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Hemet and San Jacinto, two clean little towns about four miles apart, are situated in a lovely valley beneath the snow-crowned peak that gives its name to the latter village. Alfalfa meadows, grain fields and fruit orchards surround them and give an air of peace and prosperity to the pleasant vale. But when we visited the towns a few years later, most of the brick buildings had been leveled to the ground by an earthquake shock-an experience the same places had undergone about twenty years before. It was a sad scene of desolation and destruction, but as the shock occurred on a Sunday, when the brick buildings which suffered most were unoccupied, there was no loss of life. It was noted that concrete and frame structures were little injured and the towns have been rebuilt in such a manner as to be nearly proof, it is believed, against future quakes.

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But we were not yet through with the Back Country. They told us at Warner's that there was no more beautiful road in the county than the one following the San Luis Rey River between Pala and Santa Ysabel. It was closed by the landslide at the time, but a few days later we again found ourselves in the quiet streets of Pala, intent on making the trip. We had come direct from Temecula over the "big grade," a little-used road across the great hill range between the Santa Margarita and San Luis Rey Valleys. In all our wanderings I doubt if we found a dozen miles of harder going than our climb over the Pala grade. A rough, narrow trail, badly washed by recent rains, twisted around boulders and among giant trees and pitched up and down frightful grades, often along precipitous slopes. There were several stony fords to be crossed and a wide stretch of heavy sand on the western side of the range. It is a route to be avoided by people inclined to nervous qualms or who dislike strenuous mountain work. No wonder the regular route to Pala runs by way of Fall Brook and Bonsal, though the distance is greater by thirty or forty miles.

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The San Luis Rey river road presented a repetition of much scenery such as we saw on our Warner's Hot Springs trip. It does not leave the stream for any considerable distance, often pursuing its course through a tangle of forest trees. At times it comes out into the open and affords picturesque views of the mountains that guard the valley on either hand. A few miles from Pala a road branches off to Mount Palomar, from whose summit, about four thousand feet high, may be seen on clear days one of the famous panoramas of San Diego County. We were deterred from the ascent by the lowering day, which shrouded the peak in heavy clouds. There is a long though easy climb over the hill range on the edge of "Valle de San Jose," from which we had a glorious outlook over a long succession of ranges stretching away to the red glow of the sunset. For the sun had struggled through the mists which obscured it most of the day and was flooding the breaking clouds with deep crimson. Far below us lay the valley with its patchwork of cultivated fields and red-roofed ranch-houses at wide intervals. Beyond the crest of the grade the road again descends to the river, which we followed to Santa Ysabel. From here we pursued our way over familiar roads to San Diego, experiencing no little satisfaction in having covered all the main highways-and many of the byways-of the county.

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Like many a pious pilgrim of old, we set out on the King's Highway-the storied Camino Real of the Golden State. We shall follow in the footsteps of the brown-robed brothers of St. Francis to the northernmost of the chain of missions which they founded in their efforts to convert and civilize the red men of California. Not with sandals and staff, nor yet with horse or patient burro shall we undertake the journey, but our servant shall be the twentieth century's latest gift to the traveler-the wind-shod motor car. And we shall not expect a night's lodging with a benediction and Godspeed such as was given the wayfarer at each link in the mission chain as he fared forth in days of old. We shall behold loneliness and decay at these ancient seats of hospitality and good cheer. But we are sure that we shall find in the crumbling, vine-covered ruins a glamour of romance and an historic significance that would make our journey worth while even if it did not take us through some of the loveliest and most impressive scenery in the world.

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When to beauty of country and perfection of clime are added the touch of human antiquity and romantic association, the combination should prove attractive to even the most prosaic. The memory of human sacrifice and devotion, and the wealth of historic incident that lends such a charm to England's abbeys, is not wanting in these cruder remnants of the pious zeal and tireless industry of the Spanish padres to be found in so many delightful nooks of the Sunset State. The story of the Franciscan missions is a fascinating one, despite its chapters of strife, heavy toil, and ultimate failure. From their inception in weakness and poverty and their rise to affluence, to the time of their decadence and final abandonment, these offshoots of the old religious system of Europe, transplanted to the alien soil of the New World, afford a colorful chapter of American history. The monk, always in the vanguard of Spanish exploration and civilization, came hither, as we have already seen, a little after the middle of the eighteenth century. The Franciscan order had received from the Castilian throne a grant of certain properties in California. Junipero Serra, a monk of true piety and energetic character, gladly accepted the hard and laborious task of founding missions in this new field. How he finally succeeded we have already told. Others followed him and between the years of 1769 and 1823 twenty-one missions were established within the present limits of California, extending along the Pacific Coast from San Diego to Sonoma, about seventy-five miles north of San Francisco.

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Like the English monks, the Spanish padres when locating their establishments always selected sites with pleasant surroundings and commanding views of beautiful scenery, always in the most fertile valleys and adjacent to lake or river. Many of the California missions are within a short distance of the Pacific, whose blue waters are often visible through the arcades, lending a crowning touch of beauty to the loveliness of the semi-tropical surroundings. And in sight of many of them snow-capped mountains rear their majestic forms against a sky matched only by that of Italy itself. Surrounding the buildings were fertile fields, with flowers, fruit trees, and palms, usually watered by irrigation as well as by winter rains, and, indeed, the Arcadia of the poets was well-nigh made a reality under the sway of the California padres. The missions were located, presumably, a day's journey apart, so that the traveler might find entertainment at the close of each day, for the hospitality of the Franciscan fathers never waned.

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