Finishing a 19th century quilt in Old Town.

Today, when I stepped into Threads of the Past in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, I found several ladies working on quilts. One beautiful quilt in particular was spread out before them, and on top of it was a small very old photograph showing two sisters from a century ago.

I asked a question or two and jotted a few quick notes. I didn’t really achieve a perfect understanding, and some of what I’m about to write might be incorrect!

I believe the spread quilt and another folded beside it had been pieced in the late 19th century by two sisters, Gertrude and Mabel Raymond, who were school teachers in National City, and who are now buried in Greenwood Memorial Park. The old quilts had been found by a family in their attic, and brought to Threads of the Past to be completed.

One of the quilters I spoke to was working on a modern “Sanitary Commission” quilt, which will be auctioned off on the Fourth of July. The fabric squares were designed by local school children. (You can glimpse a bit of their artwork in the second-to-last photograph.) I learned that there are only six authentic United States Sanitary Commission quilts from the Civil War known to exist, and was told that if you see those words on an old quilt at a rummage sale or swap meet, buy it!

Walk into Threads of the Past and not only will you see historic quilts hanging on the walls, but you’ll learn something new about that big colorful quilt known as History, and you might find skilled quilters working to preserve it!

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!

Making beautiful candles in Old Town.

Today I watched as a father and his son made beautiful candles in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.

The father, Paul, is the owner of Toby’s Candle and Soap Shop. His son is a super friendly young man named KC.

This talented family has been making candles by hand for three generations. I learned their business has been operating for about 38 years (including a period at Knott’s Berry Farm) and has been located in Old Town now for about 24 years.

For a few minutes I watched as Paul used a special carving tool to cut and curl back soft wax as he made an elaborate, very beautiful, multicolored candle. He told me he had about 8 minutes to complete the task, before the wax cooled and hardened. After carving a well at the top of the candle, he dipped his finished creation in clear wax, then a hard glaze.

Sometimes he’ll add shells or figurines to these decorative candles, to make them even more fantastic. I also learned that these fancy many-layered candles, which begin modestly as a solid mold, can take anywhere from 6 to 10 hours to create!

Outside the shop, tourists and curious passersby were watching KC dip taper candles. He’d dip each group of wicks, which are suspended vertically in a circle, about 30 to 35 times, depending on the outdoor temperature. He was careful not to leave the forming candles in the hot wax for too long. After the candles grew in girth to the correct size, he removed the excess wax for future use, and used scissors to cut the candles free, as you can see in my last photo!

Toby’s Candle and Soap Shop is located in the historically and architecturally important Sessions Building, which was designed by renowned San Diego architect Richard Requa. Learn more about it here!

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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!

Colorful photos of Escondido Tamale Festival!

Here are a few colorful photos taken today during the Escondido Tamale Festival!

This very popular free event is held every year in Grape Day Park, right next to Escondido City Hall and the California Center for the Arts. Tamale making champions from around the region come together to compete for a prized trophy!

A crowd of tamale lovers had lined up on the grass anticipating a treat, and many were at outdoor tables feasting.

There were mariachis and other entertainers performing on the Grande Stage, a big kids zone, and all sorts of vendors. I noticed a few people were dressed up for Día De Los Muertos.

Because I walked about in a zigzag, looking at a wide variety of things in and around the park, I missed the Chihuahua Costume Contest and some cool lowriders that were parked nearby.

Maybe next year!

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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!

Fun photos of CicloSDias San Diego!

This afternoon I checked out CicloSDias San Diego!

During this popular annual event, several streets are closed to cars in North Park, Normal Heights, Kensington and City Heights so that bicyclists, skaters, scooters and walkers can explore these neighborhoods and enjoy a fun day without dodging automobiles.

The main purpose of CicloSDias, which is supported by a variety of organizations, is to promote bicycling as an urban transportation alternative.

Lots of families were out for a Sunday ride, and some of the participants wore costumes. (Yes, it’s almost Halloween!) There were easily thousands of people participating in or watching the colorful activity.

Bands were playing along the streets, people were proudly showing off their decorated and custom bikes, and hundreds of bicycles were parked in front of sidewalk cafes.

I walked north up 30th Street from El Cajon Boulevard, where some people were playing bike polo, then turned east at Adams Avenue. After passing the Kensington landmark sign, I headed back west.

Here come the photos!

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!

Positive messages observed during one walk.

Long Live the Creatives.
Long Live the Creatives.

During my early morning walk through Little Italy, I observed all sorts of positive messages–in windows, on tiles, on banners and signs. Many of these messages concern creativity, one of my favorite topics!

To lovers of beer, one of the following photos contains a VERY positive message!

Creativity in one window.
Creativity in a window.
Little Italy San Diego Celebrates Italian Heritage Month and the contributions Italians have made to the world.
Little Italy San Diego Celebrates Italian Heritage Month and the contributions Italians have made to the world.
Candido Jacuzzi, inventor.
Candido Jacuzzi, inventor.
Our destiny is together I pray you so select. Let's find the strength for the family we do protect.
Our destiny is together I pray you so select. Let’s find the strength for the family we do protect.
TRUCKLOAD OF BEER.
TRUCKLOAD OF BEER.
I am bright-eyed. I am connected. I am love...
I am bright-eyed. I am connected. I am love…
What's Your Love Story-
What’s Your Love Story?
Lux, Veritas . . . Light, Truth.
Lux, Veritas . . . Light, Truth.

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!

Model ship builders restore family heirlooms!

Is there an old model ship in your attic? Perhaps a treasured family heirloom? Is it falling to pieces or in a terrible tangle? Would you like to restore it?

Today, during a visit to the Maritime Museum of San Diego, I learned of a group of dedicated model ship builders who are busy repairing and restoring old model ships!

The members of the San Diego Ship Modelers Guild love their hobby and hold regular meetings aboard the Maritime Museum ship Berkeley. I happened to be walking around the museum today before one of their evening meetings. I struck up a conversation with Guild Master James Pitt and was fascinated as he told me about various aspects of model ship building.

The San Diego Ship Modelers Guild, which was formed in 1971, has dozens of members hailing from all around Southern California and even Arizona. They have partnered with the Maritime Museum of San Diego, and guild members can often be seen working in the museum’s specially equipped Model Makers Workshop.

What interested me most was how the modeler’s guild has been repairing and restoring an increasing number of model ships of late. Many are family heirlooms passed down from previous generations, and are treasured for the memories and special meaning they embody.

If you have any sort of model ship that needs expert repair, check out the San Diego Ship Modelers Guild website by clicking here! Send them an email! I met a couple of the members and all were really nice guys!

I took some photos of a display for today’s meeting. You can see examples of model ships that have undergone restoration.

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!