San Juan Bautista – California’s Gold (710)

A century ago, it was the hub of Northern California — a crossroads where over the years you would have encountered gentle Mutsune Indians, hard-working Franciscan padres, fierce outlaws and a host of other fascinating characters. Located just three miles off busy Highway 101 in San Benito County, today the town has somehow managed to maintain the look and feel of “old California.” Mission San Juan Bautista dominates the landscape. The largest of the old Spanish mission churches in our state, it sits on a huge grassy area — the only remaining Spanish plaza in California. Founded in 1787, it is still the functioning parish church in the San Juan Valley. During his stay, Huell is given a tour of the Mission and the State Historic Park which includes numerous grand old buildings surrounding the plaza. He also takes a personal tour of the town given by Leonard Caetano who has spent his entire 72 years there and is one of its leading citizens – and historians.