Stuff the Bus online to help students in need!

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the annual Stuff the Bus campaign is being held entirely online this year!

You can help San Diego students who are in need–including those who are homeless–by providing them with school supplies. SDCCU has partnered with the San Diego County Office of Education to make your participation easy. Simply go to this GoFundMe page and make a donation!

Funds received will purchase backpacks full of school supplies like pencils, pens, binders and crayons for those kids who might otherwise go without. The backpacks will be distributed to schools all around San Diego County.

Last year, over 6,800 backpacks filled with school supplies were handed out!

The SDCCU Stuff the Bus campaign runs through July 31, 2020.

Visit the donation page here!

Learn to play horseshoes in San Diego!

I made a cool discovery today!

If you’d like to learn how to play the game of horseshoes, you have an opportunity to do so in San Diego’s beautiful Balboa Park!

During my walk this morning, I spotted members of the Balboa Park Horseshoe Club out having fun in the horseshoe pits in the southwest corner of the park. I spoke with some of the friendly folks and learned that the public is invited to learn the game with a free horseshoe pitching lesson! The lessons are held on Thursdays at 6 pm, near the corner of Juniper Street and Sixth Avenue. Look for the blue sign that reads San Diego Chess Club/Balboa Park Horseshoe Club.

During the present coronavirus pandemic, they have taken all the necessary precautions, so you can feel safe.

Make sure you notify the Balboa Park Horseshoe Club San Diego you’d like a free lesson, so someone will definitely be there! You can connect via their Facebook page here.

The San Diego Horseshoe Pitching Club has a lot of fun at the facility also known as the Balboa Park Horseshoe Club.
The San Diego Horseshoe Pitching Club has a lot of fun at the facility also known as the Balboa Park Horseshoe Club.
David Lavallee of the Balboa Park Horseshoe Club is working to grow the love of the game in San Diego.
David Lavallee of the Balboa Park Horseshoe Club is working to grow the love of the game in San Diego.

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!

Kids learn while having fun with pop culture!

What’s the best way for kids to learn?

By having fun!

The very cool Comic-Con Museum@Home web page continues to grow and grow! It’s now bursting with fun activities for kids–educational activities that relate to the popular culture!

Not only are there oodles of downloadable, printable Fun Books, which are jam-packed with word puzzles, mazes, instructions on how to draw comic art, and fantastic coloring pages (including some by prolific San Diego muralist Gloria Muriel), but now you can watch lots of cool videos, too!

A brand new series of videos this summer will be showing kids how to create superheroes and other pop culture characters out of folded cardboard! The tutorials are by Connor and Bauer Lee. You might remember seeing their fantastic creations during December Nights here!

The first cardboard character kids can create by following a YouTube video is Wall-E!

The Comic-Con Museum has also partnered with Balboa Park’s Fleet Science Center for a series called Pop Culture Science. Celebrating the anniversary of the popular character Sherlock Holmes, there’s a video about how TV crime shows accurately or imaginatively portray real forensic science. Additional activities include how to detect fingerprints and write with invisible ink!

Learning is always best when it’s fun!

Check out the Comic-Con Museum web page with all of these great activities by clicking here!

Wildlife arrives at San Diego River Discovery Center!

Native birds and wildlife arrived today at the San Diego River Discovery Center! Or, to be more precise, banners featuring images of river critters were hung today on a construction fence that surrounds the future nature center!

Did you know something cool is being built next to the San Diego River in Mission Valley?

The San Diego River Discovery Center at Grant Park is going to be where people of all ages gather to experience and learn about the natural environment along the San Diego River!

I blogged about this project in the past here. They’ve made progress since then, as you can see in one upcoming photo.

If you want to learn about the future nature center and how you might help make this dream a reality, visit the San Diego River Discovery Center website here!

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!

How to support the museums of Balboa Park.

This group wanted to see fine art so they headed into the San Diego Museum of Art.

Do you love Balboa Park?

One big reason the park is so wonderful is its many diverse museums. World-class museums. Museums that enhance the culture of our city and document the life of this planet. Museums that educate, entertain, highlight beauty and provide inspiration. Museums that bring our community together.

But these nonprofit institutions are always in need of public support. Especially during the present coronavirus pandemic, when Balboa Park is closed to all visitors. Today many of these beloved museums really need your help.

Would you like to make a donation to one or more of the museums of Balboa Park, or perhaps find another way to give them a helping hand?

I’ve visited each museum’s website and created the following list of links. These links will take you to web pages that explain how you can provide each museum with support.

Every little bit helps in this difficult time!

Visitors walk up the front steps of the Veterans Museum and Memorial Center in Balboa Park.

Here come the links where you can provide help…

Museum of Photographic Arts

San Diego Art Institute

San Diego Automotive Museum

Fleet Science Center

Japanese Friendship Garden

San Diego Air and Space Museum

Centro Cultural de la Raza

Marston House

Visitors to the Japanese Friendship Garden gaze at Kannon Bosatsu, a nearly three century old 5750 pound bronze statue recently installed in the Lower Garden by crane!

WorldBeat Center

Timken Museum of Art

Mingei International Museum

Veterans Museum at Balboa Park

The San Diego Museum of Art

San Diego Model Railroad Museum

San Diego History Center

San Diego Museum of Man

San Diego Natural History Museum

Inside one of the galleries. The small fine art museum is free to the public and a popular destination in Balboa Park.

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!

Learn about Maritime Month in San Diego.

A water taxi comes in from Coronado. That huge yellow Dole Atlantic ship is loading containers at the Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal.
The massive yellow Dole Atlantic cargo ship loads containers at the Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal.

May is Maritime Month. In past years, the Port of San Diego has offered public tours of important maritime facilities in San Diego Bay. By observing the massive scale of port operations firsthand, anyone can fully appreciate the waterfront’s economic importance to San Diego and the surrounding region.

Three years ago I went on one such harbor tour. It was narrated by knowledgeable representatives of the Port of San Diego. We got a close look at several large facilities, including the Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal, probably best known as the place where Dole delivers 3.9 billion bananas each year. We also saw the enormous National City Marine Terminal, where thousands upon thousands of imported cars arrive from Asia.

If you want to learn more about that amazing tour, and see photos of other facilities in San Diego Bay such as our three major shipyards, you can visit my old blog post by clicking here.

Unfortunately, this year is very different. There’s the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Most public events, including any tours that were planned by the Port of San Diego, have been cancelled in the interest of everyone’s safety.

But there’s still an opportunity for the curious to learn all about the Port of San Diego. They are celebrating Maritime Month online. They explain: “This year, we pay special tribute to the men and women of our Working Waterfront who continue to work hard to ensure the safe and timely delivery of essential goods, providing crucial services in these difficult times.”

By visiting the Port of San Diego’s special Maritime Month web page, which is here, you can: “Meet our dedicated maritime industry employees…Explore our terminals…Become familiar with our specialty cargo and trade…Learn how goods move globally through the supply chain…Read about our environmental initiatives…Plus more!”

Curious? Check out that special web page here!

Vehicles of all type arrive here by huge roll-on/roll-off (RORO) ships, including trucks and tractors.
New vehicles parked at the National City Marine Terminal. They arrive on enormous roll-on/roll-off (RORO) ships, which are often seen moving through San Diego Bay.

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!

Comic-Con Museum offers fun at home!

Are the kids bored being stuck at home during the coronavirus pandemic? Are you bored?

The Comic-Con Museum has created something enjoyable for everyone to do! They’ve produced their first Fun Book!

Fun Book #1 has pages to color, instructions on how to draw a cute cartoon character, word puzzles and other activities! Download the .pdf here and print it out!

The Comic-Con Museum has launched a web page called Comic-Con Museum@Home, where all sorts of cool stuff will be appearing in the future, including lots of exclusive videos. Check it out here!

Like many of you, I’m really going to miss Comic-Con this summer, which was cancelled for the first time in 50 years due to the COVID-19 pandemic crisis. But time flies and next year will be here before we know it.

And the Comic-Con Museum still plans a Grand Opening in 2021!

I can’t wait!

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!

Let’s celebrate Read Across America Week!

Soar to new heights. Read.
An outdoor mural near the Linda Vista library. Soar to new heights. Read.

Read Across America Week kicked off on Monday!

Read Across America Day, which begins a week-long celebration of reading, was created by the National Education Association. It’s held on the school day that is nearest to March 2nd. That’s Dr. Seuss’s birthday! And, as many of you know, Theodor Seuss Geisel was a famous resident of La Jolla in San Diego!

I thought I’d celebrate Read Across America Week with some past photographs concerning the written word. And photos that celebrate Dr. Seuss, too!

Those who love to read meet those who love to write at the San Diego Union-Tribune 3rd Annual Festival of Books!
Those who love to read meet those who love to write at the San Diego Union-Tribune 3rd Annual Festival of Books!
First 5 San Diego was promoting parents reading to their children at a very young age.
First 5 San Diego was promoting parents reading to their children at a very young age.
Eat. Sleep. Read.
Eat. Sleep. Read. A shirt for sale at the Festival of Books at Liberty Station.
Cat in armchair reads Of Mice and Men. On the shelves are Cat's Cradle, The Cat in the Hat, Puss in Boots, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof...
Street art in Normal Heights. Cat in armchair reads Of Mice and Men. Book on the nearby shelves include Cat’s Cradle, The Cat in the Hat, Puss in Boots, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof…
Those who will participate in the historic Book Pass, wearing yellow scarves, fan out along seven blocks of West Washington Street in Mission Hills.
Library books are transported by public volunteers from an old branch library to a brand new building down the street. Those who will participate in the historic Book Pass, wearing yellow scarves, fan out along seven blocks of West Washington Street in Mission Hills.
Library books are transported by the hands of those who love to read to their new home.
Library books are transported by the hands of those who love to read to their new home.
Chris Vannoy, US National Beat Poet Laureate 2018-2019, reads live poetry in the Zoro Garden during the Garden Theatre Festival in Balboa Park.
Chris Vannoy, US National Beat Poet Laureate 2018-2019, reads live poetry in the Zoro Garden during the Garden Theatre Festival in Balboa Park.
Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are. Mason Cooley
Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are. Mason Cooley
Mark Twain is reading his own classic American novel Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
Sculpture of Mark Twain on a bench. The humorist is reading his own classic American novel Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
Mr. Samuel Clemens, American author of many famous books and stories, relaxes under a tree in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park during 2015 TwainFest.
Mr. Samuel Clemens, American author of many famous books and stories, relaxes under a tree in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park during 2015 TwainFest.
Moby Dick reading marathon on the poop deck of the 1863 tall ship Star of India.
Moby Dick reading marathon on the poop deck of the 1863 tall ship Star of India.
Yo que me figuraba el paraiso bajo la especie de una biblioteca. From Poem of the Gifts, by Jorge Luis Borges . . . I who had always thought of Paradise in form and image as a library . . .
Words engraved outside the San Diego Central Library. Yo que me figuraba el paraiso bajo la especie de una biblioteca. From Poem of the Gifts, by Jorge Luis Borges. I who had always thought of Paradise in form and image as a library.
Visitor to art gallery at the downtown San Diego Library looks at a rare Shakespeare First Folio, open to Hamlet. The nearby wall features a mural of 17th century London and the original Globe Theatre.
Visitor to art gallery at the downtown San Diego Library looks at a rare Shakespeare First Folio, open to Hamlet. The nearby wall features a mural of 17th century London and the original Globe Theatre.
A simple, homemade lending library box next to somebody's front yard in Crown Point, a neighborhood on Mission Bay. Leave a book or take one!
A simple, homemade lending library box next to somebody’s front yard in Crown Point, a neighborhood on Mission Bay. Leave a book or take one!
It’s Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham! This fun art was photographed outside the Legends Gallery in La Jolla, hometown of popular children’s book author Theodor Geisel.
It’s Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham! This fun art was photographed outside the Legends Gallery in La Jolla, hometown of popular children’s book author Theodor Geisel.
Dr. Seuss and The Cat in the Hat are cast in bronze at UC San Diego in La Jolla, not far from the place where the famous children’s author resided much of his life.
Dr. Seuss and The Cat in the Hat are cast in bronze at UC San Diego in La Jolla, not far from the place where the famous children’s author resided much of his 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!

Do you love to read? I love to write!

If you’d like to check out my short works of fiction (and a few poems), click Short Stories by Richard.

See amazing birds of prey at Hawk Watch!

A spectacular event is held every winter in Ramona, California. On Saturdays, during January and February, the public can freely enjoy an educational program called Hawk Watch.

Those who go to Hawk Watch will see birds of prey up close and in the wild. The setting is the wide, beautiful Ramona Grasslands.

Hawk Watch is an event organized by the Wildlife Research Institute. WRI, in a cooperative effort with The Nature Conservancy and San Diego County, now protects 7,000 acres of Ramona grassland. This grassland is an important natural refuge where native wildlife can not only survive, but thrive.

Hawk Watch features live raptors and a fascinating educational talk by biologists. The owls are introduced during the talk by representatives of Project Wildlife, which provides wildlife rescue in San Diego County. The talk is followed by demonstrations by falconry experts.

Afterward, all of the ambassador raptors can be viewed by the public up close!

Today I went to Hawk Watch!

The event is held on Ramona’s private Begent Ranch, which features all sorts of cool artwork, including colorful sculptures arranged about a large dirt parking lot. After walking through a barn and looking at a variety of educational exhibits, I set up my lawn chair with other visitors at the edge of the scenic grasslands.

As we were introduced to different species of hawks, falcons and owls, and learned about their special characteristics and adaptations, we could watch wild raptors and some ravens circling in the distance above the grasslands. Birds of prey that can be spotted in the blue skies of Ramona include hawks, kites, kestrels, golden eagles, and recently bald eagles!

The event has become so beloved that visitors today came from as far away as India, China and Israel. For two hours, everyone, including many families with children, sat enchanted by all that was seen and learned. Many of the visitors had high powered photographic equipment and binoculars. I made due with my little old camera.

Here are some photos. I’m afraid they’re just adequate. I couldn’t really record the falconry demonstrations very well, which included the clever use of a drone, but they were fantastic.

I know I’ll be going to Hawk Watch again. You can learn more about this amazing event and the work of the Wildlife Research Institute at their website here.

One last thing. The photo you’re about to see is a painting of WRI Director and Wildlife Biologist, co-founder of Hawk Watch, Dave Bittner. He tragically passed away about a month ago doing something he loved: tending to a camera near a golden eagle’s high cliff nest.

I was told Hawk Watch will live on.

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!

Finding tracks, signs of wildlife at Mission Trails!

A guided group walks through Mission Trails Regional Park looking for signs of wildlife.
A guided group walks through Mission Trails Regional Park looking for signs of wildlife.

This morning I went on a truly extraordinary guided walk. Two expert trackers took a small group on an easy hike in Mission Trails Regional Park to search for tracks and other signs of often elusive wildlife!

The immense, mountainous Mission Trails Regional Park, located within the City of San Diego, is home to abundant wildlife. But it can be hard to spot animals in the wild during a visit to the park. Many species are nocturnal. Many tend to hide in the scrubby vegetation to avoid predators, to watch for a passing meal, or protect a nest.

This morning I and others met at the Visitor Center to set out on this special walk. While we didn’t see anything very dramatic, we did observe how the living world around us is engaged in a perpetual dance. We learned that humans with open eyes and curious minds might find signs left by rabbits, coyotes, raccoons, skunks, bobcats, deer, and even (but rarely) mountain lions!

We saw several spots where a skunk dug for grubs. We saw several wood rat’s nests. We leaned down to the ground to peer at the secret trap door of a spider. We saw lots of dog tracks in dried mud, rabbit tracks in some green grass, and coyote scat. We learned what differently pressed tracks might indicate about an animal passing that way. Were they stealthily hunting? Leaning to one side? In a big hurry to avoid a predator?

We watched birds flitting through shrubs and trees and soaring in the blue sky high above, and we learned a whole lot about crows and ravens and red-tailed hawks. We learned why coyotes howl. We saw a hummingbird. We watched a fence lizard pump itself up and down. We discovered a small, perfectly circular hole dug by a digger bee.

We learned how scent is a critically important sense for both predator and prey, and how animals in the wild are all acutely aware of each other at any given moment. And how they are confused by oddly unpredictable human behavior. We learned far too much to mention everything in this blog!

Our two super knowledgeable guides have been leading these wildlife tracking walks, which are held the first Saturday of every month, for about 11 years.

Bob MacDonald and Mike Gibbs belong to the San Diego Tracking Team, an organization of experts and enthusiasts who track wildlife in our region. They advocate for good stewardship of the natural environment and provide researchers with data from about 20 sites around San Diego County, as far away as the Anza Borrego desert.

According to their website: “San Diego County has the most biodiversity of any County in North America… Many of the plants and animals that call our region home are found nowhere else in the world… The San Diego Tracking Team (SDTT) is dedicated to preserving the wildlife habitat in the San Diego region through citizen-based wildlife monitoring and environmental education programs…”

Both Bob and Mike were super interesting and personable, and even the young kids in our group never lost interest as we learned about the endlessly amazing dance of life all around us.

I learned that Mike Gibbs was an Army Green Beret with extensive wilderness survival knowledge. He has worked in law enforcement and search and rescue as an educator and as a human and animal tracker. I’m anxious to read his book Spirit Wolf, a novel that takes place on the High Plains. (Which, by pure coincidence, is where I once lived and is the setting for a short story I’m now working on!)

But enough of that for now! On to a few photographs!

One of two experienced animal trackers addresses our group near the Mission Trails Visitor Center before we begin our adventure.
Mike Gibbs, one of two highly experienced animal trackers, addresses our group near the Mission Trails Visitor Center before we begin our adventure.
Our short but super fascinating wildlife tracking walk took us up the Oak Grove Inner Trail.
Our short but super fascinating wildlife tracking walk took us up the Oak Grove Inner Trail.
A hiking stick has been laid down to show where a skunk has dug small holes in the soil looking for grubs.
A hiking stick has been laid down to show where a skunk has dug small holes in the soil looking for grubs.
As the skunk moved forward, nose to the ground, it dug a series of additional holes.
As the skunk moved forward, nose to the ground, it dug a series of additional holes.
Walking again along the trail, searching for more signs of local wildlife.
Walking again along the trail, searching for more signs of local San Diego wildlife.
One of our guides points to the lair of a trapdoor spider! They pop out to catch prey, and lay their eggs inside their smooth burrow for safety. Yes, spiders can dig!
One of our guides points to the lair of a trapdoor spider! They pop out to catch prey, and lay their eggs inside their smooth burrow for safety. Yes, spiders can dig!
We saw lots of dog tracks in dried mud. The heavy front pads indicate a breed with a forward center of gravity. Coyotes have much neater, straighter tracks.
We saw lots of dog tracks in dried mud. The heavy front pads indicate a heavy breed with a forward center of gravity. Coyotes have distinctive, much straighter tracks.
Way up there on that distant tree we spot a hummingbird!
Way up there on top of that distant tree we spot a tiny hummingbird!
Rabbits made these tracks in the bent grass as they moved forward eating. We saw a couple calm rabbits feeding in the distance, seemingly unconcerned about predators.
Rabbits made these tracks in the bent grass as they moved forward leaving a U-shaped trail. We saw a couple of calm rabbits feeding in the distance, seemingly unconcerned about predators.
A gopher hole in the trail, long abandoned. The hole was subsequently widened by curious dogs poking in their noses, excited by an old scent.
A pocket gopher’s hole in the trail, long abandoned. The hole was subsequently widened by curious dogs poking in their noses, excited by an old scent.
Fresh moist coyote scat. These droppings seemed to show a recent vegetable diet.
Fresh moist coyote scat. These droppings seemed to show a recent vegetable diet.
But nearby, other dried, ropy coyote droppings contain rabbit fur.
But nearby, other dried, ropy coyote droppings contain rabbit fur.
This small perfectly circular hole was dug by a digger bee. Yes, bees can dig, too! It seems a lot of critters dig. Snakes don't. They like to digest their food in the safety of Wood Rat's nests.
This small perfectly circular hole was dug by a digger bee. Yes, bees can dig, too! It seems a lot of critters dig. Snakes don’t. They like to digest their food in the safety of a wood rat’s sturdy stick nest.
What will we discover next? Life continues its dance, and the natural world is ever changing.
What will we discover next? Life continues its dance and the natural world is ever changing.

Wildlife Tracking Walks are held at Mission Trails Regional Park the first Saturday of every month, from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. To learn more about the park’s different guided walks, click here.

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!