Sunday, February 21, 2010

San Luis Obispo

 This town was founded as a mission in 1772. It grew into a full-fledged town with the completion of the Southern Pacific Railroad in 1894. It was the fifth mission of the 21 founded by Father Serra. Interestingly enough, he chose to build a mission in this area because of the presence of bears. He thought that they would be a source of meat for the mission. There is a fountain right outside of the entrance to the mission which pays tribute to the wildlife and the Mission Chumash Indian that "instilled a spirit and love to the area"(quote is taken from a plaque on the fountain).

 By the time the Mexican government ruled the territory many of the Indians in the mission had been decimated by disease. Not willing to put any money into a failing mission the Mexican government sold it. Various rooms then served as a jail and courthouse. Later, as with many of the missions, the American government gave it back to the Catholic church. Since then this mission has served as a parish church for San Luis Obispo. Over time the city has gradually grown up around it. After we toured the mission John and I took the river walk into the heart of the shopping district. The walk winds along the San Luis Creek and is fairly short in length.
 John does extensive reading before we tour any locality to make sure we do not miss anything. While walking the streets of San Luis Obispo we came upon a building with one of its outside walls plastered with chewing gum.  We paused a minute to look and ponder its significance. I thought of taking a picture, but we then decided that it was just too yucky to think about any further. Turns out that John had slipped up in getting all the low-down on this town. We had passed up Bubblegum Alley without getting a picture! The bubble gum collection had started just after WWII as a San Luis Obispo High graduating event. Some say it started as a tradition between the local high school and Cal Poly University in the 1950s. Whatever its origin, this alley represents tradition and fame, however disgusting it may be to look at. Driving out of town John suddenly decided we should take a side trip to the town of Arroyo Grande.  This beautiful little town has a rope bridge constructed during the 1870s. The Swinging Bridge can still be used by pedestrians today. It was used to bridge the gap between the town's two sections which grew on opposite sides of the river.

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