Bust of a San Diego Air Force hero.

The beautifully sculpted commemorative bust of San Diego resident, retired Brigadier General Robert L. Cardenas, USAF occupies a place of honor in Balboa Park. The bust can be found in the Veterans Memorial Garden, a short walk from the entrance to the The Veterans Museum at Balboa Park.

I was on hand to observe the sculpture’s unveiling almost six years ago. The ceremony was held during a Spirit of ’45 event that honored heroes of World War II. To see that inspirational blog post, click here.

I’ve decided to post photographs of the Cardenas bust today because it’s Memorial Day–one of those days when we express our gratitude to all military service members. And because I posted photos of another sculpture by the same artist a couple days ago.

San Diego sculptor Richard Becker also created Liberation, a statue at Miramar National Cemetery. That bronze sculpture remembers and honors Prisoners of War. You can see the emotionally powerful Liberation here.

Brigadier General Robert L. Cardenas, USAF has a list of achievements and awards a mile long. Please read his Wikipedia page here. You’ll learn that in World War II, after he was shot down during a mission over Germany, he swam across a lake into Switzerland to escape capture, then rejoined the fight. You’ll also learn that years later, from a B-29 Superfortress that he piloted, he dropped the experimental supersonic X-1 aircraft flown by Chuck Yeager, who broke the sound barrier.

Behind the bust of Robert Cardenas you can see a sculpture of a B-24 Liberator bomber from World War II. It’s the plane that Robert Cardenas flew during the Second World War.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Create a virtual tribute to a deceased Veteran.

After the Memorial Day ceremony, some people linger to view the ceremonial wreaths. The plaque behind the rostrum contains President Lincoln's famed Gettysburg Address.

Are you a relative or friend of a deceased military Veteran? Are you grateful to someone who served in the United States Armed Forces who is no longer with us?

On this Memorial Day–or on any day–you can create a virtual tribute to those who chose to protect our nation and our freedom.

The online Veterans Legacy Memorial (VLM) now allows visitors to leave a comment on a Veteran’s memorial page.

According to the Veterans Legacy Memorial website, which is an extension of the National Cemetery Administration: “NCA manages more than 140 national cemeteries as shrine spaces to honor our Nation’s Veterans, and extends memorialization of the 3.7 million Veterans interred in those cemeteries to this digital memorial space by providing a VLM profile page for each Veteran.”

If you would like to create a virtual tribute to a deserving hero, a digital tribute that might endure forever, click here.

Mystery disappearance of historical tombstone?

Armchair detectives and San Diego history buffs, here’s a possible mystery to solve!

In January of 2017 I was walking by the west side of a long parking lot along Anna Avenue near the old location of the San Diego Humane Society, when I spotted a wooden tombstone. On it were the words: “Juan Mendoza. Feb. 6, 1865. Shot in the back while running away.”

Here’s my photo from back then…

Mysterious wooden tombstone with name of Juan Mendoza, who was shot by Cave Couts in the back with a double-barreled shotgun in Old Town San Diego, February 6, 1865.
Mysterious wooden tombstone with name of Juan Mendoza, who was shot by Cave Couts in the back with a double-barreled shotgun in Old Town San Diego, February 6, 1865.

Juan Mendoza was a person who figured in the early history of Old Town, which is located just south of this spot across the San Diego River.

At the time I couldn’t help but wonder about the mysterious wood grave marker. Was it real? A prop? A prank? You can read about my strange discovery several years ago by checking out my old blog post here.

As I wrote in that original post: “Cave Couts built the wood-frame hotel called the Colorado House in 1851 and became an influential resident of early San Diego. But by some accounts he was a sketchy character. On February 6, 1865 he shot a disgruntled former employee (who worked on one of Cave Couts’ ranches) in the back with a shotgun. This violated the unspoken “Code of the West”. The unfortunate victim who died was Juan Mendoza.”

Well, look what I saw today. The wooden tombstone is gone. There’s some sort of covering and efforts at erosion control around the place where it stood. Was there a grave? Nearby I also observed objects that might be related to the Mid-Coast Trolley extension construction over Friars Road, and possible homeless activity.

Okay, maybe it’s nothing. I see nothing on the internet. I don’t claim to be an expert when it comes to our city’s history. But I do know there are readers following this blog who are far more informed than me.

Is there an explanation?

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Sometimes I make seemingly mysterious discoveries!

A rambling Sunday walk along Morena Boulevard.

Graphic on wall of Coronado Brewing Company San Diego Tasting Room. WISH YOU WERE beer.
Graphic on wall of Coronado Brewing Company San Diego Tasting Room. WISH YOU WERE beer.

Today I took a rambling walk along Morena Boulevard. These photos start around Knoxville Street in Bay Park and proceed south to the area where Morena and West Morena split.

You might notice few people in the photos. It’s Sunday and many businesses are closed. And of course there’s the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, keeping many at home.

If you ever drive through the Morena District, you’ll probably recognize some of these sights. Many of the old shops and small businesses along the street aren’t much to look at, but there are a few that stand out!

(I took this walk in order to photograph two really great murals in particular. I’ll post those pics shortly. I also wanted to check on the status of a mysterious, possibly historical wooden tombstone by a parking lot that I’d seen years ago. The mystery has deepened, as you’ll see in another upcoming blog post!)

Now let’s walk…

Sculpture of lady tending her garden in front of the Armstrong Garden Center.
Sculpture of lady tending her garden in front of the Armstrong Garden Center.
Another look at the gardening sculpture.
Another look at the gardening sculpture.
Beautiful bloom between the Knoxville Street sidewalk and Armstrong Garden Center.
Beautiful bloom between the Knoxville Street sidewalk and Armstrong Garden Center.
The Cordova Bar. This must be the place!
The Cordova Bar. This must be the place!
Mermaid door handles at the entrance to The Cordova Bar.
Mermaid door handles at the entrance to The Cordova Bar.
Sign on fence near U.S. Karate Academy encourages people to Be Your Best!
Sign on fence near U.S. Karate Academy encourages people to Be Your Best!
Banner on lamp post invites people to Shop for Home Decor in the Morena District.
Banner on lamp post invites people to Shop for Home Decor in the Morena District.
Cool motorcycle graphic on wall of Sidecar Bar.
Cool motorcycle graphic on wall of Sidecar Bar.
There's a T. Rex on the roof of Avian and Exotic Animal Hospital! It must've escaped!
There’s a T. Rex on the roof of Avian and Exotic Animal Hospital! It must’ve escaped!
This cool graphic of a van with a surfboard is on the side of Bird Rock Coffee Roasters.
This cool graphic of a van with a surfboard is on the side of Bird Rock Coffee Roasters.
Clouds and palm trees reflected on angles of window glass.
Clouds and palm trees reflected on angles of window glass.
Now I'm walking along near the Valero gas station.
Now I’m walking along near the Valero gas station.
A colorful mural near the front door of Nico's Mexican Food.
A colorful mural near the front door of Nico’s Mexican Food.
Super cool surfboards hang out beside the front door of Bird's Surf Shed.
Super cool surfboards hang out beside the front door of Bird’s Surf Shed.
Mural at Bird's Surf Shed was painted by Skye Walker in 2014.
Mural at Bird’s Surf Shed was painted by Skye Walker in 2014. Tubular, dude!
Vintage automobile parked alone in corner of a parking lot.
Vintage automobile parked alone in corner of a parking lot.
Looks like a farm around the entrance to Bull's Smokin' BBQ. Fun sculptures greet passersby on West Morena Boulevard.
Looks like a ranch around the entrance to Bull’s Smokin’ BBQ. Fun animal sculptures greet passersby on West Morena Boulevard.
Two bulls and one pig.
Walking beside two bulls and one pig.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

POW memorial at Miramar National Cemetery.

Tomorrow is Memorial Day. We will remember and honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice in past wars.

Yesterday I visited Miramar National Cemetery. I paused before a moving statue titled Liberation. The 15-foot tall monument was created by San Diego artist Richard Becker. It’s a memorial to Prisoners of War, who also sacrificed greatly.

The bronze statue shows a prisoner liberated, breaking free from surrounding barbed wire. The extraordinarily expressive artwork speaks for itself.

I thought you might like to see it.

If you’d like to see more work by renowned local sculptor Richard Becker, you can revisit past blog posts here or here or here or here.

The plaque on the base of Liberation reads:

This statue conveys the excitement, trepidation, exhilaration and emotion of the LIBERATION moment, as the emaciated soldier steps out of the darkness into the “Sunshine of Freedom.”

He portrays the hundreds of thousands who were bound in captivity by the infamy of foreign enemies.

This is to stand as an eternal legacy for our community by reminding visitors of the sacrifice of veterans during America’s efforts to keep alive the hopes and dreams of freedom for the oppressed around the world.

American-Ex Prisoners of War, Chapter One, San Diego.

Artist: Richard Becker.

Dedicated: 2011.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

The miracle of the Surfing Madonna.

The Surfing Madonna in Encinitas, California. A mosaic by artist Mark Patterson.
The Surfing Madonna in Encinitas, California. A mosaic by artist Mark Patterson.

Have you heard of the miracle of the Surfing Madonna? Many in San Diego have witnessed the miracle. Indeed, the miracle is known around the world.

Next to the Encinitas Boulevard sidewalk, just east of Coast Highway 101, there’s a tiny open courtyard with a beautiful ocean mural and a shrine-like mosaic titled Surfing Madonna. The 10 by 10 feet mosaic depicts the Virgin of Guadalupe on a white surfboard, praying.

When it was first installed anonymously in a public place the artwork was considered illegal. Permission had not been granted by the city of Encinitas. The artist, Mark Patterson, was discovered and fined and the mosaic removed.

But a miracle happened.

After much controversy and legal uncertainty, and after having been moved from place to place, the unusual but beautiful mosaic, beloved by many in the beach community, finally found a home in Surfing Madonna Park, which you can see in my photographs.

To learn more about the miracle of the Surfing Madonna, read the words on the plaque beneath it.

The small Surfing Madonna Park, in a nook beside busy Encinitas Boulevard.
The small Surfing Madonna Park in a nook beside busy Encinitas Boulevard. The park is just a short walk east of Moonlight State Beach.
A plaque details the history of the Surfing Madonna.
A plaque details the history of the Surfing Madonna.

The plaque reads:

On Good Friday, April 22nd, 2011, the community of Encinitas was gifted with the Surfing Madonna mosaic, Our Lady, Star of the Sea.

Local artist, Mark Patterson and his good friend Bob Nichols, dressed up as constructions workers and hung the beautiful Surfing Madonna mosaic with its “Save the Ocean” theme. The mosaic was originally mounted underneath the train bridge, across the street from its current home.

The mosaic received international attention while the artist remained anonymous for months until discovered.

Although beloved by the community, she could not stay there and eventually found her way here, to her permanent home.

Mark Patterson sought to raise awareness of the value of the world’s Oceans. Through his vision he created the Surfing Madonna mosaic to spread a message of environmental awareness of Mother Ocean.

The mosaic gave birth to the Surfing Madonna Oceans Project which has continued to serve the Ocean and community through funding of local arts, environmental awareness, and by introducing special needs youth and their families to the joy of surfing and living with the Ocean.

Join us in celebrating the beauty of our world’s Oceans.

A beautiful environmental mural shows fish and other sea life, by Encinitas artist Kevin Anderson.
A beautiful environmental mural shows Garibaldi fish and other local sea life, by Encinitas artist Kevin Anderson.
Brick pavers in the small courtyard raised money for programs that help the Earth's oceans.
Brick pavers, some with religious themes, in the small courtyard. The pavers have raised money for programs that help the Earth’s oceans.
The Surfing Madonna and a prayerful message. Save the Ocean.
The unique Surfing Madonna and a prayerful message: Save the Ocean.

This blog now features thousands of photos around San Diego! Are you curious? There’s lots of cool stuff to check out!

Here’s the Cool San Diego Sights main page, where you can read the most current blog posts.  If you’re using a phone or small mobile device, click those three parallel lines up at the top–that opens up my website’s sidebar, where you’ll see the most popular posts, a search box, and more!

To enjoy future posts, you can also “like” Cool San Diego Sights on Facebook or follow me on Twitter.

Memories of summers, the Padres, Petco Park.

Padres fans enter the stands before Tony Gwynn memorial begins.

What would Memorial Day weekend be without baseball? Unfortunately, it would be this Memorial Day weekend.

The worldwide coronavirus pandemic has put a temporary hold on sports in San Diego.

For those of you who miss heading down to East Village for baseball games, I thought now would be a good time to relive some memories of baseball in San Diego, the Padres and Petco Park.

I’ve looked through my blog and found posts that might interest Padres fans and rekindle strong memories. Over the past half dozen years there have been many emotional moments, including the passing of beloved Padres players and broadcasters.

I haven’t included posts concerning past FanFests, Opening Day block parties, the 2016 Major League Baseball All-Star Game, and various other events at Petco Park like the San Diego Festival of Science and Engineering, but more stuff can be found by surfing about Cool San Diego Sights or performing a search.

Click the following links to see lots of photographs!

A very cool tour of Petco Park in San Diego!

Padres military heroes honored at Petco Park.

San Diego Padres Hall of Fame players at Petco Park.

Baseball history at San Diego Padres Hall of Fame.

Trevor Time returns to Petco Park!

Petco’s “San Diego Section” honors local teams!

The San Diego Padres happy mascot, the Swinging Friar, greets visitors to the big local sports teams event.

Fans celebrate local sports teams in San Diego!

Fun pics from World Baseball Classic in San Diego!

USS Midway model in Petco Park’s Power Alley.

Model of Lane Field stadium at Petco Park.

Local history excavated, displayed at Petco Park.

Biggest baseball library west of Cooperstown in San Diego!

Padres fans check out lots of photos and cool artifacts which recall the history of baseball in San Diego. On the left are photos of the first Padres team in 1936, and Lane Field.

Baseball flags debut at historic Lane Field Park!

Celebrating Dick Enberg at his final Padres home game.

Photos of Jerry Coleman public memorial service.

Photos of Tony Gwynn statue at Lake Poway.

Tony Gwynn’s Memorial Tribute at Petco Park.

Quotes from the Tony Gwynn public memorial.

Tony Gwynn is remembered as a great player and great man.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!