Photos of Balboa Park’s unique magic at dusk.

Lights come on inside Casa del Prado in Balboa Park as the day ends.
Lights come on inside Casa del Prado in Balboa Park as another day ends.

Balboa Park in San Diego’s bright sunshine is wonderful. At night it becomes magical.

As darkness seeps in and night gentles the world, Balboa Park transforms into an entirely different place. Take a look…

Plaster statues of Spanish painters become shadowy in courtyard of Casa del Prado.
Plaster statues of Spanish painters become shadowy in courtyard of Casa del Prado.
Faces above blue-lit fountain by Botanical Building.
Faces above blue-lit fountain by Botanical Building.
Ornate building facades on El Prado take on new depth at dusk.
Ornate building facades on El Prado take on new, amazing depth at dusk.
Walking down an elegant, golden corridor as night descends.
Walking down an elegant, golden corridor as night descends.
Passage along El Prado becomes mellow and mysterious.
Passage along El Prado becomes mellow and mysterious.
The sky becomes dark blue after sunset and faint stars slowly emerge.
The sky becomes dark blue after sunset and faint stars slowly emerge.
Balboa Park after dark transforms into a fantastic, fairytale world.
Balboa Park after dark transforms into a fantastic, fairy tale world.
Foliate capitals on the columns of the Spreckels Organ Pavilion colonnade.
Foliate capitals on the columns of the Spreckels Organ Pavilion colonnade.
Illuminated fountain beside patio beneath The Prado restaurant in Balboa Park.
Illuminated fountain beside patio beneath The Prado restaurant in Balboa Park.
One last juggle by darkening fountain near Reuben H. Fleet Science Center.
One last juggle by the slowly darkening fountain near Reuben H. Fleet Science Center.

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Scuba divers help clean up San Diego waterfront!

Volunteers help clean up San Diego Bay near the Star of India.
Volunteers help clean up our San Diego Bay near the Star of India.

The annual San Diego Bay Downtown Cleanup was held this morning! Local scuba divers cleaned up underwater garbage at the edge of our beautiful waterfront, while other volunteers assisted gathering trash above water.

I walked along the Embarcadero from the San Diego Maritime Museum down to Tuna Harbor and took a bunch of cool photographs. Hopefully these pics provide a little inspiration! Let’s make the world more clean and beautiful!

This guy was assisting divers removing trash along the Embarcadero.
This guy was assisting divers removing trash along the Embarcadero.
Power Scuba and Control Group teamed up for downtown waterfront cleanup event.
Power Scuba and Control Group teamed up for downtown waterfront cleanup event.
Looking out at diving boat from inside Anthony's Fishette.
Looking out at dive boat from inside Anthony’s Fishette.
Many San Diegans assisted in various ways, or just watched with curiosity.
Many San Diegans assisted in various ways, or just watched with curiosity.
Bags of garbage were gathered throughout the morning to be hauled away later.
Bags of garbage were gathered throughout the morning to be hauled away later.
A participant checks out what's going on in the water below.
A participant checks out what’s going on in the water below.
The boardwalk near the USS Midway was full of activity.
The boardwalk near the USS Midway was full of activity.
New trash compacting and recycling cans along the Embarcadero are solar powered.
New trash compacting and recycling cans along the Embarcadero are solar powered.
Old and young were helping out making our fine city even better.
Old and young were helping out the environment, making our fine city even better.
Scuba divers checked in here before beginning their underwater mission.
Scuba divers checked in here before beginning their underwater mission.
Piles of garbage found in the bay include construction cones and a shopping cart.
Piles of garbage found in the bay include construction cones and a shopping cart.
Bags of trash are collected as the morning progresses.
Bags of trash are collected as the morning progresses.
Pool skimming nets were handy for removing floating litter and debris.
Pool skimming nets were handy for removing floating litter and debris.
Port of San Diego's boat Tsunami II is used to help clean the bay.
Port of San Diego’s boat Tsunami II is used to help clean the bay.
Scuba diver gets hosed off on Tuna Harbor dock after gathering trash.
Scuba diver gets hosed off on Tuna Harbor dock after gathering trash.

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2014 Festival of Sail’s many beautiful tall ships!

People arrive at San Diego's 2014 Festival of Sail on the Embarcadero.
People arrive at San Diego’s 2014 Festival of Sail on the Embarcadero.

I began a description of the 2014 Festival of Sail in the previous blog post, where I showed photos of the brig Pilgrim docked on San Diego’s Embarcadero. The big Labor Day weekend event features 21 different vessels, so now I’ll provide a quick tour of the other beautiful tall ships that can be seen on sparkling San Diego Bay! I have so many pics that I’ve broken them up into two separate parts.

The sails of the historic Star of India rise beyond a kettle corn sign!
The sails of the historic Star of India rise beyond a kettle corn sign!
The many ships of the San Diego Maritime Museum took part, including HMS Surprise.
The many ships of the San Diego Maritime Museum took part, including HMS Surprise.

You might remember having seen HMS Surprise in the Academy Award winning movie Master and Commander, starring Russell Crowe!

One of several pirates walking about the annual event, thrilling lots of kids.
One of several pirates walking about the annual event, thrilling lots of kids.
Three temporary floating docks are surrounded by visiting tall ships.
Three temporary floating docks are surrounded by visiting tall ships.

The nearest ship is the Pilgrim, a replica of the historic ship described by Richard Henry Dana in Two Years Before the Mast.

Gaff-rigged schooner Spirit of Dana Point was tied up next to the Pilgrim.
Gaff-rigged schooner Spirit of Dana Point was tied up next to the Pilgrim.
Early morning festival visitors check out the Spirit of Dana Point.
Early morning festival visitors check out the Spirit of Dana Point.
One of several photographers looking for cool shots on the beautiful ships.
One of several photographers looking for cool shots on the beautiful ships.
This large bell was donated by famous actor John Wayne from his own ranch!
This large bell was donated by famous actor John Wayne from his own ranch!

That is one loud bell!

Ship's compass is another typical nautical sight.
Ship’s compass is another typical nautical sight.
Looking across the picturesque deck of the Spirit of Dana Point.
Looking across the picturesque deck of the Spirit of Dana Point.
Golden female figurehead gazes out across San Diego Bay.
Golden female figurehead gazes out across San Diego Bay.
Three-masted schooner American Pride awaits across the dock.
Three-masted schooner American Pride awaits across the dock.
American Pride and paddleboarder seen from bayside walkway.
American Pride and paddleboarder seen from bayside walkway.
View of American Pride from Curlew.
View of American Pride’s elegant stern from nearby Curlew.
This photographer aims at a cannon!
Photographer on American Pride takes aim at a cannon!
American Pride, built in 1941, calls Long Beach home.
American Pride, built in 1941, calls Long Beach home.
People prepare to board the small staysail schooner Curlew
People prepare to board the small staysail schooner Curlew
This sailing ship won many East Coast races in the 1920's and 1930's.
This sailing ship won many East Coast races in the 1920’s and 1930’s.
Visitors check out the small schooner Curlew.
Visitors check out the beautiful sailing vessel.
Curlew served as a training ship and submarine patrol boat in World War II.
Curlew served as a training ship and submarine patrol boat in World War II.
Kayakers were out cruising among the assembled tall ships.
Kayakers were out cruising among the assembled tall ships.
The Tole Mour awaits at the second floating dock, my next stop!
The Tole Mour awaits at the second floating dock, my next stop!

Stay tuned! There’s more to come!

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Glimpsing a secret, bright inner essence.

Solitary figure in morning sun on Torrey Pines State Beach.
Solitary figure in morning sun on Torrey Pines State Beach.

Here are several lucky photographs that turned out to be emotionally stirring or inspiring. In places light shines out from the images, as if we’re privileged to momentarily glimpse a secret, bright inner essence.

Tall palms reach toward a glowing cloud on San Diego's Embarcadero.
Tall palms reach toward a glowing cloud on San Diego’s Embarcadero.
A morning look from Balboa Park toward my Cortez Hill neighborhood.
Bright morning color frames my Cortez Hill neighborhood.
Brilliant sunrise illuminates the horizon east of San Diego.
Brilliant, fiery sunrise illuminates the horizon east of San Diego.
Helping hand is offered at the Toussaint Teen Center.
Touching sculpture offers a helping hand at the Toussaint Teen Center.
Children walk around Balboa Park fountain as evening descends.
Children walk around beautiful Balboa Park fountain as evening descends.
Morning sun and reflection in downtown San Diego.
Morning sun and reflection in downtown San Diego.

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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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Unexpected treasures of music in Balboa Park.

R. Jelani Eddington rehearses on the Spreckels Organ.
R. Jelani Eddington rehearses on the Spreckels Organ.

Take an amble through San Diego’s amazing Balboa Park and you never know what interesting or beautiful thing you might randomly stumble upon. Early this afternoon I was extremely fortunate!

It isn’t uncommon to hear the music of amateur street musicians throughout the gigantic urban park. Performers of all ages can be found in every nook and cranny playing a harp, a guitar, a violin, drums–you name it–hoping for a tip from generous visitors. Professional musicians, however, play in concerts that are scheduled, publicized, and attended by large, expectant audiences. Usually.

My first lucky discovery was stumbling upon famed theatre organist R. Jelani Eddington in a lengthy rehearsal for Monday night’s International Organ Festival at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion. Apart from a wedding party taking photographs by the pavilion’s elegant colonnade, and a few passing tourists, I seemed to have the amazing performance all to myself. Wow! The Spreckels Organ was producing pure magic, as the king of instruments was handled with world-class skill. What a privilege to listen!

R. Jelani Eddington was 2001 Theatre Organist Of The Year.
R. Jelani Eddington was 2001 Theatre Organist Of The Year.
The lawn of Balboa Park's International Cottages is empty.
The lawn of Balboa Park’s International Cottages is empty.

My second sensational discovery took place at the more modest International Cottages stage not far away. A duet was playing excellent, moving music to an all but nonexistent audience. It seems the performance was very poorly publicized, or not at all.

Reflections: Jerry and Angie, is the name of the very talented group that was being featured by the House of the United States of America. They were playing folk songs and classic American tunes with banjo and simple, heart-stirring vocals. I’m a sucker for this type of music, and I loved listening to She’ll Be Coming Round The Mountain, Country Roads, God Bless America and more. I got a kick at how they treated me and the half a dozen others on the lawn like a regular audience, asking us to sing along and providing interesting comments on many songs. I’ve never heard a banjo so well played.

Reflections is Jerry on banjo and Angie with vocals.
Reflections is Jerry on banjo and Angie with vocals.

Balboa Park contains endless magical surprises!

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Drama and music in Balboa Park’s Zoro Garden.

Actors rehearse A Nation of Pain in Balboa Park's small Zoro Garden.
Actors rehearse A Nation of Pain in Balboa Park’s small Zoro Garden.

Today during my walk through Balboa Park, I noticed that the small Zoro Garden has become a venue for summer weekend entertainment. Usually the shady, sinuous, amphitheatre-like garden is left to the butterflies, who flutter here and there in sunbeams above ragged beds of colorful flowers.

As I walked down, actors were rehearsing for a comedic play on the bare dirt center of the garden. At two o’clock a musical performance began, and I listened while chowing down on a polish sausage. I love Balboa Park!

Garden Theatre Festival takes place during the summer in Balboa Park.
Garden Theatre Festival takes place during the summer in Balboa Park.
People enter the seldom-used, charming Zoro Garden.
People enter the seldom-used, charming Zoro Garden.
This was a nudist colony during the 1935 California-Pacific Exposition!
This was a nudist colony during the 1935 California-Pacific Exposition!
Butterfly among flowers in the small Zoro Garden.
Butterfly among flowers in the small Zoro Garden.
Zoro Garden dedicated to butterflies in 2007.
Zoro Garden dedicated to butterflies in 2007.
Jennie Buss' Band plays warm-hearted music for onlookers.
Jennie Buss’ Band plays warm-hearted music for onlookers.
Folks enjoy a musical performance in Balboa Park.
Folks enjoy an intimate musical performance in Balboa Park.

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