A visit to the San Elijo Lagoon Nature Center.

The San Elijo Lagoon Nature Center in Cardiff-by-the-Sea is a very special place.

Inside the Nature Center visitors can learn all about the nearby wetland and its wildlife. Outside, the building’s organic, curving lines seem to flow through the natural environment around it.

At every chance, I’ll poke my nose into any nature center. When I walked through San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve and saw this beautiful structure, I was eager to walk all around it and explore inside.

The 5,600 square foot, multi-award winning building, completed in 2009, was designed by Zagrodnic + Thomas Architects. It is light-filled, spacious and visually stimulating.

The construction is environmentally friendly. The building is made out of recycled materials and has irrigated roof plants, solar panels and recycled water.

A big observation deck allows visitors to look out over the lagoon. Excited kids were exploring easy trails winding near its front entrance.

Approaching the Nature Center from the parking lot.

Board near front door announces Arrivals and Landings of resident and visiting birds.

Many informative exhibits greet visitors inside the Nature Center.

Coyote stands atop map of the watershed. Pollutants including trash threaten wildlife that depends on this habitat.

An explanation of San Elijo Lagoon’s biodiversity. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Silvery Legless Lizard.

Piece of sandstone from Annie’s Canyon Trail in San Elijo Lagoon.

Outside light from the sunlit world touches the light of learning.

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Images and Expressions of a better world.

Three signs at San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve contain the wisdom of local school kids. I noticed the signs during a walk up the Pole Trail. They are a bit distant from the trail, but easily spotted.

On one sign you’ll see Images of a better world; on another, Expressions of a better world. More words from young people who care about the world they live in can be read on the third sign.

Images of a better world. Skyline Elementary School, Grade 5, Fall 2007.

A world with no endangered animals.

Expressions of a better world. Cardiff Elementary School, MAC Kids, Fall 2007.

…With help from humans, mixed with the right amount of respect, the lagoon becomes a big, beautiful habitat for animals and plants, and a place for people to enjoy too…

Field notes and quotes. Rancho Santa Fe Elementary School, Grades 5 and 6, Fall 2007.

It’s best for people to know that our wetlands are very important. The wetlands are home to many creatures and it would be sad for them to go away because of habitat loss…

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I post new blogs pretty often. If you like discovering new things, bookmark coolsandiegosights.com and swing on by occasionally!

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A walk through San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve.

Several weeks ago I enjoyed a fine, very easy nature walk.

I proceeded from the murals at Harbaugh Seaside Trails (near Highway 101 at the north end of Solana Beach) down the main dirt trail. The trail turned, passed through a tunnel under the railroad tracks, and entered San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve.

I then proceeded north up the Pole Trail (which runs parallel to the train tracks), crossed a couple of bridges, and ended at the San Elijo Lagoon Nature Center at the south end of Cardiff-by-the-Sea.

Come along with me as we look at these protected wetlands and watch for birds and other native wildlife…

Sign at Harbaugh Seaside Trails at start of my walk.

These trails were made possible by Nature Collective.

Beautiful words a short distance from the Harbaugh Seaside Trails murals. Annie’s Bench.

Nearby overlook with views of the Pacific Ocean off to the west.

Beginning our walk in earnest.

Here’s the railroad tunnel.

Artwork at the tunnel entrance depicts birds.

We are looking across San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve.

San Elijo Lagoon in the winter.

Pools of water support much life.

Heading north we encounter a fenced area and sign.

Map of the reserve. To the east there are additional trails to be explored.

A big mound of soil behind this fence.

Sign explains the sandy habitat restoration. The elevated sand dune attracts endangered birds, like the California Least Tern and Western Snowy Plover.

Continuing north.

Vegetated and shallow channels are home to rare indigenous plant and animal species. Birds include Ridgway’s Rail and Belding’s Savannah Sparrow.

Here comes the first bridge!

A profusion of native sunflowers.

That interesting building up and to the left is the Nature Center.

A plaque along the way memorializes Beloved Friend and Engineer Brian A. Martin.

Another footbridge spans a channel of water.

Plaque describes The Buhr Nature Bridge. Gabriel Buhr’s forward-thinking, planning and vision helped make the restoration of the San Elijo Lagoon possible.

Almost to the San Elijo Lagoon Nature Center!

Thanks for visiting Cool San Diego Sights!

I post new blogs pretty often. If you like discovering new things, bookmark coolsandiegosights.com and swing on by occasionally!

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Life on and off the shore at Cardiff.

At Cardiff State Beach, in San Diego’s North County, restored coastal dunes are roped off, protecting fragile habitat from human feet.

Signs posted on the perimeter explain the “constructed dunes” and Our Living Shoreline.

One sign explains that coastal dunes provide a natural buffer against waves, tides and storms in winter.

Made resilient with native vegetation, the dunes provide important wildlife habitat and protect San Elijo Lagoon from flooding.

The roped dunes at Cardiff State Beach constitute a snowy plover and least tern preserve. These birds have decreasing populations, largely due to development, recreation and other human activity. The birds nest in vulnerable bowl-like depressions in the sand.

A second Our Living Shoreline sign concerns native coastal scrub and dune plants. Among these are sand-verbena, beach evening-primrose and woolly-heads.

The plants provide cover and food for native and migrating birds.

This colorful information sign, near the entrance to South Cardiff State Beach, concerns California’s kelp forests.

The underwater “Hidden Forest, Rich with Life” can be viewed from the shoreline as floating brown-green patches of seaweed.

The kelp plants hold to the ocean floor and stretch up 100 feet or more. They support an unseen world teeming with life, including diverse fish, marine mammals, sea slugs, sea stars, sea anemones and spiny sea urchins.

Thanks for visiting Cool San Diego Sights!

I post new blogs pretty often. If you like discovering new things, bookmark coolsandiegosights.com and swing on by occasionally!

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 mysterious Christmas tree at Cardiff State Beach!

A mysterious Christmas tree appears every year on the sand at South Cardiff State Beach. Nobody knows who places this Tree by the Sea.

The annual appearance of the Christmas tree has become a magical holiday tradition in Cardiff-by-the-Sea. The Tree by the Sea has delighted beachgoers for about three decades. You can read more about its history here.

Enjoy these photographs that I took today.

It was a cloudy late November weekday. Very few people were on the beach. The contrast of sand and ocean, and the decorated tree, makes these images strange and interesting.

Anybody can add their own ornaments. I noticed many have a surfing theme!

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Fun events during California State Parks Week!

It’s California State Parks Week!

At Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, some fun, free activities are planned.

Tomorrow, June 14, visitors will be invited to explore the park’s beautiful new outdoor Land of the First People with park interpreters.

On June 16, in Old Town’s grass plaza, families will enjoy engaging in historical pastimes including the Kumeyaay game ‘p’shok,’ as well as lawn games such as ‘hoop and stick,’ egg races, and tug of war from the Californio period.

Up the coast at Cardiff State Beach, on June 15, kids can participate in My Fun Future in the Outdoors, when California State Park employees share their favorite reasons to work in Parks. Kids can speak to heroes and become inspired!

Click the above links 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!

Murals in downtown Cardiff-by-the-Sea!

Somebody walks past a very colorful public mural in downtown Cardiff-by-the-Sea.
Somebody walks past a very colorful public mural in downtown Cardiff-by-the-Sea.

Yesterday I enjoyed a walk around downtown Cardiff-by-the-Sea. The small downtown area is jam-packed with amazing, colorful murals!

I took photographs of the murals I happened to stumble upon. I’ve captioned my photos with any information I could discover. If there are additional murals that I missed, I apologize! I walked a bit randomly.

One can see most of downtown Cardiff in fifteen minutes by turning up and down sidewalks at an easy pace. If you’re ever in the area, you might enjoy your own wonderful journey of discovery!

A tropical beach scene by Kevin Anderson Art Murals painted at the end of a strip mall building beside Aberdeen Drive.
A tropical beach scene by Kevin Anderson Art Murals painted at the end of a strip mall building beside Aberdeen Drive.

A sunset, dolphin, surfer and guitar-strumming mermaid!
A sunset, dolphin, surfer and guitar-strumming mermaid!

More of the beautiful beach mural, on the building's east wall.
More of the beautiful beach mural, on the building’s east wall.

Colorful surfers and surfboards on a mural across Newcastle Avenue from the Cardiff-by-the-Sea Branch Library.
Colorful surfers and surfboards on a mural across Newcastle Avenue from the Cardiff-by-the-Sea Branch Library.

Evening Gold, 2018, by Todd Glaser and Skye Walker. Painted on north side of building at Newcastle Avenue and Liverpool Drive.
Evening Gold, 2018, by Skye Walker. Painted on north side of building at Newcastle Avenue and Liverpool Drive.

The mural was painted from a photo taken by surf photographer Todd Glaser of pro-surfer Rob Machado, both Cardiff residents.
The mural was painted from a photo taken by surf photographer Todd Glaser of pro-surfer Rob Machado in action. Both are Cardiff residents.

Right end of a long, amazing mural in Cardiff by artists Skye Walker and Marissa Quinn. Painted in alley off Chesterfield Drive, between San Elijo Avenue and Newcastle Avenue.
Right end of a long, amazing mural in Cardiff by artists Skye Walker and Marissa Quinn. Painted in alley off Chesterfield Drive, between San Elijo Avenue and Newcastle Avenue.

Bicyclists on mural at strip mall on Aberdeen Drive in downtown Cardiff-by-the-Sea.
Bicyclists on mural at strip mall on Aberdeen Drive in downtown Cardiff-by-the-Sea.

More painted scenes on an adjacent mural, in front of The Cardiff Office dive bar.
More painted scenes on an adjacent mural, in front of The Cardiff Office dive bar.

Sign on mural describes Southern California artist Steve Barton.
Sign on mural describes Southern California artist Steve Barton.

A visual homage to San Diego sports teams, Padres and Chargers.
A visual homage to San Diego sports teams, Padres and Chargers.

I spotted this mural on the rear of a 7-Eleven store near San Elijo Avenue and Orinda Drive.
I spotted this mural on the rear of a 7-Eleven store near San Elijo Avenue and Orinda Drive.

Take an easy walk around downtown Cardiff-by-the-Sea and discover many beautiful murals!
Take an easy walk around downtown Cardiff-by-the-Sea and discover many beautiful murals!

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Cardiff’s beautiful Harbaugh Seaside Parkway.

Beautiful flowers by the path through old Carpentier Parkway, which is turning into Harbaugh Seaside Parkway.
Beautiful greenery by the path through old Carpentier Parkway, which is being transformed into Harbaugh Seaside Parkway.

In Cardiff-by-the-Sea, the bicycle and pedestrian-friendly Cardiff Rail Trail is a relatively new segment of the much longer Coastal Rail Trail, that when finally completed will link San Diego to Oceanside.

Right next to the Cardiff Rail Trail is a garden-like linear park. From what I can gather, this old park maintained by the Cardiff Botanical Society was originally named the Carpentier Parkway, and is now being revamped, turning into Harbaugh Seaside Parkway. I don’t know that much about the project, apart from a few pages I found searching the internet. The George and Betty Harbaugh Charitable Foundation was also instrumental in creating the Harbaugh Seaside Trails at the north end of Solana Beach between Highway 101 and the train tracks.

Yesterday I walked a short distance through the somewhat ragged but quite beautiful Harbaugh Seaside Parkway. Starting at Chesterfield Drive just east of the train tracks, turning off from the paved Cardiff Rail Trail, I walked north up a winding dirt path between flowers, trees, plaques and a sculpture.

I had to brush a thin layer of dirt from engraved pavers and stones.

Enjoy these photographs. I’ve transcribed some of the words that I found on plaques and a weathered sign in a kiosk…

The south end of the dirt path leads away from the Cardiff Rail Trail just north of Chesterfield Drive.
The south end of the dirt path leads away from the Cardiff Rail Trail just north of Chesterfield Drive.

I believe this old wooden Welcome to Cardiff By the Sea sign used to stand beside Highway 101.
I believe this old wooden Welcome to Cardiff By the Sea sign used to stand beside Highway 101.

Bird of Paradise

Lord sent me to this world
as a soul trapped in a human body,
like a bird trapped in a cage
I am waiting for the day
that the Lord will fly me back home.
–Rumi

In memory of my daughter
Chantal Paydar

“Carpentier Parkway proves it is possible to provide beautiful, lush, flowered garden landscaping while using 75% less irrigation water without resorting to using desert plants. This park in downtown Cardiff-by-the-Sea covers the area between San Elijo and the railway tracks from Birmingham to Chesterfield and used to be an ugly patch of weeds…”

Dedicated to the memory of Wayne Holden and to the Honor of all the Volunteers who have given time and donations for the Carpentier Parkway. 1999.

The Cardiff Chamber of Commerce commissioned the statue to be sculptured for Wayne Holden, who died at 47 years old… James Pugh, Sculpturer…

A beautiful old tree has two plaques at its base.
A beautiful old tree has two plaques at its base.

There was a lovely lady from Singapore
Whose humor was great and tales were lore
With a laugh so infectious none could ignore
For all that knew her till the age of eighty-four.

In memory of Kathleen Jack 1928-2013

Good Morning Cardiff by the Sea
Darreld Kitaen 10/2/36 – 1/3/19
Happy Days – Love and Peace

In Loving Memory
Richard W. (Dick) Kratzer

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!

Stones painted with love, optimism, dreams.

Paint a rock. Leave it here.
Paint a rock. Leave it here.

My walk around Cardiff-by-the-Sea today included a very short stretch of the Cardiff Rail Trail. I walked north from where this popular bike and pedestrian trail crosses Chesterfield Drive, just west of San Elijo Avenue.

As I walked I noticed what first appeared to be many small smooth stones spilled to one side of the path. Upon closer inspection, I discovered a treasure trove of colorful gems!

Scattered on dead leaves I found brightly painted butterflies and hearts. I read words expressing love and optimism. I saw painted dreams.

It appears these precious jewels were created by many generous hands.

Dream and smile.
Dream and smile.

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!

Six names on six benches.

Around noon today I sat down, opened a book.

I’d taken a walk around Cardiff-by-the-Sea and had found a perfect shady bench in Glen Park.

Below in the distance people were darting about the basketball court shooting hoops. One person missed, madly whirled, lunged forward, fell back, reached, barely intercepted, passed, darted, jumped impossibly high, caught, shot again, swished, shouted happily.

Upon finishing a chapter, I got up and gathered my stuff. The bench I’d been sitting on had a plaque. “Gotta go, gotta ride.”

It felt like the perfect small poem.

I found six names on six empty benches.

Every word shined.

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!