Balboa Park’s magical winter garden.

If there’s one garden in Balboa Park that’s truly magical during the winter season, it’s the Japanese Friendship Garden. Beauty thrives all year long in this very special place.

I visited today. I believe right now it’s the only attraction open in Balboa Park. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced museums to close. Even the San Diego Zoo is now closed.

If you’re feeling a bit down this winter, take a slow stroll through the Japanese Friendship Garden.

You’ll feel alive again.

(Artists take note! The Japanese Friendship Garden is now looking for artists to be a part of their next project, which concerns healing through creativity during the coronavirus pandemic. It appears the deadline for submissions is today! Any and all artists are welcome! Click here to learn more!)

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!

Between winter storms in Balboa Park.

Late this morning I walked through Balboa Park before another storm hits this evening. We’re between winter storms.

It was very quiet. When I departed shortly after noon, a few more people were trickling into the park, but it’s winter, rain’s coming, and we’re in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.

I did buy some snacks at the Japanese Friendship Garden and San Diego Air and Space Museum gift shops which were open. The museums are suffering during the pandemic like almost everyone else. They appreciate whatever help they can get.

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 museum to use new antiviral technology!

I learned of another improvement to Balboa Park this afternoon!

I was walking through the Plaza de Panama when I noticed several banners on a construction fence in front of the Timken Museum of Art.

One banner states the Timken will be the first museum in the world to install revolutionary antiviral and dehumidification technology. According to a museum web page, here, this new technology “originally engineered in conjunction with the United States Department of Defense” is considerably more effective at eliminating airborne pathogens than systems presently used in hospital operating rooms!

They hope to demonstrate this technology can be used in other museums, and for common everyday use. (Air that’s much safer than a hospital operating room? Sign me up!)

Other banners on the fence direct interested people to the Timken Museum of Art’s website, where they will find online educational experiences, including virtual tours and art tutorials, plus lots of other activities.

The museum, presently closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, is scheduled to reopen in Summer 2021 with this revolutionary antiviral system installed and ready to go!

If you’d like to learn a more about the Timken Museum of Art, you might enjoy viewing an old blog post here. It includes photographs and notes that I took during a special architectural tour of the Timken’s uniquely beautiful building.

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!

Edward Moores paints Point Loma sunset beauty.

A color-splashed sunset in Point Loma materialized before my eyes this afternoon.

I was walking through Spanish Village Art Center in Balboa Park, when I paused to watch an artist working on a canvas in front of Studio 26. He was painting the Bessemer Path along San Diego Bay in Point Loma. The scene that flowed from his hand was suffused with sunset light.

I soon was talking to Edward Moores, who has been a local artist in Spanish Village for over two decades. He has lived in San Diego most of his life, and you can see a deep love for the city in his paintings.

Ed showed me inside his Studio 26 and I recognized many San Diego places that he has painted. I saw the Hotel Del Coronado’s elegant Victorian boathouse. I saw Balboa Park’s light-filled Lily Pond. When he learned I lived on Cortez Hill, he brought out a wonderful sketch of the historic El Cortez!

Marveling at his careful dabs and streaks of color, I was privileged to see our beautiful city through his eyes. He described his art as somewhat impressionistic. It flows from a place inside him. He said no work of art is ever really finished.

I found the visions and moods he creates to be both subtle and powerful.

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!

Greek community’s olive tree in Balboa Park.

Visitors to Balboa Park walking between the Desert Garden and Inez Grant Parker Memorial Rose Garden might notice a single olive tree. It grows a short distance from the winding pathway, near some logs at the edge of Florida Canyon where people can sit while listening to ranger talks.

What they probably won’t observe is a plaque describing the tree. The plaque, which is not easily seen from the busy walkway, explains the olive tree was donated to the City of San Diego by the local Greek community in November 1976.

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 plane lands at sunrise.

This morning at sunrise I was walking along the edge of Florida Canyon in Balboa Park when I noticed an airplane approaching San Diego International Airport.

As the FedEx cargo plane descended I captured this colorful series of photographs…

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!

More fascinating doors around San Diego!

Here’s another batch of fascinating door photographs!

I have a little extra time indoors this wintry morning, so I’m going through some old photos in my computer. These images were collected in the past month or so during walks all around San Diego.

You might notice many of the ornate wooden doors are in a Mexican style that is popular in Southern California.

The unmistakable front doors of the iconic California Building in Balboa Park, home of the Museum of Us.
Huge door to the downtown power substation that was designed by famed architect Richard Requa.

If you want to learn more about the above building, which sort of resembles a castle, click here.

Strange service door on curved side of the Portside Pier restaurants on the Embarcadero.
Unique door to El Chingon in the Gaslamp Quarter.
Unusual door I spotted during a walk somewhere.

The next four doors were all observed on Congress Street in Old Town. I really like these…

Finally, the last two doors can be found among the International Cottages in Balboa Park…

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!

The gazebos of Balboa Park’s hidden garden.

There’s a hidden garden in Balboa Park that almost nobody visits. It’s called the Administrative Courtyard.

The Administrative Courtyard is green, peaceful and very beautiful. There are fountains. There are arbors with vines and trees. To me, the most wonderful part of this courtyard garden are the gazebos at its corners. They give this special place personality. They are both cheerful and elegant, welcoming visitors with their bright tiled domes and nearby benches.

As I walked through and around the gazebos on a sunny winter’s day, I found many interesting contrasts of light and shadow for my camera.

If you’d like to find the hidden Administrative Courtyard, head to Balboa Park’s Inspiration Point, east of Park Boulevard, and walk behind the Developed Regional Parks Administration Building. That’s the handsome building that stands with its double towers atop a hill.

This corner of Balboa Park, including the Administration Building and nearby Veterans Museum (originally a military chapel), was once part of San Diego’s United States Naval Hospital, which was built in the early 1920s. When the hospital moved into Florida Canyon, Inspiration Point opened up its wonders to you and me.

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Is this what the Wise Men saw?

See that tiny, tiny dot in the night sky directly above the photographer’s knuckles? People are calling it the Christmas Star. Astronomers call it a great conjunction, when the two largest planets in our solar system–Jupiter and Saturn– appear very close together to eyes viewing from Earth.

Today is December 21, 2020, the Winter Solstice. I took this photograph with my little camera from the Cabrillo Bridge in Balboa Park shortly after dark. That’s downtown San Diego you see on the left.

The last time Jupiter and Saturn were in conjunction this closely (and could be seen in most of the Northern Hemisphere) was the year 1226. You’ll have to wait sixty years to see it again. I suppose I won’t be around.

I’ve read and heard conjecture that the biblical Magi were guided to Bethlehem by the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn on the year of Christ’s birth. Some believers claim the timing would have been about right.

Can you make out that miniscule dot? Is that the same “star” the Wise Men saw?

Another good question might be: Is a light from far away what the wise see?

Jupiter and Saturn will continue their orbits around the sun, as will the Earth, long after you and I and every worldly thing we have done and hold dear has vanished, turned to dust, to be swirled by an unseen finger, transformed into something else.

Great conjunctions will continue hundreds, thousands, millions of years into the future. A billion years from this moment–give or take a century–there will be another Christmas Star.

Fun photos from Social Distance Santa!

Social Distance Santa waves at passing cars during 2020 Taste of December Nights. Photo courtesy Bill Swank.

Santa Claus sent me a batch of fun photos!

Every year Santa travels down from the North Pole to greet the young at heart in Balboa Park during December Nights.

In 2020 the holiday event, however, turned into a socially-distanced Taste of December Nights. Families drove through Balboa Park’s Inspiration Point parking lot to partake of the offerings of food trucks. Everyone stayed in their car. Santa waved as they passed. During this year’s very serious, very contagious COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic we all are advised to avoid mingling.

Because a visiting Santa Claus wanted to provide a good example, he renamed himself Social Distance Santa. And his elves constructed a special six-foot ruler!

Bill Swank ordinarily greets all comers as Santa Claus in the Spreckels Organ Pavilion during December Nights. He has been Santa since 2002. This rather unusual year he had to adapt, as you can see!

As San Diego’s preeminent baseball historian, Bill Swank also brought along a photo of Shoeless Joe Jackson wearing a mask during the 1918 Spanish Flu epidemic.

Santa reports that he recognized many people that have visited him over the years, both young and old.

Fortunately, Santa Claus possesses strong magic. His smile beams directly through a face mask, and a friendly wave transmits his powerful love.

Social Distance Santa holds a six-foot ruler with a Balboa Park Ranger during Taste of December Nights. Photo courtesy Bill Swank.
San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer waved at Santa and Mrs. Claus from the first car to enter Taste of December Nights on December 4, 2020. Photo courtesy Bill Swank.
Social Distance Santa holding a picture of Shoeless Joe Jackson wearing a mask during the 1918 Spanish Flu epidemic. Photo courtesy Bill Swank.
Social Distance Santa cards were given to the first 500 cars each day during Taste of December Nights in Balboa Park. Santa’s Safety List is included.

This has been a challenging year for all of us, but Santa and the City of San Diego are thankful we can come together and celebrate in the special way with all of you!

If you want to learn more about the history of Christmas in San Diego and read a book concerning the subject written by Bill Swank, 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!