Cool sand sculptures at Sun and Sea Festival!

2014 Imperial Beach Sun and Sea sandcastle greets visitors.
2014 Imperial Beach Sun and Sea sandcastle greets visitors.

I had to take one more trip to Imperial Beach this summer because of another big, fun event by the pier. Today was the 2014 Sun and Sea Festival! The event replaces the U.S. Open Sandcastle Competition which came to an end back in 2011.

Master sandcastle builders who have won many international awards converged to demonstrate their craft and compete for top honors just north of the Imperial Beach pier. When I arrived, the creations were roughly half done. So I got a bunch of interesting photos of the artists in action!

Featured sand sculpture built by Kirk Rademaker of Sand Masters.
Featured sand sculpture built by Kirk Rademaker of Sand Masters.

This centerpiece sandcastle stood near the foot of the pier, adjacent to busy vendor tents, and a variety of other fun activities.

Crowd watches master sand sculptors creating fantastic works of art.
Crowd watches master sand sculptors creating fantastic works of art.

Looking north from the pier toward the field of action.

Teams north of Imperial Beach pier works on a detailed creations.
Teams north of Imperial Beach pier work on detailed creations.
Plastic fork with two tines removed is used to create stonework detail.
Plastic fork with two tines removed is used to create stonework detail.
Patience, planning and creativity on a Southern California beach!
Patience, planning and creativity on a Southern California beach!
Sand creations are sprinkled with water to prevent disintegration.
Sand creations are sprinkled with water to prevent disintegration.
Tall structure looks like an exaggerated Eiffel Tower.
Tall structure looks like an exaggerated Eiffel Tower.
Sand head props up photos used to model more amazing creations.
Sand head props up photos used to model  rat from Ratatouille.
One unique sand sculpture was all about dogs.
One unique sand sculpture was all about dogs.
A dog has its day at Camp Run a Mutt.
A beach dog has its day at Camp Run a Mutt.
A castle with tall spires in the Imperial Beach competition.
A castle with tall spires in the Imperial Beach competition.
The 2014 Sun and Sea Festival attracted many onlookers.
The 2014 Sun and Sea Festival attracted many onlookers.
Brushes are often used to smooth and contour the sand.
Brushes are often used to smooth and contour the sand.
Water and sand are mixed to form raw material.
Water and sand are mixed to form raw building material.
Close look at some detailed work getting started.
Close look at some detailed work getting started.
Artist works on a tire of a Transformers sand sculpture.
Artist works on a tire of a Transformers sand sculpture.

Unfortunately, the Transformers sculpture wasn’t too far along, so I couldn’t get more interesting pics.

I think this is an octopus.
I think this is an octopus.
Huge, complex sand sculpture with many team members working.
Huge, complex sand sculpture with many team members working.
Now and Then is the theme of this sculpture.
Now and Then is the theme of this sculpture.
Long straight edge turns a broad swath of level sand into a boardwalk.
Long straight edge turns a broad swath of level sand into a boardwalk.
I like how quaint this sandcastle appears!
I like how quaint this sandcastle appears!
The Sand Squirrels was one team competing at the festival.
The Sand Squirrels was one team competing at the festival.
Rocket's engine of the Futurama sand sculpture.
Rocket’s engine of the funny Futurama sand sculpture.
Robot appears to be doing some sun bathing!
Robot appears to be doing some sun bathing!
Super cool locomotive sand sculpture near the IB pier.
Super cool locomotive sand sculpture near the IB pier.
I liked this huge underground sand train most of all!
I liked this huge underground sand train most of all!
Everybody is watching the teams build their sand creations!
Everybody is watching the pros build their sand creations!
Kids on the pier's other side build castles, too!
Kids on the pier’s other side build castles, too!

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Mural of Centro Cultural de la Raza in Balboa Park.

Front entrance of Centro Cultural de la Raza in Balboa Park.
Front entrance of Centro Cultural de la Raza in Balboa Park.

Like the nearby WorldBeat Center, the Centro Cultural de la Raza is housed in a colorful old water tower in Balboa Park. Its huge mural draws the attention of those heading up Park Boulevard, just north of downtown San Diego.

Centro Cultural de la Raza is a cultural center with an emphasis on Chicano, Mexican, Indigenous and Latino art. It hosts many exhibits and artistic performances throughout the year. Ballet Folklorico dancing is one of the educational classes that are available.

I walked around the building and took a bunch of photos of the huge public mural!

Starting around the old water tower, checking out the artwork.
Starting around the old water tower, checking out the artwork.
Centro Cultural de la Raza seen from Park Boulevard.
Centro Cultural de la Raza seen from Park Boulevard.
Snake-entwined female in front of moon.
Snake-entwined female in front of glowing moon.
Diverse images from Latino culture in the large mural.
Diverse images from Latino culture in the richly detailed mural.
Geronimo crowned by a radiant sun.
Geronimo crowned by a radiant sun.
Hispanic music, education and optimism are portrayed.
Hispanic music, education and optimism are portrayed.
Colorful mural contains many animals from the Americas.
Colorful mural contains many animals from the Americas.
A ram and corn are among the many images.
A ram and corn are among the many images.
Circling around toward back of the water tower.
Circling around toward back of the water tower.
Mesoamerican pyramid in a richly painted scene.
Mesoamerican pyramid in a beautifully painted scene.
Stylized face watches from Centro Cultural de la Raza.
Stylized ancient face watches from Centro Cultural de la Raza.
Latino family stands proudly in the San Diego mural.
Latino family stands proudly in the San Diego mural.
Eyes seem to rise out of the ground.
Eyes seem to rise out of the ground.
Nearby utility box made into a work of art.
Nearby utility box made into a work of art.
This crazy face made me laugh.
This crazy face made me laugh.
This appears to be an Aztec warrior.
This appears to be an Aztec warrior.
Imagination adds life to one small corner of Balboa Park.
Imagination adds life to one small corner of Balboa Park.

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Pics of early San Diego Comic-Con preparation.

Gaslamp trolley station has superhero sign about a ticket app.
Gaslamp trolley station has superhero sign about a ticket app.

Here are a few pics of new Comic-Con related things I’ve spotted around the Gaslamp in the past two days. The 2014 San Diego Comic-Con is now just one week away! It seems that most of the important preparation will take place early next week, and perhaps over this weekend. I’ll post new stuff as I discover it!

Several long banners with faces advertise The Leftovers on HBO.
Several long banners with faces advertise The Leftovers on HBO.

Several of these banners run along the trolley tracks opposite the convention center. I saw one being put up yesterday morning.

Jay and Silent Bob will eat Comic-Con!
Jay and Silent Bob will eat Comic-Con!

Looks like The American Comedy Co. has a bunch of hilarious Comic-Con entertainment ready to go!

This odd Hulk is on a window of Gaslamp's Rockin' Baja.
This unusual Hulk is on one window of Rockin’ Baja.
Lobster with pointed ears. Steam me up, Scotty!
Lobster with pointed ears. Steam me up, Scotty!

I wonder if Spock would ever put on a sombrero.  He probably would if it were logical.

Electric Dreams Factory sign applied to Hard Rock Hotel window.
Electric Dreams Factory sign applied to Hard Rock Hotel window.

Huge signs concerning an upcoming Adam Sandler movie called Pixels were going up all over the Hard Rock Hotel as I walked by early this morning.  Sony will host a special event during Comic-Con called the Pixels Electric Dreams Factory Arcade, where gamers will be able to play classic arcade games from the 80’s!

San Diego Comic-Con logo being painted on a taco shop window.
San Diego Comic-Con logo being painted on a taco shop window.

Okay, I added the above photo from Little Italy on Friday afternoon.  I was walking home from work. So now, technically, all these pics aren’t from the Gaslamp.

UPDATE!

I just learned I’ll probably be attending Preview Night this coming Wednesday, so stay tuned for (hopefully) a whole bunch of awesome stuff!

ANOTHER UPDATE!

Here come more pics… I snapped these in the days leading up to Comic-Con!

Poster by trolley station promotes another season of Blacklist.
Poster by trolley station promotes another season of Blacklist.
Alex Ross cool Justice League graphic above a Gaslamp door.
Alex Ross cool Justice League graphic above a Gaslamp door.
The Haunted Hotel has two scary Comic-Con dates.
The Haunted Hotel has two scary Comic-Con dates.
The Strain television show advertisement on Old Town Trolley Tours bus.
The Strain television show advertisement on Old Town Trolley Tours bus.

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S.H.I.E.L.D. rises on a black San Diego trolley!

These might be secret agents from the pages of Marvel Comics.
These might be super secret agents from the pages of Marvel Comics.

A little more than a week to go until the 2014 San Diego Comic-Con! So far I’ve noted two different trolley wraps. I posted awesome pics of Gotham character graphics a few days ago, and now I’ve got photos of the S.H.I.E.L.D. RISES black trolley wrap!  Watch out all would-be supervillains!   These trolleys are patrolling both the convention center and Gaslamp!

Stay tuned for lots more cool Comic-Con stuff!

San Diego Comic-Con black trolley wrap reads S.H.I.E.L.D. RISES.
San Diego Comic-Con black trolley wrap reads S.H.I.E.L.D. RISES.
S.H.I.E.L.D. emblem on a San Diego trolley for 2014 Comic-Con.
S.H.I.E.L.D. emblem on a San Diego trolley for 2014 Comic-Con.

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Art adds life beside the ocean in Imperial Beach.

Ocean Riders bronze sculpture by Wyland has three dolphins.
Ocean Riders bronze sculpture by Wyland has three dolphins.

Imperial Beach is in many ways a typical Southern California beach community. The Pacific Ocean and surfing are dominant themes. You see it in the local culture; you see it just about everywhere you turn.

The above photo is of a very cool sculpture just steps from the beach, in Imperial Beach’s Dunes Park. Ocean Riders, dedicated in 1996, was created by Wyland, a famous environmental artist who is known worldwide for his graceful depictions of marine animals.

Utility box on Seacoast Drive shows girl playing in the sand.
Utility box on Seacoast Drive shows girl playing in the sand.
Sea and Sky sculpture by Ken Smith.
Sea and Sky sculpture by Ken Smith.

The above sculpture can be found adjacent to the beach a short distance north of the Imperial Beach pier.  In 2009, it was part of an Urban Trees exhibition along San Diego’s Embarcadero.

Fantastic mermaid and shark street mural in Imperial Beach.
Fantastic mermaid and shark street mural in Imperial Beach.

This mural represents typical Imperial Beach street art. I found this on the side of a building on Palm Avenue.

Surfboard sculpture in outdoor museum.
Surfboard sculpture in outdoor museum.

You see in this pic one of 26 surfboard sculptures placed along Palm Avenue between Third Street and Seacoast Drive. They belong to The Imperial Beach Outdoor Surfboard Museum and represent the history of surfboard design dating from ancient times to 1985.

Shiny metal sculpture of abstract surfer on Palm Avenue.
Shiny metal sculpture of abstract surfer on Palm Avenue.
Cool surfboard rack on a bicycle near the beach!
Cool surfboard rack on a bicycle near the beach!

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Dog athletes surf big waves at Imperial Beach!

Dogs and their human pals arrive at the big surfing competition.
Dogs and their human pals arrive at the big surfing competition.

I’d never seen a dog surf in my entire life. Not until today.

Now I’ve seen a whole pack of dogs surfing.

Yes, I have to admit it. I couldn’t resist heading down to the big Surfdog event at Imperial Beach today. This year it was sponsored by Unleashed by Petco. In the past it was called Loews Coronado Bay Surf Dog Competition.

What? Some of you have never seen a dog athlete mount a surfboard and skillfully ride mighty ocean breakers?

Seeing is believing…

It's the epic Surfdog event everyone has waited for!
It’s the epic Surfdog summer event everyone has waited for!
Finishing touches put on a sand sculpture at Imperial Beach.
Finishing touches are put on a sand sculpture at Imperial Beach.
This dog can hardly wait to watch the intense action!
This dog can hardly wait to watch the intense animal action!
Information boards outline the various heats in the surf contest.
Information boards outline the various heats in the big surf contest.
Announcer readies for incredible pooch performances.
Announcer readies for some incredible pooch performances.
The VIP section fills and so does the beach and pier.
The VIP section fills and so does the beach and pier.
Dogs and non-dogs at water's edge have a great spot to watch.
Dogs and non-dogs at water’s edge have a great place to watch.
These guys want a great spot on the pier to view the action.
These guys want a great spot on the pier to view the action.
Everyone is ready for the first freestyle heat!
Everyone is ready for the first exciting freestyle heat!
This fellow doesn't seem to know what's going on.
This little fellow doesn’t seem to know what’s going on.
Surfing contestants mount their surfboards waiting for the horn.
Surfing contestants mount their surfboards waiting for the starting horn.
The crowd favorite, a superstar, poses for my camera.
The crowd favorite, a genuine superstar, poses for my camera.
The horn blows and the first fifteen minute heat begins!
The horn blows and the first fifteen minute heat begins!
The crowd converges toward the water in disbelief.
The crowd converges on the ocean in disbelief.
One four-legged athlete is already out near the breakers.
One four-legged athlete is already out near the breakers.
Here come two canine athletes showing great form!
Here come two canine athletes showing great form!
Steady as she goes!
Steady as she goes!
Hot dogging it and hanging twenty!
Hot dogging it and hanging twenty!
Wow, those amazing surfers are absolutely inhuman!
Wow, those incredible, amazing surfers are absolutely inhuman!
Thousands enjoy Unleashed by Petco's surf dog event!
Thousands enjoy Unleashed by Petco’s surf dog event!

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Murals of San Diego history in an Old Town alley.

Mural in Old Town alley depicts explorer Cabrillo.
Mural in Old Town alley depicts explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo.

I was wandering aimlessly around Old Town some time ago, just poking my nose here and there, when I discovered a whole bunch of beautiful murals! I found them in an interesting alley off San Diego Avenue, just south of the State Historic Park. The alley, a narrow walkway containing a variety of touristy wares, is called Avila Court. It’s tucked between the Old Town Surf Co. and Covered Wagon stores.

After looking at the artwork closely and talking to a lady working in the area, I learned most of the murals were painted by students from Grossmont College out in East County. Further research on the internet showed that there were originally ten murals, created in 2008, decorating over 85 feet of stucco wall. It’s apparent some of the murals were redone or altered in 2011.

Most of the murals depict people or places that are important in San Diego’s history. Those of you who follow my blog will probably recognize many!

Image of Charles Lindbergh and Spirit of St. Louis.
Image of Charles Lindbergh and Spirit of St. Louis.

Lindbergh’s famous airplane that crossed the Atlantic, the Spirit of St. Louis, was custom-built in San Diego by Ryan Airline Company.

Native American with flower painted in rich colors.
Native American with flower at night painted in rich colors.
Hotel del Coronado, buildings and beach scene.
Hotel del Coronado, buildings and beach scene.
Day of the Dead skeleton in front of the Whaley House.
Day of the Dead skeleton in front of the Whaley House.
Tuna fishermen and whale fluke off Coronado.
Tuna fishermen and whale fluke off Coronado.
Navy ship, huge surf and Mission San Diego.
Navy ship, huge surf and Mission San Diego.
Mural shows an American tall ship in San Diego Bay.
Mural shows an American tall ship in San Diego Bay.

I’m not sure who the whiskered military person is. If anyone out there knows, please tell us!

A combination of various old historic buildings.
A combination of various old historic buildings.
Point Loma lighthouse shines over Pacific Ocean.
Point Loma lighthouse shines over Pacific Ocean.
Tuna cannery worker and a Little Italy fisherman.
Tuna cannery worker and a Little Italy fisherman.
Star of India tied to dock at Embarcadero.
Star of India tied to dock at Embarcadero.
This part of one mural contains a gray whale.
This part of one mural contains a gray whale.
Sepia tone World War II era figures stand by old car.
Sepia tone World War II era figures stand by old car.
Seals, flowers and a cart on the beach.
Seals, flowers and carrying cattle hides from a beach.
Many murals were painted by Grossmont College students.
Many murals were painted by Grossmont College students.

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