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March 1, 1861: Ventura

March 1, 2011

Ventura Pier, Ventura, California

Ventura Pier, Ventura, California; by Ken Lund, on Flickr

common phacelia - phacelia distans

Phacelia distans; by randomtruth, on Flickr

Camp 17

[Today], we came on to San Buenaventura, on the seacoast. Soon after leaving Cayeguas we entered the plain, which there lies along the sea, and crossed it to the sea about twenty miles. It is a fine grassy plain, with here and there a gentle green knoll, with a few dry creeks or alkaline ponds, and one fine stream, the Santa Clara River, running through it. We stopped for an hour on its bank and rested our mules, lunched and refreshed ourselves in a grove of cottonwoods which came nearer to a forest than anything I have yet seen here. We forded the river and came on. At San Buenaventura the hills come up to the sea, the plain ceases, but a fine stream comes down from a pretty valley, green, grassy, and rich.

deep shadows

Mission San Buenaventura garden; by 1600 Squirrels, on Flickr

Here is the old Mission San Buenaventura, once rich, now poor. A little dirty village of a few inhabitants, mostly Indian, but with some Spanish-Mexican and American. The houses are of adobe, the roofs of red tiles, and all dirty enough. A fine old church stands, the extensive garden now in ruins, but with a few palm trees and many figs and olives—the old padres’ garden. Ruined buildings, two or three old fountains with lions and horses sculptured on them, now dry and ruined, told of former luxury. An old threshing floor stood, a circular wall of stones laid up in mortar, about forty or fifty feet in diameter, the wall about four or five feet high, where they used to put in wheat and drive in wild horses to thresh it.

Specimens collected: Paeonia californica; Plantago erecta; Phacelia distans; Cryptantha muricata; Plantago insularis; Calystegia macrostegia subsp. cyclostegia.

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