Last night we camped overnight at Lake San Antonio which is halfway between San Miguel and Mission San Antonio. The road we took was difficult to ride because of its many steep hills. Of course the best thing about climbing a steep hill is that when you get to the top, a long downhill is usually on the other side. Yesterday, on one of the downhills, our speedometer read 41 mph, our fastest speed so far! We were able to go that fast safely because we could see a long way in front of us, and there was no traffic.
The roads that we have traveled in the last few days have been very peaceful. The country here is typical of California: brown hills dotted with oak trees, splashes of golden California poppies and smears of lupine. We wonder if the sights we see are similar to the ones that the Franciscans would have seen on their journeys in the 1800s? Our guess is that a few things would be different: First of all, the two large lakes (Lakes San Antonio and Nacimiento) that we passed in the last two days would not have been there. These lakes have been made by by building large dams in these river valleys. Secondly, we think that there were probably many more trees here. Much of this land has probably been cleared in order to make pasture land for cattle and horses.
At 6:00 p.m. we were summoned to dinner by the Mission's bell. Before sitting down our host Father Bart read a short grace from the Bible. We ate with Father Bart, Brother John and three other people who live here at Mission San Antonio. We sure appreciated the good food after eating camp food last night. We had: rice and potato casserole, spaghetti, fresh French bread, salad, broccoli and lemon cake for dessert.
During dinner Brother John (Franciscans are called "Brother" unless they are priests in which case you call them "Father") told us about the Hunter Ligget Military Reservation which surrounds this mission. Often soldiers practice battle maneuvers near the mission. We heard that sometimes the practice using "laser tanks" in the hills. Brother John said that he feels funny when he sees all these soldiers and weapons near the mission. For him, the mission represents peace and he thinks that it is too bad that the military is nearby to remind him of war. Hunter Ligget Military Reservation is supposed to be closing down soon.
In spite of the military base Mission San Antonio is one of the most peaceful ones that we have visited. After dinner we took a delightful walk down to the river with one of the visiting brothers here. We saw a beautiful pink sunset over Junipero Serra Peak (which is 5,862 feet high.)
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--Brian and Matt
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