"Could I have this dance for the rest of my life?" - Anne Murray

Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Mission San Juan Capistrano

I've not seen anything else like this in the United States. It struck me as a cross between a European cathedral and the Getty in Los Angeles.  Like the partly ruined cathedrals all over Europe, it has classic grace, a sense of an ancient sacred aesthetic, and its own unique combination of Christian and pagan imagery. Like the Getty it captures the dramas of light and dark, wet and dry that is ever present in southern California with cool geometrically enclosed space and lush vegetation softening the bright sun.  The contrasts between inside and outside are everywhere with repeating arches serving as thresholds between these archetypal extremes.

Imagine transitioning between the heat of the sun and the cool of the dark inner spaces 
through these long arched porches.

Geometric shapes - arches, circles, columns, echoe throughout the Mission.

There are several fountains gushing with greenery.

Inside the chapel.

About half the mission is in ruins from an earthquake in the 1800's (I think).

This fountain is in the ruined area and is not gushing

As one of the oldest structures in the western United States, it seems to have served as a model for much of the southwestern architecture that has followed, from the Temecula city hall to Taco Bell.

To get to Capistrano we drove over the mountains on the Ortega Highway, which Rick was pretty excited about. It's been featured on a website called Oncars.com that reviews cars and takes them on drives to interesting places. It was a beautiful drive, with pretty spectacular views of Lake Elsinore and other points east.

Afterwards we stopped briefly at Dana Point before heading home. This is a picture of a little cove called the "baby beach," I assume because it's safe enough for babies. Next door is the Ocean Institute and a wildlife preserve on the rocky shoreline. The whole stretch from Capistrano to Dana Point is lovely.  But we couldn't find one darn place to take Kona swimming. Thank you Kona for being such a good traveler and being so patient with us.

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