One Ordinary Family on an Extraordinary Adventure

San Juan Bautista | Field Trip Friday

This post is part of a series in which the kids have the opportunity to write about where they have been and what they have learned. The short paragraphs below tell about our recent trip to the San Juan Bautista State Park. The kids took some of the pictures, though I’ve lost track of who took which, so no credit is noted. They also picked the picture to go with their story and those pics may or may not have anything to do with the paragraph.

The kids were given no specific instruction other than to write about something that caught their interest. As you can see, there was a wide variety of interest. 

Let’s Get Going! by Sophia

Carriage at San Juan Bautista State Park

Carriage at San Juan Bautista State Park

Beep! Beep! Traffic rolls on in the old missions of San Juan Bautista. But, did people always get around that way? If you were just your ordinary family, not poor, yet not exactly rich, your family would probably have a fringed top carriage. A fringed top carriage was popular in the 1900’s, and quite affordable if you didn’t need a driver. But, if your family was rich you were likely to have a fancy baroche. Or, maybe you worked at the fire department. To pull your carriage without a horse, (which was usual) it took 16 men. Ten had special harnesses pulling in the front, and the rest pushed in the back. And then the railroad took over and carriages were forgotten.

John Breen by Isabella

Castro Breen Adobe

Castro Breen Adobe

John Breen was the son of Patrick and Margaret Breen. The Breen family was a part of the Donner party that had left in 1847 and got stranded the winter of the same year. They were then rescued in the spring of 1848 and were rescued by John Stark who got separated from the third relief party. He then rescued ten men and brought them back to camp. John Breen was the oldest of seven children, five brothers and one sister. His sister Isabella was last survivor of the Donner party.

Breen left home in 1849 to mine for gold. His parents, sister, and brothers were very worried. Back then there was no way to get a telegraph, phone call, etc. He ended up with gold dust worth 12,000 dollars and the returned to San Juan Bautista. In 1852 he married Leah Margaret Smith. They had ten kids. He bought himself and his parents each an adobe house. His father (Patrick) then died in 1869, and his mother (Margaret) died six years later in 1874. He then died at age 71 in 1903.

Laundry by Max


You know how we have an electric washing machine? Well in the old days they had nothing like that. They had to use their hands to do the laundry.

The Fire Wagon by Atticus

Fire wagon San Juan Bautista

Fire wagon
San Juan Bautista

The fire wagon was a big wagon. The strongest men in the town had to pull or push the wagon with all their might. Ten men pulled in the front, and six men pushed in the back. Sometimes they raced with it in other towns.

 The Wash by Olivia

Toys from old times.

Toys from old times.

How they wrung clothes: They had a machine that was shaped like an oval. It has an inch space between the fat lines that were an inch tall. There was a handle on the end too. They had a flat bottom underneath it. They put the clothes in between the machine and turned the handle. Then they hung the laundry outside.

Thoughts from Mom

This was the first field trip story that the kids chose to post without assistance, and we got to realize the importance of pre-planning. The pictures didn’t always match what they wanted to tell, so we took the time tonight to talk about the importance of planning ahead in the future. We have more field trips to post about in the coming weeks. I did help some with the formatting on this post, but the plan is to turn Field Trip Fridays over to the kids in the future so they can learn something new. There was one other lesson learned on the day we went to San Juan Bautista. Bella learned the hard way not to touch a cactus. The other children were content to learn from her experience rather than take a hands-on approach for themselves. And in this instance, we were more than happy to let our homeschooled crew take a hands OFF approach to learning.

Cactus San Juan Bautista

San Juan Bautista

If you enjoyed this Field Trip Friday post, please leave a comment of encouragement for our budding writers, photographers, and editors.


Learning Across America

Learning Across America

Rose Godfrey is a speech pathologist and freelance writer. The Godfrey family (Brian, Rose, and the 7 kids who are still at home) crossed the USA in an RV then set out to see the world.
Learning Across America

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  1. cathy layman
    July 18, 2015    

    Dear Rose & Family—Hi, Cathy here. Your family is great & I love reading your blog. Love the kids stories! I hope to see you on your way back to Ca. Can’t wait to meet your kids!! Robbi is looking forward to your visit also. Please be safe on the road & have a blast! Luv & Hugs, Cathy

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