Cabrillo National Monument centennial photos!

01 People near Visitor Center enjoy Cabrillo National Monument's centennial event.
People near Visitor Center enjoy Cabrillo National Monument’s centennial.

Here are some pics I took Sunday during the second day of Cabrillo National Monument’s centennial celebration.

Cabrillo National Monument is located at the tip of the Point Loma peninsula. The hilly peninsula helps to enclose San Diego Bay and is a perfect lookout over both the ocean and harbor. The park includes most notably the historic Old Point Loma Lighthouse and a statue of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo that was commissioned by the Portuguese government in 1939. It also includes military bunkers that were used to protect the bay during World War II, and a very popular whale-watching lookout.

The park this year turned one hundred years old. In 1913 Woodrow Wilson reserved a portion of Fort Rosecrans on the Point Loma peninsula for a statue of Cabrillo. Unfortunately, a statue was not immediately forthcoming, and the park’s development became the work of many decades.

The work in progress continues today. My last visit was a few years ago, and this time I noticed many big changes and improvements!

The first photo shows a bunch of people near the Visitor Center, on the walkway that leads out to the Cabrillo statue.

02 Nonprofit organizations display info in front of Visitor Center for Cabrillo centennial.
Various informative displays in front of Visitor Center for the centennial event.

For the centennial event, many community and government organizations had exhibits near the entrance to the Visitor Center. This pic shows what appeared to be the most popular table. The friendly lady had numerous snakes that fascinated young and old alike.

03 Yummy centennial cake was served to all park visitors.
Yummy centennial cake was served to all park visitors.

Everybody enjoyed a small slice of birthday cake!

04 Statue of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo overlooks the ocean.
Statue of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo overlooks the ocean.

Here’s the iconic statue of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, the Portuguese explorer who sailed into San Diego Bay on behalf of Spain nearly five hundred years ago. It stands not far from the Visitor Center overlooking both the bay and Pacific Ocean.

05 Park sign shows where Cabrillo entered San Diego Bay in 1542.
Park sign shows where Cabrillo entered San Diego Bay in 1542.
06 Distant view of Cabrillo statue and Coronado Island.
Distant view of Cabrillo statue and Coronado Island.

As I walked up the hill to observe a reenacted air raid drill from World War II, I looked back at this beautiful view. Great views can be had at Cabrillo National Monument looking in almost any direction!

07 Tents of Army camp set up as historical reenactment.
Tents of Army camp set up as historical reenactment.

These tents and some nearby vehicles were on display for the centennial. During World War II, after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, many feared an attack on San Diego. So defenses were quickly erected. In addition to a number of observation bunkers, a few gun emplacements were situated along the end of Point Loma to defend the mainland and bay.

A small museum nearby includes many photographs, recordings and artifacts from that period in San Diego’s history.

08 Mock air raid drill recalls duties during World War II.
Mock air raid drill recalls duties during World War II.

At eleven o’clock, a mock air raid was staged! An aircraft from nearby Naval Air Station North Island swept over the bluffs as World War II veterans and enthusiasts looked on from the hilltop near some old bunkers.

09 Visitors head down into Battery E bunker where a watch was kept during World War II.
Visitors head into Battery E bunker used during World War II.

After the air raid, we all took turns going down into Battery E.

10 A look inside Battery E and equipment to sight enemy ships.
A look inside Battery E and equipment to sight enemy ships.

We were surprised at what we found! The flash of my camera illuminated the small semi-dark bunker, capturing this instrument used to scan the horizon for Japanese warships during World War II.

11 A chart inside the bunker identifies Japanese warships.
A chart inside the bunker identifies Japanese warships.

Down a nearby ladder was a second small room containing beds for those who stood watch at all hours.

12 People walk toward the old Cabrillo lighthouse.
People walk toward the old Cabrillo lighthouse.

A short distance from Battery E is the historic Old Point Loma Lighthouse. From 1855 to 1891 it stood as a beacon for those entering San Diego Bay, before being replaced by an automated lighthouse down near the water. This old lighthouse is one of San Diego’s most well-known sights!

13 A small museum by the lighthouse includes the original Fresnel lens.
A museum by the old lighthouse includes the first Fresnel lens to be used by the automated New Point Loma Lighthouse.

A small museum near the lighthouse’s entrance is worth a quick look. It includes an amazing Fresnel lens that magnified light to help sailors out at sea.

14 The front of the historic lighthouse and the large rainwater basin.
Front of the historic lighthouse and its large rainwater basin.

A large flat area in front of the lighthouse was used by the keeper and his family to capture rainwater. Back then this lighthouse stood isolated, far from the small town across the water that grew into metropolitan San Diego.

15 Recreated family room in Cabrillo lighthouse includes a Christmas tree.
Recreated family room in Cabrillo lighthouse includes Christmas tree.

Several furnished rooms in the lighthouse are on display behind glass. Very little space was available to accommodate the keeper and his family. In addition to this main room, there’s a kitchen area, closet, and two bedrooms up the winding stairs.

16 Looking down winding stairs from top of Cabrillo lighthouse.
Looking down winding stairs from top of Cabrillo lighthouse.

Speaking of the stairs, I couldn’t resist taking this pic!

17 Another view of Point Loma's historic old lighthouse.
Another view of Point Loma’s historic old lighthouse.

Another great look.

18 Grey whale sculpture near Pacific Ocean overlook.
Grey whale sculpture near Pacific Ocean overlook.

Interesting sculptures, artwork and signs can be found at the Pacific Ocean overlook. During the winter months, you can see gray whales spouting as they travel between the Arctic and Baja California.

19 A good place to spot migrating grey whales during the winter months.
A good place to spot migrating gray whales during the winter months.

You can see where the tidepools are below. I didn’t go down to the water on this trip, but it’s a fun place to see all sorts of sea creatures!

20 Walking down to Bayside Trail and folks who will talk about history.
Walking down to Bayside Trail and folks who will talk about history.

At noon there was a guided hike down the Bayside Trail. We walked down a short road to the trailhead, where an old military truck waited with some folks dressed in historic uniforms. They would show us some interesting stuff down the trail.

21 A group walks down the Cabrillo Bayside Trail on a beautiful December day.
Group walks down Cabrillo Bayside Trail on a December day.

Here we go down the Bayside Trail. The lady park ranger showed us a large number of native plants, including Coastal Sage, Lemonade Berry, Prickly Pear and more. The flora you see here is what is natural to the area. San Diego is located in a semi-arid zone, with very little precipitation. Most of the trees and other plants you see around town are not native.

22 Talking about a spotlight that protected San Diego Bay during World War II.
A spotlight protected San Diego Bay during World War II.

We’ve come to a small structure built into the hillside that houses an old electric spotlight. The huge lamp was used to watch the San Diego Bay’s entrance during World War II. It rolled out on a pair of tracks and plugged into an outlet that you can see by the trail.

23 Inside the small structure we look at the huge wartime spotlight.
Inside the small structure we look at the huge wartime spotlight.

My camera’s flash brightly illuminated the old spotlight inside.

24 Further down the trail is the spotlight's generator building.
Further down the trail is the spotlight’s generator building.

Now we’ve walked down to the electrical generator building–really just two small empty rooms. Usually these structures are closed to the public.

25 Rounding a corner of the sandstone cliff San Diego comes into view.
Rounding a corner of the sandstone cliff San Diego comes into view.

The group turned back, but I walked on…

26 America's Cup boat Abracadabra sails down the San Diego channel.
America’s Cup boat Abracadabra sails down the San Diego channel.

And I was rewarded with this view. Having lived in San Diego a good many years, I recognized the large sailboat leaving San Diego Bay. It’s the Abracadabra, a boat used in a past America’s Cup. I also spotted the Stars and Stripes, just out of this picture.

Beyond downtown San Diego I could see numerous mountains, from Cuyamaca on down to Otay. When it snows in the mountains, San Diego has a snow-capped backdrop viewed from here!

27 One last fond look at the beautiful Cabrillo National Monument lighthouse.
One last fond look at the beautiful Cabrillo National Monument lighthouse.

One last look!

Lots of Balboa Park December Nights photos!

Here comes a batch of photos taken Friday afternoon and early evening at 2013 December Nights.  If you haven’t been to Balboa Park’s massive holiday festival, you’re really missing out.  Hundreds of thousands of people turn out during the two day event, enjoying colorful lights, decorations, music, Christmas carols, food, entertainment, and just a whole bunch of fun.  Every corner of the park is crammed with stuff to see and do.  And it seems half of San Diego comes out to experience it all!

Some might recall that December Nights was once called Christmas on the Prado.  Fortunately, the event is as joyful, bright, inspirational and heart-warming as ever.  And the crowds seem bigger than ever!

Vendors set up festive booths in courtyard in front of the Museum of Man.
Vendors set up festive booths in courtyard in front of the Museum of Man.
Front of the Old Globe Theatre features a banner of the Dr. Seuss Grinch.
Front of the Old Globe Theatre features a banner of the Dr. Seuss Grinch.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas holiday tree in Balboa Park's theatre complex.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas holiday tree in theatre complex.
Getting ready for the evening crowds in Balboa Park's central plaza on Friday afternoon of December Nights.
Getting ready for crowds in Balboa Park’s central plaza on Friday afternoon.
Funnel cakes, lemonade and kettle corn for the holidays!
Funnel cakes, lemonade and kettle corn for the holidays!
December Nights crowd grows in Spanish Village by late afternoon.
December Nights crowd grows in Spanish Village by late afternoon.
Santa awaits beyond colorful decorations in Spanish Village.
Santa awaits beyond colorful decorations in Spanish Village.
An enormous Christmas tree decorates the stage of the Spreckels Organ Pavilion.
Enormous Christmas tree decorates the stage of the Spreckels Organ Pavilion.
One nativity scene in the large creche at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion.
One nativity scene in the large creche at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion.
Tijuana school kids dressed as vaqueros and angels wait to perform at December Nights.
Tijuana school kids dressed as vaqueros and angels wait to perform.
Children perform in front of big Christmas tree on Spreckels Organ Pavilion stage.
Children perform by big Christmas tree on Spreckels Organ Pavilion stage.
The December Nights fun zone rides will become more active after dark.
The December Nights fun zone rides will become more active after dark.
This guy's shirt wishes everyone a Merry Solstice.
This guy’s shirt wishes everyone a Merry Solstice.
Food and yummy smells can be found all over Balboa Park.
Food and yummy smells can be found all over Balboa Park.
Sunset nears and the tower atop the San Diego Junior Theatre building turns gold.
Sunset nears and the tower atop San Diego Junior Theatre building turns gold.
A December day fades above Balboa Park and the clouds are tinged with color.
A December day fades above Balboa Park and the clouds are tinged with color.
Now the evening crowd is really growing at December Nights!
Now the evening crowd is really growing at December Nights!
Glee Club of Australia kids sing and dance in Spreckels Organ Pavilion.
Glee Club of Australia kids sing and dance in Spreckels Organ Pavilion.
One of several Santas in Balboa Park.
One of several Santas in Balboa Park.
San Diego Junior Theatre kids sing Christmas carols.
San Diego Junior Theatre kids sing Christmas carols.
Balboa Park Miniature Train in front of San Diego Zoo lit up with Christmas lights.
Balboa Park Miniature Train in front of San Diego Zoo lit with Christmas lights.
Balboa Park fountain and Natural History Museum illuminated for December Nights.
Balboa Park fountain and Natural History Museum lit up for December Nights.

Restored Wildcat fighter lifted onto USS Midway.

Wildcat fighter plane arrives at Navy Pier.
Wildcat fighter plane arrives at Navy Pier.

Every so often a new plane is added to the Midway Museum collection.  The historic aircraft carrier USS Midway, active from 1945 to 1992, now has a couple dozen restored airplanes among its exhibits.  Today the latest addition was hoisted up onto the dockside elevator by crane from the pier below!  I was there to snap a few cool pics!

The last time I saw an airplane brought over from North Island, where the restorations take place, it was by barge.  So I was surprised this time when a plane arrived on the back of a truck.  This F4F Wildcat is a specimen  of the small carrier-based fighter that helped to win the Battle of Midway during World War II.  This particular plane was salvaged from the bottom of Lake Michigan.  Restoration in a special hangar at Naval Air Station North Island, across San Diego Bay, took three years.  You’ll notice the wings are missing from the fuselage.  They came in on a second truck!

The first photo shows the Wildcat arriving on the opposite side of Navy pier.

Historic airplane transported by truck to USS Midway.
Historic airplane transported by truck to USS Midway.

The truck has pulled alongside USS Midway’s dockside elevator, which is lowered and ready to receive the new exhibit.

Preparing to lift Wildcat onto USS Midway's elevator.
Preparing to lift Wildcat onto USS Midway’s elevator.

A small crane waits off to the left to lift the airplane.  Here we see some preliminary preparations.

Crane begins to lift F4F Wildcat onto USS Midway.
Crane begins to lift F4F Wildcat onto USS Midway.

Up it goes!  Everybody was extremely careful that no mishaps occurred!

Aircraft is placed on USS Midway while people watch from flight deck.
Aircraft is placed on USS Midway while people watch from flight deck.

And finally the F4F Wildcat is aboard its new home!  This plane will be part of a three dimensional theater exhibit called Battle of Midway Experience.  I can’t wait to see it!

Surfing Santa arrives by flying a water jetpack!

here comes santa claus with a water jetpack

Wow! Santa returned to San Diego in grand fashion! He’s making his big entrance over the bay using a water jetpack! Here he comes! A huge crowd on the pier just north of Seaport Village was watching with excitement this Saturday afternoon!

Wait! That’s not just a regular, ordinary, everyday daredevil Santa Claus, but the one and only Seaport Village Surfing Santa!

santa is flying high on two jets of water

Surfing Santa rises high above the awestruck crowd to wave and wish everyone a Merry Christmas! Where’s his sack of presents?

santa whirls about in a circle above the bay

Now he’s just showing off. The jolly old guy is jetting about in a circle like a certified maniac with a ridiculously huge beard. The fish below are probably frightened out of their wits. The first time I saw Santa, I was a bit spooked, too.

an elf anxiously awaits surfing santa's arrival

This happy elf and Mrs. Claus patiently awaited old Saint Nick on the pier with a huge throng of onlookers. The reindeer must be taking the weekend off.

surfing santa walks down the pier for his reception

Here he is, larger than life! Surfing Santa! He’s boarded the pier and is making his way to Seaport Village to conduct his usual Santa Claus business.

santa boards pedicab sleigh at seaport village

After boarding a pedicab sleigh, Surfing Santa parades down the bayside walkway while people munching pizza look on in joy and disbelief.

Spreckels Organ Scholarship recipients play!

spreckels organ society volunteer at concert

This Sunday afternoon’s free concert at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion featured two of this year’s Spreckels Organ Scholarship winners! The scholarship is provided by the Spreckels Organ Society to promising young organists. Both young ladies who played were terrific!

This photo was taken as I entered the pavilion. Lots of folks were out and about on this beautiful sunny day, and a fair number of people were enjoying the music on the benches.

trinity schulz speaks at spreckels organ concert

Here’s a pic of Trinity Schulz speaking to the crowd. She then went on to play “How Firm a Foundation”.

suzy webster plays at spreckels organ pavilion

This pic shows Suzy Webster. She played a fun “Chopsticks for Organ”, and then Prelude and Fugue in C Minor, by J.S. Bach.

Greenpeace’s Rainbow Warrior visits San Diego.

greenpeace rainbow warrior with free the arctic banner

This afternoon, during my Sunday walk, I was surprised to see the Rainbow Warrior, the well-known ship of the activist group Greenpeace, docked down on the Embarcadero.  It seems they were visiting San Diego, and loads of people were streaming onto the ship for tours.  I had my camera with me so I snapped some pics.

This first photo shows the bow of the ship.  A banner proclaims Free The Arctic.

visitors board the greenpeace rainbow warrior ship

Look at all the folks in line!  I saw lots of young idealists with clipboards and older hipsters in line.  Several signs and displays were set up on the walkway promoting the Greenpeace mission.

ocean safe tuna now banner between masts of rainbow warrior

Strung between the masts was a transparent banner reading OCEAN SAFE TUNA NOW.  It was so large that it was visible several blocks away.

World’s oldest active sailing ship ready to go!

ready to board the star of india for yearly sail

Today a 150 year old tall ship was spotted sailing in the wide Pacific Ocean off Point Loma, just beyond the historic lighthouse! Was it a ghost from the past?  How is it possible?

It’s possible because San Diego’s own Star of India, the oldest active sailing ship in the world, departed from the dock today for its yearly sail!

I thought about buying a ticket for the historic event, but unfortunately I’m feeling a bit under the weather. This morning I did manage to amble down to the Embarcadero to watch and take some photos of the colorful preparations that are required for the beautiful ship to get underway.

In the first pic, you can see Maritime Museum members and some passengers gathered, getting ready to board or lend a hand.

star of india gets ready to sail

The guy hanging from some ropes just finished decoupling electrical and other lines from the black wrought iron hull of the docked ship.

climbing into the rigging of the star of india

Volunteers carefully climb up into the rigging to get everything ready for the sail!

volunteers work at end of yard arm

Some hardy folks were already up on the yard arms working at the rigging. Once the Star of India is pulled out of San Diego Bay, the sails are unfurled and the tall ship is completely free to run before the wind!

volunteer disengages ramp

After a bit of work, the ramp was finally disengaged from the ship and pulled backward onto the sidewalk.

volunteers prepare to release star of india rope

One by one the ropes holding the Star of India to the Embarcadero were cast off.

tugboat ready to pull star of india to sea

Here’s one of the two tugboats, ready to tow San Diego’s pride and joy out of the harbor. The classic figurehead of the Star will soon be facing the open sea!

star of india pulls away from the dock

Pulling away from the dock… A pair of museum volunteers look on wistfully…

star of india is tugged out of san diego harbor

The lady heads out into the bay’s deep channel… Aircraft hangars at Naval Air Station North Island can be seen on the left. Point Loma stretches in the background.

Definitely very cool!