I'm not very good at this "former homeschool mom" thing. I keep finding educational opportunities.
The younger kids' school planned a trip to Monterey Bay Aquarium. And then gave the kids the day before off as a "home study" day. Well, that was inviting us to make it into a mini vacation, right? So we turned it into a 3 day trip, with a side of missions on the drive.
If you don't know about the California Missions, in a nutshell, there are 21 of them stretching from San Diego to Sonoma, started by priests from Spain in the 1700s. The king of Spain wanted to establish a hold on his territory here, and the priests wanted to convert the Native Americans. It's a complex and interesting part of California's history. As times changed, and so did the ownership of California, the missions were secularized and many of them were used for other purposes or allowed to deteriorate. Eventually, they were returned to the care of the catholic church, and many of them are active churches today (although a few are owned by the state and run through the parks system). It's a personal bucket list item for me to see all 21 of the missions someday. (I've been to 6.) You can read about our trips to Mission San Diego de Alcala, and Mission San Francisco de Solano.
We set off at 7:40 Monday morning, a mere 10 minutes after I hoped to be on the road, so I was thrilled!
A couple hours later, we arrived at Mission San Jose, which is actually in the city of Fremont, not in the city of San Jose. Both the mission and the eventual city were named after Saint Joseph, but that's the only connection.
The Mission San Jose website has more information, as well.
The kids were happy to get out of the car and explore!
It was not quite 10 o'clock when we got to the door of the museum, but one of the staff poked their head out when they heard us try the door, and they took pity on us poor road trippers in need of a bathroom, letting us in at 9:56.
After cycling everybody through the restrooms and then paying our entrance fee, we were ready to check out all the interesting exhibits.
I did have the fleeting thought that it would make a cute picture to stick Katie in the cauldron, but I restrained myself.
We saw many tools and handicrafts.
The doorways in the missions are not as tall (or as standardized) as our doorways today.
This room was set up like a little chapel, with explanations of the different pieces.
Liturgical vestments from the active mission time period.
Timbers from the original mission.
I loved that the kids could see the clay mixed with straw to make bricks. Given the materials available for construction, the structures they created were really impressive! But it's also no surprise that most of the missions have had to be rebuilt or reinforced heavily.
The kids know what a mortar and pestle are from previous exposure, so I added a couple new vocabulary words for them. Rosary and genuflect. Hannah chose to draw a rosary in her trip sketch book.
This quaint little chapel was much less intimidating than the "big church."
Out in the gardens.
Checking out the fountain. "Mom! Why is there money in there?" I could have sworn we covered that at the mission we saw in April, but I explained it again.
If you look at the wall segments behind Jack... those originally spanned between the church building (right) and the building on the left, which we've just come out of.
The garden area was lovely, and I took the opportunity to get pictures of the kids in a pretty and relaxed setting.
The fountain and the museum building from a different perspective.
About to head into the church. There were a few graves on this side of the church.
Front of the church.
Back of the church.
Jack being irreverent.
Out the other side of the church is the main cemetery.
The gravestones and statues here are much more elaborate than the ones we would later see at the next mission. Also, I found it interesting that they have a columbarium with modern (2016) remains interred there.
Mission San Jose was a tranquil and interesting place to visit, and I'm glad we got to stop and enjoy it on our way to Monterey.
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