Talk about late. I had planned on posting about this since I started this blog. This little trip took place over a year ago but I got sidetracked and started posting about everything but the La Purisima Mission. So here it is.
As mentioned in earlier posts, I have much love for the Santa Barbara area and have turned it into a yearly escape destination for myself. During my trip last year with my friend, we were sitting in the hotel room flipping through channels on the t.v., when an episode of Ghost Adventures came on. As before mentioned, I have a strange interest in ghosts and the paranormal so anything having to do with either subject is going to grab my attention immediately. I ‘m usually entertained by Ghost Hunters, Ghost Adventures, and the myriad of other paranormal shows on t.v. these days but I must admit that they can occasionally annoy me. The viewer is often stuck listening to big, tough guys in black T-shirts screaming, “What was that?!” and you never see or hear anything because they are the ones screaming and capturing moths on camera which are the “ghostly images” you are supposedly witnessing. But I’m fascinated nonetheless. On this particular Ghost Adventures episode, they were talking about the La Purisima Mission in Lompoc, CA. which just happened to be a stones throw away from Santa Barbara. How lucky was that? Shopping, wine tasting, & ghost-hunting. What more could a girl want?!
Here’s the silly ad that got us going. Gotta love the Travel Channel.
The history is not too different from many California historical sites. Spaniards come to town, Spaniards bring their religion and customs to town, Spaniards destroy the locals. In this case, the Spaniards arrived in Lompoc and proceeded to overpower the Chumash Indians. The Chumash Indians were treated like slaves and forced to adopt Christianity as their religion. Along with the imposition of their religion, the Spaniards also exposed the Indians to diseases they simply were not immune to. Furthermore, if the grounds were as lovely then as they are now, then the destitute environment which enveloped the Chumash, would have been masked.
So we watched this episode intently, paying close attention to who we should run into during our visit to the most haunted mission in California. The hall of fame at La Purisima includes Spanish soldiers, Father Payeras, who was the mission’s loved buffer and liaison between the Spanish and the Indians, Chumash Indians who perished during failed uprisings, and one greyhound dog. (I knew animals had souls.)
The episode we watched told of strange vibrations and “feelings” one gets when stepping on or coming close to the grave of father Payeras. There have been accounts of feeling a cold draft or feeling a presence but I have to admit, I felt nothing. My friend put her toe on the grave, hoping to become possessed or have something paranormal happen which would have been great considering I had the camera in my hand but fortunately or unfortunately, nada. The next test came in one of the bedrooms where we saw on that particular episode, some blankets move on one of the beds by themselves. Again, my thrill-seeking friend tried desperately to temp the spirits by touching the bed, sitting on the edge of it, all resulting in nothing. Not a shake, cold spot, or boo! Nothing. I know that daylight and crowds are not something that those in the afterlife are going to cater to so I really wasn’t expecting much and I’m definitely not brave enough to sneak out there in the middle of the night with my Ouija board in order to see a ghostly greyhound. I’m already a believer and don’t require much proof. But I guess there is always some level of hope that you will encounter SOMETHING when looking for the unusual.
Aside from the failed spirit encounter, we wandered around the grounds and quickly appreciated what a beautiful job the California State Parks commission have done in preserving the mission. In an effort to preserve the practices of the former residents of La Purisima, there is a lovely herb garden with flowers and herbs similar to what the Chumash Indians used. This is the most restored mission in California and shouldn’t be missed. It has an updated, modern visitor center and ongoing events in an effort to continually educate the public on life at La Purisima. The events calendar on their website is loaded with living history days, as well as events such as a sheep sheering, a candlelight dinner event, demonstrations on how the Chumash used to weave and make crafts, and an endless amount of other activities lined up. This is a living, active mission which has been beautifully restored and kept up, with much evidence that those involved with the mission have a lot of love and dedication to it. I hope and wish all of the missions in California are kept up this well. Please check out this lovely mission if ever in the Lompoc/Santa Barbara area. It’s a little dusty, can get warm during the day and very cold at night so dress accordingly. This would also be a great addition to a visit to Mission Santa Barbara which is also beautiful, though located in a much busier location.
And if you ever catch a ghost on film or on your EVP machine, send me proof!
La Purisima Mission website: http://www.lapurisimamission.org
La Purisima Haunted History: http://www.travelchannel.com/TV_Shows/Ghost_Adventures/Special_Features/La_Purisima_Missions_Haunted_History
To reach the mission from the north or the south, take Highway 101 to Buellton. Take Exit 140A, for Buellton/Solvang – Highway 246 – and head west (a left turn from the northbound exit, a right turn if southbound).
Proceed west on Highway 246 for approximately 18 miles. On a slight downhill grade you will pass the La Purisima Mission Golf Course on the right. After the golf course, take the second road, which is on the right.
Continue on Purisima Road approximately 1 mile. The mission entrance is on the right.