The secret of how to magnify one’s heart light.

Another short story has poured from my fingertips. This one concerns a strange natural phenomenon that isn’t explained by science.

The story might seem to be about a lighthouse and the refraction of physical light.

But it’s actually about how to magnify one’s heart light.

I’ve titled the story One Lone Candle.

Read it here.

Walking around the Old Point Loma Lighthouse.

The beautiful Old Point Loma Lighthouse and the nearby Assistant Keepers Quarters building at Cabrillo National Monument.
The beautiful Old Point Loma Lighthouse and the nearby Assistant Keepers Quarters building at Cabrillo National Monument.

I’ve visited Cabrillo National Monument many times over the years. I’ve blogged about it on several occasions. It’s one of the most wonderful places in San Diego.

Today, September 30, is National Public Lands Day, so admission to Cabrillo National Monument was free all day.

I grabbed my camera, jumped into my car and drove this morning to the tip of the Point Loma peninsula. Once again, I wanted to enjoy some amazing views and a pleasant walk above the Pacific Ocean and San Diego Bay. Most of my time was spent around the Old Point Loma Lighthouse.

To see and learn more about the lighthouse, including its interior and the adjacent museum, and to enjoy other fascinating aspects of Cabrillo National Monument, please feel free to explore Cool San Diego Sights.

The historic Old Point Loma Lighthouse is a major attraction at Cabrillo National Monument in San Diego.
The historic Old Point Loma Lighthouse is a major attraction at Cabrillo National Monument in San Diego.
Visitor to Cabrillo National Monument looks up at the lighthouse.
Visitor to Cabrillo National Monument looks up at the lighthouse.
Built in 1855 at the end of the Point Loma peninsula, above the entrance to San Diego Bay, the old lighthouse used to guide sailors to safety with a powerful fresnel lens.
Built in 1855 at the end of the Point Loma peninsula, above the entrance to San Diego Bay, the old lighthouse used to guide sailors to safety with a powerful fresnel lens.
Walking around the old lighthouse is a wonderful experience, with amazing views in all directions.
Walking around the old lighthouse is a wonderful experience, with amazing views in all directions.
The cluster of trees near the Old Point Loma Lighthouse are rare Torrey pines, which are native to this region.
The cluster of trees near the Old Point Loma Lighthouse are rare Torrey pines, which are native to this region.
Walking along the cliffside trail north of the lighthouse.
Walking along the cliffside trail north of the lighthouse.
Someone sits high above the blue Pacific Ocean enjoying the cool breeze and natural beauty.
Someone sits high above the blue Pacific Ocean enjoying the cool breeze and natural beauty.
South of the lighthouse, people walk toward the gray whale migration overlook.
South of the lighthouse, people walk toward the gray whale migration overlook.
Visitors to Cabrillo National Monument scan the watery horizon for ships and whales.
Visitors to Cabrillo National Monument scan the watery horizon for ships and whales.
A park ranger and volunteers were removing non-native plants. Invasive species can crowd out native species.
A park ranger and volunteers were removing non-native plants among dry stalks of California sunflower and buckwheat. Invasive species can crowd out native species.
People approach the handsome lighthouse from the south.
People approach the handsome lighthouse from the south.
Photo of Old Point Loma Lighthouse, the small museum beside it and the large Rain Catchment Basin.
Photo of Old Point Loma Lighthouse, the small museum beside it and the large Rain Catchment Basin.
Visitors to San Diego are strongly encouraged to enjoy some time at Cabrillo National Monument. A very special place.
Visitors to San Diego are strongly encouraged to enjoy some time at Cabrillo National Monument. It’s a very special place, with many paths to walk.

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 fun photos for you to share and enjoy!

The mystery of a strange lighthouse in Old Town!

The top section of a historically important lighthouse now stands on a sidewalk in Old Town San Diego!
The top section of a historically important lighthouse now stands on a sidewalk in Old Town San Diego!

A lighthouse that once guided ships into San Diego Bay now stands on an Old Town sidewalk? How strange is that?

Well, not an entire lighthouse–just the lantern room of the 1890 Ballast Point Light Station!

The other day while walking down Congress Street, a few steps southeast of Harney Street, I paused to more carefully examine this mystery. (I’ve driven past the kiosk-like structure often, without really giving it a second thought.)

First, you should note Ballast Point is about 6 miles southwest of Old Town. The spit of land juts down into San Diego Bay from Point Loma; it’s where tall ships used to load ballast stones for their return trip around Cape Horn to the East Coast. Today it is part of Naval Base Point Loma.

So how did this top section of Ballast Point’s historic lighthouse end up on an Old Town sidewalk?

Some interesting photos behind a glass pane provided me with a few clues. The Ballast Point Light Station was built in 1890 and eventually dismantled in 1960. (Click the images and they will expand so you can read much more.)

After doing a little research, I learned the lantern room was found in 1998 by the owner of an Old Town nautical antiques store–West Sea Company–in a classified ad. At the time the Ballast Point lantern room was located at someone’s Bonita residence! Purchased and transported by flatbed truck to Old Town, it was placed on a cement pad near West Sea Company–and here it “mysteriously” remains today!

The 1890 Ballast Point Light Station was an example of Railroad Gothic. Its sixth order lens can be seen today at Cabrillo National Monument, in a museum near the old lighthouse.
The 1890 Ballast Point Light Station was an example of Railroad Gothic. Its sixth order lens can be seen today at Cabrillo National Monument, in a museum beside the Old Point Loma Lighthouse.
Historical photo and some words explain the light at Ballast Point. It guided sailors past Middle Ground Shoal and into San Diego's harbor.
Historical photo and some words explain the light at Ballast Point. It guided sailors past Middle Ground Shoal and into San Diego’s harbor.
A public domain photo of the Ballast Point Light Station, courtesy Wikimedia Commons.
A public domain photo of the Ballast Point Light Station, courtesy Wikimedia Commons.
The lantern room that housed a light that guided ships into San Diego Bay now can be seen on Congress Street in Old Town!
This lantern room housed a light that guided ships into San Diego Bay. It can now be seen on Congress Street in Old Town!

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 fun photos for you to share and enjoy!

Liberty Station Command Center’s historical exhibits.

Historic Decatur Road entrance of Dick Laub NTC Command Center at Liberty Station in Point Loma.
Historic Decatur Road entrance of Dick Laub NTC Command Center at Liberty Station in Point Loma.

Some time ago I visited the Command Center at NTC Liberty Station in Point Loma. Two interesting exhibits can be found along the main hallway that runs the length of the historic building. The Command Center was once the operational hub of former Naval Training Center San Diego.

The museum-like Stockdale Family Exhibit concerns the life and history of celebrated Navy Vice Admiral James B. Stockdale and his wife Sybil. The Point Loma Legacy Wing contains many displays that provide insights into the fascinating history of San Diego’s Point Loma.

Should you visit, here’s what you’ll see…

Built in 1941, The Command Center (Building 200) was the focal point of the base. These were offices for the highest-ranking officers, including the Admiral in Command of the Center.
Built in 1941, The Command Center (Building 200) was the focal point of the base. These were offices for the highest-ranking officers, including the Admiral in Command of the Center.
Looking from inside the Command Center southeast toward Preble Field and a large American flag.
Looking from inside the Command Center southeast toward Preble Field and a large American flag.
Inside the entrance to the Command Center. Various signs and free literature provide information about the converted military base and its many cultural attractions.
Inside the entrance to the Command Center. Various signs and free literature provide information about the converted military base and its many cultural attractions.
Naval Training Center, San Diego. The recruit story is one of personal transformation; a recruit's experience from arrival through graduation is the foundation for memories...
Naval Training Center, San Diego. The recruit story is one of personal transformation; a recruit’s experience from arrival through graduation is the foundation for memories…
In Memory Of Richard Dick Laub. Dick gave credit for much of his success to the G.I. Bill. His passion was the sea and fishing.
In Memory Of Richard “Dick” Laub. Dick gave credit for much of his success to the G.I. Bill. His passion was the sea and fishing.
One wing of the NTC Command Center today contains the Stockdale Family Exhibit. James and his wife Sybil are Navy heroes from the Vietnam War era.
One wing of the NTC Command Center today contains the Stockdale Family Exhibit. James and his wife Sybil are Navy heroes from the Vietnam War era.
Vice Admiral James Stockdale, long-time resident of Coronado, obtained and conveyed important tactical information while imprisoned in Vietnam
Vice Admiral James Stockdale, long-time resident of Coronado, obtained and conveyed important tactical information while imprisoned in North Vietnam
Stockdale was candidate for United States Vice President in 1992 on Ross Perot's independent ticket. During a debate, he famously said Who am I Why am I here.
Stockdale was candidate for United States Vice President in 1992 on Ross Perot’s independent ticket. During a debate, he famously said: “Who am I? Why am I here?”
The exhibit contains photographs and objects from James and Sybil Stockdale's family life.
The exhibit contains photographs and objects from James and Sybil Stockdale’s family life.
The Point Loma Legacy Wing at the NTC Command Center contains two walls of fascinating displays concerning this area's history.
The Point Loma Legacy Wing at the NTC Command Center contains two walls of fascinating displays concerning this area’s history.
The Point Loma lighthouse, erected in 1854, housed a principal keeper and an assistant keeper. In 1933, the lighthouse became part of Cabrillo National Monument and was restored.
The Point Loma lighthouse, erected in 1854, housed a principal keeper and an assistant keeper. In 1933, the lighthouse became part of Cabrillo National Monument and was restored.
San Diego yacht clubs offer camaraderie, friendships and sport. The first club, founded in 1852, was the Pacific Pioneer Yacht Club. In 1886, the San Diego Yacht Club was established.
San Diego yacht clubs offer camaraderie, friendships and sport. The first club, founded in 1852, was the Pacific Pioneer Yacht Club. In 1886, the San Diego Yacht Club was established.
Display case contains artifacts from the San Diego Maritime Museum, including model of a tuna boat.
Display case contains artifacts from the San Diego Maritime Museum, including model of a tuna boat.
The first fish cannery was built in 1909 at La Playa designed for processing sardines. Albacore canning started in 1911.
The first fish cannery was built in 1909 at La Playa designed for processing sardines. Albacore canning started in 1911.
Pole fishing for tuna was a major industry in San Diego from 1930 through the 1940s. Tuna pole fishing boats traveled up and down the Pacific coast for both albacore and yellowfin.
Pole fishing for tuna was a major industry in San Diego from 1930 through the 1940s. Tuna pole fishing boats traveled up and down the Pacific coast for both albacore and yellowfin.
Ballast Point is a small peninsula extending from Point Loma into the channel entrance to the harbor of San Diego. Cobblestones on the point were used for ballast by early trade ships.
Ballast Point is a small peninsula extending from Point Loma into the channel entrance to the harbor of San Diego. Cobblestones on the point were used for ballast by early trade ships.
The Point Loma kelp forest is part of one the largest kelp forests in the northern hemisphere. Giant kelp is a species of marine alga, which may grow up to 200 feet in length.
The Point Loma kelp forest is part of one the largest kelp forests in the northern hemisphere. Giant kelp is a species of marine alga, which may grow up to 200 feet in length.
Fort Rosecrans. In 1793, British Captain George Vancouver entered San Diego harbor. He noted the port would be better defended from the Point Loma peninsula.
Fort Rosecrans. In 1793, British Captain George Vancouver entered San Diego harbor. He noted the port would be better defended from the Point Loma peninsula.
Dutch Flats and the Marine Command Recruit Division. Plans were devised by San Diego Congressman William Kettner. A tidal marsh would be dredged and filled.
Dutch Flats and the Marine Command Recruit Division. Plans were devised by San Diego Congressman William Kettner. A tidal marsh would be dredged and filled.
Anchor and Sybil Stockdale Rose Garden next to NTC Command Center. Photo taken from Legacy Plaza near the center of Liberty Station.
Anchor and Sybil Stockdale Rose Garden next to NTC Command Center. Photo taken from Legacy Plaza near the center of Liberty Station.

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Fresnel lens in Old Point Loma Lighthouse museum.

Looking up at the Old Point Loma Lighthouse in Cabrillo National Monument.
Looking up at the Old Point Loma Lighthouse in Cabrillo National Monument.

Everyone likes to explore the Old Point Loma Lighthouse. You can climb up the winding staircase and peer into several interesting rooms where the lighthouse keeper and his family lived. But the small museum in the nearby assistant keeper’s quarters contains the true marvels of science and art. Come inside and let us have a quick look!

The assistant keeper's quarters next to the lighthouse today contains a small museum.
The assistant keeper’s quarters next to the lighthouse today contains a small museum.
Sign outside lighthouse shows huge Fresnel lens which guided ships with focused light 400 feet above sea level.
Sign outside lighthouse shows huge Fresnel lens which guided ships with focused light 400 feet above sea level.
The heart of a lighthouse is the lens and lamp. 19th century lenses are works of art made of polished brass and glass.
Sign at entrance to museum.  The heart of a lighthouse is the lens and lamp. 19th century lenses are works of art made of polished brass and glass.

The highly polished Fresnel lenses utilized by lighthouses are beautiful objects. They refract and reflect light, creating prismatic colors when viewed from certain angles. It’s almost a miracle that a small flame in a lamp can be magnified to the extent that ships far out at sea can easily see it and be guided to safety. Light intensified by lenses in this museum could be seen 18 to 24 miles away!

This 3rd Order Fresnel lens was used by the New Point Loma Lighthouse, built in 1891 down by the water.
This 3rd Order Fresnel lens was used by the New Point Loma Lighthouse, built in 1891 down by the water.
An optical wonder, this huge lens is an amazing, highly polished light bender.
An optical wonder, this huge lens is an amazing, highly polished light bender.
Diagram shows how a complex Fresnel lens functions.
Diagram shows how a complex Fresnel lens functions.
The base of the heavy Fresnel lens with chariot wheels visible.
The base of the heavy Fresnel lens with chariot wheels visible.
There are different orders of size, as illustrated in this display.
There are different orders of size, as illustrated in this display.
Augustin Jean Fresnel (1788-1827) was an accomplished engineer and scientist. Fresnel lenses are used in many modern applications today.
Augustin Jean Fresnel (1788-1827) was an accomplished engineer and scientist. Fresnel lenses are used in many modern applications today.
Small museum by Old Point Loma Lighthouse contains various very cool exhibits.
Small museum by Old Point Loma Lighthouse contains various very cool exhibits.
This small 5th Order lens lighted the Ballast Point Lighthouse from 1890 to 1960.
This small 5th Order lens lighted the Ballast Point Lighthouse from 1890 to 1960.
Log book of daily expenditures for oil, wicks and chimneys.
Log book of daily expenditures for oil, wicks and chimneys.
This clockwork of gears slowly turned the light above.
This clockwork of gears slowly turned the light above.
The keeper's service box contained cleaning supplies and delicate tools for maintaining the lamp.
The keeper’s service box contained cleaning supplies and delicate tools for maintaining the lamp.
The Coast Guard removed this large Fresnel lens from the New Point Loma Lighthouse in 2002.
The Coast Guard removed this large Fresnel lens from the New Point Loma Lighthouse in 2002.
Looking at the iconic Old Point Loma Lighthouse and small museum beside it.
Looking at the iconic Old Point Loma Lighthouse and small museum beside it.

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Cabrillo National Monument centennial photos!

01 People near Visitor Center enjoy Cabrillo National Monument's centennial event.
People near Visitor Center enjoy Cabrillo National Monument’s centennial.

Here are some pics I took Sunday during the second day of Cabrillo National Monument’s centennial celebration.

Cabrillo National Monument is located at the tip of the Point Loma peninsula. The hilly peninsula helps to enclose San Diego Bay and is a perfect lookout over both the ocean and harbor. The park includes most notably the historic Old Point Loma Lighthouse and a statue of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo that was commissioned by the Portuguese government in 1939. It also includes military bunkers that were used to protect the bay during World War II, and a very popular whale-watching lookout.

The park this year turned one hundred years old. In 1913 Woodrow Wilson reserved a portion of Fort Rosecrans on the Point Loma peninsula for a statue of Cabrillo. Unfortunately, a statue was not immediately forthcoming, and the park’s development became the work of many decades.

The work in progress continues today. My last visit was a few years ago, and this time I noticed many big changes and improvements!

The first photo shows a bunch of people near the Visitor Center, on the walkway that leads out to the Cabrillo statue.

02 Nonprofit organizations display info in front of Visitor Center for Cabrillo centennial.
Various informative displays in front of Visitor Center for the centennial event.

For the centennial event, many community and government organizations had exhibits near the entrance to the Visitor Center. This pic shows what appeared to be the most popular table. The friendly lady had numerous snakes that fascinated young and old alike.

03 Yummy centennial cake was served to all park visitors.
Yummy centennial cake was served to all park visitors.

Everybody enjoyed a small slice of birthday cake!

04 Statue of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo overlooks the ocean.
Statue of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo overlooks the ocean.

Here’s the iconic statue of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, the Portuguese explorer who sailed into San Diego Bay on behalf of Spain nearly five hundred years ago. It stands not far from the Visitor Center overlooking both the bay and Pacific Ocean.

05 Park sign shows where Cabrillo entered San Diego Bay in 1542.
Park sign shows where Cabrillo entered San Diego Bay in 1542.
06 Distant view of Cabrillo statue and Coronado Island.
Distant view of Cabrillo statue and Coronado Island.

As I walked up the hill to observe a reenacted air raid drill from World War II, I looked back at this beautiful view. Great views can be had at Cabrillo National Monument looking in almost any direction!

07 Tents of Army camp set up as historical reenactment.
Tents of Army camp set up as historical reenactment.

These tents and some nearby vehicles were on display for the centennial. During World War II, after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, many feared an attack on San Diego. So defenses were quickly erected. In addition to a number of observation bunkers, a few gun emplacements were situated along the end of Point Loma to defend the mainland and bay.

A small museum nearby includes many photographs, recordings and artifacts from that period in San Diego’s history.

08 Mock air raid drill recalls duties during World War II.
Mock air raid drill recalls duties during World War II.

At eleven o’clock, a mock air raid was staged! An aircraft from nearby Naval Air Station North Island swept over the bluffs as World War II veterans and enthusiasts looked on from the hilltop near some old bunkers.

09 Visitors head down into Battery E bunker where a watch was kept during World War II.
Visitors head into Battery E bunker used during World War II.

After the air raid, we all took turns going down into Battery E.

10 A look inside Battery E and equipment to sight enemy ships.
A look inside Battery E and equipment to sight enemy ships.

We were surprised at what we found! The flash of my camera illuminated the small semi-dark bunker, capturing this instrument used to scan the horizon for Japanese warships during World War II.

11 A chart inside the bunker identifies Japanese warships.
A chart inside the bunker identifies Japanese warships.

Down a nearby ladder was a second small room containing beds for those who stood watch at all hours.

12 People walk toward the old Cabrillo lighthouse.
People walk toward the old Cabrillo lighthouse.

A short distance from Battery E is the historic Old Point Loma Lighthouse. From 1855 to 1891 it stood as a beacon for those entering San Diego Bay, before being replaced by an automated lighthouse down near the water. This old lighthouse is one of San Diego’s most well-known sights!

13 A small museum by the lighthouse includes the original Fresnel lens.
A museum by the old lighthouse includes the first Fresnel lens to be used by the automated New Point Loma Lighthouse.

A small museum near the lighthouse’s entrance is worth a quick look. It includes an amazing Fresnel lens that magnified light to help sailors out at sea.

14 The front of the historic lighthouse and the large rainwater basin.
Front of the historic lighthouse and its large rainwater basin.

A large flat area in front of the lighthouse was used by the keeper and his family to capture rainwater. Back then this lighthouse stood isolated, far from the small town across the water that grew into metropolitan San Diego.

15 Recreated family room in Cabrillo lighthouse includes a Christmas tree.
Recreated family room in Cabrillo lighthouse includes Christmas tree.

Several furnished rooms in the lighthouse are on display behind glass. Very little space was available to accommodate the keeper and his family. In addition to this main room, there’s a kitchen area, closet, and two bedrooms up the winding stairs.

16 Looking down winding stairs from top of Cabrillo lighthouse.
Looking down winding stairs from top of Cabrillo lighthouse.

Speaking of the stairs, I couldn’t resist taking this pic!

17 Another view of Point Loma's historic old lighthouse.
Another view of Point Loma’s historic old lighthouse.

Another great look.

18 Grey whale sculpture near Pacific Ocean overlook.
Grey whale sculpture near Pacific Ocean overlook.

Interesting sculptures, artwork and signs can be found at the Pacific Ocean overlook. During the winter months, you can see gray whales spouting as they travel between the Arctic and Baja California.

19 A good place to spot migrating grey whales during the winter months.
A good place to spot migrating gray whales during the winter months.

You can see where the tidepools are below. I didn’t go down to the water on this trip, but it’s a fun place to see all sorts of sea creatures!

20 Walking down to Bayside Trail and folks who will talk about history.
Walking down to Bayside Trail and folks who will talk about history.

At noon there was a guided hike down the Bayside Trail. We walked down a short road to the trailhead, where an old military truck waited with some folks dressed in historic uniforms. They would show us some interesting stuff down the trail.

21 A group walks down the Cabrillo Bayside Trail on a beautiful December day.
Group walks down Cabrillo Bayside Trail on a December day.

Here we go down the Bayside Trail. The lady park ranger showed us a large number of native plants, including Coastal Sage, Lemonade Berry, Prickly Pear and more. The flora you see here is what is natural to the area. San Diego is located in a semi-arid zone, with very little precipitation. Most of the trees and other plants you see around town are not native.

22 Talking about a spotlight that protected San Diego Bay during World War II.
A spotlight protected San Diego Bay during World War II.

We’ve come to a small structure built into the hillside that houses an old electric spotlight. The huge lamp was used to watch the San Diego Bay’s entrance during World War II. It rolled out on a pair of tracks and plugged into an outlet that you can see by the trail.

23 Inside the small structure we look at the huge wartime spotlight.
Inside the small structure we look at the huge wartime spotlight.

My camera’s flash brightly illuminated the old spotlight inside.

24 Further down the trail is the spotlight's generator building.
Further down the trail is the spotlight’s generator building.

Now we’ve walked down to the electrical generator building–really just two small empty rooms. Usually these structures are closed to the public.

25 Rounding a corner of the sandstone cliff San Diego comes into view.
Rounding a corner of the sandstone cliff San Diego comes into view.

The group turned back, but I walked on…

26 America's Cup boat Abracadabra sails down the San Diego channel.
America’s Cup boat Abracadabra sails down the San Diego channel.

And I was rewarded with this view. Having lived in San Diego a good many years, I recognized the large sailboat leaving San Diego Bay. It’s the Abracadabra, a boat used in a past America’s Cup. I also spotted the Stars and Stripes, just out of this picture.

Beyond downtown San Diego I could see numerous mountains, from Cuyamaca on down to Otay. When it snows in the mountains, San Diego has a snow-capped backdrop viewed from here!

27 One last fond look at the beautiful Cabrillo National Monument lighthouse.
One last fond look at the beautiful Cabrillo National Monument lighthouse.

One last look!