the mission grounds- santa ines

the mission cat

the mission cemetery

the mission cemetery 2

(day 202)


The Beauty of Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa

Mission San Luis Obispo

I am so excited to share my experiences of visiting 3 new missions (off of my list of never visited missions) during my “girl’s weekend” getaway that I returned from last weekend. It was my goal prior to the beginning of the trip to see 4 missions that I would drive by on the freeway during my vacation. I am glad to say I reached this goal. I discovered on my trip to Central California that I have become an official mission nerd! I will not be able to rest until I visit them all and currently I have seen 15 of the 21 missions in California! Can you say awesome?

Mission San Luis Obispo

I wanted to write about 2 of the 4 missions that I saw today, but I have so many photos to share that I am going to write over the next three days about the 4 missions I saw – each with its’ own beauty and personality.

Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa is located in the heart of the town of San Luis Obispo. I drove from Los Angeles to here without a break which took 3 hours. My phones navigation application was not working at the time so I relied on my written directions that gave me an exit from Highway 101 to take and a street address of the mission. Luckily I easily located the mission and a parking space.

Father Junipero Serra

a wooden cross

a fountain

Mission San Luis Obispo was founded in 1772. It is the 5th of the 21 California missions that were built by the Spanish friars. There was a nice statue of Father Junipero Serra in front of the mission. I also saw a wooden cross and a peaceful fountain in this area too.

mission grounds


lawn chairs

I loved that the mission is a focal point of downtown. There were people on the grounds relaxing and flags proudly swaying in the wind. People were even tanning on the grass – absolutely lovely!

a bride and groom

I even caught a bride and groom about to get married!!

wall art

the pews

wall art 2

Inside the church

the museum

the museum 2

The museum

the garden

The garden

an oven

An oven

mission  bells

mission bells 2

Mission bells

Visiting Mission San Luis Obispo was a real treat. I really enjoyed taking it all in with photos and I enjoyed just living the moment. I will return here, next time with my family I hope.

(day 201)

200 Straight Days of Blogging !!!

the beach

**Reflections on my blog June 27, 2013**

I sit here on the eve of my 200th straight day of blogging drinking a beer and watching a recording of “The Bachelorette” on television. I am amazed that I have kept blogging daily and am not quite sure how it has happened. I have said it before and will say it again; I began blogging on a whim. I had no clue what I was doing, but had been told in the past about WordPress. Not wanting to delay I started blogging that same night.

And here I am 200 days later. What a journey it has been. Over the last 200 days I have moved which has been a big change for me. Now I commute to work and still find myself unpacking boxes. On the flip side I see the ocean every day and can’t wait for any opportunity to touch the sand and be at the beach.

Now that I have kids I see time zooming by. Prior to kids life was all about me, and Max, now it is about my family. With summer upon us my daughter Malina has finished first grade and is approaching second grade. My son Matteo still seems like a toddler, which he is, but he has just one year of preschool left. Meanwhile here I am getting older about to approach 41 years old at the end of summer.

I don’t feel old, I still have a lot of energy, and I love keeping active. I still love an adventure and I love to travel- whenever wherever. I just came back from a most liberating girl’s weekend in Central California that I can’t wait to write about. Driving on the open road alone gave me lots of time to think and enjoy me.

I don’t know what I will be blogging about every day for the next 165 days… I wonder will I run out of topics, will I run out of time? People I know (in particular my husband Max) wonder how I have time to blog each and every day on top of working full-time, being a wife, being a mother, and having so many commitments. And I know the answer. It is because I absolutely love writing each and every day!! It is my time to do what I want to do- relax and blog.

(day 200)

Giant Ants of Indiana Go West

The following blog is a guest blog by lisabay who joined me on the trip across America that I have been blogging about for the last week. I enjoyed reading her blog on the trip- it is so interesting to see a friend’s perspective. Enjoy!!


In October of 1999, I helped my friend Tiki move half way across the country from her childhood home in Indiana to L.A. (Los Angeles).  I was still in my mid-twenties and loved the adventure of the open road. I had a break from work, so I jumped at the chance to take a road trip.

I flew into Indianapolis and stayed with Tiki’s family for a couple of days. A childhood friend, Katie, would also be joining us on the trip. In her backyard, on the grass, was the car we would use to get back to L.A. It was a mature BMW, that hadn’t been driven in a while, but was still a good car with a few good years left. We inspected the car and drove it around a bit. On one cool Indiana morning, I noticed a giant- sized ant near the back ceiling of the car. Then it was gone.

It was finally time to pack up the car. If you know Tiki, you know she does not pack light, and she needed to bring all her belongings from her parent’s house. I think the trunk had a hard time closing, but it did eventually. The seats were filled to the capacity too. Then there was her record collection and that record player, she had been holding onto since the 80’s. We had to bring that too. And one of us had to carry that big bulky record player all the way back to California on our lap. I refused to do it, so Katie and Tiki rotated.

The trip started off in a merry way, I didn’t even have to drive because the seat adjustment was stuck at a setting for the taller two of the group.  We drove south on I-65, through Indiana, Kentucky, and into Tennessee.  We had lunch out in the rolling hill country near Nashville at another friend’s bed and breakfast.  Then we took a turn down I-40, through the flat green cotton fields of the Mississippi River Valley, and were off to Memphis for the night.  And oh what fun.  I loved seeing Beale Street and listening to the blues music.

The next morning, we were drove through Arkansas.  We past Little Rock, then on into Oklahoma.  I have to say, I didn’t much care for Oklahoma.  It was windy, flat, and the trees and bushes just looked like unkempt weeds to me.  Then we spent the evening in the Texas panhandle.  We had dinner at a Sonics drive-thru, and spent the night in Amarillo.

Continuing west, on really the same route as the old Route 66, we entered New Mexico.  Right at the border, you know you have entered the desert, and you know you were going to be in it for quite some time.   The desert has never been one of my favorite places, but we had a very pleasant stay in Albuquerque and Santa Fe for a couple of days.

We finally figured out how to get me to drive.  Either the seat adjustment unstuck, or we just put a bunch of jackets and other soft items on the seat.  So I drove away from Albuquerque with the rising sun coming up over the mountains in my rear view mirror.  It was getting warmer.

That day we drove through New Mexico, and a good part of Arizona.  Somewhere maybe in Winslow, I saw it.  Another giant ant was in the back seat, near the window.  That’s strange, I thought.  Then somewhere in the middle of nowhere, the army of giant ants presented themselves in a deluge.  It was toasty warm at this point.  Maybe that was their signal to swarm.  These ants were BIG, maybe 10 times the size of a regular California ant, and they were now crawling all over the back seat.  Katie and I were starting to freak out.  Tiki in the front passenger seat said in a calm voice, “Keep driving.  Don’t pay attention to the ants.”  The situation seemed dire.  How were we going to get rid of these ants in a land of Indian Reservations and Route 66 tourist traps?  Luckily, we found a small convenience store in Flagstaff.  They actually had bug spray, and we sprayed the back seat enough so that the ants were manageable.

The rest of the trip was a detour to Vegas, then home.  I can’t remember when all the ants left the car, but they eventually did.  Maybe they have infiltrated the population of California ants.  So if you ever see some giant ants in California, you’ll know where they came from.

(day 199) Guest blog by lisabay. Lisa, thank you for your contribution to my blog and I look forward to future contributions.

Road Trip- Destination Las Vegas

me posing!

You can follow my road trip across America starting here.

We continued on driving from Albuquerque to Las Vegas covering 573 miles. It look us a little over 11.5 hours to complete this stretch. It was yet another big driving day, but by the days end we would be very close to Southern California.

To be truthful the drive from Albuquerque was brutal. There was quite a bit of open road for a portion of the drive and a huge mountain pass. I am not a big fan of mountain passes; perhaps if I drove a stick shift car where you can be in charge of the gears I wouldn’t feel so hopeless. Nonetheless I recall wanting to charge past a car in front of us and not being able to do so! It was so frustrating, but guess what? I got over it once we reached the top and could zoom by the couple in a big old sand colored Cadillac!!

Petrified Forest National Park

outside the Petrified Forest Park

We stopped at the Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona. It was interesting to see all the trees turned into stone, and I am a personal fan of the hieroglyphics that I saw etched into trees.

mountain landscape

Looking out into the horizon all you could see were mountains. You can see many, many miles away in this area. It was amazingly beautiful.

Caesar’s Palace

Caesar’s Palace

Paris Casino

Paris Casino

We arrived to Las Vegas during the evening. Luckily Las Vegas, or Vegas as most locals call it, is a city that thrives after midnight. Not being much of a gambler I enjoyed walking around “Caesar’s Palace Casino” and posing with the employees in native dress. I did make it to “Paris Las Vegas Casino” to quickly see the Eiffel Tower- my favorite landmark anywhere. Next we visited the “Venetian Casino” with its’ beautiful man made canals. Last stop was a club; I don’t know why I did not go back to the hotel because I fell asleep at the table before I even finished my drink.

The Orleans

The next day we visited “The Orleans Casino” for a breakfast buffet before continuing on to California – our final state.

(day 197)

Road Trip- Destination Albuquerque New Mexico

Route 66

You can follow my road trip across America starting here.

The drive from Texas to New Mexico was short, thank goodness. We covered 286 miles which was estimated to be just over a 5 hour drive. I had researched where to stay in Albuquerque and found a cute place called “Route 66 Hostel” that only cost $16 per person a night. Included in the price was a chore that you had to do while staying on the property. Over the years I have stayed in many hostels and this one had to be one of my favorites.

la fonda

a cross

la casa vieja

St Francis Cathedral

loving the local architecture

From Albuquerque we took a quick drive (approximately one hour) to Santa Fe. Lisa recalls that New Mexico State Road 14 (NMSR14) was a quick drive and a bit windy. The road was packed and the locals drove it very fast as if a speed limit did not exist. We arrived to Santa Fe and I discovered it was a cute little town. We walked around and I enjoyed looking at the Pueblo-style architecture which is so different from where I live. I saw postcards and pictures of the town in the snow and it looked spectacular, especially the La Fonda Hotel with the orange and white contrast.

route 66 hostel

route 66 hostel (2)

route 66 hostel (3)

After spending time in Santa Fe we headed back to our hostel to do our chores, play games, and talk with the other travelers. It was an early night since the next day we needed to continue our drive to California. I can only imagine what it was like to travel across America before Route 66, which we were now crossing, existed. Those people were very brave souls.

the train

(day 196)