Nesting cormorants above La Jolla Cove!

It must be breeding season already, because hundreds of Brandt’s cormorants are showing their blue throat patches and building nests on the cliffs above La Jolla Cove!

Today I stood and watched peculiar bird behaviors from the roadside above the cliffs. I saw amorous flirtations and angry squabbles and seaweed tug-of-wars. Cormorants in nests would occasionally angle their heads and wings way back, staring straight up. I’m not sure if that’s a natural behavior, or if they were merely gaping at all the tourists above them!

I tried to select my best photographs. In some the cormorants appear very beautiful; in others a bit strange and primitive–almost monstrous.

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!

Big surf at the La Jolla Tide Pools!

A sunny, very warm winter Sunday.

Big surf.

High tide.

A perfect combination for some dramatic photographs at the La Jolla Tide Pools!

Many others had gathered at viewpoints above the tidepools and at Cuvier Park to watch distant surfers catch some amazing waves, and to gasp as huge geysers of foaming water crashed against the offshore rocks and rugged sandstone cliffs!

La Jolla is indeed one of the most beautiful places anywhere.

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!

Trolley extension progress near UC San Diego.

If you’ve recently driven up Interstate 5 through University City, you’ve probably observed great progress has been made building the Mid-Coast Trolley extension.

Curving beside the freeway, crossing over it twice, in many places raised up high in the air, this new trolley line will connect Old Town with UC San Diego, the Westfield UTC mall, and a number of stations along the way. This northward trolley expansion is scheduled to open next year!

Most of the structures appear to be in place. I’ve noticed work crews are now stringing up electrical overhead lines. (An overhead wire is also called a catenary. This unusual word is an important clue that will help you solve the mysterious Alvarado trolley station riddle, which you can read here!)

This morning, at the end of a long walk through a quiet University City, I crossed over I-5 at Medical Center Drive and snapped photos of the Mid-Coast Trolley construction in both directions–south and north. My walk concluded at the Gilman Transit Center, a couple blocks farther west.

Looking south from the bridge you can see how the new trolley line curves past the VA Medical Center Hospital, where there will be a station. Another station beyond that, high above the freeway, will be located at Nobel Drive.

After I crossed the bridge, I turned my camera north to photograph the new Pepper Canyon at UCSD West trolley station. From there the line curves eastward, crosses the freeway at Voigt Drive, and will serve passengers boarding and disembarking at UCSD East near Scripps Memorial Hospital.

I’m looking forward to riding the Mid-Coast Trolley when it’s completed. Looks a little like a twisty amusement park ride. I bet the views will be great!

The following photos are looking south toward the Veterans Hospital…

The next three photos are looking northwest, into a small corner of UC San Diego…

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!

Sunset photos at Torrey Pines State Beach!

I took this series of beautiful photographs today during sunset at Torrey Pines State Beach.

Enjoy!

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!

Amazing views on La Jolla’s Coast Walk Trail.

The short but incredibly scenic Coast Walk Trail in La Jolla winds along the Pacific Ocean from the Cave Store on Coast Boulevard to Torrey Pines Road. You can find it by walking east up the hill from La Jolla Cove. Google Maps shows the trail.

Should your feet move down the Coast Walk, heading east, a short distance beyond rocky Goldfish Point, these photographs provide an idea of the breathtaking views you’ll likely experience…

We are the most perfect song.
The Coast Walk Trail follows the edge of high sandstone bluffs. It offers amazing views of the Pacific Ocean, La Jolla Shores and the more distant cliffs of Torrey Pines.
Sign asks those who walk by to help save this historic Coast Walk Trail.
Sections of the Coast Walk follow a white wooden fence.
Gazing back at the 200-foot high sandstone bluffs where we walked a few photos back. You can make out some of the seven different La Jolla Caves that can be visited from the ocean.
Kayakers gather in the distance off Goldfish Point not far from the watery entrance to famous Sunny Jim Cave.
A couple enjoys the view east, toward La Jolla Shores.
Several kayakers paddle across the ocean, just off the rocks down below!
Another photo back toward the 75 million years old eroded sandstone cliffs, the La Jolla Caves and Goldfish Point.
As I near the east end of the Coast Walk Trail, I find a perfect bench with an incredible view.
A very beautiful and inspiring place to be.
Waves curling in brush white foam across the deep blue.
In a few places, at the cliff’s edge, if you aren’t afraid of sheer drops and dizzying heights, you can look straight down and see underwater features!
An amazing view from the east end of the Coast Walk Trail in La Jolla.

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!

El Camino Real Bell at Torrey Pines.

After finishing my walk along North Torrey Pines Road last weekend, I waited for a bus at a stop near the north end of the Torrey Pines Golf Course and the south end of Torrey Pines State Reserve. For a while I watched groups of bicyclists fly past. Then I noticed that an El Camino Real Bell rose from the nearby sidewalk!

I’ve taken photographs of various historic El Camino Real Bells all around San Diego over the years. You can revisit a few of my sightings by clicking here.

As I explained in that blog post: “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.”

This bell appears similar to others I’ve come upon. An old plaque at the base of this one reads:

Donated by
California Federation of Women’s Clubs
Bostonia Woman’s Club

And, like other examples I’ve seen, this appears on the bell itself:

Loreto
Oct 25 1697

Solano
July 4 1823

According to the California State Parks website: “On October 25, 1697, Father Salvatierra founded the first permanent mission in the Californias on a sheltered plain opposite Isla Carmen. It was named Nuestra Señora de Loreto Concho…” (That original mission was built in what today is Baja California, Mexico.)

The 21st mission in Alta California (the present state of California) was established in San Francisco on July 4, 1823. It was the final and northernmost mission. It was named Mission San Francisco de Solano.

The name and founding date of both the first and last mission explains what is written on every El Camino Real Bell.

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!

Photos of Chicano Legacy mural at UCSD.

During my weekend walk through UC San Diego, I headed to the east side of Peterson Hall to check out some fantastic public art: the Chicano Legacy 40 Años (Years) mosaic. The 17-by-54-foot mosaic was created in 2011 by world-renowned local muralist Mario Torero and UCSD students. Thousands of pieces of colored glass were used to create a permanent mural.

The artwork honors Chicano culture. According to the UCSD website: “It depicts the struggles and dreams of underrepresented communities, pays tribute to social justice and brings a sense of warmth and hope to UC San Diego…”

Click the photo of the plaque and you can read an explanation of the different images contained in the mosaic. The two boldest, which immediately draw your attention, are the Corn Goddess near the center representing Mother Earth, and the large face of civil rights activist Cesar Chavez.

The bright sunlight on glass and the dark shadows cast by nearby trees made taking good photographs a challenge. You really should see this vibrant mural in person.

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!

Standing woman sculpture at UC San Diego.

There’s an unusual sculpture at UC San Diego rising high in the air between the Medical Teaching Facility and the Basic Sciences Building. I say it’s unusual because it doesn’t feature a “usual” depiction of the human form and I’m not sure how it affects me.

The piece’s title is Standing, and its creator is artist Kiki Smith. The public art was added to UCSD’s Stuart Collection in 1998.

Gazing up at the small, vulnerable figure you’ll notice what appear to be nails sticking out from her upper body. It looks like an example of a surgical procedure in a medical textbook. It makes her look like a passive, punctured thing, not a vibrant human. The form appears tired, aged, fragile, resigned to her inescapable condition. It strikes me the sculpture depicts a confrontation with our human mortality. She stands atop a severed tree trunk. Her face seems to ask: Why me? When the fountain feature is on (it wasn’t when I walked by), water drips from her hands. I almost wonder if the dripping water makes one think of draining blood.

Yet, to me, the sculpture isn’t really that morbid. It’s simply seems a clear-eyed observation of the material human condition.

An interpretation from the website that describes the piece emphasizes certain dualities: “Cast from a live model, the female figure atop Standing calls forth thoughts of human strength and frailty, and both the power and the limits of medicine. Serene and ageless, she stands in a Madonna-like pose that is both vulnerable and generous. Ribbons of water – the source of life – flow from her hands into the rock-lined pond below, with a soothing, mellifluous sound.”

Perhaps my own interpretation is too bleak. It’s hard to see past those nails. They remind me of an earthworm dissection I performed using a square of cardboard and pins in high school. Perhaps if clear bright water was flowing from her hands my feelings would change.

If there is strength and generosity in this sculpture, it comes from within the form, from a place unseen–an organ those sharp painful nails cannot reach. And the water’s sound must be the gentle sound of present living. A sonorous whisper from a human standing.

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!

UCSD: a walk back in time, and into the future.

Carved likeness of a famous naturalist at UC San Diego's John Muir College. The college motto is Celebrating the Independent Spirit.
Carved likeness of a famous naturalist at UCSD’s John Muir College. The college motto is Celebrating the Independent Spirit.

I was a student at UC San Diego’s John Muir College in the early 1980’s. Every so often I’ll walk through the campus and try to recrystallize those memories. But the older I get, the hazier those memories become.

My walk through UCSD yesterday did make it clear how, after nearly four decades, everything about the university has changed. The explosion of growth is ongoing. New buildings are everywhere. Muir College–once one of UCSD’s most esteemed pillars along with the original Revelle College–is now just a small part of a sprawling university that’s considered one of the best in the entire world.

It’s summer. Almost nobody could be seen as I walked around. That is, until I reached the north edge of John Muir College. Construction workers were busy.

The two enormous parking lots that I remember between Muir and Marshall Colleges are being transformed into what’s called the North Torrey Pines Living and Learning Neighborhood. And I learned from a friendly worker that the two new dormitory buildings near North Torrey Pines Road will be finished in a couple of weeks! Other impressive buildings, which include new academic centers—one for Social Sciences and one for Arts and Humanities–will be completed in a month or two!

The new North Torrey Pines Living and Learning Neighborhood is to become the home of Sixth College.

Six colleges now?

Time marches on.

Campus sign details the legacy of famous naturalist, environmentalist, explorer, and nature writer John Muir, advocate for America's national park system and one of the founders of the Sierra Club.
Campus sign details the legacy of famous naturalist, environmentalist, explorer, and nature writer John Muir, advocate for America’s national park system and one of the founders of the Sierra Club.

A grove of tall eucalyptus trees near the center of John Muir College, where there's an emphasis on individual study.
A grove of tall eucalyptus trees near the center of John Muir College, where there’s an emphasis on individual study.

McGill Hall behind trees of an outdoor common area.
McGill Hall behind trees of an outdoor common area.

It's summer. School's out. And there's the ongoing coronavirus pandemic situation, too.
It’s summer. School’s out. And there’s the ongoing coronavirus pandemic situation, too.

A John Muir quote on a banner. How fiercely, devoutly wild is Nature in the midst of her beauty-loving tenderness.
A John Muir quote on a banner. How fiercely, devoutly wild is Nature in the midst of her beauty-loving tenderness.

To the north of John Muir College, multiple large buildings will be finished in the near future.
To the north of John Muir College, multiple large buildings will be finished in the near future.

Banner on fence shows rendering of the new North Torrey Pines Living and Learning Neighborhood.
Banner on fence shows rendering of the new North Torrey Pines Living and Learning Neighborhood.

Part of UCSD's large expansion near North Torrey Pines Road.
Part of UCSD’s large expansion near North Torrey Pines Road.

A student dorm building that will be finished in a matter of two weeks. Time marches forward.
A student dormitory building that will be finished in two weeks.

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 cool UC San Diego Solar Chill!

Here’s something cool that I discovered today during my walk through UC San Diego!

This tree-like, sculpture-like, raised solar panel thingy is called the UC San Diego Solar Chill. It stands next to Scholars Drive North directly across from the Rady School of Management building.

As you can see from the sign, Solar Chill was designed by UCSD students who call themselves Engineers for a Sustainable World. It’s an off-the-grid charging station that’s perfect for both stressed students and their electrical devices! Anyone can recharge while sitting on one of the nearby benches, and simply chill!

A great idea! Renewable solar energy, plus a sunny outdoor gathering place where students might set their phones and laptops down for a few minutes and perhaps talk eye to eye with each other!

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!