Sep 15, 2013 8:30 PM by Connie Tran, KSBY News

Group visits every mission in California via horseback

According to the California Department of Parks and Recreations, there are 21 missions in the state. The first one, San Diego de Alcala, dates all the way back to 1769. A group, who calls themselves the California Mission Ride team, set out to visit each and every mission, via horseback, starting in Northern California, and making their way down to San Diego.

Head wrangler Rod Rondeaux said the missions trip is one of a lifetime.

"The things we see, the people we meet. Are just, incredible," said Rondeaux.

Rondeaux is part of the 12-member crew, who trekked hundreds of miles last summer, starting in Sonoma at San Francisco Solano, the 21st mission and ending at Mission San Miguel. It took about four weeks to complete the trip. Along the way, the team stopped at all of the missions in between. Rondeaux said they rode their horses on beaches in San Francisco, the Redwood Forest, and Pebble Beach.

The California Mission Ride team took a one-year hiatus, and meet back up again on Sunday at Mission San Miguel, where the first leg of their trip had ended. On Sunday, the crew will continue their trip south, and will end at Mission San Diego de Alcala around October 20.

Rondeaux said, "You know, it's such an interesting ride from the very north, going south. The country we're seeing, the people we've met. The terrain!"

Leslie Dunton-Downer and Gwyneth Horder-Payton, the co-founders of the California Mission Ride, said they came up with the idea a few years ago after they were riding horses around San Fernando Rey de Espana near Los Angeles. Dunton-Downer said they noticed all of the natural beauty around the mission, and wanted to learn more.

"And we saw all of these amazing things about the land, and we realized that it was because the mission had been built there. That these things were happening around the mission. The roadway system, the railway, the electrical lines, the water pipe line," said Dunton-Downer.

That insight, is what Rondeaux said initially attracted him to the project.

He said, "I'm hoping to see if I can make the connection and understand the intense faith, process (of the missions)."

Dunton-Downer, who is a writer, said she and Horder-Payton, (who is a filmmaker), plan on creating a documentary out of their two-part trip.

"We'd like to have it be a film that young people could learn from, and see that they're on the trail with us. Learning as we're learning," said Dunton-Downer.

The California Mission Ride continues to Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa on Tuesday around 5:30pm.



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