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From Palo Alto we followed the main highway-El Camino Real-to San Francisco. It is a broad macadam road, but at the time in sad disrepair, unmercifully rough and full of chuck-holes. It was being rebuilt in places, compelling us to take a roundabout route, which, with much tire trouble, delayed our arrival in San Francisco until late in the afternoon, though the distance is but fifty-two miles from San Jose.

It looked as if our troubles were going to have a still more painful climax when, as we entered the city, a policeman dashed at us, bawling,

"What on earth do you mean by driving at that crazy rate? Do you want to kill all these children?"

As we were not exceeding twenty miles and were quite free from any homicidal designs against the children-of whom not a single one was in sight on the street-we mildly disclaimed any such cruel intention as the guardian of the law imputed to us. We had learned the futility of any altercation with a policeman and by exceeding humility we gained permission to proceed. A little back-talk in self-defense would doubtless have resulted in a trip to the station house, where we should have been at every disadvantage. I attribute in some degree our lucky escape from arrest to the fact that we always adopted an exceedingly conciliatory attitude towards any policeman who approached us, even if we sometimes thought him over-officious or even impudent. A soft answer we found more efficient in turning away his wrath and gaining our point than any attempt at self-justification could possibly have been-even though we knew we were right.

A splendid view of the Golden Gate, through which, between opposing headlands, the tides of the Pacific pour into the waters of San Francisco's great inland bay, may be had from the ferry between the city and Sausalito. The facilities for carrying motor cars were good and charges reasonable. We were speedily set down on the northern side and, without entering the little town, took to the road forthwith, closely following the shores of the bay.

A dozen miles of rough going brought us to San Rafael, where in 1817 the padres from Mission Dolores in San Francisco founded the twentieth, and last but one, of the California missions. George Wharton James declares that this mission was really intended as a health resort for neophytes from San Francisco who had fallen ill of consumption, which had become a terrible scourge among the Indians around the bay. During the first three years after the founding of San Rafael, nearly six hundred neophytes were transferred to the new establishment, and in 1828 its population had reached eleven hundred and forty. Its buildings were never very substantial and the total value of all property at secularization was reckoned at only fifteen thousand dollars. Fremont took possession of the town in 1846 without opposition. After his departure the mission buildings were unoccupied and speedily fell into ruin.

In response to our inquiries, a citizen directed us to the Catholic parsonage. The priest greeted us courteously and told us that not a trace of the mission now remained. In his garden he pointed out some old pear trees planted by the padres of San Rafael Mission in early days-almost the sole existing relics. The church near by is modern and of no especial interest. The site was an ideal one and the sheltered valley, with the green wooded hills that encircle it, was a fit place of rest for the invalid neophytes. San Rafael is now a substantially built, prosperous-looking town of about six thousand people and a favorite suburban residence place for San Francisco business men.

A well-improved highway leads through rolling hills from San Rafael to Petaluma, whence a detour of a dozen miles eastward takes us to historic Sonoma-the farthest outpost of Spanish civilization in California. Here the twenty-first and last mission of the chain was founded in 1823, with a view of checking the influence of the Russians, who were filling the country to the north. It never attained great importance, though during the short period of its existence its population reached about seven hundred. In 1834 the presidio or military establishment of San Francisco was transferred here to counteract Russian and American encroachments. The governor, Vallejo, took command of the post in person and, it is recorded, supported the enterprise at his own expense. He appears to have been a fine type of the old-time Spanish grandee, and his hacienda or residence still stands, though now deserted, about five miles northwest of the town. This is of the usual Spanish type, but on a much grander scale than any other of the early California homes still standing. Its facade is three hundred feet in length and two wings extend to the rear, enclosing a spacious patio which overlooks the valley from its open side. Double balconies supported by heavy timbers run around the entire outside. The house is solidly built; its walls, no less than six feet in thickness, are constructed of adobe. Its hewn beams are bound together with rawhide thongs and the lighter timbers are fastened with wooden pegs, not a nail being used. Stout iron grilles and heavy wooden shutters protect the windows and the doors are provided with wickets so that the house could easily be converted into a defensive fortress.

Vallejo also had a town house in Sonoma, but this has nearly disappeared. There are still many old adobes surrounding the spacious plaza-for the village was laid out on regal scale; many date from mission days, though none of them has any especial historic importance.


 
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