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!

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A springtime walk along Lake Hodges.

I spent most of my day Saturday in North County. My first destination was Lake Hodges.

Starting from the trailhead by Hernandez Hideaway, which is a short distance off Del Dios Highway, I walked north along the San Dieguito River Trail.

It was an overcast spring morning, cool, mostly quiet, with a few other walkers about and mountain bikers flying past in a very big hurry. Not sure what the hurry was. To seek adrenaline, I suppose.

After moving north along the trail for a few minutes, observing one or two fishermen relaxing down by the water, I found a side trail that led down to a private spot on the silver lake’s shore.

It was a time for open eyes and reflection.

Here are my photographs. Bright things in the gray morning included light on the rippling lake, yellow patches of mustard, and white snowy egrets.

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!

A unique Fountain Mountain at Mission Trails!

Very unique public art with an environmental theme can be seen (and activated!) in the northeast corner of Mission Trails Regional Park. Fountain Mountain is located just outside the recently completed East Fortuna Equestrian Staging Area Field Station.

Fountain Mountain was created by renowned San Diego artist Roman de Salvo in 2020. The drinking fountain not only quenches your thirst after a hot day of hiking, but it’s the source of water for two small meandering rivers carved into a mountain-like boulder!

Instead of going down a drain, fountain water that escapes your thirsty mouth comes to life as it streams and sparkles down the small mountain!

According to this page from San Diego’s Civic Art Collection website: “De Salvo’s artwork references the archeological remains of grinding rocks used by the Kumeyaay, who were the first people to extensively live on and make use of the land that became part of the park. For de Salvo, these grinding rocks embody a sense of history, timelessness, and a connection to human activity in the park…”

To learn more about Roman de Salvo, check out this Wikipedia page.

I’ve photographed a number of his works around San Diego. To see more of his inventive, often often playful sculptures and public artwork, including a fun riddle encountered by riders of the San Diego Trolley, click here and here and here and here and 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!

A very short, easy hike at East Fortuna.

Yesterday, as part of a much longer walk in urban Santee, I enjoyed a very short, easy hike in the northeast corner of 7,220-acre Mission Trails Regional Park.

I started at the East Fortuna Staging Area and proceeded from the Equestrian Circle Trailhead west a quarter mile or so, just to enjoy the beautiful natural scenery.

Imagine my surprise when I quickly spotted a roadrunner!

The City of San Diego’s wild, rugged Mission Trails area, during World War II, was used to train members of the 2nd Marine Division. Camp Elliott is where they learned to fire artillery and operate tanks. According to the above sign posted near the trailhead: “At the height of the war, 50,000 officers and men were dispatched to combat zones from Camp Elliott in a little over a year.”

The canyons, mountains and grasslands of Mission Trails are now home to abundant wildlife and natural beauty.

Trees in the distance line the San Diego River where its life giving water flows through the park.

Some bright California bush sunflowers near the trail…

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!

Nature’s beauty on a west Santee walk.

I took the following photographs today during a long looping walk around the west half of Santee.

From the Santee Trolley Square transit station I headed north up Cuyamaca Street, then west along Mast Boulevard to the East Fortuna Staging Area at Mission Trails Regional Park. After taking a short hike in the park, I headed south down West Hills Parkway and back east to the trolley station via Mission Gorge Road.

During the walk through Santee I snapped these photographs. Much of the walk was past homes, schools and businesses, but there were also these glimpses of natural beauty. (Additional photos that I’ll post in the next day or two include my short Mission Trails hike, an unusual historical monument, and very unique public artwork.)

The following three photos were taken as I walked down Mast Boulevard over Santee Lakes Recreation Preserve. Far below, in the middle of Lake 2, two white pelicans were standing on a rock. I also saw dozens of swallows flying out from beneath the bridge, but the tiny birds darted about so swiftly I was unable to capture a good photograph of them. You can see one swallow zipping by in this first photo…

As I walked down Mast Boulevard under State Route 52, I saw an indication that I had almost reached Mission Trails Regional Park.

Then I headed into the East Fortuna Staging Area. From the entrance driveway and parking lot I took photographs of the mountains beyond trees lining the San Diego River, and some sycamore leaves.

Walking south down West Hills Parkway took me to the place where State Route 52 passes over the San Diego River…

Finally, where State Route 125 meets Mission Gorge Road, I was surprised to find a beautiful golden patch of California’s State Flower: the California poppy.

(Incidentally, last Tuesday, April 6 was officially California Poppy Day!)

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!

Beautiful photos of autumn on Mount Laguna.

It’s autumn on Mount Laguna, and the natural beauty this morning was breathtaking.

The leaves of oak trees are turning. Yellows shine brightly under the mountain sunlight. White snow lingers on the ground from past storms.

The sky is blue, the air is dry and chilly, the sunshine is warm.

I headed east on Interstate 8 from downtown San Diego shortly after the crack of dawn. The November sun was climbing well above the eastern horizon as I drove north up the winding Sunrise Highway. Seeking a little quiet, I arrived well ahead of most weekend visitors.

I pulled over at several turnouts as I gained elevation, just to look around me. I eventually arrived at Penny Pines, parked, put on a light jacket, and started a short distance down the Noble Canyon Trail. Then I turned about and slowly hiked a short distance up the Big Laguna Trail.

No particular destination.

Come with me…

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!

Sunrise at the Balboa Park rose garden.

Early yesterday morning I took photographs of the sunrise from Balboa Park’s beautiful Inez Grant Parker Memorial Rose Garden.

This world-class rose garden overlooks Florida Canyon and offers views of San Diego’s mountains in East County.

Should you ever visit Balboa Park, look for the many flowers next to Park Boulevard. This small bit of heaven can be enjoyed south of the pedestrian bridge at the east end of El Prado.

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!

Oil painted walks in nature’s beauty.

It’s going to be hot this weekend. So I’m planning on taking it easy–do some reading by the water, perhaps write something.

Meanwhile, I thought it would be fun to create even more digital oil paintings!

My recent walk in San Clemente Canyon has inspired me to select a few past photos of nature’s beauty, and transform them into “paintings” with GIMP’s graphic Oilify filter.

If you think you recognize the ocean at Torrey Pines State Reserve, the San Diego River, Mount Laguna, snow at Cuyamaca Rancho State Park, and Mission Trails Regional Park–in no particular order–you’d be correct!

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!

Unusual public art at Escondido Transit Center.

Unusual public art stands in the middle of the Escondido Transit Center. The abstract concrete sculpture is surrounded by North County Transit District bus stops.

Tilted concrete slabs, like geometric planes, form a narrow passage. The title of the sculpture is Hekkilk, and it was created by Peter Mitten in 1989. According to a nearby plaque, Hekkilk is a Diegueño Indian word that means “a big dent, as in a pass through mountains.”

The abstract concrete sculpture is apparently a representation of local geography.

The passage is oriented north/south. Approximate distances from the sculpture to various geographic points in San Diego County are noted on the plaque.

For several decades, those travelling through Escondido have been able to take a few steps through this “big dent” and contemplate the larger world around them.

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!

Isn’t it Amazing art captures nature’s beauty.

Prairie Dogs on Alert, watercolor by artist Jami Wright.
Prairie Dogs on Alert, watercolor by artist Jami Wright.

Artwork depicting nature’s awesome beauty can now be enjoyed inside the Visitor Center at Mission Trails Regional Park. The exhibition is appropriately titled: Isn’t it Amazing.

Dozens of pieces by award-winning artists Pat Dispenziere, Elaine Harvey, Otto Kruse, Victoria Alexander Marquez and Jami Wright are displayed on several walls of the Visitor Center. Through the use of watercolor, mixed media and photography, the artists have framed and realized scenes of natural beauty.

This morning, after finishing an extraordinary wildlife tracking walk (which I’ll blog about shortly), I stepped into the Visitor Center to admire the artwork. I took a few photos to provide a small taste.

Are you in San Diego? Do you appreciate excellent art? All of these pieces are available for purchase!

And guess what? Take home some collectible artwork and a portion of the sale will benefit the Mission Trails Regional Park Foundation!

Isn’t it Amazing is open free to the public and runs through February 14, 2020.

Colorful artwork depicting nature's beauty on display in the art gallery at the Mission Trails Regional Park Visitor Center.
Colorful artwork depicting nature’s beauty on display in the art gallery at the Mission Trails Regional Park Visitor Center.

High Valley, watercolor by artist Pat Dispenziere.
High Valley, watercolor by artist Pat Dispenziere.

Smith Rock, Central Oregon, watercolor by artist Jami Wright.
Smith Rock, Central Oregon, watercolor by artist Jami Wright.

Dances With Waves, watercolor by artist Elaine Harvey.
Dances With Waves, watercolor by artist Elaine Harvey.

Sycamore Sun, watercolor by artist Elaine Harvey.
Sycamore Sun, watercolor by artist Elaine Harvey.

In the Forest Deep, watercolor by artist Jami Wright.
In the Forest Deep, watercolor by artist Jami Wright.

SC12 #12, mixed media by artist Victoria Alexander Marquez.
SC12 #12, mixed media by artist Victoria Alexander Marquez.

Seldom Seen, watercolor by artist Elaine Harvey.
Seldom Seen, watercolor by artist Elaine Harvey.

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!