Stones, water and light at Torrey Pines.

Our recent winter storms in San Diego thrust small stones high up onto the beach in places. At Torrey Pines State Beach, smooth stones covered much of the pedestrian pathway that runs down to and under the bridge near the north parking lot.

The stones, combined with a high tide and descending sun, made for some silvery photographs this afternoon! Bands of reflected light approached the shore with every crashing wave. Newly wetted stones gleamed like magic.

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A visit to the San Elijo Lagoon Nature Center.

The San Elijo Lagoon Nature Center in Cardiff-by-the-Sea is a very special place.

Inside the Nature Center visitors can learn all about the nearby wetland and its wildlife. Outside, the building’s organic, curving lines seem to flow through the natural environment around it.

At every chance, I’ll poke my nose into any nature center. When I walked through San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve and saw this beautiful structure, I was eager to walk all around it and explore inside.

The 5,600 square foot, multi-award winning building, completed in 2009, was designed by Zagrodnic + Thomas Architects. It is light-filled, spacious and visually stimulating.

The construction is environmentally friendly. The building is made out of recycled materials and has irrigated roof plants, solar panels and recycled water.

A big observation deck allows visitors to look out over the lagoon. Excited kids were exploring easy trails winding near its front entrance.

Approaching the Nature Center from the parking lot.

Board near front door announces Arrivals and Landings of resident and visiting birds.

Many informative exhibits greet visitors inside the Nature Center.

Coyote stands atop map of the watershed. Pollutants including trash threaten wildlife that depends on this habitat.

An explanation of San Elijo Lagoon’s biodiversity. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Silvery Legless Lizard.

Piece of sandstone from Annie’s Canyon Trail in San Elijo Lagoon.

Outside light from the sunlit world touches the light of learning.

Thanks for visiting Cool San Diego Sights!

I post new blogs pretty often. If you like discovering new things, bookmark coolsandiegosights.com and swing on by occasionally!

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!

Images and Expressions of a better world.

Three signs at San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve contain the wisdom of local school kids. I noticed the signs during a walk up the Pole Trail. They are a bit distant from the trail, but easily spotted.

On one sign you’ll see Images of a better world; on another, Expressions of a better world. More words from young people who care about the world they live in can be read on the third sign.

Images of a better world. Skyline Elementary School, Grade 5, Fall 2007.

A world with no endangered animals.

Expressions of a better world. Cardiff Elementary School, MAC Kids, Fall 2007.

…With help from humans, mixed with the right amount of respect, the lagoon becomes a big, beautiful habitat for animals and plants, and a place for people to enjoy too…

Field notes and quotes. Rancho Santa Fe Elementary School, Grades 5 and 6, Fall 2007.

It’s best for people to know that our wetlands are very important. The wetlands are home to many creatures and it would be sad for them to go away because of habitat loss…

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I post new blogs pretty often. If you like discovering new things, bookmark coolsandiegosights.com and swing on by occasionally!

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A walk through San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve.

Several weeks ago I enjoyed a fine, very easy nature walk.

I proceeded from the murals at Harbaugh Seaside Trails (near Highway 101 at the north end of Solana Beach) down the main dirt trail. The trail turned, passed through a tunnel under the railroad tracks, and entered San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve.

I then proceeded north up the Pole Trail (which runs parallel to the train tracks), crossed a couple of bridges, and ended at the San Elijo Lagoon Nature Center at the south end of Cardiff-by-the-Sea.

Come along with me as we look at these protected wetlands and watch for birds and other native wildlife…

Sign at Harbaugh Seaside Trails at start of my walk.

These trails were made possible by Nature Collective.

Beautiful words a short distance from the Harbaugh Seaside Trails murals. Annie’s Bench.

Nearby overlook with views of the Pacific Ocean off to the west.

Beginning our walk in earnest.

Here’s the railroad tunnel.

Artwork at the tunnel entrance depicts birds.

We are looking across San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve.

San Elijo Lagoon in the winter.

Pools of water support much life.

Heading north we encounter a fenced area and sign.

Map of the reserve. To the east there are additional trails to be explored.

A big mound of soil behind this fence.

Sign explains the sandy habitat restoration. The elevated sand dune attracts endangered birds, like the California Least Tern and Western Snowy Plover.

Continuing north.

Vegetated and shallow channels are home to rare indigenous plant and animal species. Birds include Ridgway’s Rail and Belding’s Savannah Sparrow.

Here comes the first bridge!

A profusion of native sunflowers.

That interesting building up and to the left is the Nature Center.

A plaque along the way memorializes Beloved Friend and Engineer Brian A. Martin.

Another footbridge spans a channel of water.

Plaque describes The Buhr Nature Bridge. Gabriel Buhr’s forward-thinking, planning and vision helped make the restoration of the San Elijo Lagoon possible.

Almost to the San Elijo Lagoon Nature Center!

Thanks for visiting Cool San Diego Sights!

I post new blogs pretty often. If you like discovering new things, bookmark coolsandiegosights.com and swing on by occasionally!

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!

A secret, magic bench in Balboa Park!

There’s a secret bench in Balboa Park that works magic. Very few visitors to the park ever see it.

Sit on this bench, look down, and suddenly before your feet colorful stars, planets and creatures appear!

This magic bench is in an out-of-the-way corner of Balboa Park, just north of Spanish Village Art Center, at the east edge of the small parking lot. In the above photo you can see the green grass of the nearby Balboa Park Miniature Railroad.

Should you sit on this magic bench, what might you see?

Thanks for visiting Cool San Diego Sights!

I post new blogs pretty often. If you like discovering new things, bookmark coolsandiegosights.com and swing on by occasionally!

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!

Beautiful tile murals at Vons in Coronado.

I love these three tile mosaic murals decorating the front of Vons in Coronado! You can spot them as you head down Orange Avenue.

I believe this artwork appeared in conjunction with the recent Vons remodel. The grocery store expanded into the old Cora Mart building space next door.

Several colorful scenes include an abstract Hotel del Coronado and kites in the blue sky, presumably pulling unseen kiteboarders across the ocean.

Who out there knows more about these murals?

Thanks for visiting Cool San Diego Sights!

I post new blogs pretty often. If you like discovering new things, bookmark coolsandiegosights.com and swing on by occasionally!

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!

NASA Student Launch team in Balboa Park!

Participants in the NASA Student Launch rocket project were greeting visitors to Balboa Park today!

The NASA Student Launch Initiative is a competitive, experimental challenge where student teams design, build and launch rockets, then analyze the results.

The challenge for 2023 is to design a rocket that will reach 5000 feet. The rocket must autonomously receive NASA’s radio frequency transmissions, commanding a maneuverable camera.

The students also get to meet NASA engineers to present their findings!

Team Hydra, from MATHmania Robotics, with members from around Southern California, were in Balboa Park demonstrating how the rockets they’ve designed work. Why? Participants in NASA Student Launch are also tasked with STEM education.

Kids passing by were instantly drawn to the big rockets and were eager to learn all about them!

Thanks for visiting Cool San Diego Sights!

I post new blogs pretty often. If you like discovering new things, bookmark coolsandiegosights.com and swing on by occasionally!

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!

Learning the ropes at the Maritime Museum!

Nearly a hundred new hands were “learning the ropes” on San Diego’s historic tall ship Star of India today!

During my visit to the Maritime Museum of San Diego, I asked what all those folks on the deck were up to. I was told they’re learning all about sailing a tall ship. It was the first day of the Sail Training 101 class that is held every year.

There’s a ton to learn–can you imagine? Different masts, yards, sails, all those different ropes and cables, different knots, the jargon–all of it crucial in the sailing of a ship. (I’m a museum member and avid reader of nautical fiction, and I still become confused by much of it!)

Many of these new volunteer crew members, once trained, will be sailing several of the Maritime Museum’s tall ships, including Californian and San Salvador. This coming November the Star of India will sail with those other two ships out onto the Pacific Ocean!

In one upcoming photo, someone down in the Star of India’s hold is raising a heavy bucket full of rocks. That’s practice for hauling on a line–a very common activity on a tall ship!

Thanks for visiting Cool San Diego Sights!

I post new blogs pretty often. If you like discovering new things, bookmark coolsandiegosights.com and swing on by occasionally!

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!

A colorful Lunar New Year in City Heights!

City Heights is possibly San Diego’s most diverse neighborhood. So it isn’t surprising that people from many walks of life have converged in City Heights for the 2023 SD Lunar New Year Festival!

Today I headed to east San Diego to experience the weekend event. This celebration of Tết is presented by Little Saigon San Diego. It’s free to the public at Officer Jeremy Henwood Memorial Park.

I wandered about looking at traditional displays. I sat down to watch several excellent cultural performances on the big stage. The audience applauded energetically and often.

I read that this popular event is helping to raise funds for the creation of a Boat People Garden mini park, to be built somewhere near the festival site. I attempted to gather information about the coming mini park, but all I could ascertain is a groundbreaking ceremony will take place this Wednesday.

Thanks for visiting Cool San Diego Sights!

I post new blogs pretty often. If you like discovering new things, bookmark coolsandiegosights.com and swing on by occasionally!

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!

A big Chinese New Year Festival in Balboa Park!

Tomorrow is Lunar New Year! It will be the Year of the Rabbit. (Which signifies good luck!)

This weekend the 2023 Chinese New Year Festival is being held in Balboa Park at the International Cottages. The event is presented by the House of China.

The festival attracted an absolutely gigantic crowd today. We heard from the stage that attendance this year set a record. The lawn at the International Cottages was jammed with humanity.

There were vendors, Chinese food, and a calligraphy demonstration inside the cottage of the House of China. Lots of kids became super excited after two o’clock when speeches ended and the traditional Lion Dance began!

Thanks for visiting Cool San Diego Sights!

I post new blogs pretty often. If you like discovering new things, bookmark coolsandiegosights.com and swing on by occasionally!

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!