Los Peñasquitos Lagoon between winter storms.

Debris has been washed by the ocean under the Los Peñasquitos Lagoon bridge at Torrey Pines State Beach.
Debris has been washed by the ocean under the Los Peñasquitos Lagoon bridge at Torrey Pines State Beach.

This morning, the day after a severe winter storm, I visited Torrey Pines State Beach and the ocean inlet to Los Peñasquitos Lagoon. Arriving at high tide, I found myself astonished by the incredible power of nature. Turbulent waves were crashing onto the pedestrian walkway under the North Torrey Pines Road bridge.

I spent some time exploring near the state park’s North Parking Lot and its entrance. I then headed north along a path at the edge of sandstone cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean. I took many photographs, striving to capture nature’s awesome power and beauty.

And more winter storms are on the way!

Please read the photo captions to learn a bit more about this special place.

A lifeguard keeps an eye on wild surf at Torrey Pines State Beach.
A lifeguard keeps an eye on wild surf at Torrey Pines State Beach.
The friendly lifeguard said that waves can wash over the walkway during high tide at this time of the year.
The friendly lifeguard said that waves can wash over the walkway during high tide at this time of the year.
The bridge over the lagoon inlet during a very high tide. The storm-disturbed water appeared very muddy.
The bridge over the lagoon inlet during a very high tide. The storm-disturbed water appeared very muddy.
An information sign was pushed over by high winds from yesterday's storm. The power of nature is displayed.
An information sign was pushed over by high winds from yesterday’s storm. The power of nature is displayed.
Open to the Ocean. Over time, the lagoon mouth has filled in and reopened, changed shape and relocated many times.
Open to the Ocean. Over time, the lagoon mouth has filled in and reopened, changed shape and relocated many times.
Across the lagoon to the south rises beautiful Torrey Pines State Reserve, home of the endangered Torrey pine, rarest pine tree in North America.
Across the lagoon to the south rises beautiful Torrey Pines State Reserve, home of the endangered Torrey pine, rarest pine tree in North America.
Looking west along Los Peñasquitos Lagoon. Light shines on a sheet of water swollen by high tide.
Looking west along Los Peñasquitos Lagoon. Light shines on a sheet of water swollen by high tide.
This coastal marsh in San Diego's North County is a special place where wildlife is abundant.
This coastal marsh in San Diego’s North County is a special place where wildlife is abundant.
The sandy beaches, sand dunes, sandstone cliffs and bluffs, provides the habitat for the Coastal Strand plant community.
The sandy beaches, sand dunes, sandstone cliffs and bluffs, provides the habitat for the Coastal Strand plant community.
A cheerful yellow bush sunflower.
A cheerful yellow bush sunflower.
Looking across the wetland toward the train bridge near the beach.
Looking across the wetland toward the train bridge near the beach.
Life in the Lagoon. Birds are the most commonly seen animals in the lagoon. Ample food and nesting materials allow many to live here year-round.
Life in the Lagoon. Birds are the most commonly seen animals in the lagoon. Ample food and nesting materials allow many to live here year-round.
A great egret stands in Los Peñasquitos Lagoon, patiently watching for fish in the water.
A great egret stands in Los Peñasquitos Lagoon, patiently watching for fish in the water.
People walk west from Carmel Valley Road into the North Beach Lot of Torrey Pines State Beach.
People walk west from Carmel Valley Road into the North Beach Lot of Torrey Pines State Beach.
Sign includes map of the San Diego Trans County Trail, which runs east from the ocean along Peñasquitos Creek, through Los Peñasquitos Canyon.
Sign includes map of the San Diego Trans County Trail, which runs east from the ocean along Peñasquitos Creek, through Los Peñasquitos Canyon.
Closed lifeguard Tower 5 at Torrey Pines State Beach is splashed by wild winter waves during high tide.
Closed lifeguard Tower 5 at Torrey Pines State Beach is splashed by wild winter waves during high tide.
Gazing down at powerful Pacific Ocean surf on a winter day between storms.
Gazing down at incoming Pacific Ocean surf on a winter day between storms.
Coaster train moves along tracks north of Torrey Pines State Beach, heading atop scenic sandstone cliffs into Del Mar.
Coaster train moves along tracks north of Torrey Pines State Beach, heading atop scenic sandstone cliffs into Del Mar.
A line of bicyclists head down Pacific Coast Highway from Del Mar toward Torrey Pines State Beach.
A line of bicyclists head down Pacific Coast Highway from Del Mar toward Torrey Pines State Beach.
Ocean waves crash toward the North Torrey Pines Road bridge over the entrance to Los Peñasquitos Lagoon.
Ocean waves crash toward the North Torrey Pines Road bridge over the entrance to Los Peñasquitos Lagoon.
Mud and debris under the bridge. The result of a strong winter storm and the mighty ocean.
Mud and debris under the bridge. The result of a strong winter storm and the mighty ocean.

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Across the gray water into a dream…

Taking the ferry from downtown San Diego to Coronado is like crossing into a dream. It’s a journey to a magical place. The island is like a small, carefree paradise.

I had a variety of photos from my ferry ride and walk yesterday, so I thought I’d try converting a few into oil paintings! I cropped selected images then used the Oilify artistic filter that comes with the GIMP graphics editor.

It was a beautiful misty winter day.

Those are sea lions lying on a buoy in the bay!

The words etched in the sand near the Coronado Ferry Landing? I’ll let you decide.

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!

Photos of seals, scenery at Children’s Pool.

Harbor seals lie on sunny Children's Pool Beach in La Jolla. The historic Children's Pool is closed to the public during winter and early spring pupping season.
Harbor seals lie in the sun on Children’s Pool Beach. The Children’s Pool is closed to the public during pupping season.

Every so often I have to walk by the water in La Jolla. It’s one of the most beautiful places in the world.

Today I headed to The Children’s Pool to enjoy harbor seals, pelicans in flight, the mighty ocean, the rocky shoreline and blue sky. Pupping season has just begun (December 15 through May 15) and so Children’s Pool Beach is closed to the public.

The Children’s Pool was the gift of local philanthropist Ellen Browning Scripps in 1931. A concrete seawall was built to make the beach safe for public swimming.

Harbor seals began to use the beach in the 1990’s and over time sand has filled the swimming area. There has been a long running legal battle over the use of the beach.

The Children’s Pool also happens to be a popular destination of scuba divers because of nearby reefs.

Today people flock from far and wide to watch the seals from a safe distance.

Sitting on a bench overlooking The Children's Pool, observing the resident colony of harbor seals.
Sitting on a bench overlooking The Children’s Pool, observing the resident colony of harbor seals.
People look toward Children's Pool from the shady green gazebo.
People look toward Children’s Pool from the shady green gazebo.
People along the wall near the lifeguard station. Many tourists now travel to La Jolla just to see the local colony of harbor seals.
People along the wall near the lifeguard station. Many tourists now travel to La Jolla just to see the local colony of harbor seals.
The Children's Pool breakwater was built in 1931. It was a gift to La Jolla by journalist and philanthropist Ellen Browning Scripps.
The Children’s Pool breakwater was built in 1931. It was a gift to La Jolla by journalist and philanthropist Ellen Browning Scripps.
A colony of harbor seals suns on the sand near the seawall, which is off limits during pupping season.
A colony of harbor seals suns on the sand near the seawall, which like the beach is off limits during pupping season.
The seals move about from time to time. They turn on their sides, raise their heads and hind flippers, and inch forward on their stomachs.
The seals move about from time to time. They turn on their sides, raise their heads and hind flippers, and inch forward on their stomachs.
A lone seal heads to the water's edge by wriggling awkwardly on its belly.
A lone harbor seal heads across the sand to the water’s edge by wriggling awkwardly on its belly.
It swims out to a nearby rock.
It swims out toward a nearby rock.
With difficulty, the harbor seal inches up onto the rock that lies just off the beach. Sea lions are much better climbers.
With difficulty, a harbor seal inches up onto the large rock that lies just off the beach. (Sea lions, which sometimes share the beach, are much better climbers.)
The perfect place for a peaceful nap!
The perfect place for a peaceful nap!
Looking west from the closed Children's Pool toward the broad Pacific Ocean and gently breaking waves.
Looking west from the closed Children’s Pool toward the broad Pacific Ocean and gently breaking waves.
Pelicans fly north. Scripps Pier and the scenic cliffs just south of Torrey Pines lie in the distance.
Pelicans fly north. Scripps Pier and the scenic cliffs just south of Torrey Pines lie in the distance.
The pelicans fly toward Seal Rock and Shell Beach and the rocky shoreline west of La Jolla Cove.
The pelicans fly toward Seal Rock and Shell Beach, and distant jutting rocks west of La Jolla Cove.
Looking west. Perhaps you can see why I love this place.
Looking west. Perhaps you can see why I love this place.
Looking south toward Wipeout Beach.
Looking south toward Wipeout Beach.
Another photo of the colony of harbor seals at The Children's Pool in La Jolla.
Another photo of the colony of harbor seals at The Children’s Pool in La Jolla.
A young harbor seal enjoys a day on the beach.
A young harbor seal enjoys a fine day on the beach.

This blog now features thousands of photos around San Diego! Are you curious? There’s lots of fun stuff to check out!

Here’s the Cool San Diego Sights main page, where you can read the most current blog posts.  If you’re using a phone or small mobile device, click those three parallel lines up at the top–that opens up my website’s sidebar, where you’ll see the most popular posts, a search box, and more!

To enjoy future posts, you can also “like” Cool San Diego Sights on Facebook or follow me on Twitter.

A visit to the Cabrillo National Monument tidepools.

Visitors to Cabrillo National Monument investigate the tidepools.
Visitors to Cabrillo National Monument investigate the tidepools.

Cabrillo National Monument at the end of San Diego’s Point Loma peninsula is a place of many wonders.

Visitors can enjoy breathtaking views of San Diego, its big, beautiful bay, Coronado’s North Island and the Pacific Ocean. They can enter the Old Point Loma Lighthouse which was built in 1855 to guide ships into San Diego’s harbor. They can see the iconic statue dedicated to Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo, the explorer who discovered San Diego Bay in 1542 on behalf of Spain. They can watch the migration of gray whales, move through native flora on the Bayside Trail, and check out bunkers that were erected as a coastal defense during World War II.

And by heading a little off the beaten track, visitors can also explore amazing tidepools!

Where are they?

Shortly after passing the park’s Entrance Station, turn right on Cabrillo Road and drive down the hill to the Point Loma Tide Pools.

Make sure to arrive around the time of low tide. Wear sturdy shoes with good traction. Then carefully walk from the parking lot down a short path to the sandstone cliffs and slippery intertidal zone rocks. That’s where you’ll find abundant sea life.

It’s easy to spot all sorts of diverse marine animals, invertebrates and plants at the ocean’s edge. One can find surf grass, sea lettuce, dead man’s fingers, sea hares, lined shore crabs, bat stars, aggregating anemones, sea urchins, limpets, chitons, periwinkle snails, California mussels, lobsters and even small octopuses!

I took some photographs about two hours before low tide!

As low tide nears, people look about the rocks and shallow water for signs of sea life.
As low tide nears, people look about the rocks and shallow water for signs of sea life.
Amazing beauty awaits curious eyes.
Amazing beauty awaits curious eyes.
Starting down the path from a parking lot to the Point Loma Tide Pools at Cabrillo National Monument.
Starting down the path from a parking lot to the Point Loma Tide Pools at Cabrillo National Monument.
A sign by the path. Exploring the rocky intertidal zones is like peering through a window into the ocean's ecosystem. During low tide, marine animals in shallow pools can be closely observed.
A sign by the path. Exploring the rocky intertidal zones is like peering through a window into the ocean’s ecosystem. During low tide, marine animals in shallow pools can be closely observed.
The closer you look, the more you see. Park rangers periodically identify and count the organisms to monitor the health of each species.
The closer you look, the more you see. Park rangers periodically identify and count the organisms to monitor the health of each species.
As we head down the dirt path, the tide pool overlook comes into view.
As we head down the dirt path, the tide pool overlook comes into view.
The tide pool area is active with curious visitors. Only two hours until low tide this afternoon.
The tide pool area is active with curious visitors. Only two hours until low tide this afternoon.
A funny crab asks visitors to please leave all shells in the tidepools.
A funny crab asks visitors to please leave all shells in the tidepools.
Approaching a pair of information signs atop the overlook. The blue Pacific Ocean waves smoothly curl below.
Approaching a pair of information signs atop the overlook. Pacific Ocean waves curl smoothly below.
The old signs are very weathered, but let's take a look anyway.
These old signs are very faded, but let’s take a look anyway.
You are now standing in the upper limits of the splash zone. The waterline does not come this high, but splash and spray sometimes do. Just below is the high-tide zone.
You are now standing in the upper limits of the splash zone. The waterline does not come this high, but splash and spray sometimes do. Just below is the high-tide zone.
Some organisms pictured are limpets, chitons, sand castle worms, goose-necked barnacles and abalone.
Some organisms pictured are limpets, chitons, sand castle worms, goose-necked barnacles and abalone.
Plant life includes giant kelp, surf grass, coraline algae, rock weed, feather boa kelp and dead man's finger.
Plant life includes giant kelp, surf grass, coraline algae, rock weed, feather boa kelp and dead man’s finger.
Families enjoy the warm sunshine and smell of the ocean. This photo looks north along the sandstone cliffs of Point Loma.
Families enjoy the warm sunshine and smell of the ocean. This photo looks north along the sandstone cliffs of Point Loma.
A few rocks stick out of the surf. Fishing boats lie in the water beyond.
A few rocks stick out of the surf. Fishing boats lie in the water beyond.
A gull stands upon one of the larger rocks.
A gull stands upon one of the larger rocks.
A lone surfer has caught a good wave!
A lone surfer has caught a good wave!
As we head down a short dirt path from the overlook to the tidepool area, we take a closer look at the eroded sandstone cliffs and water-smoothed stones on the narrow beach below.
As we head down a short dirt path from the overlook to the tidepool area, we take a closer look at the eroded sandstone cliffs and water-smoothed stones on the narrow beach below.

A wide flat rock dips dips toward the ocean at one end of the tidepools, making a perfect platform for exploration when the tide goes out.
A wide flat rock dips dips toward the ocean at one end of the tidepools, making a perfect platform for exploration when the tide goes out.
In a couple hours even more tidepools will appear. Low tide is the best time to explore the rocky pools of captured water.
In a couple hours even more tidepools will appear. Low tide is the best time to explore the rocky pools of captured water.
Someone peers down into the shallow water, perhaps looking for an octopus or fish.
Someone peers down into the shallow water, perhaps looking for an octopus or fish.
Someone--a young person most likely--searched for heart-shaped stones on the rocky beach and lined them up for all to see.
Someone–a young person most likely–searched for heart-shaped stones on the rocky beach and lined them up for all to see.
People explore a smooth bowl-like pit in the eroded, layered, uptilted sandstone.
People explore a smooth bowl-like pit in the eroded, layered, tilted sandstone.
So much wild natural beauty. So much to contemplate.
So much wild natural beauty. So much to contemplate.
The rock shelf contains parallel fissures and oddly eroded patterns. Over many years the rock is weathered, strangely changes.
The rock shelf contains parallel fissures and oddly eroded patterns. Over many years the rock is weathered, strangely changes.
I see some of those whitish goose-necked barnacles. Many of the tiny pits are home to troglodyte chitons.
I see some of those whitish goose-necked barnacles. Many of the tiny pits are home to troglodyte chitons.
I found some limpets clinging to the wet rock.
I found some limpets clinging to the wet rock.
Bright green algae grows on the exposed rock's surface.
Bright green algae grows on the exposed intertidal rock’s surface.
Beauty that defies description.
Beauty that defies adequate description.
The patient sea washes against these rocks, doing its slow work over the course of countless lifetimes.
The patient sea washes against these rocks, doing its slow work over the course of countless lifetimes.
Looking south at light on the water and dark, broken rocks.
Looking south at light on the water and dark, broken rocks.
The slowly uplifted then eroded sandstone cliffs also tell a story in their book-page-layers about the passage of time.
The uplifted then eroded sandstone cliffs tell a story in their book-page-layers about the passage of time.
Little piles of sand and stone collect where the cliffs crumble.
Little piles of sand and stone collect where the cliffs crumble.
High above, atop Point Loma, I see the Old Point Loma Lighthouse, now a part of human history.
High above, atop Point Loma, I see the Old Point Loma Lighthouse, now a part of human history.
Gazing at the sublime work of nature.
Gazing at the sublime work of nature.

No human artist could possibly paint this.
No human artist could possibly paint this.

I see a small bit of sea lettuce!
I see a small leaf of sea lettuce!
An aggregating anemone has collected fragments of shell and grains of sand.
An aggregating anemone has collected fragments of shell and grains of sand.
A small boy walked up to me as I photographed this small scene and said that it looks like a volcano. On the surface of Mars, I thought to myself.
A young boy walked up to me as I photographed this small scene and said that it looks like a volcano. On the surface of Mars, I thought to myself.
Like a glittering hidden treasure.
Like a glittering hidden treasure.
A chiton between an anemone and a limpet. Another close look at nature's awesome and infinite beauty.
A chiton between an anemone and a limpet. Another close look at nature’s awesome and infinite beauty.

This blog now features thousands of photos around San Diego! Are you curious? There’s lots of cool stuff to check out!

Here’s the Cool San Diego Sights main page, where you can read the most current blog posts.  If you’re using a phone or small mobile device, click those three parallel lines up at the top–that opens up my website’s sidebar, where you’ll see the most popular posts, a search box, and more!

To enjoy future posts, you can also “like” Cool San Diego Sights on Facebook or follow me on Twitter.

Photos of a walk to the end of Oceanside Pier.

Yesterday I walked to the end of Oceanside Pier. It’s another one of my favorite places.

I experienced sunshine, the sparkle of the Pacific Ocean, a fresh sea breeze, the smell of wood, the cry of seagulls . . . and happy people all around: strolling, fishing, listening to music, talking, eating ice cream, leaning over the rail gazing down at the colorful beach and surfers in the blue water awaiting the perfect wave…

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!

Top Gun House in Oceanside to be restored.

Photo from across North Pacific Street in Oceanside of the famous Top Gun house, an historical landmark that will be restored.
Photo from across North Pacific Street in Oceanside of the famous Top Gun House, an historical landmark that will be restored.

Today I headed up the coast to enjoy a walk around Oceanside.

During my small adventure I paused to look at Oceanside’s famous Top Gun House, which is located at the corner of North Pacific Street and Seagaze Drive. It’s the small beach house in the popular 1986 movie where Maverick ate dinner with his love interest Charlie.

A nearby sign provided some information about the house’s historical significance and planned restoration:

“Built in 1887 by Dr. Henry Graves as a vacation home, the Graves House is an ocean front Queen Anne Cottage and is now the “last best” existing such house in San Diego County, as recognized by SOHO (the Save Our Heritage Organization).

The house is best known by most people as the “Top Gun House” because of its prominent role in the movie of the same name. Scenes between Tom Cruise and Kelly McGillis were filmed here in 1985 and the popular movie was released in 1986.

Complete house restoration pending hotel development on this site.

Oceanside Historical Society.”

I spoke with a friendly Downtown Ambassador of MainStreet Oceanside at an information table by the foot of the Oceanside Pier, and she said there are plans to not only restore “Charlie’s House”, but to move it one block north, nearer the pier. That valuable oceanfront lot is also awaiting development.

The Top Gun beach house sits in a corner of a large empty lot that is awaiting development. A hotel will be built here, a block from the Oceanside Pier.
The Top Gun House sits in a corner of a large empty lot that is awaiting development. A hotel will be built here, a block from the Oceanside Pier.
A sign near the Top Gun house provides information for curious people walking past.
A sign near the Top Gun House provides information for curious people walking past.
On the front of the house is a classic Top Gun poster and a vintage photo of the house as it once looked, over a century ago.
On the front of the house is a classic Top Gun poster and a vintage photo of the house as it once looked, long ago.
Photo of the south side of the small Queen Anne style cottage.
Photo of the south side of the small Queen Anne style cottage.
The famous Top Gun beach house will be restored and enjoyed by the local community and the movie's many fans for years to come.
The famous Top Gun House will be restored and enjoyed by the local community and the movie’s many fans for years to come.

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!

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Lingering in sunlight at the edge of an ocean.

Today I found myself walking through Coronado.

The sunshine was strong. I settled on a bench facing a margin of white beach and let my mind wander.

I and many others were sitting, relaxing, playing, speaking, thinking, soaking in one more summer at the edge of an ocean. A canvas of wide blue unrolled into the distance. Tiny glints of light beckoned from very far away.

My eyes were drawn irresistibly to a mystery beyond the horizon.

As our eyes rise to peer beyond life’s ebb and flow, we drift to strange places beyond our reach.

My photographs have been altered slightly. You might recognize Point Loma, Mexico and the small, rocky Coronado Islands that jut from the ocean a bit southwest of Tijuana.

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!

To read a few small stories that I’ve written, wander over to Short Stories by Richard.