Inspiration found in small scenes of beauty.

Whenever I forget to look closely at the world, I miss the hidden beauty. And the unexpected inspiration.

These photographs were all taken today at the Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa Park.

This special garden’s breathtaking beauty has inspired a couple of very short stories. I wrote The Child and the Koi and Waterfall Tears while sitting quietly by the stream that bubbles through the canyon.

I hope these photos–these small scenes of beauty–inspire you, too.

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!

Do you love Balboa Park? Follow my special blog which I call Beautiful Balboa Park!

Do you enjoy beautiful things? Visit my other photography blog which I call A Small World Full of Beauty.

Boy Scouts improve Bennington Memorial Oak Grove.

Crew members of USS Theodore Roosevelt help Boy Scout Maxwell Thomson move logs in the USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove. Photo courtesy Kathleen Winchester.
Crew members of USS Theodore Roosevelt help Boy Scout Maxwell Thomson move logs in the USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove. Photo courtesy Kathleen Winchester.

Over the past year and a half, some amazing young men have been working to improve the USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove in Balboa Park. These community-minded Boy Scouts, with the help of the San Diego Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, have undertaken projects in the historic grove in order to achieve the rank of Eagle Scout.

You might remember the photos that I posted of the USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove. It’s tucked away in a corner of Florida Canyon, not far from Naval Medical Center San Diego and the Balboa Park Municipal Golf Course. The 66 live oak trees were planted in 1905 to memorialize 66 sailors killed on the USS Bennington on July 21st of that year. The gunboat’s boiler exploded while it was in San Diego Bay, and many men tragically perished.

The efforts of these hardworking Boy Scouts have added beauty, safety and memory to the old oak grove. Four have successfully become Eagle Scouts. They are Joshua Ortega, Sam Kinsey, Frederick Persons and Erik Ortlieb. The projects of two other young men are now underway. Those Scouts are Maxwell Thomson and Preston Buljat.

Most of these photographs have been contributed by local historian Kathleen Winchester. She and other members of the DAR’s San Diego Chapter have been instrumental in providing coordination and encouragement as the USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove is improved. Please read the photo captions to appreciate the unselfish work of these young men.

I have learned the grove’s kiosk will eventually contain the names of those who perished aboard the USS Bennington. And very soon a flagpole will be raised in the grove-the project of Preston Buljat.

In 2014, the San Diego Chapter of Daughters of the American Revolution partnered with the San Diego Park and Recreation Department and the Friends of Balboa Park as part of the latter’s “Adopt-A-Plot” program and adopted the Bennington Memorial Oak Grove.

The local DAR intends to purchase more oak trees to replace dead ones. If anyone wants to help with this worthy endeavor, contact the San Diego Chapter of DAR. All contributed funds will go straight to the purchase of trees.

As you can see in a few of the photos, U.S. Navy sailors from the San Diego homeported aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt have also lent a hand. Their involvement is especially meaningful as Teddy Roosevelt was the President of the United States in 1905 when the USS Bennington disaster occured. President Roosevelt was a conservationist who would have loved this shady grove of majestic oaks.

The sailors from the USS Theodore Roosevelt, by helping to beautify the USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove, honored their fellow seamen from an earlier time.

The USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove in Balboa Park has been improved by some amazing young men working to achieve the rank of Eagle Scout.
The USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove in Balboa Park has been improved by some amazing young men working to achieve the rank of Eagle Scout. Photo courtesy Kathleen Winchester.
The oak grove's entrance sign is an Eagle Project undertaken by Erik Ortlieb of Boy Scout Troop 4 in La Jolla.
The oak grove’s entrance sign is an Eagle Project undertaken by Erik Ortlieb of Boy Scout Troop 4 in La Jolla.
Erik Ortlieb poses with Kathleen Winchester of the DAR by the sign he built on October 16, 2016. It welcomes visitors into the beautiful old oak grove.
Erik Ortlieb poses with Kathleen Winchester of the DAR by a post of the wooden sign he built on October 16, 2016. The sign welcomes visitors into the beautiful old oak grove. Photo courtesy Kathleen Winchester.
Boy Scout Sam Kinsey works on the trail that leads into the historic USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove in Balboa Park.
Boy Scout Sam Kinsey works on the trail that leads into the historic USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove in Balboa Park. Photo courtesy Kathleen Winchester.
Boy Scout Joshua Ortega finished a footbridge in the grove just days before his 18th birthday. He is now attending Pepperdine University.
Boy Scout Joshua Ortega finished a footbridge in the grove just days before his 18th birthday. He is now attending Pepperdine University. Photo courtesy Kathleen Winchester.
Plaque on the bridge reads Eagle Scout Project - Joshua R. Ortega - Troop 299 - June 2016.
Plaque on the bridge reads Eagle Scout Project – Joshua R. Ortega – Troop 299 – June 2016.
Boy Scout Frederick Persons poses in front of the new kiosk he built. Around him are volunteers from Boy Scout Troop 295.
Boy Scout Frederick Persons poses in front of the new kiosk he built. Around him are volunteers from Boy Scout Troop 295. Photo courtesy Kathleen Winchester.
Crew members of San Diego aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt lend a helping hand by rolling logs that will border a path though the grove.
Crew members of San Diego aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt lend a helping hand by rolling logs that will border a path though the grove. Photo courtesy Kathleen Winchester.
Boy Scout Maxwell Thomson and U.S. Navy sailors roll logs into place in the USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove.
Boy Scout Maxwell Thomson and U.S. Navy sailors roll logs into place in the USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove. Photo courtesy Kathleen Winchester.
Maxwell Thomson poses with friends among logs which now mark the trail through the revitalized USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove!
Maxwell Thomson poses with friends among logs which now mark the trail through the USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove. Photo courtesy Kathleen Winchester.
15-year-old Maxwell Thomson takes a short break as DAR San Diego Chapter members cheer him on!
15-year-old Maxwell Thomson takes a short break as DAR San Diego Chapter members cheer him on! Photo courtesy Kathleen Winchester.

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!

More smiles and magic in Balboa Park!

Friendly SDSU students perform a magic trick in Balboa Park. They demonstrate how high tuitions make money disappear!
Friendly SDSU students perform a magic trick in Balboa Park. They demonstrate how high tuitions make money disappear!

In Balboa Park smiles are abundant, and magic awaits around every corner. I took some photos this afternoon.

Brandon Carpenter smiles from atop his cool, historic penny-farthing.
Brandon Carpenter smiles from atop his cool, historic penny-farthing.
Anointed Ali gets ready to head over to the Plaza de Panama for another amazing acrobatic performance.
Anointed Ali gets ready to head over to the Plaza de Panama for another amazing acrobatic performance.
Resting among shadows and light with a camera.
Resting among magical shadows and light with a camera.
A sunlit Christmas pooch and old man.
A sunlit Christmas pooch and an old man.
Youthful excitement inside the Museum of Photographic Arts.
Youthful excitement inside the Museum of Photographic Arts.
Will recites Shakespeare on El Prado.
Will recites Shakespeare on El Prado.
Taking elegant photos in a beautiful park.
Taking elegant photos in a beautiful park.
Approaching the Dragon Bridge in the Japanese Friendship Garden.
Approaching the Dragon Bridge in the Japanese Friendship Garden.
Scooters heading through the park.
Scooters heading through the park.
A helping hand while crossing the street.
A helping hand while crossing the street.
Walking near the Timken Museum of Art.
Walking near the Timken Museum of Art.
People enjoy relaxing in the Plaza de Panama, in front of the San Diego Museum of Art.
People enjoy relaxing in the Plaza de Panama, in front of the San Diego Museum of Art.
Playing guitar in a nook in the Alcazar Garden.
Playing guitar in a nook in the Alcazar Garden.
A joyful dog jumps up to greet me as I walk from the Cabrillo Bridge past Nate's Point Dog Park.
A joyful dog jumps up to greet me as I walk from the Cabrillo Bridge past Nate’s Point Dog Park.
A picnic on green grass on the West Mesa.
A picnic on green grass on the West Mesa.

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!

Do you love Balboa Park? Follow my special blog which I call Beautiful Balboa Park!

Holiday lights shine brightly at December Nights.

A fun, illuminated snowman in Spanish Village. Festive lights dazzle at 2017 December Nights.
A fun, illuminated snowman in Spanish Village. Festive lights dazzle at December Nights.

Tonight I headed into Balboa Park to enjoy 2017 December Nights.

When its buildings, fountains and gardens are brightly lit after dark, Balboa Park is magically transformed. During the holidays the park seems like a storybook wonderland.

My camera managed to capture a small bit of that magic.

Strings of lights radiate from the center of Plaza de Panama during December Nights.
Colorful strings of lights radiate from the center of Plaza de Panama during December Nights.
The Bea Evenson fountain in the Plaza de Balboa is brightly lit for December Nights.
The Bea Evenson fountain in the Plaza de Balboa is brightly lit.
One of many beautiful Christmas trees on the Spanish Village Art Center outdoor patio.
One of many shining Christmas trees on the Spanish Village Art Center patio.
Dozens of vendors sell gifts throughout Balboa Park during the big annual holiday event.
Dozens of vendors sell gifts throughout Balboa Park during the delightful holiday event.
Roasted nuts are among the traditional holiday treats that visitors enjoy.
Roasted nuts are among the traditional holiday treats that visitors enjoy.
One of many youthful dance groups performing at the Casa del Prado.
One of many youthful dance groups performs at the Casa del Prado.
San Diego's Portuguese community contributed a Christmas tree and royal robe to the December Nights Festival of Trees inside the Casa del Prado.
San Diego’s Portuguese community contributed a Christmas tree and royal robe to the December Nights Festival of Trees inside the Casa del Prado.
The Old Globe Theatre created this very stylish Christmas tree.
The Old Globe Theatre created this very stylish Christmas tree.
The center of December Nights is the Spreckels Organ Pavilion, where joyful entertainment continues into the night.
The center of December Nights is the Spreckels Organ Pavilion, where joyful entertainment continues into the night.
A choir performs holiday songs for a large December Nights crowd.
A choir performs holiday songs for a large December Nights crowd. A scene of amazing beauty.
Getting something to eat or drink at the Gingerbread House.
Getting something to eat or drink at the colorful Gingerbread House.
Scene of Jesus with children in the Nativity along the rear of the Spreckels Organ Pavilion.
Scene of Jesus with children in the Nativity along the rear of the Spreckels Organ Pavilion.
Graceful dancers perform at the International Cottages.
Graceful dancers perform at the International Cottages.
The fun zone in the Palisades area of Balboa Park features brightly lit rides for the kids.
The fun zone in the Palisades area of Balboa Park features brightly lit rides for the kids.
Getting more treats ready.
Getting more treats ready.
The bright Christmas tree at the Old Globe draws the eyes of old and young alike.
The very merry Christmas tree at the Old Globe draws the eyes of old and young alike.
In the Spreckels Organ Pavilion, Santa Claus brings a child joy.
In the Spreckels Organ Pavilion, Santa Claus brings a child magic and joy.

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!

Four years of December Nights memories.

December Nights begins this afternoon! The big holiday festival in Balboa Park runs today from 3:00 pm to 11:00 pm, and tomorrow from noon to 11:00 pm.

The past four years, Cool San Diego Sights has featured many fun photos from December Nights. So many smiles! So many heartwarming memories!

Perhaps you’d like to relive those moments in time. Simply click the following links!

2016 . . .

Searching for Santa at December Nights!

2015 . . .

Fun photos of 2015 December Nights in Balboa Park!

2014 . . .

Joyful colors of Christmas at December Nights.

2013 . . .

Lots of Balboa Park December Nights photos!

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!

Fun photos of 2017 Christmas on the Prado!

Energetic elves run about the colonnade of the Spreckels Organ Pavilion during 2017 Christmas on the Prado in Balboa Park!
Energetic elves run about the colonnade of the Spreckels Organ Pavilion during 2017 Christmas on the Prado in Balboa Park!

Look at all these fun photos! I took them today in Balboa Park, where the 2017 Community Christmas Center’s “Christmas on the Prado” is being held, even as I type this.

I caught the very beginning of the annual family-friendly event. Various activities and musical entertainment on the stage of the Spreckels Organ Pavilion emphasize the religious importance and meaning of Christmas. The central feature is an extensive life-size nativity display showing Biblical events leading up to the birth of Christ.

When I walked around Balboa Park during the afternoon, I noticed other holiday decorations are going up all throughout the park. Next weekend the big December Nights event will be held, which is one of the nation’s most popular and spectacular holiday festivals!

Even with that smile, you can't fool me Mrs. Claus! That's not really Santa!
Even with that smile, you can’t fool me Mrs. Claus! That’s not a real Santa!
A bunch of folk from the North Pole were getting ready as Christmas on the Prado was almost set to open.
A bunch of folk from the North Pole were getting ready among toys as Christmas on the Prado was almost set to open.
These outstanding U.S. Marines were collecting Toys for Tots during the annual family-friendly event.
These outstanding U.S. Marines were collecting Toys for Tots during the annual family-friendly event.
I learned kids would be playing pin-the-carrot-on-the-snowman!
I learned kids would be playing pin-the-carrot-on-the-snowman!
First up to sing were those elves. They attend Dailard Elementary School. Funny songs included Silly Humans and Elfie Selfie.
First up to sing were those elves. They attend Dailard Elementary School. Funny songs included Silly Humans and Elfie Selfie.
Lots of parents were in the large crowd waving.
Lots of parents were in the large crowd waving.
This elf probably thought I was a silly human, who asked her to smile for my camera!
This elf probably thought I was a silly human, who asked her to smile for my camera!
Christmas on the Prado emphasizes the religious importance of the holiday. Scenes in the Spreckels Organ Pavilion show Biblical events leading up to the birth of Christ.
Christmas on the Prado emphasizes the religious importance of the holiday. Scenes in the Spreckels Organ Pavilion show Biblical events leading up to the birth of Christ.
I spy four smiling faces in this photo. Can you count them?
I spy four smiling faces in this photo. Can you count them?
As the evening becomes chilly, a line will form at the Gingerbread House for cookies, cocoa and coffee.
As the evening becomes chilly, a line will form at the Gingerbread House for cookies, cocoa and coffee.

Here are some additional photos from around Balboa Park today. The first two I took at the International Cottages…

A beautiful small Christmas tree inside the House of Sweden cottage.
A beautiful small Christmas tree inside the House of Sweden cottage.
Visitors to the House of Norway were making all sorts of holiday crafts.
Visitors to the House of Norway cottage were making all sorts of holiday crafts.
Artists were selling their work not far from the Spreckels Organ Pavilion. I spied some truly amazing Christmas artwork created by Katrina Bittar. I learned that the core of each delicate piece is papier-mâché.
Artists were selling their work on some grass near the Spreckels Organ Pavilion. I spied some truly amazing Christmas artwork created by Katrina Bittar. I learned that the core of each delicate piece is papier-mâché.
All sorts of fun holiday stuff can be found in Balboa Park's Spanish Village Art Center. Seems it's going to be a Meowy Christmas!
All sorts of fun holiday stuff can be found in Balboa Park’s Spanish Village Art Center. Appears it’s going to be a Meowy Christmas!
I bought 3 bags of cookies from this happy elf in front of the Casa del Prado. I believe funds were being raised for the San Diego Junior Theatre.
I bought 3 bags of cookies from this happy elf in front of the Casa del Prado. I believe funds were being raised for the San Diego Junior Theatre.
A bunch of elves are running loose in Balboa Park!
A bunch of elves are running loose 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!

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!

Amazing new murals at San Diego Automotive Museum.

Visitors to the San Diego Automotive Museum in Balboa Park walk under four large temporary murals recently installed above the California State Building's entrance.
Visitors to the San Diego Automotive Museum in Balboa Park walk under four large temporary murals recently installed above the 1935 California State Building’s entrance.

The 1935 California State Building in Balboa Park, home to the San Diego Automotive Museum, is slowly being restored to its former glory. Four temporary murals were installed above the entrance several weeks ago. They are based on murals that decorated the building during the 1935 California Pacific International Exposition.

Much of the California State Building’s original ornamentation no longer exists, including the four original murals. They were created for the exposition by Hollywood set designer Juan Larrinaga. Painted on fiberboard to appear like tilework, they depicted California’s commerce, scenic beauty, agriculture and industry.

Balboa Park’s Committee of 100 will be raising funds to recreate the historic murals with beautiful ceramic tiles. Meanwhile, these four amazing temporary murals will welcome visitors to Balboa Park’s San Diego Automotive Museum.

To learn more about this project, and other work being undertaken by the Committee of 100 to restore and enhance Balboa Park, including the Palisades area where the 1935 California State Building is located, visit their website here.

A depiction of California's commerce originally created for the 1935 California Pacific International Exposition.
A depiction of California’s commerce originally created for the 1935 California Pacific International Exposition.
California's abundant natural beauty is depicted.
California’s abundant natural beauty is depicted.
A depiction of California's agriculture, which feeds many around the world.
A depiction of California’s agriculture, which feeds many around the world.
The fourth mural from 1935 depicts California's industrial activity.
The fourth mural from 1935 depicts California’s industrial activity.

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!

Do you love Balboa Park? Follow my special blog which I call Beautiful Balboa Park!