Friday, July 18, 2014

San Bautista Mission and ride to FreemontState Park

The neighbors decided to accompany us to visit San Juan Bautista State Historic Park.  The Office, Visitors' Center and gift shop are all located in the lobby of the historic Plaza Hotel.  The hotel was a one story adobe built in 1814 in the Spanish colonial style.  In 1856 Italian immigrant Angelo Zanetta leased the building and added a redwood second story and opened the Plaza Hotel in 1859.  It became an attraction for both its fine French and Italian cuisine and its saloon.  Travelers from around the world were guests at the hotel.   The hotel is now a museum.

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Hotel saloon and pool room

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Connected to the hotel by the upper walkway is the outhouse--two one seat rooms down divided by a one seater between and over them.  Very high class!

The park complex depicts a Spanish pueblo consisting of several buildings including three  houses of different sizes-one shown the way it was when lived in, the other a history museum and one a settlers cabin,the blacksmith shop, of course, wash house, and other utilitarian buildings all built around a central courtyard or plaza.  The plaza was used for bullfights, bearfights, cockfights, parades and social gatherings.  Early residents baked bread in outdoor ovens and dried cowhides in the plaza.  The plaza is bordered on two sides by park buildings, on one side by the old mission and on the fourth by the original El Camino Real.  Real, pronounced ray-all, means road.

carriage house and barn with old wagons and carriages on display

Back on the bikes we took the road to Fremont Peak State Park. 

Yes, that is our road.

This is a very nice limited use park with camping, picnic areas, restrooms and hiking trails. San Juan Bautista is somewhere in the distance.

We ate our picnic in one of the many picnic areas then took a trail to the top.  The bikes are parked directly below.  

The marine layer made an appearance.

Bill and Diane headed for the top.

The sign depicts Fremont and his crew as being strictly expeditionary but of course was suspected of spying for the federal government during the Civil War.

Today we visited two of California's many state parks.  Here's how the system got started.  In 1864 as the Civil War threatened, CA became the first state in the nation to establish a state park.  With little opposition, Congress and President Lincoln granted Yosemite Valley and Mariposa Grove to the State.  This historic legislation marked the beginning of land preservation designed for public use.  Yosemite Valley and Mariposa Grove remained a CA state park until 1906 when it became a national park.  In 1902 a San Jose photographer became instrurmental in establishing Big Basin Redwoods State Park, now CA's oldest state park.  In 1917 the official CA State Park Commission was established and appointed Newton B. Drury as Executive Director.  He served for 20 years before leaving to lead the National Park Service.   Californians can be proud of their state parks and their history.

After our state park tour, we went home for supper, then met again for an evening of cards.  The fun never ends!

Louise and Duane

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