I’m guessing that the year 2020 will bring a new chapter to the lives of many of us. For the past 5+ months, we have enjoyed the hospitality of our friends Steve and Wende by living in their house on Lake Tahoe. Summer in that particular part of the Sierra Mountains is delightful with mild weather and bountiful natural beauty.
The United State has some spectacular national parks. We have been fortunate to visit many of them: Grand Canyon NP, Yellowstone NP, Grand Teton NP, Canyonlands NP, Arches NP, Yosemite NP, Glacier NP and many others.
So, why am I making special mention of Sequoia National Park? This park is well down the list in terms of the number of annual visitors among national parks. Perhaps it is overshadowed by Yosemite NP which is a little further north along the Sierras and is in the top 5 most visited parks.
Certainly, all of those other national parks have beautiful scenery and marvelous natural wonders and deserve every bit of the attention they get from the thousands of people that visit them every year. The reason I wanted to highlight Sequoia NP is that when you stand next to one of these trees you will be changed forever. They are so magnificent and impossibly massive, you just have to consider your place in the world and how simply wonderful it is that these giants exist.
We’ve had a significant absence from any update in our articles. There have been some notable changes during that time and deserve to be mentioned. And, of course, we know that big changes came to us all in recent weeks. So, allow us to review the past few months.
On November 16, Valerie’s son Jason and his wife Ashley hosted a pre-Thanksgiving dinner for a small family group. They had a beautiful spread and everyone contributed some dishes to round out the menu. It was a terrific dinner and a fun day visiting with family.
We thank Jason and Ashley for putting together this event.
For those of us old enough to have been around during the presidency of Richard Nixon, we would recall that when the Nixons were able to take a break from Washington, they would head to San Clemente, CA, to “The Western White House”. They owned an oceanfront estate there called “La Casa Pacifica”. We weren’t able to stay at that particular property but we followed the Nixons model and took a short break in San Clemente, located about midway along the Pacific coast between LA and San Diego.
We’ve driven past San Clemente many times, traveling on Interstate 5 to or from San Diego. This time we wanted to take a couple of days to explore this beautiful town and the surrounding area. We enjoyed some fresh Pacific seafood and some nice hikes.
One of our special outings was to Mission San Juan Capistrano. Many people know of the “miracle” of the swallows that return to this town every year on March 19th. The story behind this is that a pastor of the mission was walking through town when he saw one of the shopkeepers using a broom to swat away the birds that were nesting in the eves of his shop. He considered the birds to be a nuisance and wanted to get rid of them. The pastor said, “Come on swallows. I’ll give you shelter. Come to the Mission”. Since then the birds have returned to the Mission every year.
Mission San Juan Capistrano was established on November 1, 1776. This is one of the 21 missions that would ultimately be established to expand the territorial boundaries of Spain and spread Christianity to the native peoples of California. After 1812, the Mission began to decline. Subsequently, it was sold at auction and was a private ranch property for 20 years. Eventually, after California became a state, President Abraham Lincoln returned the property to the Catholic Church. Today you can see the results from many years of preservation and restoration efforts.