California’s Missions Trail – History Found in Paradise
California’s Missions Trail began some 243 years ago in San Diego at the site of the first Franciscan Mission, Mission San Diego de Alcalá, founded by Father Junípero Serra and Father Gaspar de Portolà.
This would later pave the way for 20 additional missions to follow, creating not only an outpost for local residents to worship freely, but a hospitable garden oasis where travelers could take lodging in relative safety and comfort. Sounds like paradise to me, however getting there was a task all its own. The California Missions Trail (El Camino Real, which is Spanish for “The Royal Road”) is referred to by some as California’s first interstate highway, became the primary route of passage for those traveling up and down the California coast.
Understanding the importance of the missions as historic landmarks and the route by which they were traveled to, the California Federation of Women’s Clubs unveiled its first El Camino Real bell marker in 1906. It was 460 millimeters in diameter and cast in bronze. The bells were not only used to mark the actual location of a mission, but were also spaced along the route every 30 miles - what was then a days’ ride by horseback, the primary mode of transportation at the time.
Originally, there were approximately 450 bells, but many were vandalized, stolen or lost due to the relocation or rerouting of highways and roads. In 1960 after a reduction of the El Camino Real bells to approximately 80, most were replaced with replicas made from either concrete, iron and what would later be metal bells cast from the original mold.
Although not on California’s Missions Trail, a collection of 8 of the original El Camino Real bells can be found at Paradise Point, the 44-acre island hotel located just 15 minutes from Mission San Diego de Alcalá in the heart of Mission Bay. Here, just like the travelers of yesteryear, guests are welcomed with friendly smiles and treated to limitless comfort and relaxation.
Also surrounded by a lush tropical setting with lagoons and waterways that meander throughout the resort, Paradise Point offers an array of amenities that even the weariest traveler can’t ignore. So, take a detour off the California Mission Trail and come see a unique piece of California history that only guests in Paradise can experience.