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I have visited a large number of California missions, and frankly I was disappointed by the restored chapel complex at the time we pulled into its parking lot on a late Friday afternoon, a blustery day in April. The Mission was already closed, and so I began to shoot pictures of the building and grounds, but mostly out of habit because the structures are not impressive at all! First, the mission chapel is hardly adorned, and has no bell tower, and the extent of the other buildings are very few. However, when I walked around back, I found adobe foundations, and even more to my delight a young archeology undergraduate student sifting for bits of plaster, indian beads, and other evidence of human existence. I talked with her for awhile about her work and learned that a professor from the new California State University at Monterey Bay was contracted to determine the boundaries of the original mission. Apparently, despite the fact that much adobe had sunk into adjacent farmland, the archeologists were confident that the foundations and purpose of rooms in the entire mission complex could be determined forensically. I was lucky enought to meet the professor himself, Ruben Mendoza, a very friendly, knowledgeable, and informative person, not only about Mission Soledad, but also about any of the missions in the California system. I recommend a stop by Mission Soledad with the hope that you'll be able to see archeology in action. Mendoza has a number of other mission related projects that can be appreciated via the department weblink provided below.
Updated Apr 4, 2011
On the western edge of the Salinas Valley, just SW of the town of Soledad, is Mission Nuestra Senora de la Soledad. It was one of the more isolated, neglected, and poor missions in Spanish California. By the time the mission's sole padre died in 1818, the mission was destitute and falling apart. It was subsequently neglected and largely destroyed over time. Almost the entire structure is a reproduction, but it still has the original bell cast for it in Mexico.
Written Apr 19, 2006
Address: There is a well-marked road off of Hwy 101.
Ahem - can you really call yourself a lounge if you don't have any hard liquor? I think not. But the staff was very friendly, the burgers were tasty and the local crowd was entertaining to watch.
Favorite Dish: Budlight and burgers - when in rome....
Written Nov 29, 2006