Gaslamp shops prepare for 2014 Comic-Con.

Horton Plaza has display cases welcoming Comic-Con.
Horton Plaza has display cases welcoming Comic-Con.

Two weeks to go until this year’s San Diego Comic-Con! During my walk downtown today I saw that a few shops, bars and restaurants in the Gaslamp Quarter have begun to get ready. A couple signs are up and a few windows are painted. Horton Plaza shops have many wares ready to sell. I suspect in the coming week, major preparations will seriously get underway. I’m looking forward to see what surprises pop up!

Batman and Star Wars showcased for coming shoppers.
Batman and Star Wars showcased for coming shoppers.
Bookstore in Horton Plaza has cool stickers and posters in their window.
Bookstore in Horton Plaza has cool stickers and posters in their window.
Justice League appears ready to fly off a shirt!
Justice League appears ready to fly off a shirt!

I altered the above photo a bit to make the superheroes really jump out!

Superman in Gaslamp window with Doctor Who salt and pepper set.
Superman in Gaslamp window with Doctor Who salt and pepper set.
The Dark Knight watches from a historic Gaslamp building.
The Dark Knight silently watches from a historic Gaslamp building.
Gaslamp bar painted with Superman and POW word balloon.
Gaslamp bar window painted with Superman and POW word balloon.
The Chuck Jones Gallery really doesn't need more.
The Chuck Jones Gallery really doesn’t need anything more.
These San Diego Comic-Con signs will be everywhere!
These San Diego Comic-Con signs will soon be everywhere!

UPDATE!

Here come more pics taken in the days leading up to Comic-Con! You’ll notice the Chuck Jones Gallery finally got a funny sign up!

Boom Shop seems to be created for San Diego Comic-Con.
Boom Shop seems to be created for San Diego Comic-Con.
Even ACE Hardware is feeling heroic!
Even ACE Hardware is feeling heroic!
Wile E. Coyote holds Chuck Jones Gallery sign!
Wile E. Coyote holds Chuck Jones Gallery sign!
Batgirl costume on mannequin in local shop.
Batgirl costume on mannequin in a typical local shop.
Yogurt sign with Hulk, Supergirl, Spidey and Batman!
Yogurt sign with Hulk, Supergirl, Spidey and Batman!
Wolverine comic book on a t-shirt.
Wolverine comic book on a very cool t-shirt.

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Belmont Park’s fun Giant Dipper roller coaster!

Looking across Ventura Place at the Giant Dipper roller coaster.
Looking across Ventura Place at the Giant Dipper roller coaster.

Mission Beach is one of the most popular attractions in Southern California. One big reason: Belmont Park and the wonderful Giant Dipper roller coaster!

In my last blog post I walked south down the busy beach boardwalk to Hamel’s. Belmont Park stands just across the street. The historic amusement park was built in 1925 by wealthy sugar magnate John D. Spreckels, and was called the Mission Beach Amusement Center. The 2,600 foot Giant Dipper roller coaster, made entirely of wood, was built in less than two months. Over the ensuing years, the coaster fell into disrepair; it was then carefully restored in 1990 and became a huge success.

Entering Belmont Park beneath the wooden roller coaster.
Entering Belmont Park beneath the wooden roller coaster.
Looking up at tracks of the picturesque coaster.
Looking up at red tracks of the picturesque coaster.
Kid-friendly Belmont Park has thrilling rides and fun stuff.
Kid-friendly Belmont Park has thrilling rides and lots of fun stuff.
People wait to board the historic rollercoaster.
People wait to board the historic roller coaster.
The winding coaster tracks make for interesting photos.
The winding coaster tracks make for interesting photos.
Palm fronds, colorful track and clear blue sky.
Palm fronds, painted wood and clear blue sky.
A large indoor arcade features loads of classic games.
A large indoor arcade at Belmont Park features many classic games.
This small merry-go-round is a treat for kids of every age.
This small merry-go-round is a treat for kids of every age.
A carnival midway area has tests of skill and a food court.
A carnival midway area has tests of skill and a food court.
Riders whiz by as the cars rattle on wooden rails.
Riders whiz by as the cars rattle on wooden rails.
This yellow submarine requires no water!
This yellow submarine requires no water!
Wild and crazy Tilt-A-Whirl provides a big adrenaline rush.
Wild and crazy Tilt-A-Whirl provides a big adrenaline rush.
The Giant Dipper roller coaster swooshes by!
The Giant Dipper roller coaster swooshes by!
Peeking into the innards of a wooden roller coaster.
Peeking into the innards of a wooden roller coaster.

It’s interesting to walk around the perimeter of the Giant Dipper. You can peer beneath the rails and see the materials used to build and maintain the huge wooden construction.

The Plunge giant swimming pool is undergoing restoration.
The Plunge giant swimming pool is undergoing restoration.

Right next to Belmont Park’s amusement rides you’ll find The Plunge, originally called The Natatorium. The huge 12,000 square foot swimming pool originally contained salt water.  It was the largest such pool in the world with 400,000 gallons of water!

The Plunge has also become famous for its Orcas off Point Loma whaling wall, painted in 1989 by famous marine artist, Wyland.

Today the pool and surrounding structure are being repaired. It’s scheduled to reopen by the end of this summer.

I hoped to get pictures of Belmont Park’s relatively new FlowRider wave machine, which allows thrill-seekers continuous surfing without entering the ocean! Unfortunately, it was down for maintenance.

Photo mosaic on beach restroom shows bits of Belmont Park.
Photo mosaic on a nearby beach restroom shows bits of Belmont Park.
Playing football on the nearby sand at Mission Beach.
Playing football on the sand at Mission Beach.

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Pacific Beach boardwalk down to Mission Beach.

Beginning my walk south from Crystal Pier along boardwalk.
Beginning my walk south from Crystal Pier along the boardwalk.

Now please walk with me as I head south down the Pacific Beach boardwalk. We’re starting at Crystal Pier and going all the way to Hamel’s down in Mission Beach. It’s one of the most amazing walks (or bike rides) in all of the world!

Cool octopus art made of tile, stones and shells.
Cool octopus art made of tile, stones and shells.

This bit of artwork was next to the walkway right by the pier.

Folks head toward a shark and big ice cream cone!
Folks head toward a hungry shark and big ice cream cone!
Youth hostel by Pacific Beach boardwalk has sunny mural.
Youth hostel by Pacific Beach boardwalk has a sunny mural.
A small backyard is paradise on the beach!
A small backyard is paradise on the beach!
Colorful surfboards by beach contain happy messages.
Colorful surfboards by beach contain happy messages.
Fish tacos are a San Diego specialty!
Fish tacos are a San Diego specialty!
Shells and boogie boards line the boardwalk for passing tourists.
Shells and boogie boards line the boardwalk for passing tourists.
Just a sample of what you'd see while walking along the beach.
Just a sample of what you’d see while walking along the beach.
Looking out toward the blue Pacific Ocean.
Looking out toward umbrellas and the blue Pacific Ocean.
Several camps on the sand teach people to surf.
Several camps on the sand teach people to surf.
Kids learning to surf file along carrying surfboards.
Kids learning to surf file along carrying surfboards.
People chat as a lifeguard watches the beach from a tower.
People chat as a lifeguard watches the beach from a tower.
Colorful beach toys left on the concrete sea wall.
Colorful beach toys left forgotten on the concrete sea wall.
Beautiful and unusual homes line the boardwalk.
Beautiful and unusual houses line the boardwalk.
The Surf Rider building includes a huge surfboard!
The Surf Rider building includes a huge surfboard!
Bicycles are a very popular mode of transportation.
Bicycles are a very popular mode of transportation.
I reached the Hamel's castle surf shop in Mission Beach!
I reached the Hamel’s castle surf shop in Mission Beach!
Lady looks through a high stack of surfboards.
Lady looks through a high stack of surfboards.
Cool mural in alley shows a roller coaster.
Cool mural in alley shows a roller coaster.

This mural in the alley behind Hamel’s shows a roller coaster. Is there a roller coaster nearby in Mission Beach? Yes, indeed! We’ll visit Belmont Park in my next blog post!

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Walking out on Crystal Pier in Pacific Beach.

Archway of Crystal Pier Hotel and Cottages at end of Garnet Avenue.
Archway of Crystal Pier Hotel and Cottages at end of Garnet Avenue.

Many years ago (decades actually), I used to occasionally go fishing from Crystal Pier. It’s located in Pacific Beach, at the west end of Garnet Avenue, which I strolled along in my last blog post.

While it isn’t a very long pier, it’s definitely one hundred percent cool. One reason is because fishing from Crystal Pier is both free and amazingly productive. While I never seemed to catch anything but mackerel, I remember seeing nice catches of bonito, rock fish, sea bass, barracuda, guitar fish, sharks and even halibut! (One nice thing about pier fishing in San Diego is you legally don’t need a fishing license.)

Why else is this pier super cool? Because there are small cottages built right on it! The historic Crystal Pier Hotel and Cottages was built in 1930. Once known as Pickering’s Pleasure Pier, for a short time the privately owned pier featured a Crystal Ballroom and carnival midway out at its end!

If I were a tourist visiting San Diego, I’d absolutely want to stay here. At night the pier is closed to the public, and you can lie in bed listening to the ocean waves below. During the day you have easy access to the famous Pacific Beach boardwalk, which I’ll show you in my next blog post!

One of the small, quaint cottages actually on the pier!
One of the small, quaint cottages actually on the pier!
Looking along the short pier past fishermen and visitors.
Looking along the short pier past fishermen and visitors.
Turning back eastward toward the cottages.
Turning back eastward toward the cottages.
Surfers below Crystal Pier floating and waiting on their surfboards.
Surfers below Crystal Pier floating and waiting on their surfboards.
This surfer caught a good ride on a nice wave.
This surfer caught a good ride on a nice wave.
This pic shows fishing, surfing and the beach.
This pic shows fishing, surfing and the beach.
Leaving Crystal Pier, to walk down the Pacific Beach boardwalk.
Leaving Crystal Pier, to walk down the Pacific Beach boardwalk.

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Cool urban art on Garnet Avenue in Pacific Beach.

Cool art on a music store window on Garnet Avenue.
Cool art on a music store window on Garnet Avenue.

Yesterday I went for a very long walk through Pacific Beach and Mission Beach, two extremely popular beach destinations just a few miles north of downtown San Diego.

I began by walking west along Garnet Avenue in Pacific Beach, from around Ingraham Street all the way to the beautiful and historic Crystal Pier. This stretch contains more bars, tattoo parlors, smoke shops and swimwear stores than just about anywhere else in Southern California. It’s a young, hip, beachy sort of place, that’s mostly laid back and unpretentious. You’ll see bikinis and skateboarders and tourists and families and surfboards atop cars and under arms just about everywhere you go.

You’ll also see a lot of very cool urban art: on walls, on windows, on rooftops, in alleys…all over the place! Here are some random pics I took as I walked westward in the sunshine…

Aloha Spirit mural on side of Pacific Beach building.
Aloha Spirit mural on side of Pacific Beach building.
Surfers are a major theme in this popular beach city.
Surfers and the ocean are major themes in this popular beach community.
Mural shows lifeguard climbing a tower among palms.
Mural shows lifeguard climbing a tower among palms.
Street art between two buildings on Garnet Avenue.
Funky street art between two buildings on Garnet Avenue.
Pacific Beach public art features a large seagull.
Pacific Beach public art features a large seagull.
Street art in an alley behind a tattoo parlor.
Street art in an alley behind a tattoo parlor.
Hubcaps and tiles add flavor to a colorful local eatery.
Hubcaps and tiles add flavor to a colorful local eatery.
Another tattoo parlor embellished with urban art.
Another tattoo parlor embellished with bold swirls of urban art.
Photo mural on one wall shows old Crystal Pier and Garnet Avenue.
Photo mural on a wall shows old Crystal Pier at west end of Garnet Avenue.
Sunny Pacific Beach has a sunny utility box.
Sunny Pacific Beach has a sunny utility box.
Images of surfers and beach scenes are everywhere.
Images of surfers and beach scenes are everywhere.

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Gotham wrap on San Diego Comic-Con trolley!

Poison Ivy, Catwoman, Penguin, Riddler on a trolley!
Poison Ivy, Catwoman, the Penguin and Riddler on a San Diego trolley!

Okay! I finally got pics of the cool 2014 San Diego Comic-Con trolley car wrap that promotes the upcoming television show Gotham. There are images of nascent Gotham City supervillains Poison Ivy, Catwoman, the Penguin and Riddler. A young Bruce Wayne (after the murder of his parents) and James Gordon (before he became police commissioner) are also shown. Looks awesome! I hope the show lives up to the hype! If I spot any more wraps in the coming couple weeks, I’ll post ’em!

Gotham television show on San Diego Comic-Con trolley.
Gotham television show on a special San Diego Comic-Con trolley.
Characters include Bruce Wayne, Harvey Bullock and James Gordon.
Characters include Bruce Wayne, Harvey Bullock and James Gordon.
San Diego Comic-Con wrap shows Bruce before becoming Batman.
San Diego Comic-Con wrap shows Bruce Wayne before he became Batman.

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Funny double takes around San Diego!

Two street lamps got themselves in a twist.
Two street lamps got themselves in a twist.

Here are some funny cool photos for you to enjoy! These were taken at various times in and around downtown San Diego. Once in while I have to blink and do a double take!

Sticker turns dog into an uncurbable beast.
Sticker turns dog into an uncurbable beast.
Buster stuck his hand in wet concrete.
Buster stuck his hand in wet concrete.
Someone has to water all these watering cans.
Someone has to water all these watering cans.
The Deli Llama is wearing his elegant best.
The Deli Llama is wearing his elegant best.
This bicycle can be ridden above the sidewalk.
This bicycle can be ridden high above the sidewalk.
This outdoor glass elevator is a bit flat.
This outdoor glass elevator is a bit flat.
This GoCar won't go.
This GoCar won’t go.
Stylish patch for an old broken window.
Stylish patch for an old broken window.

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