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The second mission northwards, San Luis Rey de Francia, sits at the side of the wide San Luis Rey river valley four miles east of Oceanside, in a rural area of cultivated fields and small villages.

The buildings are quite imposing, centred around a large church made in the traditional Spanish colonial style with a gleaming white appearance as if recently repainted.

Mission Santa Barbara is located 30 miles further northwest along US 101, in the foothills of the Santa Ynez Mountains overlooking the city of Santa Barbara; highlight is the ornate brick-built chapel, surrounded by the usual gardens, colonnades and outbuildings.

The next three missions northwards are Santa Ines, along Hwy 246 in Solvang, La Purísima Concepción just outside Lompoc (protected as a state historical monument), and San Luis Obispo de Tolosa, another compact site right in the middle of downtown San Luis Obispo.

Twenty one missions were built in southern California as part of the Spanish colonisation of the eighteenth century, from San Diego de Alcalá in the south - the earliest to be constructed, in 1769 - to San Francisco de Solano in the north.

All have a similar layout centered on a large whitewashed church next to an enclosed quadrangle with various other buildings for storage, housing, construction, etc, and served as bases from which to explore the surrounding territory and spread Christianity to the native American Indians.

To one side lies a large enclosed quadrangle lined with colonnades and containing a lawn and gardens including, of incidental interest, the oldest pepper tree in California.

A cemetery dating from 1780 occupies ground at the other side while the land in front of the church has ruins of other historic structures principally barracks, kilns and an aqueduct.

Next mission northwards is San Antonio de Padua (established 1771; this the most remote in the state, built far from any main towns in the coastal mountains, now completely surrounded by Fort Hunter Liggett Military Reservation though still open to daily visitors.The mission sits beside the road next to a large parking area, and has an aged but solid appearance, with tall buttresses, small windows thick set walls - functional rather than ornate, though embellished by a handsome six-bell wall (campanario).The church is part of a group of buildings that also includes a refuge, school, museum, cafe with cactus garden and a new Catholic church, next to which is the historic Mission Cemetery, containing around 6,000 graves.After massive wildfires, rainwater typically does not soak into the ground but instead rolls down hardened soil -- taking with it ash, soot, dirt and debris, which creates fast moving mud flows.A spokesman for districts in Los Angeles and Ventura counties told the Los Angeles Daily News that crews will likely begin "repairing burned slopes and slope drains, hydroseeding which helps control erosion, installing mulch and straw blankets and cleaning and repairing culverts." Other repairs will need to be done to guardrails, signs, electrical systems, fencing, and crews will be installing temporary concrete barriers to minimize falling dirt and rocks onto highways.

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