The Mystery Skulls of the Pala Sub-Mission
a road trip intended to help us forget about the Catholic church took an unexpected left turn
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For our latest post that’s hidden from the rest of the internet, we invite you along on an impromptu road trip we took last April, when you could still fill the tank with gas and head out for points unfamiliar without suiting up to do battle with invisible enemies.
We were blue as hell that day over the terrible fire at Notre Dame cathedral, which was still smoldering beneath a blanket of melted roof lead. It was uncertain then what artifacts had survived, and the speculation was depressing. We needed to stop watching fire videos and reading the frantic tweets of historians. We went south.
We had a destination, but forget exactly what it was. The road was boring, the day was hot. Eventually, there would be cactus and hot springs.
Somewhere north of Escondido, we realized the navigation app had shut itself off, and we were lost. Kim fired up the handy Wikipedia Beta geolocation app—a cool tool that has since stopped functioning, since we were apparently two of the only people to use it—to see if there were any designated landmarks nearby.
There was one, and it was very close: “whoa, take the next left!”
While mourning a great medieval Catholic church, the sly universe had delivered us to a notable early 19th century Catholic church: San Antonio de Pala Asistencia.
above: bicycling Civilian Conservation Corps artist Friedolin Kessler’s 1940 linoleum print based on his photograph.
We pulled into the nearly empty parking lot and marveled at our luck. There was a standalone bell tower, a tiny graveyard with antique plot fencing, a wood-fronted country store, a walled garden, a small museum and a beautiful long chapel with folk art wall paintings, all crying out to be explored.
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