(C)  2002-2014 J. Watson       All rights reserved  
Travel Letters
  RV Travel notes from
           the traveling gran'ma and gran'pa
Vol 15  No 4                                                                                                                                                                    July/early August, 2005
are four feet thick and have similar designs.  The
floor tiles are rough baked clay.  The bell tower also
attracted our attention, below.

This is an agricultural area.  Nearby, in Lompoc, are
commercial vegetable and flower gardens that
produce much of the cut flowers and seed in the US.

Field workers (below) gather cut flowers.  They tear
out the plant, cut the stems and put them in water
tubs to ship.
Dear Gals… Your guys …
Our grandchildren… our sisters

CHULA VISTA, CA; 7/16/2005

This is it – our last day in Chula Vista before
heading to Huntington Beach.  It’s been “quiet
time” – haven’t done much but have caught up on
some reading and revisited some of our favorite
southern California high spots.  These include the
famous San Diego Zoo and the Wild Animal Park,
which are affiliated units about thirty miles apart,
and two missions located an hour north of Chula

              Live, not plastic, flamingos greet visitors at the
              Wild Animal Park, Escondido, CA

Both of these zoos are noted for research and
successes in breeding many endangered species.  
Most publicized are the baby pandas at the zoo.  At
the present time zoos are under attack for not
providing challenges to their animals and as a
result the care is considered cruel as they are
removed from the day-to-day variations they would
have in the wild.  These zoos are subject to the
same criticism.  It appears justifiable when you see
the pandas walk a single route around their space
– constantly repeating the same path.  In the wild
they would roam in far larger spaces.  The Wild
Animal Park does provide more space but it is
more restricted than their native habitat.  Some
animals are obviously “monotonized”.  To counter
this, new obstacles are placed in some areas every
few days so they can investigate or move different
objects.  Zookeepers also play with some of the
animals, which gives them a change of pace.  


I enjoy the architecture of the missions, especially
the graceful arches.  To me they are the visual
equivalent of a pleasing melody.  But there is a
problem with these old buildings – they’re not
reinforced so they are not earthquake proof.  A
sign advises visitors that the buildings may be
unsafe.  That’s a problem in California.    
Travel Letters
San Luis Rey deFrancia Mission,
Oceanside, CA
Most of the missions are narrow as the roofs are
constructed of beams made of local timbers and the
trees in the area can make beams about 30 feet
long.  The mission at Pala (below) is an example of
that.    This mission has continually served the Pala
Indians in the area since it was built in the early
1800s as a satellite of the San Luis Rey de Francia
Mission.  The area is a reservation with, of course,
a new casino since we were here two years ago.

As you know we hug the coast on our summer
travels to stay in the cooler areas – the wisdom of
this became apparent when we headed inland to
the Wild Animal Park where the temperature hit
about 95º.  Here in Chula Vista a number of other
“campers” are escaping from the high temperatures
of Arizona and New Mexico – the reverse of the
Florida “snow birds”.  They come here for the
summer months to stay cool.  Ida’s been enjoying
the daily swim aerobics with them.
Courtyard of San Luis Rey deFrancia Mission,
Oceanside, CA

As you may know, Huntington Beach is home to the
US Open of Surfing.  The qualifying rounds are
taking place now for the finals to be held this
weekend.  I spent an hour this morning watching
them.  The surf was not up to par but some
contestants seemed to get a fair ride.  
MARINA, CA; 8/6/2005

Since getting on the road we’ve headed north
along the coast.  It’s been cool, in the high 60s and
with a persistent “marine layer”, which to us means
it’s heavily overcast with some low lying fog. Here,
too, we have been busy touring essentially places
we visited before – some in the past few years, and
some were last visited thirty plus years ago.  

First on the list was Solvang’s mission: Old Mission
Santa Inés.  The valley below it has fertile fields
that were worked by the Indians back in the days
when California was part of Mexico.   Inside it is
dark with small windows.  One can imagine the way
it was before electric lighting.  The nave is long and
narrow with decorative painted designs on the
crossbeams that support the roof.  The sidewalls
Old Mission Santa Inés
Solvang, CA
Heading north along the coast the first stop was the
Hearst Castle in San Simeon.  One of the two tours
we took was a private tour of the gardens –
absolutely magnificent!  Unsurpassed luxury.  And
this was only one of the several homes that William
Randolph Hearst had.  The family finances were
best served by giving the “castle” and 170 acres to
the State of California, which operates it as a state

Tour busses take visitors from the reception center
five-miles up the mountain road that zigzags to the
main house.  Along side the road there was a wild
animal preserve and a few of the animals remain.  
The main room of the house is so large that Hearst
used a telephone to talk to people at the other
end.  The Hearst Corp. owns over 120 square miles
surrounding the park and uses it for its ranching
activities.  The Hearst family maintains a nearby
home.  Hearst children occasionally use the pool on
hot summer evenings after the tourists have left for
the day.  As you can see the pool is a work of art
with classic structures surrounding it.
As we traveled inland through the Salinas Valley we
enjoyed seeing the many farms – there is
everything imaginable: strawberries, lettuce,
cabbage, artichokes, and mile after mile of
vineyards (above).  This fertile farmland would
revert to desert if it were not irrigated.  Irrigation
canals, trenches, and pipes lace the valley.  Work
gangs bend over the crops doing what has to be
done – arranging irrigation pipes, harvesting,
packing the cases, etc.  Large dump trucks loaded
with tomatoes passed us on their way to be

Just west of it, in the mountains, the land is parched
and rugged.  The Pinnacles National Monument
(right) is so rugged that there is no road connecting
the east gate and west gate.  We hiked a mile along
a moderately rugged path to the mouth of a cave
formed by large boulders. It was well into the 90s
and getting warmer so it was a short walk.  
We enjoy Marina, which is situated a few miles
north of Monterey on the coast.  Our campground
is just over the dune from the ocean, so of course
we’ve enjoyed walking along the waters edge.  Here
the temperature is in the 60s while inland just a few
miles it’s uncomfortably in the high 80s.  There is a
lot to see and do.  

The famous Monterey Aquarium is a “must-see”.  
Each visit we learn more.  We marvel at the way
different species seek a specific depth, maybe just
a few feet above or below other species.  Some just
lounge among the rocks at the bottom while others
swim constantly.  Off shore from the aquarium is a
wealth of natural habitat that is home to many
species that the naturalists use as a laboratory.  
Just down the coast we visited Big Sur with the
dramatic coastal highway that has been victim of
many landslides from the mountains at the edge of
the Pacific.  Further north is Point Lobos State
Park, which we enjoy exploring.  We walked along
the edge of coves, some with emerald green water
lapping onto snow-white beaches (photo).  Then
out to a point from which we could observe the
seals lolling on the offshore rocks and the sea lions
barking from a nearby island.  
A few miles away, in Carmel, is the San Carlos
Borromeo de Carmelo Mission (below), which has a
large plaza with a fountain in the center and large
barbeque pits – they must have great festivals.  

In my rambling I’ve referred to the arches and
covered walkways that typify the architecture of the
missions.  They are so symmetrical that they convey
a peaceful quality.  Examples at the missions at
Bautista and Carmel are typical (photos, below) as
they usually face gardens.  This is the
reconstruction and it is questionable that the
original structures had the type of gardens that are
now displayed.  

We’re on our way north along the coast for the rest
of the summer and guess you gals are getting in
the  “back to school” mode.  

So, enjoy the rest of summer…
As mentioned earlier, the architecture of the
missions generally feature arches and sheltered
walkways.  One of the best examples of this is the
Mission San Juan Bautista (photo, above).  This is
probably the largest mission church, with three
naves and two rows of columns supporting the
roof.   It faces a green with buildings along the other
sides that are part of a state park that helps re-
create the era – a hotel and stable.  

The San Andres fault is just a few feet from the
church and an earthquake in 1906 caused
substantial damage.  Gals, this was the famous San
Francisco quake that Del experienced.  The Mission
San Juan Bautista has a large area behind it, which
is used for feasts and festivals.  This area has picnic
tables and large areas for cooking.