Mission San Antonio de Padua in JolonI’ve told you before about my obsession with visiting all the California missions along the Old Mission Trail. My original concept was to do it on burro as the old padres did, but that proved impractical, not the least because I don’t yet own a burro. So I’ve been settling for a series of roadtrips. To keep it from being too easy and to add a little flair to the endeavour, I’ve sometimes varied my traveling companions. One trip involved two ladies in their seventies which became a Golden Girls trip. Another trip had me hauling my mother down the Central Valley to San Juan Capistrano for the return of the swallows with a side trip to worship at the shrine of Buck Owens. Now I’m upping the ante with a small child, known to readers here as The World’s Most Beautiful Baby. Has such a roadtrip of discovery been attempted since Lewis & Clark took off from St. Louis with a young Sacajawea and her infant son? Well, there was that time my parents took off from Alaska to New York with a teardrop trailer, a toddler (me) and an infant (my brother) over the not-yet-finished Al-Can Highway. (That story here.) But still, I’d say these are endeavours as challenging as traveling with burros.

So here’s the to-date list of the Missions I’ve managed to visit:

That leaves these missions still unvisited, and luckily, most of them are clustered on the Central Coast:

San Fernando, San Gabriel and San Luis Rey may have to wait until a trip to LA. But I think we can handle the other seven, even with a toddler who is not convinced she likes long car rides. One thing about the padres, they set the missions about a day’s ride apart which at that time, and by burro, was about 25 miles. With the vagaries of today’s highway and byway systems, that means most missions aren’t more than half an hour to an hour from each other. Which could be a good thing for toddler travel.

Why drag a child along on such an adventure? Well, I think it’s in the Godparents’ Manual. Isn’t part of the job description overseeing the child’s religious upbringing? Focusing on the religious artifacts of 200 years ago has to figure into that somehow. Shortly before I take her to see the Godfather Trilogy.

Anyway, the adventure kicks off early Tuesday, September 14. Stay tuned.

Shown above: San Antonio de Padua in Jolon, one of the most isolated missions but definitely worth a trip.