An educational visit to the Living Coast Discovery Center!

Bat ray rises against glass of an outdoor tank at the Living Coast Discovery Center in Chula Vista.
Bat ray rises against glass of an outdoor tank at the Living Coast Discovery Center in Chula Vista.

Before my hike through Sweetwater Marsh, I enjoyed a visit to the Living Coast Discovery Center, which is located inside the San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Exhibits inside the center and clusters of wildlife tanks and enclosures outside allow visitors to see and learn about the animals that make this refuge their home. The place is just right for families, with kid-size educational displays, short, easy paths, and even some picnic tables. If I were a young kid, having a birthday party here would be really cool!

After checking out the exhibits at the Living Coast Discovery Center, I ventured over to an adjacent building that is the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge Complex headquarters. Some great displays outside provide more information about the unique and beautiful wetland that stretches in all directions. Not far from this building, one can easily find a hiking trail that leads across the marsh to San Diego Bay.

The Living Coast Discovery Center, located in the Sweetwater Marsh Unit of the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge, is where to get Back to Nature.
The Living Coast Discovery Center, located in the Sweetwater Marsh Unit of the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge, is where to get Back to Nature.
A short bus ride takes one from the parking lot near Interstate 5 through the protected Sweetwater Marsh to the kid-friendly education center.
A short bus ride takes one from the parking lot near Interstate 5 through the protected Sweetwater Marsh to the kid-friendly education center.
People near the green sea turtle exhibit at the front of the Living Coast Discovery Center.
People near the green sea turtle exhibit at the front of the Living Coast Discovery Center.
Many species of reptiles, amphibians, invertebrates and fish are on display inside the small center. There's even a mouse house popular with kids.
Many species of reptiles, amphibians, invertebrates and fish are on display inside the small center. There’s even a mouse house popular with kids.
Outside, visitors can explore exhibits featuring sharks, rays, birds and tortoises. One can also look across the surrounding Sweetwater Marsh.
Outside, visitors can explore exhibits featuring sharks, rays, birds and tortoises. One can also look across the surrounding Sweetwater Marsh.
Actions on land affect San Diego Bay. Pollution runoff flows via creeks, rivers and storm drains into the marsh then out to the ocean.
Actions on land affect San Diego Bay. Pollution runoff flows via creeks, rivers and storm drains into the marsh then out to the ocean.
A leopard shark. They are plentiful in the waters off San Diego.
A leopard shark. They are plentiful in the waters off San Diego.
This 3-million-year-old fossilized tusked walrus skull was found in the area. 470 different species have been found as fossils here, including sperm whales and now extinct flightless auk!
This 3-million-year-old fossilized tusked walrus skull was found in the area. 470 different species have been found as fossils here, including sperm whales and now extinct flightless auks!
Enclosures in the aviary area contain clapper rails, shorebirds and ducks.
Enclosures in the aviary area contain clapper rails, shorebirds and ducks.
A blue-billed ruddy duck swims in a pool of water at the Living Coast Discovery Center.
A blue-billed ruddy duck swims in a pool of water at the Living Coast Discovery Center.
In other parts of the aviary area one can see vultures, hawks, eagles and owls.
In other parts of the aviary area one can see vultures, hawks, eagles and owls.
A red-tailed hawk.
A red-tailed hawk.
Beautiful artwork on one building's side shows a beach and birds in flight. Swallows have built nests above it near the roof.
Beautiful artwork on one building’s side shows a beach and birds in flight. Swallows have built nests above it near the roof.
Bronze sculpture of a coyote. Many other works of wildlife art can be viewed around the center.
Bronze sculpture of a coyote. Many other works of wildlife art can be viewed around the center.
Sign near an enclosure describes the Sonoran desert tortoise.
Sign near an enclosure describes the Sonoran desert tortoise.
A tortoise take a slow stroll outside the Living Coast Discovery Center.
A tortoise take a slow stroll outside the Living Coast Discovery Center.
This amazing art showing marshland birds is just outside the entrance to the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge Complex headquarters.
This amazing art depicting marshland birds is just outside the entrance to the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge Complex headquarters.
Large signs explain the role of a wildlife refuge.
Large signs explain the role of a wildlife refuge.
National Wildlife Refuges are safe havens for species. The first one, at Pelican Island in Florida, was created in 1903 by Theodore Roosevelt.
National Wildlife Refuges are safe havens for species. The first one, at Pelican Island in Florida, was created in 1903 by Theodore Roosevelt.
Map of the extensive San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge.
Map of the extensive San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge.
The wildlife refuge contains great biodiversity. The animals and plants are all parts of a complex and sensitive ecosystem.
The wildlife refuge contains great biodiversity. The animals and plants are all parts of a complex and sensitive ecosystem.
Different forms of life can be found in subtidal channels, mudflats, the low march and high marsh. The changing tide allows birds to feed and varied species to thrive.
Different forms of life can be found in subtidal channels, mudflats, the low marsh and high marsh. The changing tide allows birds to feed and variously adapted species to thrive.
Wildlife can find it hard to thrive in urban areas. The conserved habitat of this refuge is a critical safe harbor for many native species.
Wildlife can find it hard to thrive in urban areas. The conserved habitat of this refuge is a critical safe harbor for many native species.
This place is special. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service helps to protect its wild residents.
This place is special. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service helps to protect its wild residents.
A green sea turtle, one of those residents of San Diego Bay!
A green sea turtle, one of those residents of San Diego Bay!

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Photos from a short hike through Sweetwater Marsh.

A group begins a nature hike down a trail at San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge.
A group begins an easy nature hike down a trail at San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

On Saturday I visited Gunpowder Point, just south of where the Sweetwater River empties into San Diego Bay. The marshy area is a wildlife refuge. It’s part of the San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge, to be exact, and home of the popular Living Coast Discovery Center.

After visiting the Living Coast Discovery Center, I enjoyed a guided nature hike down a short trail through the Sweetwater Marsh.

I was pleasantly surprised by the bare natural beauty. I didn’t see a whole lot of wildlife during this visit, but I know our region’s marshes and estuaries are often teeming with birds. San Diego is part of the Pacific Flyway, a major route of migratory birds that stretches from Alaska to South America.

A map inside the nearby Living Coast Discovery Center show the location of the Sweetwater River and the marsh where it enters San Diego Bay.
A map inside the nearby Living Coast Discovery Center shows the location of the Sweetwater River and the marsh where it enters San Diego Bay.
Hiking through Chula Vista's protected Sweetwater Marsh on a sunny day. It's mid-May and the once green and flowering plants have begun to dry out.
Hiking through Chula Vista’s protected Sweetwater Marsh on a sunny day. It’s mid-May and the once green and flowering plants have begun to dry out.  In this photo I see some prickly pear cactus.  During the hike I also recognized black sage and coastal sagebrush.
Our guide shows us saltbush. It is adapted to the type of salty soil in this marsh on San Diego Bay. Its leaves taste salty!
Our guide shows us saltbush. It is adapted to the type of salty soil in this coastal marsh. Its leaves taste salty!
Sign by the trail. This area is called Gunpowder Point. During World War I, Hercules Powder Co. extracted potash and acetone here from kelp harvested offshore in the Pacific Ocean. These were used to make cordite, or smokeless gunpowder for the British.
Sign by the trail. This area is called Gunpowder Point. During World War I, Hercules Powder Co. extracted potash and acetone here from kelp harvested offshore in the Pacific Ocean. These were used to make cordite, also called smokeless gunpowder, for the British.
A sail on the bay beyond a drying field of San Diego Sunflowers.
A sail on the bay beyond a drying field of San Diego Sunflowers.
The short, easy hike is ideal for families.
The short, easy hike is ideal for families.
Some sunflowers are still yellow.
Some sunflowers are still yellow.
The San Diego Sunflower, or Bahiopsis laciniata, is often found in a coastal sage scrub environment.
The San Diego Sunflower, or Bahiopsis laciniata, is often found in a coastal sage scrub environment.
The Silver Strand and Coronado Cays can be seen across San Diego Bay.
The Silver Strand and Coronado Cays can be seen across San Diego Bay.
We've arrived at the wildlife reserve's narrow sandy shore. Birds could be seen here and there in the distance.
We’ve arrived at the wildlife refuge’s narrow sandy shore. Birds could be seen here and there in the distance.
As the group continues on, I linger to take in the sunshine and wide views. I notice what appears to be remnants of the potash manufacturing operation from years ago.
As the group continues on, I linger to take in the sunshine and wide views. I notice what appears to be remnants of the potash manufacturing operation from years ago. Some benches allow rest and meditation.
Stones and debris on a beach in the wildlife refuge.
Stones and debris on a beach in the wildlife refuge.
Some mysterious (to me) concrete ruins on Gunpowder Point.
Some mysterious (to me) concrete ruins on Gunpowder Point.
I arrived at a bird observation lookout. All was very quiet. I saw a California least tern hunting small fish along the water's edge. Few people seem to come out here.
I arrived at a bird observation structure. All was very quiet. I saw a California least tern hunting small fish along the water’s edge. Few people seem to come out here.
Depending on the tide, the area near the shore can be open water or a mudflat that supports shorebirds searching for food.
Depending on the tide, the area near the shore can be open water or a mudflat that supports shorebirds searching for food.
Bird's beaks are specially designed for feeding. Some beaks filter plants from the water, some grab flies out of the air, and some probe the mud.
Bird’s beaks are specially designed for feeding. Some beaks filter plants from the water, some grab flies out of the air, and some probe the mud.
The tide must have been out, because this platform stood above a drying mudflat.
The tide must have been out, because this platform stood above a drying mudflat.  I believe that might be bright green eelgrass in the shallow pool of water.
Mesembryanthemum crystallinum, or crystalline ice plant, is salt tolerant. My hike through the marsh produced some beautiful surprises.
Mesembryanthemum crystallinum, or crystalline ice plant, is salt tolerant. My hike through the marsh produced some beautiful surprises.
Hiking through an expanse of green in San Diego's South Bay.
Hiking through an expanse of green in San Diego’s South Bay.

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A short hike along Lake Poway Trail.

Bronze sculpture of a mountain lion and cub near the Lake Poway concession building. Pride of the Wilderness, Richard Becker, 2007.
Bronze sculpture of a mountain lion and cub near the Lake Poway concession building. Pride of the Wilderness, Richard Becker, 2007.

This morning, before checking out the new Tony Gwynn statue, I took a short hike up the Lake Poway Trail.

Here are some photographs…

Sign near beginning of Lake Poway Trail shows how to continue on to the summit of Mt. Woodson, location of the famous Potato Chip Rock.
Sign near beginning of Lake Poway Trail shows how to continue on to the summit of Mt. Woodson, location of the famous Potato Chip Rock.
On a Sunday morning some people along the shore are trying their hand at fishing.
On a Sunday morning some people along the shore are trying their hand at fishing.
Starting up the Lake Poway Trail. The natural scenery is beautiful.
Starting up the Lake Poway Trail. The natural scenery is beautiful.
A trail marker.
A trail marker.
I believe this is wild mustard. Various flowers could be seen along the trail.
I believe this is wild mustard. Various flowers could be seen along the trail.
Bright green foliage above silver water.
Bright green foliage above silver water.
Hikers climb the Lake Poway Trail on an overcast weekend morning.
Hikers climb the Lake Poway Trail on an overcast weekend morning.
Looking back at how far I've come so far.
Looking back at how far I’ve come so far.
Several boats containing fishermen were floating on the lake below.
Several boats containing fishermen were floating on the lake below.
More hikers climbing skyward.
More hikers climbing skyward.
This is as far as I came. I enjoy a breathtaking view as a ray of sun comes through and touches a hill.
This is as far as I came. I enjoy a breathtaking view as a ray of sunshine comes through and touches a hill across the lake.
As I head back down, my eyes feast on more beauty.
As I head back down, my eyes feast on more beauty.
A small bunny is out on the trail.
A small bunny is out on the trail.
Almost back to lake level.
Almost back to lake level.
Some kids were fishing.
Some kids were fishing.
These kids who are fishing huddle together to check out something on the lake's shore.
These kids who are fishing huddle together to check out something on the lake’s shore.
Someone caught a huge fish! One of the kids runs over to see!
Someone caught a huge fish! One of the kids runs over to see!
During my short hike I turned around at this bench. It's dedicated to John Finley McMinn, naval aviator who won the Distinguished Flying Cross.
During my short hike I turned around at this bench. It’s dedicated to John Finley McMinn, naval aviator who won the Distinguished Flying Cross.

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!

Photos of Tony Gwynn statue at Lake Poway.

A statue of Tony Gwynn was dedicated last Tuesday at Lake Poway, near the place he called home.
A statue of Tony Gwynn was dedicated last Tuesday at Lake Poway, not far from the place where he lived.

This morning I had to visit the new Tony Gwynn statue at Lake Poway. It was unveiled and dedicated last Tuesday.

I had to fill my eyes once again with that smile, imagine his laugh, remember his swing of the bat.

I never met Tony, but he touched my life, and the lives of countless others.

He worked hard.  He gave much.  He loved everybody.

He made the world much better.

Someone in a Gwynn San Diego Padres jersey sits by the softball field at Lake Poway, not far from the statue.
Someone in a Gwynn San Diego Padres jersey sits by the softball field at Lake Poway, not far from the statue.
The beautiful bronze sculpture celebrates one of the greatest hitters in MLB baseball. Gwynn doffs his cap while carrying his daughter Anisha.
The beautiful bronze sculpture celebrates one of the greatest hitters off all time in Major League Baseball. Gwynn doffs his cap while carrying his daughter Anisha.
Plaque near the statue. Tony Gwynn was known as Mr. Padre. His humanitarian spirit was felt around Poway, the place he called home. His smile and laugh touched many around the world.
Plaque near the statue. Tony Gwynn was known as Mr. Padre. His humanitarian spirit was felt around Poway, the place he called home. His smile and laugh touched many around the world.
Statue of Tony Gwynn in a beautiful park, where his children played.
Statue of Tony Gwynn in a beautiful park, where his children played.
Flowers and a heart with the word LOVE at Tony's feet.
Flowers and a heart with the word LOVE at Tony’s feet.
Tony Gwynn's signature greets those who visit the sculpture.
Tony Gwynn’s autograph greets those who visit the sculpture.
This is how we should live.
This is how we should live.

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 fun photos for you to share and enjoy!

Caterpillar walks on crab beneath birds!

Bronze birds near entrance of the San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge and regional complex headquarters in Chula Vista.
Bronze birds near entrance of the San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge and regional complex headquarters in Chula Vista.

Having some fun!

Today I visited the Sweetwater Marsh National Wildlife Refuge and Living Coast Discovery Center in Chula Vista. I should have a couple blog posts coming up with lots of photos.

First, here’s a fearless caterpillar that I spotted walking on a crab under some birds. The crab and bronze shorebirds are artwork in front of the wildlife refuge headquarters! The visiting caterpillar is a resident of the surrounding marsh. Perhaps it’s an art lover!

I searched the internet for a few minutes, trying to identify this particular fuzzy caterpillar. No success. Leave a comment if you know!

The representation of a crab underneath the bronze shorebirds is being visited by a living creature.
An inanimate crab beneath the bronze shorebirds is being visited by a living creature.
A fuzzy caterpillar makes its way over the crab.
A fuzzy caterpillar makes its way over the crab.
Wildlife living in the Sweetwater Marsh meets art.
Wildlife living in the Sweetwater Marsh meets art.

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!

Cool new artwork appears at the Quartyard!

A huge shark has appeared at the Quartyard in East Village!
A huge shark has appeared at the Quartyard in East Village!

Some cool new urban artwork has appeared at the Quartyard since my last visit. Some day I need to grab a bite here, or attend an event! Looks like a really fun place!

New urban artwork in the Quartyard gathering place at the corner of Park Boulevard and Market Street in San Diego.
New urban artwork in the Quartyard gathering place at the corner of Park Boulevard and Market Street in San Diego.
Impermanence is the only permanent in life. So embrace that nothing should be clung to as I, me, or mine.
Impermanence is the only permanent in life. So embrace that nothing should be clung to as I, me, or mine.
Picnic table in the Quartyard reads beer, next to a planter with fun artwork.
Picnic table in the Quartyard reads beer, next to a planter with fun artwork.
Several planters have their sides painted with whimsical faces. These are eating food-like letters and pulling tongues.
Several planters have their sides painted with whimsical faces. These characters are eating food-like letters and pulling tongues.
More happy, silly faces.
More happy, silly faces.
Lots of tongue pulling going on.
Lots of tongue pulling going on.
Tired tongues dangling.
Tired tongues dangling.
Just plain silly.
Just plain silly.
A mural by the Quartyard stage attracts attention.
A mural by the Quartyard stage attracts attention.
Keep going! You got this! Yay!
Keep going! You got this! Yay!

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 fun photos for you to share and enjoy!

Street art fights domestic violence, sexual abuse.

No means no.
No means no.

Many panels of street art can be seen on a construction site fence in East Village. They address diverse issues, promote civil rights, condemn social wrongs. They all speak to the human heart. They all concern love. Real love.

I don’t know who painted these panels. All are simple, but extremely powerful.

Most of the artwork opposes domestic violence, sexual exploitation and abuse.

Domestic violence is horrific.  It’s a hidden crime that damages too many lives.

San Diego has a terrible sex trafficking problem. It’s an issue some of our city leaders are trying to address.

Here are a few photos.

There's nothing super about domestic violence.
There’s nothing super about domestic violence.
Stop human trafficking.
Stop human trafficking.
Not all monsters are in the dark.
Not all monsters are in the dark.
Sometimes people wipe away their tears so you can't see them.
Sometimes people wipe away their tears so you can’t see them.

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!