Favorite Places: Mission de San Miguel

Favorite Places is a feature on my blog that allows me to share some of the places I’ve visited in my travels. Whenever I travel on Amtrak from Northern to Southern California I see an old mission out the window on the west side of the train. The mystery for me has been: which of the twenty-one California missions is this?

I know that we are in the central part of the state and I’ve seen what I’m pretty sure is Highway 101. The Highway 101 clue is not a good one as many of the missions are located along that highway.

On my last trip south, my husband drove down later and then we drove back north together. I hoped this would be a good chance to solve this mystery. It was.

As we came around a curve in the road a little ways north of Paso Robles, there it was. We pulled off the road to take a closer look.

This is an amazing, yet simple church. It stands tall over all the lower buildings and houses nearby. The most amazing part is that it was built in 1799. (The mission was founded in 1797.) It is constructed of handmade adobe brick.

Additional rooms are contained in an additional wing built in the traditional mission style.

While the exterior of the mission is plain, the interior was painted by the Indians. The paintings survived and are still visible today. (This picture is not mine. It is from USA Tourist Net.)

The original trail leading to all the missions was called El Camino Real. It was marked with bells like the one you see hear outside Mission de San Miguel. You can also see these bells all along Highway 101 which is how I knew what highway this mission was on.

The San Miguel mission is in the heart of the very hot and dry Salinas Valley. The vegetation, unless under irrigation, is that of a dry, desert region. A nice treat for us the day we visited the mission was this lovely cactus which was just about to bloom.

There is something about these ancient missions that fascinates me. I went to high school in San Fernando which has a lovely old mission and I’ve visited quite a few of them. Visiting San Muguel has stirred my interest in revisiting some of them again. I’m definitely counting Mission de San Miguel as one of my Favorite Places.

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***Note to everyone who is following my Vine To Wine feature:

The grapes have changed very little since last month. I thought they might be growing but I can’t see much difference. I suspect that harvest time is not too far away. I’m actually hearing rumors of that. I’ll let you know when that happens.

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