There's something about the Inland Empire in Spring that I really like. It seems to have stemmed from Spring Breaks being spent with my maternal grandparents, camping in various places. The smells, blue skies, green hillsides and mild temperatures bring all of that out.
Our starting point was Fairmount Park, which has a paved bike path that connects with the Santa Ana River bike path. A Santa Ana condition was present and the first few miles were spent bucking a somewhat strong headwind. Since the winds were revealing very clear skies and knowing we could enjoy them as a tailwind on the way back made it easier. Being able to see the Cajon Pass most of the way up the river bike path also helped, since it was the source of the wind and the further East we got from it, the easier the going became.
The exit of the bike path brought us onto Waterman Ave and a bit of a break at a convenience store for something to drink. Once on the street again, we had our one kook driver encounter of the day in the form of some tie-guy municipal employee who expressed that we should have license plates on our bicycles to ride on the street. He must have been the local Traffic Engineer. A quick rip under The 10 and over some railroad tracks brought us onto Barton Road, which was a straight shot to the Astencia.
Of course it had to have at least one hill, or it wouldn't have been a real adventure, right? At least the view improved with altitude. Once up on the hill, it was a little rolly for the first few miles and then dropped down again before the Mission. Up a short rise after New Jersey Avenue and we were there.
It's almost surreal to think that in the midst of the modern suburban sprawl there could be something so old and cool. It's almost like the place is hidden in plain view. Once inside the walls, the hustle and bustle seems to disappear, adding more charm. It also helped that we were the only visitors present the whole time we were there. The courtyard wasn't too opulent, but had its points of interest just the same. The cattle ranchos built to support the missions didn't seem to rate as high as the missions themselves. The chapel and adjoining rooms were sparsely furnished, but the period items there had a fantastic mix of Spanish and Native influences. What appeared to have been a bunkhouse was converted into an interpretive center, which helped explain the site's history from inception to present.
Rested up from the first half of the ride, but hungry, our next mission was to find food! Neither of us had been scanning the strip malls on the way in, but we readily found a sandwich shop and stopped for a bite. Mostly downhill with a tailwind after eating is always a good thing. Allowing for a relaxing pace and a few stops to take a few photos also enabled a celebrity encounter. Arrival back at our starting point after a thirty mile jaunt was welcomed equally by both of us.
It was worth the wait.