Misión San Gabriel Arcángel was the fourth mission to be founded in Alta California by Fra. Junípero Serra, in 1771. It is unusual in that it is not made of adobe bricks but of stone, brick and mortar and its style is Moorish, having been designed by the Spanish priest Father Antonio Cruzado. It has buttressed walls and a fortress-like appearance.

It’s just nine miles east of the center of Los Angeles, which was founded ten years later, in 1781. It is the original Catholic Church of the diocese of Los Angeles.

This Mission claims to have been the most productive of all the missions and was the first winery in the state of California. There is a grapevine on the site that was planted in 1925 and whose trunk is a few feet in diameter.

The original baptismal font, which is made of hammered copper, is still in use today.

This little girl was baptized there on Saturday, June 17, by an older priest who spoke Spanish with an American accent.

Th church is adorned with paintings of the Stations of the Cross, among others, that are unique in that they were painted by the neophytes. They have a more primitive look than others I have seen which in no way detracts from their beauty.

Getting to the San Gabriel Valley from the San Fernando Valley took me through Glendale, where I spent the night in a motel. This area is dominated by Armenian immigrants, many of whom do not speak English. I was struck by the presence of groups of older men hanging out together on every street corner, just talking or playing games. It was a warm evening and they seemed to revel in their time spent together.

I approached one group and they would not acknowledge my presence. In an Armenian grocery store, where I bought some pickled vegetables, canned broad beans and dolmas for my evening meal, a male stock clerk was equally unfriendly. His English was severely limited but it seemed to be more than that. I think that the Armenians, like the Jews, have been persecuted and pushed around quite a bit.

The County of Los Angeles is very bike friendly, as was San Luis Obispo and Ventura Counties. I have ridden on at least three excellent bike and pedestrian paths in the last two days. This one parallels a designated bus route:

This next one, in the town of Whittier, was nicely landscaped with trees and even an occasional ornamental rock on which to sit in the shade (very welcome for checking Google maps or enjoying a rest and a drink of water.)

Mass transit seems to be alive and well in Southern California; Metrolink is a train system that operates across six counties. It, too, is bike friendly. Of course, the automobile is still king, as evidenced here on this freeway in Burbank:

For my stay close to Mission San Gabriel I tried Air BnB, again. This area (Alhambra) is also diverse in its population and Chinese immigrants predominate. My host spoke no English, and I no Chinese. Nevertheless we were able to communicate via text, thanks to Google Translate. The house, this time, was clean and adequately appointed with furniture, sheets and a very friendly and playful short haired tabby. I couldn’t tell you her name but it sounded something like “Eeeee”! She came into my room to smell my belongings and was soon playing and asking for strokes.

There is something about animals that is universally familiar and comforting. They do not notice or care about differences in culture, age, or values. It’s easy to speak their language. The Pit Bull at the other BnB was the same way. They are somehow able to transcend our human limitations when it comes to cultural barriers, generation gaps, and political, racial and other prejudices. They are a good example for me.

This night I am staying at my favorite type of accommodation–an International Youth Hostel, in Fullerton. Hostelling International is keenly aware of the difficulties we have as humans to understand,  tolerate and appreciate one another. Their non-profit mission is, in fact, to “foster a deeper understanding of people, places and cultures for a more tolerant world.” Everything about youth hostels promotes this, from the dorm rooms,

to the communal kitchen and living rooms, to the group talks and outings that are sometimes planned. I really enjoy them and am so grateful they exist!

There’s a nice one in Monterey, in case you were not aware, on Hawthorne Street. I remember when it was founded and the amount of volunteer hours that went into its construction. I think you can still volunteer your time there if you’re interested in getting in on the fun. They sometimes have talks and other programs that are open to the public  (our friend Dea Greenwalt has spoken there about trips she has taken.)

Today, Fathers’ Day, I ride about 18 miles to a friend’s house in North Tustin (my other favorite type of accommodation–friends’ homes!) I’m looking forward to seeing her and to meeting her family. Speaking of friends, I had a surprise visit from the Gulartes a couple of days ago–they were driving down from Gonzales to see Susie’s father for Fathers’ Day. It took them maybe five or six hours to cover what has taken me over a month of travel to accomplish! Mine is not the fastest pace of travel, but it sure is rich. ♥️

5 thoughts on “Misión San Gabriel Arcángel

  1. I enjoy reading each entry you make Jody. I believe you when you say how rich your mode of transportation is.
    Happy Trails,

    1. Thank you Gretchen! I feel like I’m in another reality almost. It blows my mind that it’s possible to travel so fast as we do in automobiles and airplanes. I like my tortoise pace.

  2. I look forward each time I see your email. I love your description of each mission. I’m using your research and description of each mission to be used in my Social Studies unit this coming year!! Love , Valli

    1. Dear Valli– be sure to check my facts! And take your kids on field trips to the missions if you can. I’m glad to hear you will continue the study. Most of our modern California cities grew up around the Missions. The Mission period was relatively short, ending in the 1830s. Then came the Mexican period when Pio Pico became governor. Another interesting period in California history. The period of the Ranchos.

  3. OK now I’m up to date! I’m just thrilled to read everything you have written. love, charmaine

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