Photos from a rainy December Nights!

I headed into Balboa Park today around noon to get a taste of 2019 December Nights.

It was overcast and drizzly at the start of San Diego’s huge holiday event, but when I left in mid-afternoon the weather had slightly improved.

This evening as I type these words it’s already dark. Bright, colorful lights will have turned on throughout Balboa Park, and the crowds will be massive and growing. Our city’s annual holiday festival is one of the biggest in the United States.

During my early walk many vendors were still setting up and the entertainment was just beginning on several stages. Santa hats and Christmas trees and yummy treats and smiles were already abundant. My camera turned right and left as I took some photos. Please excuse me for not captioning the images this year. I just wanted to share a smidgen of the magic.

(I did go into the Comic-Con Museum when it opened in the early afternoon, and if my indoor photos came out okay, I should be blogging some more very cool stuff shortly!)

Happy Holidays to all!

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!

Photos of San Diego and Arizona Railway centennial!

People gather for the 100th Anniversary celebration of the San Diego and Arizona Railway at the Pacific Southwest Railway Museum in Campo.
People gather for the 100th Anniversary celebration of the San Diego and Arizona Railway at the Pacific Southwest Railway Museum in Campo.

Yesterday I attended an extraordinary event. The 100th Anniversary of the San Diego and Arizona Railway was celebrated at the Pacific Southwest Railway Museum in Campo!

Hundreds came out to the museum to enjoy special attractions, historical displays and old-time entertainment. Almost everybody rode an excursion train through the nearby countryside (you can see photos of the ride here) before gathering for lunch and a gold spike ceremony that reenacted much of the original ceremony a century ago.

Please enjoy the following photographs. Read the captions if you’d like to learn a little more about the history of the San Diego and Arizona Railway. (Click the images of signs and they’ll enlarge for easier reading.)

Many signs, plaques and historical markers can be found throughout the railroad museum's grounds.
Many signs, plaques and historical markers can be found throughout the Pacific Southwest Railway Museum’s grounds.
In 1916 rails reached Campo on the last transcontinental railway link built in the United States. The line was completed in 1919. The line was eventually purchased by MTS to gain right-of-way for the San Diego Trolley in the city of San Diego.
In 1916 rails reached Campo on the last transcontinental railway link built in the United States. The line was completed in 1919. The line was eventually purchased by MTS to gain right-of-way for the San Diego Trolley in the city of San Diego.
Visitors wait in line at the old Campo depot to pick up tickets for a train ride during the centennial event.
Visitors wait in line at the museum’s old Campo depot to pick up tickets for a train ride during the centennial event.
Heading around the old Campo depot toward the passenger platform.
Heading around the Campo depot toward the passenger platform.
Gazing out at a few of the many old rail cars owned by the Pacific Southwest Railway Museum.
Gazing out at a few of the many old rail cars owned by the Pacific Southwest Railway Museum.
Visitors check out a caboose and more railroad cars to one side of the historic Campo train depot.
Visitors check out a caboose and more railroad cars to one side of the historic Campo train depot.
A simulated hobo camp and interesting sign attract the attention of one gentleman.
A simulated hobo camp and interesting sign attract the attention of one gentleman.
Hobo code used symbols made with chalk or coal to provide directions and warnings to other hobos.
Hobo code used symbols made with chalk or coal to provide directions and warnings to other hobos.
A recreated hobo encampment with campfire.
A recreated hobo encampment with campfire.
On December 14, 1906 John D. Spreckels, with his brother Adolph, announced his intent to construct a railroad from San Diego to Yuma, Arizona.
On December 14, 1906 John D. Spreckels, with his brother Adolph, announced his intent to construct a railroad from San Diego to Yuma, Arizona.
On October 2, 1916 the first passenger trains to Campo were initiated. On November 15, 1919 the Gold Spike Limited brought dignitaries to Carriso Gorge siding. The Impossible Railroad was completed!
On October 2, 1916 the first passenger trains to Campo were initiated. On November 15, 1919 the Gold Spike Limited brought dignitaries to Carriso Gorge siding. The Impossible Railroad was completed!
On February 5, 1950 the first diesel-electric locomotive pulled a freight train over the mountains, in place of a steam locomotive.
On February 5, 1950 the first diesel-electric locomotive pulled a freight train over the mountains, in place of a steam locomotive.
Checking out history at the Pacific Southwest Railway Museum, with its extensive collection of railroad rolling stock.
Checking out history at the Pacific Southwest Railway Museum, with its extensive collection of railroad rolling stock.
The Chula Vista Live Steamers were present for the event. They brought some of their 7.5 inch gauge operating steam trains.
The Chula Vista Live Steamers were present for the event. They brought some of their 7.5 inch gauge operating steam trains.
On top of one flatcar is a huge turntable that was used for turning railroad locomotives and cars.
On top of one flatcar is a huge turntable that was once used for turning railroad locomotives and cars.
A cool photo of a nearby Southern Pacific locomotive through the transported turntable.
A cool photo of a nearby Southern Pacific locomotive through the transported turntable.
A sign maps the route of the San Diego and Arizona Railway from San Diego through Mexico to El Centro.
A sign maps the route of the San Diego and Arizona Railway from San Diego through Mexico to El Centro. There are plans to use this line for freight trains once again. There is also talk that a tourist train might in the future run between Tecate, Mexico and Campo, California.
A sign describes two wooden passenger coaches built in the late 19th century. Coach 239 is one of the oldest surviving railroad passenger car artifacts in the West.
A sign describes two wooden passenger coaches built in the late 19th century. Coach 239 is one of the oldest surviving railroad passenger car artifacts in the West.
Visitors check out an enormous old freight car.
Visitors check out an enormous old freight car.
Here comes the San Diego & Arizona Eastern MW 1003 1931 Ford Model AA Rail Fire Engine.
Here comes the San Diego & Arizona Eastern MW 1003 1931 Ford Model AA Rail Fire Engine.
Visitors to the event check out a working 1902 American steam fire engine.
Visitors to the event check out a working 1902 American steam fire engine.
The American was built in 1902 by the American Fire Engine Company. It was restored with the help of the California State Firefighters' Association, and is now valued at over half a million dollars.
The American was built in 1902 by the American Fire Engine Company. It was restored with the help of the California State Firefighters’ Association, and is now valued at over half a million dollars!
People check out some of the railroad equipment on display on the museum grounds.
People check out some of the railroad equipment on display on the museum grounds.
Reading a sign by the railway Section House, where railroad workers were housed along the track.
Reading a sign by the railway Section House, where railroad workers were housed along the track.
Passengers disembark from the day's first excursion train and arrive at the outdoor venue for the gold spike event, near the museum's Display Building.
Passengers disembark from the day’s first excursion train and arrive at the outdoor venue for the gold spike event, near the museum’s Display Building.
A hay ride pulls up to the Display Building area.
A hay ride pulls up to the Display Building area.
Dr. Solar was entertaining kids with his magical Good-Time, Sunshine, Traveling Medicine Show.
Dr. Solar was entertaining kids with his magical Good-Time, Sunshine, Traveling Medicine Show.
Dr. Solar holds his applause meter.
Dr. Solar holds his applause meter.
Vintage auto enthusiasts brought their Model A and Model T Fords and Horseless Carriages.
Vintage auto enthusiasts brought their Model A and Model T Fords and Horseless Carriages.
Some cool period costumes!
Some fancy period costumes!
Vintage automobiles and vintage trains!
Vintage automobiles and vintage trains!
People were lined up for lunch near some of the Pacific Southwest Railway Museum's many outdoor railroad cars.
People were lined up for lunch near some of the Pacific Southwest Railway Museum’s many outdoor railroad cars.
Checking out a very cool old steam locomotive!
Checking out a very cool old steam locomotive!
A little switch engine of the San Diego and Arizona Railway.
A little switch engine of the San Diego and Arizona Railway.
The 100th Anniversary gold spike ceremony is about to begin. A train with red, white and blue bunting on the nearby track will be part of the historical reenactment.
The 100th Anniversary gold spike ceremony is about to begin. A train with red, white and blue bunting on the nearby track will be part of the historical reenactment.
Buffalo Soldiers representing nearby Camp Lockett are the event's color guard.
Buffalo Soldiers representing nearby Camp Lockett are the event’s color guard.
The gold spike ceremony begins.
The gold spike ceremony begins.
Standing for the National Anthem.
Standing for the National Anthem.
The master of ceremonies would introduce numerous present-day dignitaries, and many speeches would follow.
The master of ceremonies would introduce numerous present-day dignitaries, and many speeches would follow.
Native Sons of the Golden West dedicate a plaque celebrating the 100th anniversary of the San Diego and Arizona Railway's completion.
Native Sons of the Golden West dedicate a plaque celebrating the 100th anniversary of the San Diego and Arizona Railway’s completion.
Descendants of John D. Spreckels are asked to stand by Diana Hyatt, President of the Pacific Southwest Railway Museum Association.
Descendants of John D. Spreckels are asked to stand by Diana Hyatt, President of the Pacific Southwest Railway Museum Association.
During the centennial ceremony, the original gold spike from 100 years ago was on display in a glass case nearby.
During the centennial ceremony, the original gold spike from 100 years ago was on display in a glass case nearby.
The original gold spike used to celebrate the completion of the San Diego and Arizona Railway in 1919.
The original gold spike used to celebrate the completion of the San Diego and Arizona Railway in 1919.
The San Diego City Guard Band plays the San Diego Progress March, written for the railway's completion 100 years ago and performed then by the 1919 version of the City Guard Band.
The San Diego City Guard Band plays the San Diego Progress March, written for the railway’s completion 100 years ago and performed then by the 1919 version of the City Guard Band.
The gold spike reenactment begins. Railroad workers arrive by handcar.
The gold spike reenactment begins. Railroad workers arrive by handcar.
The railroad workers carry the last section of track to be laid.
The railroad workers carry the last section of track to be laid.
Reenactment of workers completing a transcontinental railroad route.
Reenactment of workers completing a transcontinental railroad route.
History is remembered in Campo, California.
Railroad history comes to life in Campo, California.
Here come dignitaries from 1919, including San Diego Mayor Wilde and William Kettner.
Here come dignitaries from 1919, including San Diego Mayor Wilde and William Kettner.
Politicians and dignitaries from a century ago seem to return to life during the San Diego and Arizona Railway centennial.
Politicians and dignitaries from a century ago seem to return to life during the San Diego and Arizona Railway centennial. Each would read from the original speeches.
Photographers record history from one side of the gold spike reenactment.
Photographers record today’s history from one side of the gold spike reenactment.
John D. Spreckels arrives from the Gold Spike Limited train.
John D. Spreckels arrives from the Gold Spike Limited train.
The shiny gold spike is put into place.
The shiny gold spike is put into place.
John D. Spreckels, creator of the San Diego and Arizona Railway, hammers the final spike.
John D. Spreckels, creator of the San Diego and Arizona Railway, hammers the final spike.
Those attending the big centennial celebration assemble around the John D. Spreckels reenactor for a photograph.
Those attending the big centennial celebration assemble around the John D. Spreckels reenactor for a photograph.
History is made again on a sunny November day in 2019.
History is made again on a sunny November day in 2019.

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 ride on the San Diego and Arizona Railway!

Today I took a wonderful ride aboard an historic train!

In the morning I drove out to the Pacific Southwest Railway Museum in Campo, about an hour east of downtown San Diego, in order experience the 100th Anniversary celebration of the San Diego & Arizona Railway.

Before the gold spike reenactment ceremony took place, I wandered about the extensive museum grounds, enjoying all sorts of nostalgic entertainment and attractions, then boarded an old passenger train at the depot for a short but very scenic excursion!

I took photos as I rode the route of the Golden State west several miles through rocky terrain. The San Diego & Arizona Railway, founded by San Diego entrepreneur and philanthropist John D. Spreckels, earned the name of The Impossible Railroad because of the logistical difficulty of routing a train through this very rugged countryside.

The train’s cars were all packed on this special day, and we were rolling past other old locomotives and railroad cars belonging to the Pacific Southwest Railway Museum before the conductor came down the aisle to collect our round-trip tickets. As you might imagine, kids and families were super excited!

On the way out, I sat in one of the seats on the south side of a coach car. Because my long legs were a bit cramped, and I wanted to see the countryside to the north, I went to the observation car during the return trip. You can see some smoke coming from the diesel locomotive in a couple of my photographs.

Too soon we were once again passing the Gaskill Brothers Stone Store Museum (the distinctive building you see in one photo), crossing over Highway 94, and back at the museum. We continued past the old depot and stopped near the place where the San Diego & Arizona Railway centennial gold spike ceremony would be staged. (I’ll blog about the fantastic event in my next post!)

Should you ever visit the Pacific Southwest Railway Museum in Campo, make sure to enjoy a cool train ride!

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!

Scenes from Without Walls Festival 2019!

This afternoon I headed to Liberty Station in Point Loma to experience some of the La Jolla Playhouse’s annual WOW event!

The Without Walls Festival 2019 features all sorts of cool outdoor performances, many of which are free for the public to enjoy. It continues tomorrow!

The first production I watched, titled Tall Tales of the High Seas, was a very unique visual drama that seemed part circus act, part aerial dance. The athletic performers raised the flexible masts of a rotating Viking longship, then climbed skyward to dip, fly and swerve through the sky! One could sense a bit of a story unfolding as the ship seemed to become lost at sea and the actors hung limp from the crow’s nests without hope; then land is sighted and excitement takes hold!

After that, I walked around the grassy North Promenade of Liberty Station, tried to peer into the intimate little Theatre on the Move, and stood for a few minutes enjoying the Montalban Quintet at the Festival Stage.

Then, as I made my way toward the South Promenade, I paused to watch kids sail in colorful Boats about Legacy Plaza!

Finally, a production titled Peregrinus was ready to begin. The actors marched across the street in a very businesslike way, as you can see in my photos.

At first each individual actor showed a unique personality, but as they put on their corporate attire, ordinary people were transformed into conforming, business suited employees. They could select their own color of tie, but no more.

The actors bowed before their enormous masks, inserted their heads, rose up in a row, and suddenly each head was identically serious, grim, tired and sad. They filed about in a circular hurry, did the corporate dance, bowed to their boss, became jackasses when commanded to do so, engaged in power plays and subterfuge–you know, all that ridiculous, demeaning stuff that pains the heart when people shed their dignity in their desire for power, position or money.

The act was hilarious!

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!

Signs of autumn’s arrival in Balboa Park.

It's late September. Flower petals in the Alcazar Garden are dropping off.
It’s late September. Many petals in the Alcazar Garden have dried up and dropped off.

Autumn arrived about a week ago. You can see signs of it throughout Balboa Park.

As I walked around the park today, I aimed my camera here and there taking fun seasonal photographs.

Prado Perk is now serving
Prado Perk is now serving “Pumkin” Maple Latte.
I stepped inside the Municipal Gymnasium and saw autumn decorations on their bulletin board.
I stepped inside the Municipal Gymnasium and saw autumn decorations on their bulletin board.
And I found these creepy Halloween pumpkins on their Gatorade vending machine!
And I found these creepy Halloween pumpkins on their Gatorade vending machine!
Many leaves have fallen and turned brown at the edge of Palm Canyon.
Many leaves have fallen and turned brown at the edge of Palm Canyon.
A bright yellow leaf has landed upon the bridge over Palm Canyon.
A bright yellow leaf has landed upon the bridge over Palm Canyon.
Fall means it's time for the big Japanese Art Sale!
Fall means it’s time for the big Japanese Art Sale!
Among other beautiful works of art, I found a Japanese brush painting of a pumpkin!
Among other beautiful works of art, I found a Japanese brush painting of a pumpkin!
While a cute bunny might symbolize spring, Bunnyfest in Balboa Park is held during the autumn. I believe this is one of the participants.
While a cute bunny might symbolize spring, BunnyFest in Balboa Park is held during the autumn. I believe this is one of the participants.
Summer is over and crowds have thinned, but it's still pretty warm out in the sun at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion.
Summer is over and crowds have thinned, but it’s still pretty warm out in the sun at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion.
Mr. Cat and The King of Autumn is showing at the Marie Hitchcock Puppet Theatre. That's the goofiest looking chicken I ever saw.
Mr. Cat and The King of Autumn is now playing at the Marie Hitchcock Puppet Theatre. That’s the wackiest looking chicken I ever saw.
A late bloom at the International Cottages.
A late bloom at the International Cottages.
A fancy Harvest Dinner Party is planned at the House of Hungary.
A fancy Harvest Dinner Party is planned at the House of Hungary.
I don't know whether this scarecrow on a nearby wall is invited...
I don’t know whether this scarecrow on a nearby wall is invited…

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 Balboa Park? Check out my other website Beautiful Balboa Park!

The Art of Shag at the Comic-Con Museum!

Today I enjoyed a really great exhibition at the future home of the Comic-Con Museum. The popular artist Josh Agle, who goes by the name Shag, has a big gallery of super cool artwork on display free to the public through this weekend!

I must admit I was unfamiliar with the name Shag, but once I saw the artwork I recognized his distinctive style. And now I’m a big fan! His snappy colorful images have a 1960’s commercial art feel, and many of the pieces celebrate popular entertainment and scenes from that era. His sly, often subversive “Mid-Century Modern aesthetic” is all in good fun.

Shag’s art often depicts Hollywood stars raising glasses at decadent cocktail parties. Many of his images include exotic Tikis. He creates vivid, snazzy scenes that invoke a sense of what is referred to as retro decadence.

Some of his pieces pay tribute to classic cartoons and Disney. As you can see in my photos, he also re-imagines popular movies like Planet of the Apes, Star Wars and Guardians of the Galaxy, comic books like Spider-Man, and television shows like the Twilight Zone and Batman.

If you’d like to see some really cool art, definitely head over to Balboa Park tomorrow and check out the Art of Shag! The free exhibition will be open 10 am to 4 pm in the Federal Building, which used to house the Hall of Champions, and which is destined to become the Comic-Con Museum in 2021.

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!

Black life and civil rights in Southern California.

Barbershop, Los Angeles, 1956, Harry Adams. Photographer Harry Adams stands with a young woman in front of his barbershop.
Barbershop, Los Angeles, 1956, Harry Adams. Photographer Harry Adams stands with a young woman in front of his barbershop.

A powerful exhibition recently opened at the San Diego Museum of Art. Black Life: Images of Resistance and Resilience in Southern California features photographs of politicians, activists, athletes and entertainers from the African American community during the second half of the 20th century, a period of struggle to advance civil rights.

Photographers Harry Adams, Guy Crowder and Charles Williams, who worked primarily as freelancers for publications like the Los Angeles Sentinel, California Eagle and Los Angeles Times, recorded people and moments in a community that was rarely covered by the American media. Their photography is natural, emotional and absolutely authentic. As you will see, many of their images are iconic.

Black Life: Images of Resistance and Resilience in Southern California documents important history in the life of our region. The exhibition can be viewed in the San Diego Museum of Art’s free Gallery 14/15, which is located through an unlocked door beside the outdoor sculpture court and Panama 66.

What you see here is just a small fraction of the many photographs on display.

Child Holding Book, Los Angeles, 1983, Guy Crowder.
Child Holding Book, Los Angeles, 1983, Guy Crowder.
Muhammad Ali and Stokely Carmichael, Los Angeles, 1974, Guy Crowder. Carmichael is known for coining the term Black Power in 1966.
Muhammad Ali and Stokely Carmichael, Los Angeles, 1974, Guy Crowder. Carmichael is known for coining the term Black Power in 1966.
Marrie Burnett, Los Angeles, 1982, Guy Crowder.
Marrie Burnett, Los Angeles, 1982, Guy Crowder.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at Second Baptist Church, Los Angeles, 1958, Harry Adams.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at Second Baptist Church, Los Angeles, 1958, Harry Adams.
Baldwin School Integration, Los Angeles, 1962, Charles Williams. The NAACP campaigned to promote school integration.
Baldwin School Integration, Los Angeles, 1962, Charles Williams. The NAACP campaigned to promote school integration.
Protest Car, Los Angeles, 1962, Harry Adams.
Protest Car, Los Angeles, 1962, Harry Adams.
Harry Belafonte and Dorothy Dandridge, stars of Carmen Jones, 1954, Charles Williams.
Harry Belafonte and Dorothy Dandridge, stars of Carmen Jones, 1954, Charles Williams.
Diana Ross and Michael Jackson, Los Angeles, 1969, Guy Crowder.
Diana Ross and Michael Jackson, Los Angeles, 1969, Guy Crowder.
Dream Girls Cast, Los Angeles, 1983, Guy Crowder.
Dream Girls Cast, Los Angeles, 1983, Guy Crowder.

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!