Situated across the street from the barracks (in Part 1 of my trip to Sonoma State Historic Park) was the mission. It was part of the El Camino Real: a road that connected almost two dozen Spanish missions and stretched from San Diego to Sonoma. Cool, no? You can see the bell-shaped markers alongside wherever the road itself once was (or is). I’ve included a picture of one just above.
I stepped along the front porch and opened the solid wood door and found myself in a small entry way. Behind a desk sat a park ranger. I paid the $3 that would allow me into the building; not expensive and the one-time fee would also allow me entry into Vallejo’s estate and, if I so desired, the Petaluma Adobe State Historic Park. I didn’t ultimately go there this time; but I shall, perhaps, in the future.
In what had once been the dining room were water-colored pictures of most of the Spanish missions that dotted the El Camino Real. According to the laminated pamphlet I was giving upon entering the building, these were done in the early 1900s. I took my time gazing at them. I loved that someone had taken the time to do all these at one point in history.
Nowadays, all you have to do is point a camera and…click! So fast and easy. Back then? Painting and sketching was easier- and less expensive- than taking a picture with one of those clunky cameras. And then you had to wait for the film to be developed, too. As I admired the pictures, I recognized another one I’d been to in Carmel probably around twenty years ago? I know I had been in grade school then, but I don’t remember much else about that venture.
After the water-colors, I went into the chapel. According to the pamphlet, it was built by General Vallejo to replace the old one in around 1840. The chapel had a certain smell to it, almost of incense, if that makes sense. It wasn’t a big room, but it had an air of reverence to it. To one side, was a short set of steps leading to a podium built into the wall. I didn’t find out if religious ceremonies were held here, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that were the case.
After I left the chapel, I walked back through the building and out into the courtyard. It was very warm outside. In the center of the courtyard, there was a shaded sitting area next to a fountain and, behind that, the most massive cactus I think I’ve ever seen. I privately nicknamed it Goliath. I then felt my stomach rumbling unpleasantly with a sensation I can only know was hunger. So, after bidding adieu to my new cactus friend, I left the mission.
The Sonoma Cheese Factory is right next to Sonoma State Historic Park. You can buy all manner of things here. Cheese. Wine. Beer. Chocolate. Ice-cream. Yummy sandwiches. It’s all fairly reasonably priced, too, which is perfect if you’re on a budget like I am. In case you’re curious, I ultimately got a hotdog (it was National Hotdog Day, after all, and I felt it only right that I acquire one).
After lunch, I sped off to the Vallejo Estate!