Tributes to Jimmie Johnson in El Cajon.

As many car racing fans know, seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson grew up in El Cajon, in San Diego’s East County.

Born in El Cajon, Jimmie Johnson began to race motorcycles when he was only four years old, and he won his first racing championship four years later. He attended Crest Elementary School, then Granite Hills High School. After he graduated, he competed in off-road motocross racing, with an extraordinary degree of success. To read a good bio of Jimmie, who in his youth also loved dirt biking in the desert during family camping trips and surfing, check out this website.

As one might expect, tributes to the now legendary Jimmie Johnson can be found around the city of El Cajon.

During my walk yesterday, I photographed a sign in the median of 2nd Street, a short distance south of Interstate 8. The sign was placed here in 2014. 2nd Street is playfully renamed Jimmie Johnson Drive – Home of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion.

The above photograph shows the sign’s north side. The following two photos are of the opposite side. The sign on its south side is lighter in color, probably due to fading from years of direct sunlight.

Banners celebrating Jimmie Johnson can also be found near the El Cajon Civic Center. In each banner, a cool graphic shows him standing next to his No. 48 Chevrolet, racing during his NASCAR career with Hendrick Motorsports.

The following photos show a banner on the north side of Main Street near The Magnolia performing arts theater. I noticed an identical banner hangs in the nearby Prescott Promenade park.

Starting this year, Jimmie Johnson is competing in the IndyCar Series, driving the No. 48 Honda over road and street courses for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Will the El Cajon native also excel at open-wheel racing? I wouldn’t be surprised!

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!

Cool old cars, planes spotted in El Cajon!

During my walk through El Cajon yesterday, I spotted a some cool old cars and airplanes!

The cars were on a couple of electrical boxes! This fading street art, on Main Street just west of Sunshine Plaza, is filled with all sorts of colorful hot rods and custom cars, racing imagery and even a tribute to Route 66.

I suppose this art was painted to celebrate the Cajon Classic Cruise weekly car show on Main Street at Magnolia, near the El Cajon landmark archway. It might also refer to the Cajon Speedway, a race track that used to exist north of here, near the Gillespie Field airport.

You can see the El Cajon landmark sign a couple blocks to the east…

A couple blocks farther east, at the Prescott Promenade park near El Cajon’s Civic Center, I spotted a couple of banners that celebrate old Cajon Speedway…

Finally, check out what I first heard, then spotted high in the sky as I was walking along Main Street!

Six restored World War II-era planes belonging to Air Group One, which is the San Diego Wing of the Commemorative Air Force, were flying in a tight formation!

Air Group One flies out of El Cajon’s Gillespie Field. (I often spot their vintage planes flying over the USS Midway Museum in downtown San Diego.)

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!

Art fills up El Cajon gas station!

If you ever driven through the intersection of El Cajon Boulevard and West Washington Avenue in El Cajon, you’ve probably noticed panda bears. And exotic birds and colorful flowers and other painted scenes from nature.

That’s because murals can be found everywhere around this 76 gas station, and inside it, too!

The super nice clerk allowed me to take photographs of the ceiling inside the gas station’s convenience store. Artwork covers the walls, doors–everywhere you look!

An enthusiastic customer who seemed knowledgeable said it all was painted about nine years ago. I couldn’t find an artist signature. (Could the artist be Henry Goods, who is responsible for other gas station murals around San Diego? For example, here.)

If anybody knows more about this artwork, please leave a comment!

Next time you need gas in El Cajon, swing by this friendly 76 station and fill up with lots of beautiful art!

Now we’ve stepped inside the door and are gazing up at the incredible ceiling!

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!

Nostalgic old parade mural in El Cajon!

Today I went for a very long walk through El Cajon, in San Diego’s East County. I took so many photographs, lots of interesting blog posts are on the way!

During my walk I came upon this faded mural on a building at the corner of East Main Street and Roanoke Road. It depicts an old-fashioned American parade, apparently from the mid-20th century. I’m assuming the parade is proceeding down El Cajon’s Main Street, but I don’t really know. I could find no date or artist signature. I believe Jackson Hewitt Tax Service used to occupy at least part of this building.

This artwork is so faded, I had to dramatically increase the contrast of my photos.

I’m sure somebody out there knows the history of this nostalgic old mural. If you know anything, please leave a comment!

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!

Beautiful morning magic on Broadway!

I captured these photographs this morning as the sun was rising. I stood in downtown San Diego, at one magical spot on Broadway.

As I walked past the Edward J. Schwartz United States Courthouse, I had to freeze in my tracks. Because my eyes were spellbound.

The first photos below are of the San Diego Central Courthouse, whose fascinating architecture rises nearby. Light, shadow, beautiful glass windows and soaring gulls combined to cast their spell…

Then I turned my camera east to capture the magical early morning light along Broadway…

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!

New lights, new life for historic carousel!

Last October I noticed the Balboa Park Carousel was undergoing renovation during the park’s COVID-19 pandemic closure. You can read what I wrote and see those photos here.

Today I was walking past this historic 1910 Herschell-Spillman carousel when I noticed one side of its enclosure was open and lights were on inside. So I approached the structure to sneak a peek.

And I saw the same Armored Horse that I saw before! But now it’s painted more completely–and beautifully!

I also spoke to William “Bill” Brown, who has been operating and tending this historic carousel since 1972. He was carefully painting an intricate part of the wooden horse.

It’s apparent Bill absolutely loves what he does. You can read it in his eyes and smile.

He showed me how an earlier “model” of a hand-carved Herschell-Spillman Armored Horse appeared. You can see with that particular model the sculptural detail and the color scheme was quite different.

Bill also showed me how additional lights have been installed on the carousel!

The 1910 carousel had originally been designed to feature more lights, but too many electrical lights constituted a fire hazard, so many had not been installed.

In the next photo you can see two lights on either side of the carved head, just above the oval mirrors. For a hundred years there were two holes and no lights. That has changed!

That’s because all of the carousel lights are now safer, more energy efficient LEDs. New fixtures not only brighten the upper part of the outer framework, but the interior part of the carousel as well!

When the Balboa Park Carousel’s renovation is finally complete, it will be brighter and more colorful than ever!

To learn more about this carousel, which was built in New York, and which had been installed at Tent City in Coronado before moving to Balboa Park in 1922, click here!

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!

A story about a strange, bright world.

You might remember a few photographs I took of buildings reflected in puddles. I posted those last month, after downtown San Diego had experienced a night of rain.

Looking into those silver puddles was almost like peering into a strange, bright world just beyond our own. To see those photos again, you can click here.

Well, during my walk among those magic puddles a seed was planted.

That seed germinated, grew, broke through, has blossomed.

If you’d like to read my newly completed short story, which I titled The Shining World, click here.

More colorful art near National Avenue!

During my walk through Barrio Logan last Saturday, I enjoyed looking at many colorful works of art on or near National Avenue.

These photos are of artwork I hadn’t seen previously.

The first three photos, including the one above, were taken of a beautiful new mural decorating a wall and fence on National Avenue, right next to Chicano Park.

Juan Diego opening his cloak, revealing that flowers had miraculously produced the Virgin of Guadalupe’s image, is a religious account cherished by many Catholic believers, particularly those in Mexico.

Next, I saw a number of vivid paintings in the windows of the Attitude Brewing Co. I believe all were signed by artist Paco Racru. They appear to be for sale.

Here are two of the paintings. Reflections from the street are mixed in…

The very colorful mural and graffiti you see in the next two photos can be found at the Travelodge on Beardsley Street.

This eye-catching street art is signed @icygrapestudios, which is the handle of artist Brock Landers.

And finally, laugh at something funny! Is that a raccoon on a bicycle? Whatever it is, it’s on the front of the Thorn Brewing Co. building.

And it’s by William Salas (@inkpaint)!

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!

A teddy bear and a broken heart.

I saw this on Sunday. Valentine’s Day.

I was walking past a bus stop in North Park when my attention was arrested by a large teddy bear. The bear was sitting alone at the end of the bench. I looked around. Absolutely nobody was nearby.

I had to pause to take in this strange sight. Then it occurred to me: either this cute, very loveable teddy bear had been accidentally left behind, or it had been left there intentionally.

Either scenario meant heartbreak.

It’s one small story in the city that you and I will never know.

What made my discovery really weird–almost eerie–is that for weeks I had been working on a short story concerning a similar teddy bear on the streets of a city.

Even though the story is very short, it had persistently troubled me. I knew it had potential. But I couldn’t seem to get it right.

Seeing that mysterious bear inspired me to work on the story with renewed purpose.

I published The Teddy Bear yesterday. Since then I’ve made a number of changes. But I think it might be finished. It remains painful. Like many of my little stories it has a surprise ending.

If you’d like, you can read it here.

San Diego history in Rudford’s mural.

A moment in San Diego history is captured in a photographic mural outside Rudford’s Restaurant in North Park.

The exterior of this popular all-American diner, which first opened in 1949, appears today much as it did back in 1963. The mural recalls how on June 6th of that year, President John F. Kennedy passed the restaurant as a crowd looked on.

A description of the event in a corner of the photo mural explains: “In a visit to San Diego…the president traveled down El Cajon Boulevard on his way to San Diego State College where he gave the commence address… This is an actual photo of the motorcade taken by local teenager James Daigh as it passed Rudford’s Restaurant on that Thursday morning…”

Rudford’s Restaurant remains just as popular as ever. The retro diner is open 24 hours a day and treats its customers with home-style cooking and nostalgic decor!

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!