Mission San Juan Capistrano, which we reached by the lovely Ortego Highway through the Cleveland National Forest.
Hanne had left Denmark in very early spring - with snow for Easter, so she was looking for sun, warmth, and flowers. We found everything here in Capistrano - an excellent start on our vacation! (Or almost everything - most of the time our weather was beautiful, but a little chilly for swimming in pools and sunning on decks.)
It's amazing what California has to offer - just Southern California, in fact. Where we live along the Interstate 10 and 15 corridors are millions of house, warehouse, malls, factories, offices. Our urban (and previous agricultural) origins were the trains. The rail owners wanted people to use the trains, so they encouraged settlements along them. I understand that back when Upland was settled, there was a long wet spell, so it seemed our area was perfect for agriculture, and there was enough water for everyone.
We are hemmed in on all sides by the mountains of the Angeles, Cleveland and San Bernardino National Forests, with their variety of wildlife, including bears and wild cats. In our own patio we have seen an opossum and the lizard I described a few post back - as well as numerous feral cats, humming birds (who for the time being aren't interested in the feeder my husband is so proud of.)
Hanne and I drove the 10 to the 15 down to the town of Lake Elsinore, which has aquired a lot of malls since the last time we were there about 6 years ago. It used to be a sleepy outpost of post-war California, but it's grown up in a hurry. But then we left the Freeway and climbed high above the town, not stopping at viewpoints because we were just starting out. There was a lot of road construction on the "other side of the mountain" down toward Mission Viejo. I guess that explains the malls in Elsinore - people are living (for now) inexpensively there and commuting to jobs in the seaside Orange County towns.
The church ruin at Capistrano was built in the early 19th century by the Spanish monks, but destroyed not long after by an earthquake, killing many of the worshippers in the church. The Spanish mission era didn't last long, either. By 1849, of course, gold was discovered in California, and the distant territory very soon became of interest to the US and annexed as a territory and then a state. (Note: I don't remember dates very well, and I'm too lazy too look them up. Sorry!)
But a chapel remains, the swallows return, and even Americans can't ruin all of the beauty of California.