We’re walking around this 220 year old mission in Oceanside, California. The frescos, the architecture, the bronze statues, the ruins, the cemetery, the rose gardens. It’s all so absolutely beautiful and fascinating…
…For an adult.
For a 4 ,6 and almost 8 year old you would think it would be pure torture. Well, maybe if you were to take them individually into a room and interview them under the blast of a single light they might admit that they might like Legoland a tad bit more. It may not be as interesting as the newest world on Minecraft, but I think they do get a lot out of our seemingly sophisticated explorations.
You know, because THIS is the good stuff.
Our travels on the road are always geared towards where my husband has to work. He has a national sales job that takes him to many cities around the country. His corporate office is in the SanDiego area (Vista) so we take advantage of its close proximity to the ocean and always stay in Oceanside. We never run out of things to do in San Diego, yet we tend to gravitate toward some of our favorites with La Jolla being one of them.
When you drive into La Jolla, CA it feels as if you have arrived somewhere on the Mediterranean. The water is a color of blue that is something you just have to see. On a bright sunny day that surreal blue contrasts with white crashing waves and it is a sight to behold. Pictures just don’t do it justice, but look here, I have to try.
It’s also the best place in the area to sit and sunbathe with the sea lions. They are totally comfortable with people sharing the beach with them and will nap peacefully just a few feet away from you. In fact, we had to move all of our stuff because one 300 pound mama decided she liked the shade from our umbrella and scooted right under.
For the most part, they huddle together and nap as tourists snap selfies. There was only one point in the afternoon that the beach got really crowded which spurred a fight between two large males. I felt they needed some space and we backed away. We do keep in mind that these are wild animals with teeth!
Sunny Jim Cave
We also indulged ourselves in a little sea cave adventure. We toured Sunny Jim Cave which is a sea cave that you can access by land and is the only one of its kind in California. In 1902, a German retiree decided that he could make money if he dug a tunnel through the cliff to the inside of the cave. He was right. People did pay. At first access was reached via rope and then later steps were built. This was also a great access point in which liquor could make it from ships to the mouths of thirsty San Diegans during prohibition. Frank Baum, authored of the Wizard of Oz, thought the opening looked like Sunny Jim, the mascot for the cereal popular in the early 1900’s. So the name stuck and another high priced American side show attraction was born. Do you see it?
We ended the day with a quick visit to Mount Soledad, a gorgeous tribute to our armed forces. There is a large concrete and steel enforced cross that tops an 822 foot hill that overlooks La Jolla and Pacific Beach. The cross is encircled with the names and pictures of veterans that have died in the various conflicts and wars in which the United States has been involved. We took a solemn stroll around the plaza as we read some of the names and looked at the pictures of those that had fallen. Its a lovely tribute and worth the stop to experience.
Mission San Luis Rey de Francia
The next day we rode a few miles inland to see a 220 year old mission that was established by the Spanish. Mission San Luis Rey de Francia was established in 1798 and reflects the Spanish Colonial architecture combining Baroque and Classical styles with Moorish influences. Today was Friday and we chose to forgo the museum for a casual stroll around the grounds, a picnic and a visit and prayer in the mission. When we arrived they were conducting 12 noon mass so we found a picnic table and had our lunch. After, we found bronze sculptures depicting Jesus’s last hours. Emotional and thought provoking for the children. Many questions were asked and answered.
We then explored the cactus garden and rose gardens. The Rose Garden’s beauty is difficult to convey in words. It was breathtaking!
I saved the best for last and we explored the mission itself. I absolutely love historic architecture. Hand-hewn wood, original hardware and the smell of centuries old wood filled the air. The hundreds of years of love and care for this structure is moving. As we entered we heard the chant of the rosary in the front of the church, something a non-denominational little girl’s ears had never heard. She had questions. We then sat in silence and marveled at the vast ceiling over our heads, not ornate but simple and resolute like the pious monks we’d scene walking the grounds.
Our days may not be filled with the likes of Disneyland but I think that they are as colorful and vibrant just in a different slightly more mature way. My hopes are that the kids will remember these adventures with the fondness and reflection that Mikey Mouse and his crew can so easily create. Lofty aspiration?