A walk by the beautiful river in Santee.

Marker beside the San Diego River Trail in Santee.
Marker beside the San Diego River Trail in Santee.

Yesterday I walked along a section of the beautiful San Diego River in Santee.

I started from Cuyamaca Street and headed west down the San Diego River Trail. When I reached the east edge of Mast Park, I turned south onto a dirt path, crossed the river via a footbridge, then turned back west once I reached a trail that follows the south side of the river. I continued west along a wooden fence until it came to an end, then turned back to Cuyamaca Street.

Here are my photos.

Starting west from Cuyamaca Street on the north side of the river.
Starting west from Cuyamaca Street on the north side of the river.

View toward the river broadens from the trail.
View toward the river broadens from the trail. (I continued to walk west and didn’t follow this particular dirt path.)
A bat box near the river.
A bat box near the river.
Sign at Mast Park describes habitat of the San Diego River Ecosystem. Snakes, lizards, turtles and ducks live here.
Sign at Mast Park describes habitat of the San Diego River Ecosystem. Snakes, lizards, turtles and ducks live here, plus many other birds.
Beginning south down a dirt path toward the river.
Beginning south down a dirt path toward the river.
Bright foliage.
Bright river foliage.

A wet, marshy area near the river's edge.
A wet, marshy area at the river’s edge.
Approaching a footbridge that spans the San Diego River.
Approaching a footbridge that spans the San Diego River.
Looking west from the bridge on a summer's day. It hasn't rained for a long time. The river here resembles a series of small lakes.
Looking west from the bridge on a summer’s day. It hasn’t rained for a long time. The river here resembles a series of small lakes.
Looking east from the bridge.
Looking east from the bridge.
Continuing south.
Continuing south.

Light in leaves.
Light in leaves.
Duckweed in pooled river water.
Duckweed in pooled river water.

Another sign south of the river. Except for the largemouth bass, all the creatures shown are native to California and the river.
Another sign south of the river. Except for the largemouth bass, all the creatures shown are native to California and the river.
Looking back north. I now turned west again and continued my walk.
Looking back north. I now turned west again and continued my walk.
A sign tells people to keep away from the endangered Least Bell's Vireo nesting area.
A sign tells people to keep away from the endangered Least Bell’s Vireo nesting area.
Following a wooden fence.
Following a wooden fence.
More light in leaves.
More light in leaves.

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!

Walking east along the Sweetwater River.

A couple weekends ago I walked a very short segment of the Sweetwater River Bikeway, from Hoover Avenue west to the Pier 32 Marina. You can revisit those photos here.

Today I returned to the Sweetwater River and walked east along the bikeway from Hoover Avenue all the way to Plaza Bonita.

I was struck by the contrasts.

The rocky-sided river channel, as seen looking down from Interstate 5, appears almost barren, but when you walk along the bike path you notice many plants among the broken rocks, and the ones that are deep-rooted were very green in the summer sunlight.

During the day bicyclists and runners passed me by as I slowly walked, and the nearby busy westbound lanes of U.S. Route 54 sometimes came into view. But late at night, the scene is obviously very different. There was graffiti which increased as I progressed east to Interstate 805. There was trash and frequent evidence of homelessness. As I came into the vicinity of Interstate 805, I passed several active homeless encampments. And the graffiti spoke of gang activity, with references to drugs and death.

But as I headed east, the river also became more alive. A marshy wetland appeared with discarded shopping carts and happily paddling ducks. Trees began to flourish along the banks, and eventually grew so thick they concealed a river full of reeds and lush greenery.

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 beauty of nature on the coastal strand.

The coastal strand lies just above the high tide line of a beach. While its appearance might be sandy, dry and scraggly, look closely and you’ll find plenty of nature’s endless beauty.

Last Saturday I walked around Silver Strand State Beach.

Entrance station at Silver Strand State Beach.
Entrance station at Silver Strand State Beach.
The blue Pacific Ocean stretches beyond the seemingly barren western shore of the Silver Strand. Point Loma and a cruise ship can be seen in the distance.
The blue Pacific Ocean stretches beyond the seemingly barren western shore of the Silver Strand. Point Loma and a cruise ship can be seen in the distance.
The flowers of beach suncup, or evening primrose, are like bright gems on the sand.
The flowers of beach suncup, or evening primrose, are like bright gems on the sand.
The Western Snowy Plover depends on kelp and seagrass washed ashore, feeding on insects. Their young are hatched in the sand. Fences keep the feet of people away.
The Western Snowy Plover depends on kelp and seagrass washed ashore, feeding on insects. Their young are hatched in the sand. Fences keep the feet of beachgoers away.
Walking along the San Diego Bay side of the State Park.
Walking along the San Diego Bay side of the State Park.
Coastal strand plants begin to grow past the tide line. Winds and waves sculpt the sands in this dynamic, yet fragile habitat.
Coastal strand plants begin to grow past the tide line. Winds and waves sculpt the sands in this dynamic, yet fragile habitat.

San Diego black-tailed jackrabbits are frequently seen in the dry coastal sage scrub of Silver Strand State Beach.
San Diego black-tailed jackrabbits are frequently seen in the dry coastal sage scrub of Silver Strand State Beach.
How many rabbits can you see? They are well adapted to this environment.
How many rabbits can you see? They are well adapted to this environment.

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!

A new river park by Fashion Valley trolley station!

Northwest corner of Town and Country Resort and Convention Center's river park under construction. The new park will be across Riverwalk Drive from the Fashion Valley Transit Center.
The northwest corner of Town and Country’s new river park is under construction. The public park will be directly across Riverwalk Drive from the Fashion Valley Transit Center.

A new linear river park is under construction near Fashion Valley!

An ugly old parking lot of the Town and Country Resort & Convention Center is being converted into park space. And the north side of the San Diego River, directly adjacent to the Fashion Valley Transit Center, will be part of this new public park, too!

The project, which includes almost 8 acres of restored natural habitat, and beautiful new pathways along the San Diego River, is part of the Town and Country hotel’s extensive property-wide renovation.

Today I found myself standing high up on the Fashion Valley trolley station platform. I looked down to see how the northwest corner of the new park is taking shape.

Because I frequently use this station, I’ll continue to monitor developments!

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!

Fossils exposed in Hillcrest on University Avenue!

Perceptive people who walk along University Avenue in Hillcrest, between First Avenue and Park Boulevard, might see dozens of fossils “exposed” in the sidewalk.

These small, stone-sculpted plant and animal fossils are part of San Diego’s largest public art installation, which stretches about a mile long!

Fossils Exposed, created by San Diego artist Doron Rosenthal in 1998, consists of 150 granite markers set in the sidewalks along either side of University Avenue.

Doron Rosenthal has always been inspired by the unique beauty of desert landscapes. After spending some time in Pietra Santa, Italy, working with and learning from some of the world’s greatest sculptors, Doron Rosenthal returned to Southern California and taught stone cutting at the San Diego Art Institute. He continues to produce art today.

According to the artist’s website, “FOSSILS EXPOSED involves the creation and installation of 150 circular 4.5 inch granite markers. Each represent the artist’s interpretive carvings of local and regional fossilized plant and animal life, which are sandblasted into granite…. The imagery is inspired by the fossil collections from the San Diego Museum of Natural History. Each marker is different, representing various plant and animal species covered over by modern day urban development. The project would encourage awareness of the levels of life that struggled to exist within the area–some in the past, some in the present…”

To learn more, visit Doron Rosenthal’s website here.

I walked along University Avenue this morning and photographed just a fraction of the many Fossils Exposed.

To my eyes, it appears that over the years these man-made fossils have become even more fossil-like. They’ve aged along with the slowly weathering sidewalks and surroundings.

Unfortunately, it also appears much of the fossil artwork is now missing. Sections of sidewalk have been replaced over time, and I could locate no markers along a few stretches of University Avenue. I suspect that when old sections of concrete sidewalk were removed, certain fossils vanished, and ended up buried under layers of rubble and Earth. Where most true fossils are found.

If that’s the case, what a shame.

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!

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!

Stonehenge, stacked blocks, and a La Jolla Project.

Looks somehow familiar?

No, this work of art in UC San Diego’s Stuart Collection isn’t titled Stonehenge. But that’s what many students call it.

Environmental artist Richard Fleischner created this monumental public art, La Jolla Project, in 1984. His artwork explores how universal architectural forms might be integrated into a natural setting. For his La Jolla Project, he used stones quarried in New England and cut near Providence, Rhode Island, on the other side of the continent. A whole lot of human calculation and labor was required to create something that appears extremely simple.

To me, it looks like an enormous giant sat down on a green patch of grass and stacked some toy blocks. The blocks are scattered and assembled in several ways, often forming columns, benches and arches. These simple blocks remind the viewer that all architecture–all existing physical matter in fact–can be broken down into the most rudimentary shapes we learn in basic geometry.

As you walk around La Jolla Project, you feel you’ve entered a strange otherworld that is somehow different from ordinary space and time. It’s a place where abstract forms have materialized in a familiar, park-like landscape. Did they descend from the stars? From the hand of a gigantic, playful child? From the realm of pure ideas? (As I think about it, these vertical forms almost appear like words spelled out with an alien alphabet, including a punctuation mark here or there.)

Should you ever visit UC San Diego, wander through this mazy construction and perhaps arrive at your own conclusion.

But first you must find La Jolla Project on the Revelle College lawn south of Galbraith Hall, beside Scholars Drive South, north of the La Jolla Playhouse.

Bring a compass.

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!

The miracle of the Surfing Madonna.

The Surfing Madonna in Encinitas, California. A mosaic by artist Mark Patterson.
The Surfing Madonna in Encinitas, California. A mosaic by artist Mark Patterson.

Have you heard of the miracle of the Surfing Madonna? Many in San Diego have witnessed the miracle. Indeed, the miracle is known around the world.

Next to the Encinitas Boulevard sidewalk, just east of Coast Highway 101, there’s a tiny open courtyard with a beautiful ocean mural and a shrine-like mosaic titled Surfing Madonna. The 10 by 10 feet mosaic depicts the Virgin of Guadalupe on a white surfboard, praying.

When it was first installed anonymously in a public place the artwork was considered illegal. Permission had not been granted by the city of Encinitas. The artist, Mark Patterson, was discovered and fined and the mosaic removed.

But a miracle happened.

After much controversy and legal uncertainty, and after having been moved from place to place, the unusual but beautiful mosaic, beloved by many in the beach community, finally found a home in Surfing Madonna Park, which you can see in my photographs.

To learn more about the miracle of the Surfing Madonna, read the words on the plaque beneath it.

The small Surfing Madonna Park, in a nook beside busy Encinitas Boulevard.
The small Surfing Madonna Park in a nook beside busy Encinitas Boulevard. The park is just a short walk east of Moonlight State Beach.
A plaque details the history of the Surfing Madonna.
A plaque details the history of the Surfing Madonna.

The plaque reads:

On Good Friday, April 22nd, 2011, the community of Encinitas was gifted with the Surfing Madonna mosaic, Our Lady, Star of the Sea.

Local artist, Mark Patterson and his good friend Bob Nichols, dressed up as constructions workers and hung the beautiful Surfing Madonna mosaic with its “Save the Ocean” theme. The mosaic was originally mounted underneath the train bridge, across the street from its current home.

The mosaic received international attention while the artist remained anonymous for months until discovered.

Although beloved by the community, she could not stay there and eventually found her way here, to her permanent home.

Mark Patterson sought to raise awareness of the value of the world’s Oceans. Through his vision he created the Surfing Madonna mosaic to spread a message of environmental awareness of Mother Ocean.

The mosaic gave birth to the Surfing Madonna Oceans Project which has continued to serve the Ocean and community through funding of local arts, environmental awareness, and by introducing special needs youth and their families to the joy of surfing and living with the Ocean.

Join us in celebrating the beauty of our world’s Oceans.

A beautiful environmental mural shows fish and other sea life, by Encinitas artist Kevin Anderson.
A beautiful environmental mural shows Garibaldi fish and other local sea life, by Encinitas artist Kevin Anderson.
Brick pavers in the small courtyard raised money for programs that help the Earth's oceans.
Brick pavers, some with religious themes, in the small courtyard. The pavers have raised money for programs that help the Earth’s oceans.
The Surfing Madonna and a prayerful message. Save the Ocean.
The unique Surfing Madonna and a prayerful message: Save the Ocean.

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The fun, very fishy Positivitree!

Look what I spotted this evening as I walked through Seaport Village!

A cool sculpture titled Positivitree!

The tree-like thing appeared very peculiar from the distance–almost like fish bones–but as I got nearer I saw all sorts of objects including trashy plastic items had been recycled by the artist to create happy, colorful fish and other marine life! This super creative art features a positive environmental message!

According to a nearby sign, Positivitree was created by Rodney McCoubrey with the Surfrider Foundation San Diego Chapter.

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!

An octopus, sea lion, and fish burrito!

A gigantic octopus is standing on the grass near the Seaport Village carousel!
A gigantic octopus is standing on the grass near the Seaport Village carousel!

Today I enjoyed many cool sights–and tastes, too!

As I walked through Seaport Village, I noticed a giant octopus had crawled out of the bay and was standing on its eight tentacles beside the carousel.

Seriously? Okay, the big inflatable octopus has been placed there for the international Ocean Sciences Meeting at the nearby San Diego Convention Center. A variety of events will be taking place in Seaport Village, including a funny environmental wrestling match! See the photo of the sign that follows for all the information!

When I arrived at the Tuna Harbor Dockside Market, a sea lion was barking and surfacing near the pier enjoying tossed fish scraps. Which made me hungry.

So I walked a few steps along the pier to Loaf and Fish, where the super friendly folks happened to remember I love fish burritos. Because they had some tortillas on hand, they made me a special one!

While fish burritos aren’t a normal menu item at Loaf and Fish, I bet there’s a good chance they’ll fix you one if you ask! You won’t regret it! All sorts of tasty spicy stuff is jammed inside, along with lots of freshly caught fish! Their fish sandwiches, soup and tacos are all unbeatable!

Ocean Optimism - Art Interpreting Science - is an event at Seaport Village corresponding with the Ocean Sciences Meeting at the convention center.
Ocean Optimism – Art Interpreting Science – is an event at Seaport Village corresponding with the Ocean Sciences Meeting at the convention center.
These cool guys in a small boat in Tuna Harbor were scooping up trash with nets!
These cool guys in a small boat in Tuna Harbor were scooping up trash with nets!
Fresh fish is cut right on the boat at Tuna Harbor Dockside Market.
Fresh fish is cut right on the boat at Tuna Harbor Dockside Market.
People on the pier near the fishing boat Kaylee H are staring down at the water with cameras.
People on the pier near the fishing boat Kaylee H are staring down at the water with cameras.
Something really has this crowd's attention!
Something really has this crowd’s attention!
It's a playful sea lion! It was hanging out, eating occasional fish scraps tossed its way.
It’s a playful sea lion! It was hanging out, eating occasional fish scraps tossed its way.
All sorts of locally caught seafood can be purchased on Saturday at Tuna Harbor Dockside Market.
All sorts of locally caught seafood can be purchased on Saturday at Tuna Harbor Dockside Market.
Someone orders lunch at Loaf and Fish. I already ordered a special fish burrito!
Someone orders lunch at Loaf and Fish. I already ordered a special fish burrito!
The fish burrito was super! So were these smiles from the friendly folks at Loaf and Fish!
The fish burrito was super! So were these smiles from the friendly folks at Loaf and Fish!
Another scene on the pier at Tuna Harbor Dockside Market.
Another small scene on the pier at Tuna Harbor Dockside Market.

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!