Earth Day and EarthFair 2014 in Balboa Park.

Activist at EarthFair fights the Keystone Pipeline.
Activist at EarthFair fights the Keystone Pipeline.

I couldn’t resist heading over to EarthFair today. What’s EarthFair? It’s a gigantic annual event that celebrates Earth Day in Balboa Park!

Put on by San Diego EarthWorks, this year’s EarthFair featured more than 300 exhibitors, promoting pro-environment concepts, policies, programs, business and education. The event is billed as a big tent celebration, and so the multitude of participants often seem an unlikely hodgepodge. From more traditional viewpoints, to those that are truly radical, all sorts of ideas and visions are expressed. It’s a colorful, thought-provoking and entertaining event with endless photographic opportunities!

Here are some pics!

Old objects reused to create art and jewelry.
Old objects reused to create art and jewelry.
Learning to make yarn from plastic bags.
Learning to make yarn from plastic bags.
Crafts at EarthFair include tennis racket mirrors.
Crafts at EarthFair include tennis racket mirrors.
Kids have fun with great big bubbles.
Kids have fun with great big bubbles.
Costumed characters greet a child at EarthFair.
Costumed characters greet a child at EarthFair.
Booth in Balboa Park promotes camping nude.
Booth in Balboa Park promotes camping nude.
Hemp enthusiasts check out wares at EarthFair.
Hemp enthusiasts check out wares at EarthFair.
Meat eaters enjoy barbeque for Earth Day.
Meat eaters enjoy barbeque for Earth Day.
1912 Baker Electric Car fitted with solar panels!
1912 Baker Electric Car fitted with a solar panel!
Kids learn how to set up teepees on a Balboa Park grassy area.
Kids learn how to set up teepees on a Balboa Park grassy area.
Big Mama Earth provides green lessons for kids.
Big Mama Earth provides green lessons for kids.
San Diego Public Library's booth with many interesting books.
San Diego Public Library’s booth with many interesting books.
A lovely blue recycle bin poses for my camera!
A lovely blue recycle bin poses for my camera!
SoCal Parrot lady and a bright green friend.
SoCal Parrot lady and a bright green friend.
Earth Day activists conceal anti-abortion sign with banners.
Earth Day activists conceal anti-abortion sign with banners.
Toyota shows hybrid vehicles in front of Museum of Art.
Toyota shows hybrid vehicles in front of Museum of Art.
Old hiking gear can be fixed up and used again.
Old hiking gear can be fixed up and used again.
Table with information about pest control using copper.
Table with information about pest control using copper.
Two rescued raptors shown to crowd on El Prado.
Two rescued raptors shown to crowd on El Prado.
Huge canvas interprets the reflecting pool with vivid colors.
Huge canvas interprets the reflecting pool with vivid colors.
Mellow steel drum entertainment during EarthFair.
Mellow steel drum entertainment during EarthFair.
Balboa Park's trashcans were blocked with flower pots.
Balboa Park’s trashcans were blocked with flower pots.
Looking west down El Prado at huge Earth Day crowd.
Looking west down El Prado at huge Earth Day crowd.
Advocating for the protection of seals.
Advocating for the protection of seals.
Activists oppose new power plant at Mission Trails Park.
Activists oppose new power plant at Mission Trails Park.
A table demonstrates the benefits of composting.
A table demonstrates the benefits of composting.
Smokey the Bear stands near Surfrider Foundation booth.
Smokey the Bear stands near Surfrider Foundation booth.
Man painted blue advocates for lower carbon emissions.
Man painted blue advocates for lower carbon emissions.
High school student with Save the World Fridays sign.
High school student with Save the World Fridays sign.
Scripps Aquarium brought some big shark jaws.
Scripps Aquarium brought some big shark jaws.
Peace sign and coexist sign in the crowd.
Peace sign and coexist sign in the crowd.
Banner in booth opposes eating animals.
Banner in booth opposes eating animals.
Petitions include dividing California into six states.
Petitions include dividing California into six states.
Secret chemtrail and HAARP programs are opposed.
Secret chemtrail and HAARP programs are opposed.
Free hugs are offered to visitors of Balboa Park's EarthFair!
Free hugs are offered to visitors at Balboa Park’s EarthFair!

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The historic Lodge at Torrey Pines State Reserve.

Sign at entrance to Torrey Pines State Reserve.
Sign at entrance to Torrey Pines State Reserve.

I hope you enjoyed my last blog post, where I described a hike around the Guy Fleming Trail in Torrey Pines State Reserve. Now I’d like to take you up to see the Lodge.

We’re going to start at the entrance of Torrey Pines State Reserve, just off the Pacific Coast Highway. We’ll be climbing the steep Torrey Pines Park Road all the way to the historic Lodge.

Looking south along Torrey Pines State Beach.
Looking south along Torrey Pines State Beach.

As we begin our climb we bend away from the beach, but pause for a moment to observe the high sandstone cliffs to our south. This wonderful beach, which extends for many miles, will be the subject of a future blog post!

Heading up steep Torrey Pines Park Road.
Heading up steep Torrey Pines Park Road.
Entering a zone full of endangered Torrey pines.
Entering a zone full of endangered Torrey pines.
Torrey pines stand atop eroded sandstone cliffs.
Torrey pines stand atop eroded sandstone cliffs.

The Torrey pine is an endangered tree found only here and on Santa Rosa island. We’ll learn more about it shortly…

View of lagoon and ocean from High Point Overlook.
View of lagoon and ocean from High Point Overlook.

Near the top of the road we come to High Point Overlook, a short trail that heads up some steps for a 360 degree view. Here we’re looking north and seeing a bit of the Los Peñasquitos Lagoon.

Sign about philanthropist Ellen Browning Scripps.
Sign about philanthropist Ellen Browning Scripps.

This sign stands among some Torrey pines at the top of the overlook. It reads:

The philanthropist Ellen Browning Scripps (1836-1932) holds a special and endearing place in the annals of Torrey Pines. Without Miss Scripps, this mesa might resemble what you see to the east: a tangle of roads, houses and businesses.

Although the City of San Diego had set aside some land to preserve the Torrey pines, the best and densest groves remained in the hands of developers who planned to subdivide and commercialize the area. Miss Scripps bought these lots in 1908, 1911, and 1912.

She hired naturalist Guy Fleming to care for and protect this wonderful place in 1921 and funded the construction of his house on the property.

The Torrey Pines Lodge, now used as a visitor center and ranger station, was built with her funds and donated to the people of San Diego. It was designed by noted architects Richard Requa and Herbert Lewis Jackson. It opened as a restaurant in 1923.

Finally, she bequeathed the City of San Diego the groves of Torrey pines, asking that they “be held in perpetuity as a public park,” and requesting, “that care be taken to preserve the natural beauty of the area” in 1932.

Today’s visitors may thank Ellen Browning Scripps for having the foresight to protect this unique place in the California landscape.

Nearing Torrey Pines State Reserve's historic Lodge.
Nearing Torrey Pines State Reserve’s historic Lodge.

A little more walking takes us to our main destination, the Lodge. An old adobe built in 1922, it originally served as a restaurant! According to the official website, it had stumpy tables, chintz curtains, lampshades made of Torrey Pine needles, and a jukebox! Back in those days, Model T cars had difficulty going up the steep hill, because they didn’t have a fuel pump, and instead relied on a gravity system. When the steeply climbing cars conked out, drivers were told to continue up the hill in reverse!

Banner commemorates 150 years of California State Parks.
Banner commemorates 150 years of California State Parks.
Gap in Lodge's stucco shows original adobe bricks.
Gap in Lodge’s stucco shows original adobe bricks.

This is near the front door. The sign below reads:

When the Lodge was built in 1922-23, thousands of bricks were made on site using local sand and clay. The gap in the stucco coating above deliberately reveals the original adobe bricks.

Portion of large sign outside describing coastal flowers.
Portion of large sign outside describing coastal flowers.
Interior of Lodge is a museum and visitor center.
Interior of Lodge is a museum and visitor center.

I love the interior of the Lodge. There’s so much interesting stuff to see, and so much history and natural charm jammed into one place. The Lodge is open daily 9 AM to 6 PM during summer daylight saving time and 10 AM to 4 PM during winter standard time. Ranger guided hikes are available on weekends.

One of many exhibits in the visitor center.
One of many educational exhibits.
Mountain lion patiently watches visitors to the Lodge.
Mountain lion patiently watches visitors to the Lodge.
Plaque in Lodge credits Ellen Browning Scripps.
Plaque in Lodge credits Ellen Browning Scripps.
Old fireplace shows decades of use.
Old fireplace shows decades of use.

The plaque above the old fireplace reads:

Torrey Pines Lodge dedicated to Dr. John Torrey, for whom, in 1850, these unique trees were named Pinus torreyana by Dr. C. C. Parry.

Sign behind Lodge describes Torrey pines woodlands.
Sign behind Lodge describes Torrey pines woodlands.

Now we’ve headed back outside, around the back of the Lodge. Numerous Torrey pines are all around us, and benches are sprinkled here and there with sweeping views eastward toward developed Carmel Valley and Interstate 5.

This sign reads:

The Torrey Pine tree is one of the most rare pine trees in all of North America. The young trees that you see today may be the remnants of what was once an ancient coastal forest. This natural plant community is found only in nutrient-poor sandy soils, along the sandstone bluffs, canyons, and ravines, of Torrey Pines State Reserve and on Santa Rosa Island. In this harsh arid landscape, coastal fog is vital to the tree’s survival, acting as an air conditioner, shielding the needles from the hot sun and providing most of the moisture for the trees. The twisted and gnarled trees along the bluffs often lean inland, growing close to the ground, as a result of the ocean winds and pruning by salt crystals in the air.

School kids learn about local flora and fauna.
School kids learn about local flora and fauna.

A ranger was giving a bunch of school kids a talk about Torrey Pines State Reserve. They’ll remember this special place for the rest of their lives.

The Lodge at Torrey Pines State Reserve is a must see!
The Lodge at Torrey Pines State Reserve is a must see!

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East Village’s SMARTS Farm, a cool urban garden!

A friendly greeting from the folks at downtown's SMARTS farm.
A friendly greeting from the folks at downtown’s SMARTS Farm.

This morning I headed out for a short walk along F Street in downtown San Diego’s East Village, with the intention of photographing some awesome murals and street art. As I was strolling along, my feet carried me into a super cool place I really hadn’t noticed before.

SMARTS Farm is an urban garden run by the nonprofit organization Humane Smarts. In addition to being a community garden, SMARTS Farm offers educational programs aimed at local kids. Children plant their own produce, watch it grow and learn about our environment. Photography classes are also offered!

How appropriate that I randomly discovered this cool place on Earth Day!

Happiness is working in a beautiful urban garden.
Happiness is working in a beautiful urban garden.
Lots of stuff to see, including some photo art.
Lots of stuff to see, including some photo art.
An educational community garden in the concrete jungle.
An educational community garden in the concrete jungle.
SMARTS farm is located on F Street in downtown San Diego.
SMARTS Farm is located on F Street in downtown San Diego’s East Village.
Children learn to love gardening and being outside.
Children learn to love gardening and being outside.
New beds where salsa ingredients will be grown.
New beds where salsa ingredients will be grown.
Lots of fun stuff to see!
Lots of fun stuff to see!
Look at this big old tub of color!
Look at this big old tub of color!
Grow, Cultivate, Learn, Share.
Grow, Cultivate, Learn, Share.

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Urban Corps mural shows an optimistic future.

South end of long Urban Corps mural on Jefferson Street.
South end of long Urban Corps mural on Jefferson Street.

San Diego’s Urban Corp is a nonprofit dedicated to providing a high school education and green job training to young adults. Whenever I ride the trolley to work, I usually see a number of youth in green uniforms disembarking at the Old Town station. They’re heading off to begin another day developing new skills, while working to improve San Diego’s environment.

A long, colorful mural was recently painted along Jefferson Street, right across from the Urban Corps. You can find this public art near Rosecrans at Interstate 5.

Here are some pics I took as I walked north!

Mural depicts youth bettering San Diego's environment.
Mural depicts youth bettering San Diego’s environment.
Urban Corps provides valuable employment training.
Urban Corps provides valuable employment training.
Eliminating graffiti is one important activity.
Eliminating graffiti is one important activity.
Youth have a second chance to earn a high school diploma.
Youth have a second chance to earn a high school diploma.
Urban Corps mural shows conservation efforts.
Urban Corps mural shows conservation efforts.
Education is the key to moving forward to success.
Education is the key to moving forward to success.
Young people have an opportunity to earn a paycheck.
Young people have an opportunity to earn a paycheck.
Segment of Urban Corps mural near Rosecrans and Jefferson.
Segment of Urban Corps mural near Rosecrans and Jefferson.
Optimism and opportunity on a long, colorful mural.
Optimism and opportunity on a long, colorful mural.