San Diego

Leucadia Memories

(Click on each photograph to see a larger picture on a separate picture page.)

In September 2014, and quite by accident, I found myself in the mostly high-end Encinitas, California neighborhood of Leucadia during an eventful visit to San Diego. The trip was pivotal in my lifelong quest to know my biological kin and then write a book about the decades-long journey.

Leucadia played a small part in that adventure.

The community lies in north San Diego County, along the Pacific Ocean and in the hill just above the waterfront. An Amtrak rail line runs through the community, connecting San Diego with Los Angeles.

I found the people to be friendly and the surf shops, coffee shops, and eateries very laid back. People looked prettier than average, but in San Diego, I discovered that was common too.

One website called it: “Eclectic. Funky. Hip. Happening.” The same article went on to describe houses selling for north of $1 million. To me, that’s far from funky. But the community is unquestionably cool.

I came here looking for a hotel that was close to the ocean, yet far from the city. This was the perfect spot. I immediately fell in love with its mellow vibe. It was a perfect place to launch my beach runs and hang out in the local cafes.

I came back again in 2016, this time to try surfing, take a quick holiday from Portland, and work on my then draft memoir. The place felt mostly the same, except a restaurant had closed and a new brewpub had opened.

In another life, one where I had great financial success, I could see myself here, for at least a couple of years. In my case, I had to settle for two short stays that are now fading away.

Here are a few shots from those fun visits.

The San Diego Mission: oldest and site of a great armed revolt

(Click on each photo to see a larger picture on a separate picture page.)

San Diego de Alcalá, the first of the 21 colonial Spanish California missions, was founded in 1769, when the state fell under the orbit of the Kingdom of Spain. At the time, the Spanish Empire still included much of South America and a wide swath of land on the North American continent. The mission today is located in San Diego, a sprawling southern California metropolis, and it attracts visitors from the world over. It is worth a visit.

I have visited about a half-dozen of the missions in the Golden State. I like them because of their architecture and testament to history, when the continent was not yet fully conquered by European powers and the growing American nation.

The mission was supposed to serve the Catholic Church and convert native peoples from their local faiths to the new religion hailing from Europe. The mission gives a weak showing of its Native American past, with a display of the Kumeyaay peoples traditional homes and culture in the main plaza–it is as if someone realized recently that the people converted actually had meaningful stories and narratives to the larger mission story. The Kumeyaay peoples had lived on the lands for more than 10,000 years before the Spanish arrived. The Franciscan friars who first ran the mission came to settle the area, grow crops, and convert the non-Christian indigenous people. It was, after all, a mission with very clear religious purpose.

An illustration of the killing of Father Jayme

An illustration of the killing of Father Jayme

According to the mission’s own records, nearly 800 indigenous residents attacked the mission on Nov. 4, 1775, less than a year before the U.S. revolutionaries were declaring a new nation on the East Coast and fighting another empire–that of Great Britain. The native attackers reportedly burned the mission down and massacred a number of residents and Father Jayme. He became, according to the Catholic tradition, “California’s first Catholic martyr.” Whether a person killed by native residents fighting against a foreign colonial empire is truly a martyr is not for me to decide. I do not think the native residents saw members of the mission as benign, nor perceived the Catholic Church as friendly. Indigenous peoples in the Americas did not spark armed uprisings without good reason. Public health threats from disease, reported rapes by soldiers, and threats to local religious traditions all fueled the attack.

The mission was rebuilt, more as a fortress. After Mexico became independent and after the Union army occupied it during the Civil War, it fell into disrepair. It was not until 1931 when the mission was rebuilt, according to how it likely looked during its early heyday. Today it is still home to an active Catholic parish.

North County, Feel the Vibe

The beaches that stretch north from La Jolla Shores to Oceanside are some of my personal favorites. I have not seen one angry or upset person anywhere on this stretch. In fact, smiles and “hello’s” proliferate. I think I am smiling more.