You’ve probably heard that the swallows return to Mission San Juan Capistrano from their wintering grounds 2,000 miles away every year on March 19, right?

And so you may be wondering why I visited the mission today. (You just glanced up at the date, didn’t you?)


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The answer is at the end of this blog. (You’re thinking about scrolling down to the end of the blog, aren’t you?)

Today I took an excessive number of archway photos at Mission San Juan Capistrano. Brick and timber arches with cobblestoned walkways are prominent on all four sides of a large, open green. Each more beautiful than the previous.

Until viewed on my laptop where they all basically look the same.


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You see what I’m saying.

I took my time browsing through the ten-acre grounds – peeking inside the chapel …


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… strolling past the herb and vegetable garden, past the place where they made their adobe bricks years ago, stomped their own grapes into wine.

The mission was founded in 1776 by Father Junipero Serra as part of Spain’s territorial expansion. By 1806, it had a population of more than 1,000 people, 10,000 head of cattle, and the Great Stone Church was completed.

Six years later, the church collapsed in an earthquake, but this is what has been preserved:


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By 1812, Mexico had won its independence from Spain. The mission was sold and became part of a private ranch. And then the US won the Mexican American war in 1848. With the start of the Gold Rush and millions of Americans moving west, California became a state in 1850.

President Abraham Lincoln was the one who returned the run-down missions and land to the Catholic Church where preservation work was started and continues to this day.

And that’s the short version.

So, the answer to why I visited San Juan Capistrano today instead of March 19 has to do with being married to Hubby for too many years. He instilled in me a love for *no-crowd zones.*

Which made for a lovely, lazy stroll through the sunny grounds of Mission San Juan Capistrano with very little traffic.

That is, until I got back on the 405. A friend of mine refers to the 405 as the world’s largest parking lot. That would be an accurate description.


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Oh, and I did get a photo of swallows nests as they await this year’s residents.


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If you had told me a year ago that today I’d be widowed, temporarily living in my son and DIL’s apartment before moving east, and navigating the SoCal freeways like a regular tourist, I would have said, Not likely.

But here’s what I think: If you find yourself detoured off the road to where you thought you were going … well then, get out your Google Maps app and do some exploring.