Saturday, March 19, 2016

When The Swallows Return to Capistrano*

Swallow Nests
March 19th is St Joseph's Day, and the day every year that the swallows return to Capistrano.  Only...NOT.  It seems that since 2014 they have elected to fly 60 miles north to the swanky private Vellano Country Club in Chino Hills.  I guess if I could hang (pun, get it?) with Greg Norman I would, too. We discovered this abomination of tradition before leaving, but decided to go anyway to check out the Mission.  We did find some of the mud nests but aren't sure if they are manmade since that has been one attempt to persuade the feathered friends to return.  If you can zoom in on the picture above you will see those nests sans the swallows.  The second kink in the day was that we forgot it was Saturday. As such it took 2 1/2 hours in stop and go California traffic to go 80 miles.  The return trip was only tiny bit shorter.  

This Mission is one of several Franciscan sites founded by Franciscan Junipero Serra.  It houses the oldest in-use building in California, the Serra Chapel.  On the grounds are the remains of a large stone church.  Built in the late 1700s of stone with vaulted domes, the church was unlike the other Missions' adobe churches.  In 1812 the church was destroyed by an earthquake.  
Church Ruins of Mission San Juan Capistrano
The grounds are filled with beautiful flowers, and plenty of artifacts; historical information abounds in the small rooms.  Submerged oil and tanning vats were discovered recently while digging to repair a broken water main.  This discovery illustrates the extent of the Franciscans' hide tanning and tallow production. The first wine in Alta California was produced from the Mission's grapes, criolla. Until about 1850 this grape represented the entirety of California's viticulture. Despite the absence of the swallows and the horrendous traffic, we had a great day. Anything we do here is fun because, well.. it is so damn nice in Southern California!!!
Beautiful Ground of Mission San Juan Capistrano