The first part of our ride lay through a dense thicket of underwood, and afterwards across parched up valleys, and over low sandy hills; then past large grazing grounds—where cattle might be counted by the thousand—and numerous ranchos or farms, the white farm buildings, surrounded by little garden patches, scattered over the hill sides. We at length came to an extensive plain, with groups of oaks spread over its surface, and soon afterwards reached the neglected Mission of Santa Clara, where we halted for a few hours. On leaving here our road was over a raised causeway some two or three miles in length, beneath an avenue of shady trees, which extended as far as the outskirts of the town of St. Jose. This town, or pueblo as it is called, is nothing more than a mass of ill-arranged and ill built houses, with an ugly church and a broad plaza, peopled by three or four hundred inhabitants. Not being used to long journeys on horseback, I felt disposed to stop here for the night, but Bradley urged us to proceed a few miles farther, where we could take up our quarters at a rancho belonging to a friend of his. Accordingly we pushed on, and, after a ride of about seven miles, diverged from the main road, and soon reached the farm-house, where we were well entertained, and had a good night’s rest.
Like the generality of houses in California, this was only one story high, and was built of piles driven into the ground, interlaced with boughs and sticks, and then plastered over with mud and whitewashed. The better class of farm-houses are built of adobes, or unburnt bricks, and tiled over. The interior was as plain and cheerless as it well could be. The floor was formed of the soil, beaten down till it was as firm and hard as a piece of stone. The room set apart for our sleeping accommodation boasted as its sole ornaments a Dutch clock and a few gaudily-coloured prints of saints hung round the walls. The beds were not over comfortable, but we were too tired to be nice. In the morning I took a survey of the exterior, and saw but few cattle stalled in the sheds around the house. The greater part, it sterns, after being branded, are suffered to run loose over the neighbouring pastures. There was a well-cultivated garden in the rear of the house, with abundance of fruit trees and vegetables.