Tuesday, October 31, 2006

San Gabriel Mission and a Return to Olvera Street and Chinatown

After our trip to Olvera Street, the wife mentioned our trip to one of her friends, let's call her 'J', who expressed her interest in going. On Sunday we decided to go back with 'J' in tow to look for more treasures. We decided to add one of the California Missions (Mission San Gabriel) to our trip to add something new for us.

We started our Sunday trip with a hearty breakfast at Uncle Herb's. The staff were all dressed up in Halloween fare. There was a fog machine and everything was decorated. There were several young children who wouldn't go in because it was too scary. We had a great breakfast which included some of the best pancakes on the planet.

We then drove down the PCH and made our way to Mission San Gabriel. We toured the mission and the gardens. The mission was cool but there was a volunteer guide who spoke too loud and was generally obnoxious. We have now visited 5 missions - only 16 to go.

We continued on to Olvera Street. The market place and park was much more crowded then it was two weeks earlier. There were Dia De Los Muertos displays honoring dead relatives and children and adults alike were having their faces painted like skulls. Mariachis were playing and singing and the crowd were having a great time. I separated from the wife and 'J' and looked around the area while they shopped. The architecture is fascinating with buildings from the 1800s and the early 1900s. I found an interesting mural near the park, a real cool firehouse, and walked through the Dia de los Muertos exhibits at the Pico House. Along with the tributes to the family dead was a war memorial consisting of panels hung from the ceiling, their bottom edge resting a a box of sand, listing US Military casualties on one side and civilian casualties on the other.

We regrouped and moved on to Chinatown. We discovered that the main street was once part of historic route 66. We walked through the dragon gate and took in the sites. We had never been to Chinatown so late in the day and the crowds were small. There was a show starting in the little square where we saw the lion dance but it was getting late so we headed home. Here are some links to more pictures of Olvera Street, Chinatown, and Mission San Gabriel.


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