Village sanctuarySan Miguel, CA

Mission San Miguel Arcángel sketch by Chandler O'Leary

This is the eleventh installment of my Mission Mondays series, exploring all 21 Spanish Missions along the California coast. You can read more about this series, and see a sketch map of all the missions, at this post.

I’m not entirely certain why, but this place also makes the list of my favorite missions. Mission San Migue Arcángel doesn’t exactly have a lot of bells and whistles (well, it does have bells…), so it’s yet another mission that gets overlooked by the hordes of tourists. But I dunno—I just really, really liked it here.

Detail of California Missions map sketch by Chandler O'Leary

Mission San Miguel sits on the edge of a tiny town of the same name (are you sensing a pattern here?)—from the grounds you can look out across the Salinas Valley to the San Andreas Fault. And you can hear the birds, and the breeze, and not a whole lot else. Maybe that’s why I liked it so much.

Mission San Miguel Arcángel sketch by Chandler O'Leary

It also helps that the place comes with a crazy tale of pirates and buried treasure (click the image above to embiggen and read the story). Forget Zorro—at San Miguel, the truth is stranger than fiction.

Mission San Miguel Arcángel sketch by Chandler O'Leary

Perhaps best of all, I loved being able to make a return visit. I first came here almost precisely two years earlier, on the trip that first gave me the idea to visit all 21 missions. On both trips I had to visit multiple missions on the same day—which made it hard to sketch everything I’d have liked.

Mission San Miguel Arcángel sketch by Chandler O'Leary

Coming back a second time gave me the chance to delve a little deeper, and discover details that had escaped my notice the first time.

Mission San Miguel Arcángel sketch by Chandler O'Leary

Or to zoom in and redraw something from a different angle—

Mission San Miguel Arcángel sketch by Chandler O'Leary

—or in a different format.

Mission San Miguel Arcángel sketch by Chandler O'Leary

On both visits, I was awfully sad to have to pack up and hit the road again. But at least I have proof that I can and will return someday.

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