Beer, headhunters, and instruments of torture.

beer, headhunters, and instruments of torture

What’s that? Huh?

Check out these two banners! They’re hanging in the courtyard in front of the Museum of Man, at the west end of El Prado in Balboa Park.

The first advertises an exhibition about the history of beer. Beerology seems to include the study of imbibing pharaohs and thirsty headhunters. Drink up!

The second depicts a chair covered with sharp spikes. Presumably one of those can be found on display in the museum, along with other delightful instruments of torture. A quite memorable cultural experience!

People walk through plaza in front of the Museum of Man.
People walk through plaza in front of the Museum of Man.

Lawn bowlers enjoy Sunday in Balboa Park.

san diego lawn bowling club in balboa park

Every weekend, folks dressed in white are out on the bowling green near the west end of Balboa Park. The San Diego Lawn Bowling Club must have a pretty good membership, because I’ve seen scores of players all out enjoying the sport at the same time.

I usually linger for a couple minutes to watch a game unfold. Excellent accuracy is required to win.

A game has ended and the scattered balls are collected.
A game has ended and the scattered balls are collected.
Keeping score on a lazy, sunny weekend day.
Keeping score on a lazy, sunny weekend day.
Sign provides info about free lawn bowl lessons.
Sign provides info about free lawn bowl lessons.

House of Turkey fiddler in Balboa Park.

house of turkey fiddler in balboa park

Last Sunday in Balboa Park, after checking out the free organ concert, I ventured across the street to the International Cottages. The House of Pacific Relations International Cottages were built for the 1935 California Pacific International Exposition and represent 32 member countries. The little houses, situated in a picturesque cluster, are decorated and furnished in a way that recreates the unique culture of each nation.

Every Sunday (except during winter) one of the member nations features food and entertainment in the central grassy area. Last weekend it was the House of Turkey.

As I arrived, a Turkish fiddler was on stage fiddling away a merry tune while the audience clapped in rhythm. Here he is!

Turkey is one of several nations waiting to build their own cottage in Balboa Park. Here’s a pic of the nearby United Nations Building…

The United Nations Building among the International Cottages.
The United Nations Building among the International Cottages.

Robert Plimpton plays the Spreckels Organ.

Robert Plimpton at the Spreckels Organ.
Robert Plimpton at the Spreckels Organ in Balboa Park.

Who’s that person at the microphone in the Spreckels Organ Pavilion? It looks like Robert Plimpton, San Diego’s Civic Organist Emeritus! Most of the time he uses his amazing musical talent as resident Organist of the First United Methodist Church.

Robert Plimpton was San Diego’s official Civic Organist from 1984 to 2000, when Dr. Carol Williams (first woman in the United States to be appointed Civic Organist) took his place. She happened to be out of town, so he returned for last Sunday’s free public concert in Balboa Park . . . and played magnificently, of course!

I tried to get a good photo of the organ’s enormous pipes, but the images turned out too shadowy. I’ll try again at some future time!

One plaque at the historic Spreckels Organ Pavilion. Dedicated to the people of San Diego and all the world, by the philanthropist Spreckels brothers in 1915.
A plaque at the historic Spreckels Organ Pavilion. Dedicated to the people of San Diego and all the world, by the philanthropist Spreckels brothers in 1915.
View of Spreckels Organ Pavilion from Japanese Friendship Garden.
View of Spreckels Organ Pavilion from a spot near the Japanese Friendship Garden.
Bust of John D. Spreckels watches organ concerts behind benches.
Bust of John D. Spreckels watches organ concerts behind benches.

Here’s a photo I took in late 2015, during Balboa Park’s yearlong centennial celebration.

Patricia McAfee, mezzo soprano, and Robert Plimpton, San Diego Civic Organist Emeritus, perform during A Tribute to Kate Sessions, "The Mother of Balboa Park" concert on November 8, 2015.
Patricia McAfee, mezzo soprano, and Robert Plimpton, San Diego Civic Organist Emeritus, entertain a Sunday afternoon audience during “A Tribute to Kate Sessions, The Mother of Balboa Park” concert on November 8, 2015.

Umbrellas add color to Sunday organ concert.

colorful umbrellas at sunday organ concert

It must be around two o’clock on a Sunday afternoon. Time for the weekly free concert at Balboa Park’s Spreckels Organ Pavilion!

Crowds gather in the sun under colorful umbrellas to listen to the majestic sound of the Spreckels Organ, one of the largest outdoor organs in the world. The city of San Diego employs an official Civic Organist, none other than Dr. Carol Williams, one of the top performing organists in the world! Each Sunday she plays classical music, jazz, marches . . . and occasionally one of her excellent original compositions. The Spreckels Organ Society helps to raise funds to keep the tradition of free public concerts alive. It’s a tradition that has lasted a hundred years!

The beautiful Spreckels Organ Pavilion is used for various concerts and events throughout the year, including the yearly December Nights festival around Christmas. It’s also a favorite venue for wedding photography. The ornate, elegant architecture makes it interesting to visit even when the stage and benches are empty.

Organ lovers enjoy shade under the San Diego sun.
Organ lovers enjoy shade under the San Diego sun.

Monsters, aliens and trolls on a Haunted Trail!

monsters, aliens and trolls in balboa park

Yikes! Look at the creatures I spotted lurking among the trees on the west side of Balboa Park! That big one looks like a gigantic bloody yeti with goat hooves. Watch out!

What are scary monsters, aliens and trolls doing in Balboa Park? They’re being created for Halloween . . . to populate The Haunted Trail! Sunday afternoon I spotted the huge creatures under construction behind a fence. Look how high that bloody monster stands compared to the step ladder! I also observed a human dummy in an electric chair and loads of more weird, grotesque scenery.

San Diego’s unique Haunted Trail has been raising goosebumps for years now. Looks like visitors to this dark outdoor “haunted house” will be in for a lot of screaming!

future entrance to the haunted trail

Here’s the spooky castle-like entrance to The Haunted Trail!

Military recruits jog through Balboa Park.

military recruits jog through Balboa Park

During my morning walks, I often see military personnel jogging through Balboa Park. Sometimes they can number in the hundreds. They wear distinctive yellow t-shirts marked “NAVY” and lustily chant military cadences as they proceed. I’m not sure whether they are sailors from one of the several nearby naval bases or marines from the Marine Corps Recruit Depot. Usually one or two men will be holding a flag, and a few men in front will lead the way, suddenly changing direction at a moment’s notice.

My camera’s flash in this photo reflected brightly off safety tape on the joggers, making the energetic scene appear kinetic and dazzling.