A water saving demonstration landscape in La Mesa.

If you live in San Diego and love having a beautiful, lush garden in your yard, but also want to save water, there’s a fine demonstration landscape full of drought tolerant native plants, trees and flowers you can check out in La Mesa. The demonstration landscape can be found on two sides of the Helix Water District building at 7811 University Avenue.

I enjoyed looking at the demonstration garden last weekend and took photographs. According to a sign, water can be saved by not only planting vegetation native to the San Diego region, or well suited to our arid climate, but by installing a drip irrigation system under a layer of mulch to prevent evaporation. A smart irrigation controller can adjust watering times based on the weather.

Having such a WaterSmart landscape can help “beautiful plants and trees thrive on half, a third, or a fifth of the water a traditional lawn needs.”

If you can’t make it to La Mesa, go to the Helix Water Districts’ website and check out their Sustainable Landscape page here. You’ll find lots of great ideas, including numerous plants that you might use!

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!

Climbing the Secret Stairs in La Mesa!

Have you ever climbed the Secret Stairs in La Mesa?

If you have, it’s an experience you definitely remember!

I had often heard about the Secret Stairs, so I decided to finally go check them out last weekend.

The photographs you’re about to see involve climbing the stairs on the west side of Mount Nebo, from Windsor Drive/Canterbury Drive to Summit Drive. Which amounts to 245 steps, covering three blocks!

At the top I turned around and took a couple photos. You can see how high I had ascended–an elevation of 830 feet!

Here’s a City of La Mesa web page that describes the Secret Stairs and links to a map. There are additional stairs in the neighborhood that you might like to explore. You can also see them on Google Maps should you perform a search.

If you decide to go for a climb, make sure to be quiet because many residents live nearby.

This blog now features thousands of photos around San Diego! Are you curious? There’s lots of cool stuff to check out!

Here’s the Cool San Diego Sights main page, where you can read the most current blog posts.  If you’re using a phone or small mobile device, click those three parallel lines up at the top–that opens up my website’s sidebar, where you’ll see the most popular posts, a search box, and more!

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A sidewalk Memorial Day thank you.

It’s Memorial Day weekend. I saw this on the sidewalk today while walking through downtown La Mesa. Somebody created a small tribute with chalk, fresh flowers and green leaves. Spelled inside a heart is Thank You. All gave some and some gave all.

I thought I’d share the photo. And add my own Thank You to all those who’ve sacrificed defending the freedoms we might sometimes take for granted.

(Why was I in La Mesa? To climb the Secret Stairs! I’ll blog about that experience sometime later this week!)

Take care everybody.

An octagonal Chinese-Mexican building in La Mesa.

One of the most distinctive buildings in La Mesa can be found in MacArthur Park. The designated historic landmark, located at 4910 Memorial Drive, is called Porter Hall.

This small octagonal building, built by the Porter family in the late 1920’s, has an unusual tile roof that appears a little Chinese and a little Mexican. The roof’s exotic contours are explained by the fact that Henry and Elizabeth Chapin Porter had previously lived in China.

From 1932 to 1957 Porter Hall served as a San Diego County library.

Prior to 1974 the original octagonal structure stood on the other side of University Avenue. It was moved when the street was widened. Today the enlarged building is home of the Foothills Art Association.

When I walked past Porter Hall a couple weekends ago, I took these photographs. Some artwork could be seen from the sidewalk, including a beautiful mosaic bench with a colorful parrot. A plaque dedicates the bench to Katherine Faulconer.

You can learn more about La Mesa’s influential Porter family by reading page 5 of an old La Mesa Historical Society publication 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!

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!

Girl walks with many dogs in La Mesa!

During my walk in La Mesa last weekend I spotted a girl strolling with numerous dogs down the sidewalk!

Happy dogs of every type were walking with her past Village Antiques, as a curious cat watched from the shop window. And all of this was happening at the corner of La Mesa Boulevard and University Avenue . . . on a painted utility box!

I saw that this fun but somewhat faded street art was created by Margo Parks and Yvonne Rose.

As I tried to do a little research about the artists, I made a big discovery. This street art is part of a larger La Mesa beautification project called the Walking Art Trail.

The Walking Art Trail was created by the La Mesa Arts Alliance (LMAA) in partnership with the community. Local artists painted a variety of utility boxes around La Mesa, and a brochure which you can see here shows the locations of each colorful box!

Back in 2017 I photographed a number of these painted boxes without realizing they were all part of a larger project. You can see my photographs here.

This blog now features thousands of photos around San Diego! Are you curious? There’s lots of cool stuff to check out!

Here’s the Cool San Diego Sights main page, where you can read the most current blog posts.  If you’re using a phone or small mobile device, click those three parallel lines up at the top–that opens up my website’s sidebar, where you’ll see the most popular posts, a search box, and more!

To enjoy future posts, you can also “like” Cool San Diego Sights on Facebook or follow me on 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!

Public art at 70th Street trolley station.

Riders of the San Diego Trolley might not notice any public art at the 70th Street station at first glance. This Green Line station in La Mesa, which opened in 2005, has a simple, practical appearance, with the usual benches and a nearby parking lot.

Curious eyes, however, will see a number of sculpted markers in the vegetation, and quotes written on the bases of 36 light poles on either side of the trolley tracks.

The cast metal markers relate the historical importance of native San Diego plants, and indeed these very plants can be found nearby–or at least it was that way originally. Most of the markers explain the importance of each plant to the Native American Kumeyaay people, who inhabited this land for thousands of years before the arrival of Spanish explorers.

This very unique public art was created by Nina Karavasiles. You can see more of her work here and here and here. She also helped design the Rosa Parks Memorial at a San Diego Mesa College bus stop, which I recently blogged about here.

Artwork at the 70th Street trolley station also includes bits of recycled colored glass embedded in the platform. Cobblestones from nearby Alvarado Creek that were obtained during the station’s construction were used to create planters and the bases of benches.

Girls tied redbud blossoms to their shoulders and waists for the spring ceremonial dance of womanhood.
Deer grass. The principal foundation material for coiled baskets.
This plant used as a diuretic medicine gets its astringency from tannic acid. Bear berry.
Before going hunting the Diegueños rubbed white sage on their bodies to eliminate odor.
Early miners used it to deter fleas. Coastal sagebrush.
Fresh elderberry leaves produce a light yellow dye for baskets.
Arroyo willow. Kumeyaay use shredded bark to pad cradle boards in which women carried their babies.
The sycamore was an indicator to California natives that underground water or a stream was nearby.
The oak can live for 250 years. It takes 8 months for the acorns to mature. A family of 4 would gather 500 pounds for the next year. They would travel here and set up temporary camp to harvest the acorns, collecting them in conical baskets. Acorns are 20% fat, 6% protein, 68% carbohydrates.

The following photographs show just a few of the quotes inscribed on the light pole bases. Most have an environmental theme, and of these, most concern the importance of water.

All the stones here have been gathered from the original Alvarado Creek.
Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience. Ralph Waldo Emerson
The average annual rainfall in La Mesa is 13 3/4 inches (2004). The average American uses 150 gallons of water a day.
Many of the world’s people must walk 3 hours to fetch water.

Ready for some fun? Part of the answer to the cryptic Alvarado trolley station riddle (which you can see and solve here) can be found in one of the above quotes!

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!

Messages of love, optimism in La Mesa.

Love is the solution.
Love is the solution.

This weekend I walked a little around La Mesa. I hadn’t been out that way since January of last year.

My heart was warmed to see many messages of love and optimism decorating the chain link fence surrounding property that was destroyed during the late May riot, which was fueled by the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis that same month.

The community–mostly young people–produced idealistic artwork full of hope. I saw the heartfelt desire for equality, peace, understanding, and the end of racism. Love and kindness were in most of the messages.

The result of arson during a riot in La Mesa, California.
The result of arson during a riot in La Mesa, California.

Unity in the community.
Unity in the community.

Positive messages of love and equality on a fence in La Mesa.
Positive messages of love and equality on a fence in La Mesa.

Paintings donated by Pink Rose Cafe with support of the La Mesa community.
Paintings donated by Pink Rose Cafe with support of the La Mesa community.

Love sees no color. End racism.
Love sees no color. End racism.

Hopeful images painted by a young person.
Hopeful images painted by a young person.

We are all under the same sun.
We are all under the same sun.

All we need is love.
All we need is love.

Strong. Hope. Heartbeat. Heartfelt.
Strong. Hope. Heartbeat. Heartfelt.

A wise quote about improving the world from Dr. Seuss.
A wise quote about improving the world from Dr. Seuss.

Step into the daylight.
Step into the daylight.

Be positive.
Be positive.

Let us embrace all the colors.
Let us embrace all the colors.

Artwork along the fence represents the optimism of La Mesa residents.
Artwork along the fence represents the optimism of La Mesa residents.

Together friends.
Together friends.

La Mesa kids stand for change, unity, hope, love.
La Mesa kids stand for change, unity, hope, love.

There can be miracles when you believe. Though hope is frail, it's hard to kill.
There can be miracles when you believe. Though hope is frail, it’s hard to kill.

What I'm looking for is not out there, it is in me.
What I’m looking for is not out there, it is in me.

Do justice. Walk humbly.
Do justice. Walk humbly.

We're in this together.
We’re in this together.

A hopeful vision.
A hopeful vision.

Fight for what's right.
Fight for what’s right.

Be kind.
Be kind.

More heartfelt sentiments along the fence.
More heartfelt sentiments along the fence.

Be you. Shine bright.
Be you. Shine bright.

Be the change.
Be the change.

Love and respect for your neighbor.
Love and respect for your neighbor.

We can't help everyone, but everyone can help someone.
We can’t help everyone, but everyone can help someone.

Listen.
Listen.

Grow through what you go through.
Grow through what you go through.

Love one another.
Love one another.

Fine artwork full of humanity.
Fine artwork full of humanity.

Make the world a better place.
Make the world a better place.

Love wins.
Love wins.

Peace and love. Love will win.
Peace and love. Love will win.

When you focus on good, the good gets better.
When you focus on good, the good gets better.

Shine like stars.
Shine like stars.

Wisdom from Martin Luther King, Jr. Hate cannot drive out hate--only love can.
Wisdom from Martin Luther King, Jr. Hate cannot drive out hate–only love can.

Love not hate makes America great.
Love not hate makes America great.

Peace. Love. Hope.
Peace. Love. Hope.

Believe there is good.
Believe there is good.

Kindness is the sunshine in which everything and everyone can grow.
Kindness is the sunshine in which everything and everyone can grow.

Kindness matters.
Kindness matters.

All black lives matter.
All black lives matter.

The dove of peace.
The dove of peace.

Love. United we stand.
Love. United we stand.

Love grows here.
Love grows 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!

Photos of Vietnam War Memorial in La Mesa.

At the center of La Mesa's HYFD Vietnam Memorial Park stands a three-sided monument containing many plaques.
At the center of La Mesa’s HYFD Vietnam Memorial Park stands a three-sided monument containing many plaques.

A beautiful memorial in La Mesa remembers Vietnam Veterans who gave their lives for their country. The Heartland Youth for Decency Vietnam Memorial Park was originally built in 1970, then restored and rededicated in 2014. It can be found at the corner of University Avenue and Nebo Drive.

A community group of young people called Heartland Youth for Decency (HYFD) built the monument at a time when there was a great deal of contention about the Vietnam War. Its purpose was to honor veterans from San Diego’s East County who were killed during that horrible war.

Here are photos that I took today. The small Memorial Park can seem lost in the endless hustle and bustle of surrounding streets. But words that speak of courage, grief and honor stand quietly waiting, for any who wish to see.

Read the captions for a bit more description.

Flags fly in the January breeze. A helmet atop a cross, signifying those killed during the Vietnam War.
Flags fly in the January breeze. A helmet atop a cross, signifying those killed during the Vietnam War.

Greater Love Hath No Man... Heartland Area Vietnam Deaths
Greater Love Hath No Man… Heartland Area Vietnam Deaths

We of Heartland Youth for Decency dedicate this monument to the young men from our own generation who have given their lives that we might be free.
We of Heartland Youth for Decency dedicate this monument to the young men from our own generation who have given their lives that we might be free.

A man died for me today...
A man died for me today…

A beautiful tile mosaic bench in the park with American flag and peace sign.
A colorful tile mosaic bench in the park with American flag and peace sign.

A second bench has a star at either end.
A second bench has a star at either end.

A bald eagle, symbol of the United States. Freedom Is Not Free.
A bald eagle, symbol of the United States. Freedom Is Not Free.

A simple, emotionally powerful letter at the base of the flagpole. ...Most of all, Father, I love you.
A simple, emotionally powerful letter at the base of the flagpole. …Most of all, Father, I love you.

To one side stands the POW/MIA Empty Chair. And the words: Lest We Forget.
To one side stands the POW/MIA Empty Chair. And the words: Lest We Forget.

Powerful symbols in a small La Mesa park.
Powerful symbols in a small La Mesa park.

American eagle and flag mosaic art on rear of the POW/MIA Empty Chair is by the Rainforest Art Project.
American eagle and flag mosaic art on rear of the POW/MIA Empty Chair is by the Rainforest Art Project.

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!

A day to celebrate reading across America!

Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are. Mason Cooley
Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are. Mason Cooley

It’s time to celebrate Read Across America Day!

Today many hands, young and old, will be picking up a book or their favorite e-book reader. Many eyes and minds will be enjoying that uniquely human activity: reading!

Why is March 2 designated National Read Across America Day? Because it’s the birthday of Dr. Seuss!

As many of you know, Dr. Seuss was the pen name of Theodor Geisel, who made his home in La Jolla, a beautiful community in the city of San Diego.

Months ago during a walk through La Mesa, a city in San Diego’s East County, I took photos of a chalkboard that was standing on the sidewalk in front of Maxwell’s House of Books.

Please enjoy two quotes about the magic of reading!

Books are a uniquely portable magic. Stephen King
Books are a uniquely portable magic. Stephen King

Would you like to read a few philosophical, very short stories?

They can be found on my website Short Stories by Richard!