Photos of Mother’s Day in Balboa Park!

If there’s one place in San Diego that seems to be made for Mother’s Day, it’s Balboa Park.

I took these photographs today during my usual Sunday amble through the park.

Spring flowers were everywhere. The warm air seemed to shimmer with music.

Out enjoying their special day were many Moms with loved ones.

Smiles were plentiful.

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!

La Mesa Community Garden coming to MacArthur Park!

A community garden is coming to La Mesa!

I was walking through La Mesa’s spacious MacArthur park on Sunday when I saw a sign announcing the La Mesa Community Garden. So I directed my feet that way!

The garden, located off Memorial Drive near the La Mesa Municipal Pool, will be a place where local residents can grow their own healthy food and connect with nature and each other. The garden’s small building, which used to be the clubhouse of the now defunct Sun Valley Golf Course, features fun artwork and nearby picnic tables. The community garden occupies the old golf course’s putting green.

If you happen to live in La Mesa, you might want to check out the information contained in a couple of the upcoming photographs!

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!

Bike to Explore the Shore in April!

Bicyclists are encouraged to Explore the Shore during the month of April!

As I walked along the Embarcadero today, I saw an interesting sign just south of the USS Midway Museum.

Residents are being urged by Circulate San Diego to bike the Bayshore Bikeway, which circles San Diego Bay. The sign explains: “The Bayshore Bikeway is a 24-mile bicycle circuit with 13 miles of car-free bicycle paths and a number of scenic points.”

The route leads from downtown San Diego through Barrio Logan, National City, Chula Vista, Imperial Beach, the Silver Strand and Coronado. To return to downtown San Diego from Coronado, people can transport their bikes on the Coronado Ferry.

Of course, you can also ride in the opposite direction!

I took some photos of the sign, but to see a better, easier to read interactive Google map of the Bayshore Bikeway, click here.

Check this out! When you ride the Bayshore Bikeway through Chula Vista, you’ll see a series of amazing, huge outdoor murals that almost nobody else can see!

Or you can click here and see them right now!

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 new memories in Balboa Park.

Another easy Sunday in Balboa Park. Creating new memories. Remembering good times.

Another sunny day with more ice cream, more music, more people laughing and smiling.

I recognized some people in the park I hadn’t seen in years. I saw Fast Heart Mart playing his banjo. I saw Brandon riding his big-wheeled penny-farthing.

I observed how memories are now being made in the new Pan American Plaza in Balboa Park’s Palisades area, where tables welcome families and roller skating has become popular.

Every visit to Balboa Park is unique.

And to think another Spring will soon be 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!

Sliding through an enormous bunch of grapes!

I’ve seen people stomping on grapes. Now I’ve observed people happily sliding through them!

That’s because a while back I found myself near the Grape Day Park playground in Escondido. As I walked around taking photographs, I saw a couple of kids descending the Vinehenge slide!

Vinehenge was created by artists Valerie Salatino and Nancy Moran in 2004. It’s a very fun part of the City of Escondido’s public art collection!

According to a nearby information sign, city leaders launched the Grape Day Festival back in 1906. “Thousands of visitors, brought in by the Santa Fe Railroad, enjoyed free grapes, danced, socialized, and engaged in other festivities on these grounds.” Today a very wonderful Grape Day Park features the Escondido History Center Museum Complex, which I blogged about over a year ago here.

Check out these fun pics of Vinehenge and its unique grape slide!

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!

Two short stories about Christmas.

A bit later, Santa and Mrs. Claus read The Night Before Christmas to gathered children and the young-at-heart.

Would you like to read two very short stories about Christmas?

Both works of fiction might touch your heart.

The first short story is titled A Wise Man. It concerns how we all can become jaded over the years, and how one seemingly ordinary moment can renew our appreciation of life’s preciousness and beauty. Read it here.

The second short story is titled An Encounter With Santa Claus. It’s about the spirit of Christmas. About unselfishness, not rampant materialism. Read it here.

Fun photos from Social Distance Santa!

Social Distance Santa waves at passing cars during 2020 Taste of December Nights. Photo courtesy Bill Swank.

Santa Claus sent me a batch of fun photos!

Every year Santa travels down from the North Pole to greet the young at heart in Balboa Park during December Nights.

In 2020 the holiday event, however, turned into a socially-distanced Taste of December Nights. Families drove through Balboa Park’s Inspiration Point parking lot to partake of the offerings of food trucks. Everyone stayed in their car. Santa waved as they passed. During this year’s very serious, very contagious COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic we all are advised to avoid mingling.

Because a visiting Santa Claus wanted to provide a good example, he renamed himself Social Distance Santa. And his elves constructed a special six-foot ruler!

Bill Swank ordinarily greets all comers as Santa Claus in the Spreckels Organ Pavilion during December Nights. He has been Santa since 2002. This rather unusual year he had to adapt, as you can see!

As San Diego’s preeminent baseball historian, Bill Swank also brought along a photo of Shoeless Joe Jackson wearing a mask during the 1918 Spanish Flu epidemic.

Santa reports that he recognized many people that have visited him over the years, both young and old.

Fortunately, Santa Claus possesses strong magic. His smile beams directly through a face mask, and a friendly wave transmits his powerful love.

Social Distance Santa holds a six-foot ruler with a Balboa Park Ranger during Taste of December Nights. Photo courtesy Bill Swank.
San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer waved at Santa and Mrs. Claus from the first car to enter Taste of December Nights on December 4, 2020. Photo courtesy Bill Swank.
Social Distance Santa holding a picture of Shoeless Joe Jackson wearing a mask during the 1918 Spanish Flu epidemic. Photo courtesy Bill Swank.
Social Distance Santa cards were given to the first 500 cars each day during Taste of December Nights in Balboa Park. Santa’s Safety List is included.

This has been a challenging year for all of us, but Santa and the City of San Diego are thankful we can come together and celebrate in the special way with all of you!

If you want to learn more about the history of Christmas in San Diego and read a book concerning the subject written by Bill Swank, click 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!

Bronze wildlife sculptures at Viejas outlet mall.

Many realistic bronze sculptures representing regional wildlife can be found all around the Viejas Outlet Center in Alpine, California. This unique shopping mall, filled with beautiful artwork inspired by Native American Kumeyaay life and culture, is operated by the Viejas Group of Capitan Grande Band of Mission Indians of the Viejas Reservation.

The wildlife sculptures are found throughout the mall, among trees, on pedestrian walkways, even lurking atop artificial rocks and waterfalls. Families turning corners might encounter a bear, mule deer, mountain lions, a rattlesnake, coyote, river otter, Canada geese, and even desert bighorn sheep. Adult animals are often accompanied by their young. The bronze sculptures depict the animals interacting with each other naturally in their small realistic settings.

The wildlife sculptures were created by award-winning El Cajon artist Robert G. Berry, who began as a taxidermist before turning animal sculptor. His work can also be enjoyed at the San Diego Zoo, Cypress Gardens in Tampa, Florida, and at the Mission Trails Regional Park Visitor and Interpretive Center, which is also in San Diego. To see a few examples of his half dozen bronze sculptures at Mission Trails, click here!

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Holiday scenes in Balboa Park before the lockdown.

Tomorrow another “stay at home” order goes into effect in Southern California. It’s late 2020, the year of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Today many people were enjoying Balboa Park one last time before the lockdown. As I walked through the park this afternoon, I saw a few holiday decorations, but nothing like you’d see during an ordinary year.

A few visitors were dressed for the occasion–I even saw Santa Grinch skating about in the Plaza de Panama! I also saw good old Santa wearing a face mask driving his sleigh between the plaza and Organ Pavilion; a big Santa Bear at the Japanese Friendship Garden; and lights, Christmas trees and ornaments in the Spanish Village Art Center.

I also walked past the Taste of December Nights event in the large Inspiration Point parking lots. All I saw were lines of cars pulled up to a couple dozen food trucks.

Speaking of trucks, see those two photos of a red vehicle parked in front of the San Diego Automotive Museum? That very cool old 1922 Mack Water Truck has returned to its old spot after a long restoration. I wrote a little about this antique water truck on my now dormant blog Beautiful Balboa Park. Read more about it here!

Even though everyone in San Diego is encouraged to exercise outdoors, now that we’re entering a stay-at-home period, my walking adventures might become less frequent for the time being. Fortunately, I have lots of interesting photos still in my computer, so stay tuned for many more surprising blog posts!

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!

Holidays arrive at Escondido’s old train depot!

I returned to Escondido yesterday because I wanted to check out an extraordinary mural I’d been told about. During my visit I walked around Grape Day Park, and admired the many holiday decorations that are part of the California Center for the Arts’ outdoor Northern Lights event every evening.

During my daytime stroll through the park, I saw strung lights and Christmas displays and suspended snowflakes and reindeer on the grass that would certainly be very beautiful at night. But my most favorite thing–probably because I like trains–was the historic Escondido Santa Fe Depot and its nearby Pullman Car #92. The holiday decorations at the old railroad station were very unique!

As you can read on one sign that I photographed, the 1888 depot in its heyday “was the nerve center of Escondido, a scene of commercial activity and a social gathering place…The Escondido History Center moved the Santa Fe Depot to Grape Day Park in 1984…”

While the wonderful old train station might no longer be a center for much commercial activity, it definitely remains a social gathering place when the lights come on during the holiday season!

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!