Making adobe blocks in Old Town.

Today I spent a couple of hours exploring Old Town San Diego State Historic Park and a small section of nearby Presidio Park. As I walked through Old Town’s historic plaza near the Cosmopolitan Hotel, I noticed some people in period attire were demonstrating how to create adobe blocks.

At the very beginning of San Diego, in the early days of Spanish and Mexican settlers, adobe was the small town’s primary building material. Primitive bricks–or blocks–were made by simply mixing mud and straw together. The mixture was then shaped using wooden forms, then left to dry in the sun for a month or so. The resulting adobe blocks were used to build walls that in our arid climate were remarkably sturdy and insulating.

During past visits to Old Town, I’ve seen people working in this same spot demonstrating the making of adobe. Over time, that wall in a couple of my photos has slowly grown.

I was told by one friendly gentleman that eventually this grassy spot will be used for a Native American Kumeyaay exhibit, and a more permanent demonstration adobe structure will be built inside the fenced area near Old Town’s Blacksmith Shop.

Here’s a pic I took a couple months ago which shows how the adobe wall is slowly being built, layer by layer…

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Hotel, shops coming to Santa Fe Depot!

Today I learned a very big change is coming to downtown San Diego’s historic Santa Fe Depot!

This morning, after noticing the building’s exterior is getting a new paint job, I spoke to a gentleman outside the Amtrak office and asked if he knew whether the new owner still plans to renovate the building. I was surprised to hear that this year there will indeed be a major renovation of the building, including the opening up of an interior stairwell that will lead to a small new hotel and shops on the depot’s second floor!

I asked if there were plans to develop the depot’s old forecourt by Broadway, where there are tile benches and a broken fountain, and where streetcars picked up passengers arriving by train a century ago, but he knew nothing concerning that.

He and I agreed that it would be a amazing if the large Santa Fe sign atop the historic depot were finally lit up at night, adding more character to San Diego’s skyline. I’d heard a couple years ago during an architectural tour of the Santa Fe Depot that lighting the sign was a project that might lie in the future.

This all was news to me!

Very cool news!

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!

Past, present, future, together in one walk.

Every moment, in the blink of an eye, is lost forever to the past.

My walk this morning through downtown San Diego made me wonder. Without leaving the present, I saw evidence of time’s passage.

In my small field of vision I saw people turning corners.

I saw buildings old and new.

The demolition and the construction.

Things that will be forgotten.

Things that are still remembered.

Many of the things I photographed this morning we’ve observed together in the past. Perhaps a little differently.

So now I offer a few passing images, which are like moments in a dream–or in a life.

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!

Bayside Performance Park rises on San Diego Bay!

Look what I spotted this afternoon during my walk along San Diego Bay. I was approaching the Marriott Marina when my eyes were surprised by a monumental steel structure rising from Embarcadero Marina Park South.

It’s the enormous stage of the new Bayside Performance Park, now under construction!

This permanent concert venue is an amazing gift from the San Diego Symphony to all of San Diego. How appropriate it appeared in time for Christmas!

As I walked around the construction site on my way to the Embarcadero Marina Park South pier, I spoke to a crew member of the Silvergate, a Coronado ferry that docks nearby, and he informed me the steel structure you see in my photographs went up rapidly four or five days ago.

You can also see a banner on a fence that shows what Bayside Performance Park might look like when completed. The concert stage’s curving shell is not only visually attractive, but it’s designed to provide a high quality acoustic experience.

Bayside Performance Park is due to open in time for the 2020 season of San Diego Symphony’s Bayside Summer Nights.

I can’t wait to see how it looks (and sounds) when completed!

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!

A new Children’s Zoo is under construction!

The Sanford Children's Zoo will contain two acres of new animal habitats and kid friendly experiences.
The Sanford Children’s Zoo will contain two acres of new animal habitats and kid friendly experiences.

Yes, I spent another Sunday in Balboa Park. It’s close to where I live, and I love it.

Look what I discovered while walking around today!

For a while I’ve been wondering about a very large crane rising above the southeast corner of the San Diego Zoo. You can see it just west of the Spanish Village Art Center, behind a construction fence that runs along the walkway connecting the zoo to the center of Balboa Park.

I noticed banners have been hung on the fence!

A new Children’s Zoo is under construction! It will be called the Sanford Children’s Zoo and will feature two acres of new habitats and fun things for kids to do. It appears the new Children’s Zoo will open in 2021.

Check out these banners to see come cool renderings and description!

The world-famous San Diego Zoo's new Sanford Children's Zoo is now under construction. It's due to open in 2021.
The world-famous San Diego Zoo’s new Sanford Children’s Zoo is now under construction. It’s due to open in 2021.
There will be a shallow stream for kids to play in and a rope bridge to a fun treehouse.
There will be a gentle stream for kids to play in and a rope bridge to a fun treehouse.
There will be a waterfall and cave behind it.
There will be a waterfall and cave behind it.
Visitors will be able to view a complex network of underground tunnels and burrows used by naked mole-rats!
Visitors will be able to view a complex network of underground tunnels and burrows used by naked mole-rats!
There will be some sort of big water globe near the new Children's Zoo's entrance. (Will there be fish in it?)
There will be some sort of big water globe near the new Children’s Zoo’s entrance. (I wonder how kids will interact with it. Will there be fish in it?)
A new walk-through aviary will include beautiful hummingbirds!
A new walk-through aviary will include beautiful hummingbirds!

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!

Amazing walk up the historic Helix Flume Trail!

Breathtaking views and unique history can be enjoyed during a hike on the Helix Flume Trail in Lakeside.
Breathtaking views and unique history can be enjoyed during a hike on the Helix Flume Trail in Lakeside.

In 1889 a 35-mile long wooden water flume was completed that brought water from Lake Cuyamaca in San Diego’s East County into the rapidly growing city.

This morning I enjoyed an amazing walk up the historic Helix Flume Trail in Lakeside!

The moderately easy hiking trail begins at the old El Monte Pump Station, climbs a nearby hillside with a series of short steep switchbacks, then follows a short, mostly level section of the historic flume’s route. Information signs describe the construction and history of the engineering marvel, and hikers are able to see the entrance to one of the flume’s old tunnels!

As you will observe in the following photographs, the walk includes some fantastic vistas and natural beauty.

Come along with me and read the photo captions to learn much more…

Looking toward the trailhead of the historic Helix Flume Trail.
Looking past a large shady tree toward the trailhead of the historic Helix Flume Trail.
The old El Monte Pump Station is located next to the small parking lot by the trailhead to the Helix Flume Trail.
The old El Monte Pump Station is located next to a small parking lot by the trailhead to the Helix Flume Trail.
The El Monte Pump Station was originally built in 1898 to lift well water to the flume on the hillside using steam powered pumps.
The El Monte Pump Station was originally built in 1898 to lift well water to the flume on the hillside using steam powered pumps.
Photograph of the historic pump station in Lakeside, California.
Photograph includes huge pipes outside the historic pump station in Lakeside, California.
Plaque by door of El Monte Pump Station dated 1937, when a major overhaul was finally complete. Water was then pumped from the El Capitan Reservoir.
Plaque by door of El Monte Pump Station dated 1937, when a major overhaul was finally complete. Water was then pumped from the El Capitan Reservoir.
Heading toward the trailhead and some information signs concerning the flume.
Heading toward the trailhead and an information sign concerning the flume.
One of several signs along the trail that describe the construction and history of the famous water flume.
One of several signs along the trail that describe the construction and history of the famous water flume.
The blue line on this topographic map is where the flume water descended as it flowed west to the growing city of San Diego.
The blue line on this topographic map is where the flume water descended as it flowed west to the growing city of San Diego.
Photograph of the wooden water flume next to old Highway 80 in El Cajon Valley.
Photograph of the wooden water flume next to old Highway 80 in El Cajon Valley.
Diagram of cross section of wooden flume box from 1913.
Diagram of cross section of wooden flume box from 1913.
As I started up the trail, I looked back. The Helix Water District has a nearby lot with modern pipes and equipment.
As I started up the trail, I looked back toward the parking lot and its big tree. The Helix Water District has a nearby lot with modern pipes and equipment.
Heading up short but steep switchbacks, with rugged mountains in the distance.
Heading up short but steep switchbacks, with power lines overhead and rugged mountains in the distance.
Hikers must stay on the trail due to the historical importance of this area.
Hikers must stay on the trail due to the historical importance of this area.
Looking down toward the pump station and El Monte Road. An old pipeline that ascends from the station is visible in this photo.
Looking down toward the pump station and El Monte Road. An old rusty pipeline that ascends from the station is visible in this photo.
Climbing higher. Wear sturdy shoes if you go on this hike. If it's hot, bring plenty of water.
Climbing higher. Wear sturdy shoes if you go on this hike. If it’s hot, bring plenty of water.
I've gained more elevation on the switchbacks. The hillside is dotted with many prickly pears. That's Hanson Pond in the distance.
I’ve gained more elevation on the switchbacks. The hillside is dotted with many prickly pears. That’s Hanson Pond in the distance.
Higher we climb!
Higher we climb!
A fence conceals an old pipeline that ran from the El Monte Pump Station to the flume.
A fence conceals an old pipeline that ran from the El Monte Pump Station to the flume.
Interesting rock outcroppings.
Interesting rock outcroppings.
A beautiful view of the El Monte Valley below.
A beautiful view of the El Monte Valley below.
A better view of Hanson Pond.
A better view of Hanson Pond.
The climb is over. We approach another information sign where the old hillside pipeline terminates.
The climb is over. We approach another information sign where the old hillside pipeline terminates.
An amazing view of rocky mountains across the valley opens up here.
An amazing view of rocky mountains across the valley opens up here.
Sign describes the struggles to supply water. The open flume had troubles with massive leakage due to rot, and evaporation.
Sign describes the struggles to supply water. The open flume had troubles with massive leakage due to rot, and evaporation.
In 1915, a court ordered Ed Fletcher to repair the leaky flume. He lined it cheaply with asphalt roofing material using a rolling tar wagon.
In 1915, a court ordered Ed Fletcher to repair the leaky flume. He lined it cheaply with asphalt roofing material using a rolling tar wagon.
San Diego County Park Ranger shows a section of wooden flume pipe.
San Diego County Park Ranger shows a section of wooden flume pipe.
The open, wooden flume was eventually replaced with covered conduit and pipe. In 1962, the pump station began to send water to the newly created Lake Jennings.
The open, wooden flume was eventually replaced with covered conduit and pipe. In 1962, the pump station began to send water to the newly created Lake Jennings.
A flag flies near the information sign.
A flag flies near the information sign.
The trail continues along the flume's old route.
The trail continues along the flume’s old route.
Turning a corner, with rugged El Cajon Mountain (El Capitan) in the distance.
Turning a corner, with rugged El Cajon Mountain (El Capitan) in the distance.
Some natural beauty by the hiking trail.
Some natural beauty by the hiking trail.
This is mountain lion country. A sign describes what to do should you encounter one.
Entering mountain lion country. A sign describes what to do should you encounter one.
I spot a third information sign down below, at the end of a short path.
I spot another information sign down below, at the end of a short path.
A short distance from the sign is the entrance to the Monte Tunnel.
A short distance from the sign is the entrance to the Monte Tunnel.
The flume needed eight tunnels along its slowly descending route. The Monte Tunnel was the fifth tunnel from the flume's water source, Lake Cuyamaca.
The flume needed eight tunnels along its slowly descending route. The Monte Tunnel was the fifth tunnel from the flume’s original water source, Lake Cuyamaca.
Diagram on the sign shows the dimensions of each tunnel.
Diagram on the sign shows the dimensions of each tunnel.
The tunnel entrances had decorate facades of cut and mortared local granitic boulders.
The tunnel entrances had decorate facades of cut and mortared local granitic boulders.
The bottom 1887 photo shows construction of the seventh tunnel. Part of the eventually outdated tunnel system was destroyed by Navy SEALS for training.
The bottom 1887 photo shows construction of the seventh tunnel. Part of the eventually outdated tunnel system was destroyed by Navy SEALS for training.
The barred Monte Tunnel entrance photographed during my hike.
The barred Monte Tunnel entrance photographed during my hike.
I took this flash photograph into the tunnel. After the flash I heard a curious low noise, like that of an animal.
I took this flash photograph into the tunnel. After the flash I heard a curious low noise, like that of an animal.
A fourth sign can be found nearby, where the Helix Flume Trail connects with the Lake Jennings trail system.
Another information sign can be found nearby, where the Helix Flume Trail connects with the Lake Jennings trail system.
San Diego residents were thrilled at the flume's completion in 1889. There was a parade and a fountain of water. But it wasn't flume water. There was a blockage somewhere up the line!
San Diego residents were thrilled at the flume’s completion in 1889. There was a parade and a fountain of water. But it wasn’t flume water–it was well water! There was a blockage somewhere up the line!
San Diego's historic water flume was considered such an engineering triumph that it was featured on the cover of Scientific American.
San Diego’s historic water flume was considered such an engineering triumph that it was featured on the cover of Scientific American.
Today little remains of the flume. But the natural beauty of this area in San Diego's East County endures.
Today little remains of the flume. But the natural beauty of this area in San Diego’s East County endures.

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!

Model ship builders restore family heirlooms!

Is there an old model ship in your attic? Perhaps a treasured family heirloom? Is it falling to pieces or in a terrible tangle? Would you like to restore it?

Today, during a visit to the Maritime Museum of San Diego, I learned of a group of dedicated model ship builders who are busy repairing and restoring old model ships!

The members of the San Diego Ship Modelers Guild love their hobby and hold regular meetings aboard the Maritime Museum ship Berkeley. I happened to be walking around the museum today before one of their evening meetings. I struck up a conversation with Guild Master James Pitt and was fascinated as he told me about various aspects of model ship building.

The San Diego Ship Modelers Guild, which was formed in 1971, has dozens of members hailing from all around Southern California and even Arizona. They have partnered with the Maritime Museum of San Diego, and guild members can often be seen working in the museum’s specially equipped Model Makers Workshop.

What interested me most was how the modeler’s guild has been repairing and restoring an increasing number of model ships of late. Many are family heirlooms passed down from previous generations, and are treasured for the memories and special meaning they embody.

If you have any sort of model ship that needs expert repair, check out the San Diego Ship Modelers Guild website by clicking here! Send them an email! I met a couple of the members and all were really nice guys!

I took some photos of a display for today’s meeting. You can see examples of model ships that have undergone restoration.

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!