One of the most able of the Spanish commanders, Admiral Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo was dispatched north from Mexico in 1543, with instructions to find the entrance to the hoped-for Northwest Passage to China. Instead he found the eastern shore of Baja California, and sailing around to the Pacific Coast, an excellent port he named San Miguel, today’s San Diego. He is thought to have visited Catalina Island and then San Pedro, before boldly sailing farther north, after waiting out an eight day storm at the Channel Islands, to a cape with tall pine trees he named Cabo de Pinos (Point Reyes). Here his two ships had become separated, and in turning back to search for his other ship, he found Monterey Bay. Cabrillo Beach at San Pedro is named for him, and Point Loma, at the entrance to the San Diego Harbor, is the site of the Cabrillo National Monument, complete with an imposing statue of the explorer.
California is the third largest of the fifty states; only Alaska and Texas are larger. Its boundaries contain 158,693 square miles and its odd shape permits its northern port city of Eureka to be the most westward city in the continental United States, Continue reading California’s Geographic Extremes