Cool sand sculptures at Sun and Sea Festival!

2014 Imperial Beach Sun and Sea sandcastle greets visitors.
2014 Imperial Beach Sun and Sea sandcastle greets visitors.

I had to take one more trip to Imperial Beach this summer because of another big, fun event by the pier. Today was the 2014 Sun and Sea Festival! The event replaces the U.S. Open Sandcastle Competition which came to an end back in 2011.

Master sandcastle builders who have won many international awards converged to demonstrate their craft and compete for top honors just north of the Imperial Beach pier. When I arrived, the creations were roughly half done. So I got a bunch of interesting photos of the artists in action!

Featured sand sculpture built by Kirk Rademaker of Sand Masters.
Featured sand sculpture built by Kirk Rademaker of Sand Masters.

This centerpiece sandcastle stood near the foot of the pier, adjacent to busy vendor tents, and a variety of other fun activities.

Crowd watches master sand sculptors creating fantastic works of art.
Crowd watches master sand sculptors creating fantastic works of art.

Looking north from the pier toward the field of action.

Teams north of Imperial Beach pier works on a detailed creations.
Teams north of Imperial Beach pier work on detailed creations.
Plastic fork with two tines removed is used to create stonework detail.
Plastic fork with two tines removed is used to create stonework detail.
Patience, planning and creativity on a Southern California beach!
Patience, planning and creativity on a Southern California beach!
Sand creations are sprinkled with water to prevent disintegration.
Sand creations are sprinkled with water to prevent disintegration.
Tall structure looks like an exaggerated Eiffel Tower.
Tall structure looks like an exaggerated Eiffel Tower.
Sand head props up photos used to model more amazing creations.
Sand head props up photos used to model  rat from Ratatouille.
One unique sand sculpture was all about dogs.
One unique sand sculpture was all about dogs.
A dog has its day at Camp Run a Mutt.
A beach dog has its day at Camp Run a Mutt.
A castle with tall spires in the Imperial Beach competition.
A castle with tall spires in the Imperial Beach competition.
The 2014 Sun and Sea Festival attracted many onlookers.
The 2014 Sun and Sea Festival attracted many onlookers.
Brushes are often used to smooth and contour the sand.
Brushes are often used to smooth and contour the sand.
Water and sand are mixed to form raw material.
Water and sand are mixed to form raw building material.
Close look at some detailed work getting started.
Close look at some detailed work getting started.
Artist works on a tire of a Transformers sand sculpture.
Artist works on a tire of a Transformers sand sculpture.

Unfortunately, the Transformers sculpture wasn’t too far along, so I couldn’t get more interesting pics.

I think this is an octopus.
I think this is an octopus.
Huge, complex sand sculpture with many team members working.
Huge, complex sand sculpture with many team members working.
Now and Then is the theme of this sculpture.
Now and Then is the theme of this sculpture.
Long straight edge turns a broad swath of level sand into a boardwalk.
Long straight edge turns a broad swath of level sand into a boardwalk.
I like how quaint this sandcastle appears!
I like how quaint this sandcastle appears!
The Sand Squirrels was one team competing at the festival.
The Sand Squirrels was one team competing at the festival.
Rocket's engine of the Futurama sand sculpture.
Rocket’s engine of the funny Futurama sand sculpture.
Robot appears to be doing some sun bathing!
Robot appears to be doing some sun bathing!
Super cool locomotive sand sculpture near the IB pier.
Super cool locomotive sand sculpture near the IB pier.
I liked this huge underground sand train most of all!
I liked this huge underground sand train most of all!
Everybody is watching the teams build their sand creations!
Everybody is watching the pros build their sand creations!
Kids on the pier's other side build castles, too!
Kids on the pier’s other side build castles, too!

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Art adds life beside the ocean in Imperial Beach.

Ocean Riders bronze sculpture by Wyland has three dolphins.
Ocean Riders bronze sculpture by Wyland has three dolphins.

Imperial Beach is in many ways a typical Southern California beach community. The Pacific Ocean and surfing are dominant themes. You see it in the local culture; you see it just about everywhere you turn.

The above photo is of a very cool sculpture just steps from the beach, in Imperial Beach’s Dunes Park. Ocean Riders, dedicated in 1996, was created by Wyland, a famous environmental artist who is known worldwide for his graceful depictions of marine animals.

Utility box on Seacoast Drive shows girl playing in the sand.
Utility box on Seacoast Drive shows girl playing in the sand.
Sea and Sky sculpture by Ken Smith.
Sea and Sky sculpture by Ken Smith.

The above sculpture can be found adjacent to the beach a short distance north of the Imperial Beach pier.¬† In 2009, it was part of an Urban Trees exhibition along San Diego’s Embarcadero.

Fantastic mermaid and shark street mural in Imperial Beach.
Fantastic mermaid and shark street mural in Imperial Beach.

This mural represents typical Imperial Beach street art. I found this on the side of a building on Palm Avenue.

Surfboard sculpture in outdoor museum.
Surfboard sculpture in outdoor museum.

You see in this pic one of 26 surfboard sculptures placed along Palm Avenue between Third Street and Seacoast Drive. They belong to The Imperial Beach Outdoor Surfboard Museum and represent the history of surfboard design dating from ancient times to 1985.

Shiny metal sculpture of abstract surfer on Palm Avenue.
Shiny metal sculpture of abstract surfer on Palm Avenue.
Cool surfboard rack on a bicycle near the beach!
Cool surfboard rack on a bicycle near the beach!

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Dog athletes surf big waves at Imperial Beach!

Dogs and their human pals arrive at the big surfing competition.
Dogs and their human pals arrive at the big surfing competition.

I’d never seen a dog surf in my entire life. Not until today.

Now I’ve seen a whole pack of dogs surfing.

Yes, I have to admit it. I couldn’t resist heading down to the big Surfdog event at Imperial Beach today. This year it was sponsored by Unleashed by Petco. In the past it was called Loews Coronado Bay Surf Dog Competition.

What? Some of you have never seen a dog athlete mount a surfboard and skillfully ride mighty ocean breakers?

Seeing is believing…

It's the epic Surfdog event everyone has waited for!
It’s the epic Surfdog summer event everyone has waited for!
Finishing touches put on a sand sculpture at Imperial Beach.
Finishing touches are put on a sand sculpture at Imperial Beach.
This dog can hardly wait to watch the intense action!
This dog can hardly wait to watch the intense animal action!
Information boards outline the various heats in the surf contest.
Information boards outline the various heats in the big surf contest.
Announcer readies for incredible pooch performances.
Announcer readies for some incredible pooch performances.
The VIP section fills and so does the beach and pier.
The VIP section fills and so does the beach and pier.
Dogs and non-dogs at water's edge have a great spot to watch.
Dogs and non-dogs at water’s edge have a great place to watch.
These guys want a great spot on the pier to view the action.
These guys want a great spot on the pier to view the action.
Everyone is ready for the first freestyle heat!
Everyone is ready for the first exciting freestyle heat!
This fellow doesn't seem to know what's going on.
This little fellow doesn’t seem to know what’s going on.
Surfing contestants mount their surfboards waiting for the horn.
Surfing contestants mount their surfboards waiting for the starting horn.
The crowd favorite, a superstar, poses for my camera.
The crowd favorite, a genuine superstar, poses for my camera.
The horn blows and the first fifteen minute heat begins!
The horn blows and the first fifteen minute heat begins!
The crowd converges toward the water in disbelief.
The crowd converges on the ocean in disbelief.
One four-legged athlete is already out near the breakers.
One four-legged athlete is already out near the breakers.
Here come two canine athletes showing great form!
Here come two canine athletes showing great form!
Steady as she goes!
Steady as she goes!
Hot dogging it and hanging twenty!
Hot dogging it and hanging twenty!
Wow, those amazing surfers are absolutely inhuman!
Wow, those incredible, amazing surfers are absolutely inhuman!
Thousands enjoy Unleashed by Petco's surf dog event!
Thousands enjoy Unleashed by Petco’s surf dog event!

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El Camino Real bells around San Diego.

El Camino Real bell in front of California's first Spanish mission.
El Camino Real bell in front of California’s first Spanish mission.

Here are just a few random pics of El Camino Real bells around San Diego. During my walks, I’m often surprised to discover a new bell.

Many of these guidepost bells were placed in 1906 by the California Federation of Women’s Clubs. They marked the primitive roads that connected the old Spanish missions in California. El Camino Real, which means the Royal Road or King’s Highway in Spanish, led to 21 missions in Alta California, plus a variety of sub-missions, presidios and pueblos. The bells stand on tall posts in the shape of a shepherd’s crook. In subsequent years, bells have been removed or added to the California landscape.

Bell in front of Old Town's historic cemetery.
Bell in front of Old Town’s historic El Campo Santo cemetery.
Plaque explains history of the guidepost bells.
Plaque explains history of the guidepost bells.
El Camino Real bell spotted on Harbor Island.
El Camino Real bell spotted on Harbor Island.
El Camino Real bell by County Administration Building.
El Camino Real bell by the downtown County Administration Building.
Historic bell and palm trees in Imperial Beach.
Historic bell and palm trees in Imperial Beach.
I even found an El Camino Real bell near the Hotel del Coronado!
I found an El Camino Real bell near the Hotel del Coronado!
El Camino Real bell in Cesar Chavez Park in Barrio Logan.
El Camino Real bell in Cesar Chavez Park in Barrio Logan.
Plaque on Harbor Drive reveals nearby bell was donated by San Diego Woman's Club.
Plaque on Harbor Drive reveals that a nearby bell was donated by San Diego Woman’s Club.

 

El Camino Real bell on Martin Luther King Jr. Promenade by Children's Park.
El Camino Real bell on Martin Luther King Jr. Promenade by Children’s Park.

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Bibbey’s crazy, cool pop culture mural!

Bibbey's mural includes Finding Nemo and SpongeBob.
Bibbey’s mural includes Finding Nemo and SpongeBob.

Bibbey’s gift shop, which sells sea shells, rocks and other great stuff, is located across the street from the Imperial Beach pier. It’s hard to miss. The building is one big crazy mural! Check out the wild creativity which blends images from television, movies and the popular culture.

Cosmic ocean imagery in an Imperial Beach mural.
Cosmic ocean fantasy and an Imperial Beach mural.
Fierce octopus guards door of cool gift shop.
Fierce octopus guards door of cool gift shop.
A mermaid, the Lorax and other fun elements.
A sexy mermaid, the Lorax and other fun elements.
Kung Fu Panda and a surfing dragon!
Kung Fu Panda and a surfing dragon!
Madagascar penguins and Patrick.
Madagascar penguins and Patrick.
Someone enters Bibbey's gift shop.
Someone enters Bibbey’s gift shop.
Another great section of Bibbey's crazy mural.
Another great section of Bibbey’s crazy mural.
Shark spotted on wall of Imperial Beach building!
Shark spotted on wall of Imperial Beach building!

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The Spirit of Imperial Beach surfer sculpture.

Bronze surfer holds surfboard in Imperial Beach.
Bronze surfer holds surfboard in Imperial Beach.

A short walk north of the Imperial Beach pier takes you to this delightful sculpture. The Spirit of Imperial Beach is 18 feet high and incorporates many fun elements. The sandcastle at its base and the child with a pail recall the U.S. Open Sandcastle Competition, which used to be held yearly in Imperial Beach. (Several years ago the competition was replaced by the Sun and Sea Festival.)

Child rides a fish near the beach.
Child rides a fish near the beach.
Spirit of Imperial Beach by James A. Wasil.
Spirit of Imperial Beach by James A. Wasil.
Crabs, shells, fish, sandcastle and girl with a pail.
Crabs, shells, fish, sandcastle and girl with a pail.
Closer look at amazing detail.
Closer look at amazing detail.
Spirit of Imperial Beach sculpture is north of the pier.
Spirit of Imperial Beach sculpture is just north of the pier.

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Some cool pics of the Imperial Beach pier.

Abstract surfboards welcome people to Imperial Beach pier.
Abstract surfboards welcome people to Imperial Beach pier. This public art is titled Surfhenge, by local artist Malcolm Jones.

Imperial Beach lies south of downtown San Diego, at the extreme southwest corner of the continental United States. The Imperial Beach pier is just a few miles from Mexico. This beach community is a perfect example of laid-back southern California, mostly just locals kicking back, a smattering of tourists, and a good vibe all around. The days are sunny and people are friendly.

Come stroll with me toward the pier and let’s see what’s going on!

Colorful surfboard arches frame a pier visitor.
Colorful acrylic surfboard arches frame a pier visitor. Surfhenge was dedicated in 1999.
Lifeguard tower behind palm trees and flags.
Lifeguard tower behind palm trees and flags.
Benches near the pier are made of surfboards!
Benches near the pier are made of many different style surfboards, representing different eras of the sport.
Imperial Beach pier beckons from the sand.
Imperial Beach pier beckons from the sand.
A few people on the beach on a spring weekday morning.
A few people on the beach on a spring weekday morning.
Looking down the length of the Imperial Beach pier.
Looking down the length of the Imperial Beach pier.
Fisherman cuts bait at one of the public sinks.
Fisherman cuts bait at one of the public sinks.
Gazing down at the blue Pacific on a nice day.
Gazing down at the blue Pacific on a nice day.
Approaching the Tin Fish restaurant at the end of the pier.
Approaching the Tin Fish restaurant at the end of the pier.
Window of Tin Fish restaurant at end of Imperial Beach pier.
Window of Tin Fish restaurant at end of Imperial Beach pier.
Pier pilings rise from an emerald ocean.
Pier pilings rise from an emerald ocean.

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