Rich in Spanish-Mexican heritage, California became a part of the United States following the Mexican-American War. This book is a narrative account of one man retracing routes taken by many Catholic padres as they traveled from mission to mission throughout California. It illuminates the land and people of the area as seen by the author in 1856, and later updates take the book past the San Francisco earthquake of 1906. A pioneering California writer, Charles Warren Stoddard (1843-1909) is best known for his tales collected as South-Sea Idyls and The Island of Tranquil Delights. Stoddard was a member of San Francisco's Bohemian and journalistic circles, where he was appreciated for his wit. His literary friendships and lasting relationships included Ambrose Bierce, Ina Coolbrith, Bret Harte, Robert Louis Stevenson, W. D. Howells, Henry Adams, Joaquin Miller, Jack London, George Sterling, Bliss Carman, Yone Noguchi, George Cabot Lodge, and Samuel Clemens.