First Trip Back Part 2: “Disneyland or the Beach?” Day 1, Part 1

We woke up the next morning and the bed was so uncomfortable, my back really hurt. I have to be really careful with it – I never know when it’s time to spasm. Going to Disneyland that morning was out-of-the-question. So we thought about what to do next. In the meantime, we ate breakfast in the hotel restaurant, which was included with our room rate – as was parking.

The purpose of the trip was really to check in on the old neighborhoods, visit old and new favorite places such as the beach and Disneyland. In the end, we decided to drive down to San Juan Capistrano to see Mission Capistrano for the first time since we became Catholic.

My love for Catholic missions began when I was eight-years-old studying Orange County history in third grade. I was so impressed with the Catholic Missions and Father Junipero Serra that I came home from school and told my mother all about this priest and his missions.

I can just imagine what my mother must have been thinking as she tried to balance the act of independent OC Housewife and obedient daughter to her Jehovah’s Witness mother. If you know anything about the JW beliefs, you know that they believe the Catholic Church is the Great Harlot of Babylon. Too bad they don’t understand the beauty and power and holiness of the “Universal” church – that’s what “Catholic” means.

I never expected to be so emotional while touring the mission – I’d toured it as a kid and again with Rich years ago. But this was our first time as Catholics and I was overcome by the emotion of that moment when I was eight when, little did I know, my heart became Catholic. Revisiting the Mission as Catholic told me that I’d come full circle since that moment and the intervening years that been God’s work of bringing me into his church.

The tears began to slide down my cheeks in the “Padre” room where the priests greeted visitors to the mission. The tears returned in the old Sanctuary where the piped in music was the same Christmas music I’d heard in the Grotto in Portland right before we became Catholic. It was as if all three experiences – Father Juniper Serra in school, my Catholic conversion, and this moment – were all connected as one.

And as the tears released the emotion, my back started feeling just fine. 🙂

Other things I learned:

  • The Capistrano Mission is the birthplace of the California wine industry when Father Junipero Serra decided to plant a vineyard rather than rely on Mexico for sacramental wine.
  • The Capistrano Mission is the birthplace of all of what is now Orange County and the area I lived in was the “Bolsa” tract. I went to Bolsa elementary in third grade.
  • Less than a year before his death, President Lincoln signed over the California mission properties back to the Catholic Church after Mexico secularized it following their independence from Spain.

And now I also know why I love the OC – it’s Holy ground. 🙂

After the mission, we drove back up PCH and stopped off at SOL for a Mexican lunch. I noticed Sol on “Real Housewives of Orange County” and just had to eat there. The food was incredible – with special and unique flavors – not the usual Mexican fare.

Rich had:

GRILLED FISH ZARANDEADO TACOS with pineapple-cucumber salsa, cabbage, creamy lime sauce

And I had:

CARNE ASADA STREET TACOS with avocado sauce, pico de gallo, onion.

We each had:

HOUSE MARGARITA, made with SOL’s house made sour mix, freshly squeezed orange juice, Agavales Blanco, & a splash of Patron Citronge.

sol_margaritaSol Margarita

bajasauceSalsa, Bean Dip, and Baja sauce – muy delicioso!

After lunch, we returned to the hotel to rest up and nap before our evening at Disneyland. We were on a mission to actually get inside Disneyland Park and to ride the Haunted Mansion, no matter how long the line. 🙂

About Kathy

Author of Cruise and Travel-Themed Novels ("Real Women Wear Red" / "Real Women Sing the Blues"), Songwriter & Poet