El Camino Real
Native Mexicans and Americans, trappers, adventurers and finally Spanish Conquistadores carved out a rough road from Mexico reaching into the far north of California. They called it El Camino Real, the Royal Road. It was also the route used by Father Junipero Serro and his later followers as they paced out the great Missions and Presidios along the California coast. Throughout my journey I have crossed and walked parts of this historic route always dreaming back to the time when covered wagons and horses, accompanied by the first real distance walkers in the Americas, explored, and some say conquered, a vast new land. It must have been exciting. I would have loved to accompanied these travelers as they walked into the unknown and faced the unforeseen. Perhaps I have been born 300 years too late.
Around San Jose, a long a wide paved boulevard cramped with motels and fast food outlets, the El Camino Real is well marked. Every few miles classy road signs point how the historic significance of each landmark. In the early evening I fall asleep to the rhythm of my throbbing neuromas while trying to decide if I would have made a better priest or fur trader.