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April 14, 1861: San Luis Obispo

April 14, 2011

slo mission altar

Altar, Mission San Luis Obispo; by 1600 Squirrels, on Flickr

Camp 26

We are camped about two miles from San Luis Obispo, and will remain here two or three weeks. We must meet Professor Whitney about 250 or 300 miles north, near Monterey, about the middle of June. He is north now, where severe rains have deluged the country.

My health is excellent. The chaparral was so bad for pants that I bought three buckskins. Peter “smoked” them as the Indians do, and from them I have made a splendid pair of pants, which defy chaparral, are healthy for rattlesnakes and tarantulas, and please me much every way, except that they are not particularly ornamental—in fact, I would hardly attend a party East in them. The hot sun has given the color of well-smoked ham to my hands and face; my hair nearly came out, so I have it cut short, the longest scarcely half an inch long. How I would like to happen in on you. See if you would recognize the captain of our geological party….

[Today] I remained in camp until the afternoon, when I went into town, about two miles. The old church is much like the other missions, except that the ceiling is made of short but wide split boards, and these are alternately painted in different bright colors, probably an Indian fancy, but by no means pleasing to the taste of Americans. The town looks more South American or Spanish than even the others we have seen. It is a small, miserable place.

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