Bicycling to 21 California Camino Missions – Part I

What I don’t want happening is for Jerry or Doug saying, we should have researched this camino walk/ride more. More thoroughly than what I’m now doing, by reading and writing about it? I don’t think so. Besides, If we do get lost on the El camino real, it’s all part of the adventure, and the story may make for some good reading in our old age.

Earlier Jerry and I started a WhatsApp chat to exchange thoughts, ideas and pictures but, we encountered just one problem. The rest of the group, including the millionaire, only own ancient, old flip phones and if you say WhatsApp to them they reply back with Nothing!

Two things now seem infinite to me: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not so sure about the universe. And so my promise to the others NOW is that on this mission; I promise to be a better person tomorrow. Plus, if I die, I want to go peacefully like in my sleep, and not anywhere near a bicycle.

Three to possibly five 60-70 year olds are now committed to bicycling o/a June 19th, 2021, to all 21 California missions. A distance of approximately 800 miles.

A good Father’s Day 2021 adventure by any stretch of the imagination too. There’s still time, if you want to join. We chose the North to South route so that we could take full advantage of the cooler NorCal weather. And we chose bicycles because the trail/camino is far from without its faults. Plus, I am choosing an Ebike because of the bikes range – at least twenty five to forty miles with a quick charge time of five hours. If we encounter unplanned U-turns or find ourselves carrying extra weight, the bike unlike a donkey or human won’t be complaining much.

I had a previous father in law once, who after dedicating his working life of over 40 years to a newspaper plant in Tacoma; he finally stopped talking about retirement. The decision was easily made for him. His manual newspaper job was eliminated.

The motor home plans to travel to Alaska and around the USA, now looked to me like they might just materialize. My mother and father in law probably smoked more than a few packs of cigarettes that day.

The morning they were set to visit the RV dealership to purchase that big Class A RV the wife delivers her husband a plate of bacon, eggs and potatoes to his well worn easy boy recliner. He was a tall Irishman with good german stock in him. His passions included sports, liquor, cigarettes and walking a male Irish Terrier named Max. The kids for the longest time thought the dogs name was dammit, come here.

Their television “off” button must’ve broke some time ago, as it was always on. He always enjoyed breakfast with the television on while looking at his morning paper.

Just as she prepared her bacon and eggs plate of food from the stove she suddenly heard a dull thud, and then a plate full of food hits the carpet. Her newly retired husband is now slumped over—dead from a heart attack.

My take on this event all those years ago; always eat your dessert first boys and girls. Life is too uncertain for those that don’t plan or prepare. Plus, you either use it, or you lose it. Our time on earth when you reach your 60’s is fast becoming perishable.

The first book I read to prepare for this camino was written by Ron Briery, “California mission walk”, The Hikers Guide to California’s 21 Spanish Missions Along El Camino Real”.

The book is for anyone interested in walking to all California missions on what is left of the original El Camino Real – all 800 miles of it.

There’s even a Facebook group – California Camino Walkers, a group dedicated to supporting those who choose to walk it.

My inspiration for walking vs my inspiration for riding to all 21 missions?

The Spanish mission system operated from about 1769 to about 1833. The original intentions were probably good but, the outcome – a commercial labor force of servitude? I strongly considered riding a motorcycle, similar to traveling on horseback in the early days travel on the El Camino Real. The only difference is that today’s version just happens to be paved over.

Some of the questions thus far from the boys: How was a particular mission location chosen? A time machine: what would we see , if brought back to say 1769?

1769-1821 Spanish period

1821-1848 Mexico period

1848- present USA period

Did the missions fall into a state of disrepair when the missions were abandoned? What about the indigenous peoples? Supposed to be just one day walk between missions?What about diseases or pandemics that occurred to the Indians?

The 21 California missions, below are listed in the order that they were founded. Weren’t they supposed to have been formed from south to north?

1. (1769) Mission San Diego de Alcalá (San Diego)

2. (1770) Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo (Carmel, California)

3. (1771) Mission San Antonio de Padua (?

4. (1771) Mission San Gabriel (?

5. (1772) Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa

6. (1776) Mission San Francisco de Asís (Mission Dolores)

7. (1776) Mission San Juan Capistrano

8. (1777) Mission Santa Clara de Asís

9. (1782) Mission San Buenaventura

10. (1786) Mission Santa Barbara

11. (1787) Mission La Purísima Concepción

12. (1791) Mission Santa Cruz

13. (1791) Mission Nuestra Señora de la Soledad

14. (1797) Mission San José

15. (1797) Mission San Juan Bautista

16. (1797) Mission San Miguel Arcángel

17. (1797) Mission San Fernando Rey de España

18. (1798) Mission San Luis Rey de Francia

19. (1804) Mission Santa Inés

20. (1817) Mission San Rafael Arcángel

21. (1823) Mission San Francisco Solano (the last mission)

Sample info available on line.