By Gordon Burgett
“There were no guidelines when I created the first video script and photographed the largest and wildest of the California missions, La Purisima. It sits empty each night about an hour from Santa Barbara, if you head north on 101. In fact, I was writing this maiden tour mostly to develop a how-to system that would give future travel writers a plan, process, and purpose for producing their own tours. (You can see those guidelines at Tours4Mobile Opportunities, AKA “Provider Island,” for writers and tour guides.)
We had in mind walks (or rides) taken with a digital talking friend that shared the most interesting things to see, touch, and taste en route. So my task was to lay out the best path to see the most without overtaxing aging knees, and to add along the way the most interesting (true) facts that would bring it all back alive. That way the user could first enjoy an on-site tour, alone or with family and friends, then relive it again at home as often as they wished, brought back to mind by sound and images.
Why did I pick Purisima for the first tour? Because I’d run in at least a dozen races, from 5Ks to marathons, either totally in the park or cutting across it to the flower fields as the pack headed toward the sea. The grounds and mission were so unusual, so natural sitting alone in the hills northeast of Lompoc, that after the running I’d go back, picnic, and wander through the church, dormitories, tanning vats and kitchen, the pools, the lavanderia, the tannery, the crop fields, and the water system with troughs that still overflowed in the winter!
What cinched the choice happened one Sunday when several dozen docents donned Indian and cowboy attire and did the things that were done daily at the mission 150 years earlier, explaining as they made candles, pounded out hinges, wove blankets, roped cattle, and brought it alive again. That day I joined at least 100 runners and many more locals and tourists all enjoying the spirit of a reanimated wilderness.
Two weeks later I returned to the mission’s near-solitude to interview two park rangers as they gave their weekly public tour, I took several hundred pictures, and produced the first tour that could be shared and re-shared with a reliable, always-eager walking, talking buddy! Enjoy Mission La Purisima and let us know what you think.”
For a “friend to show you around”, see the entire tour here: