House of USA celebrates in Balboa Park!

During my walk through Balboa Park this afternoon, I observed members of the House of USA setting up for their lawn program at the International Cottages. And suddenly I remembered Independence Day is coming up on Thursday!

After walking a little more about the park, I returned to the International Cottages right at two o’clock, just in time for the singing of the Star Spangled Banner.

The crowd wasn’t very large, but everyone was enjoying a fine occasion. The House of USA was serving up hot dogs, and people were stepping inside their cottage to see all sorts of cultural and historical displays. Outside on the stage, Navy Band Southwest’s outstanding Prevailing Winds Ensemble was playing a mixture of classic and popular tunes. I really enjoyed their great rendition of music from The Incredibles!

I checked out a couple of booths on the lawn. The House of USA princess posed for a cool photo. I met a gentlemen promoting the Civil Air Patrol.

Over the years, Civil Air Patrol volunteers have saved thousands of lives. They’re the ones who often transport emergency supplies after a disaster, spot people trapped on rooftops during catastrophic floods, and locate hikers lost in the mountains. I learned they have a cadet program for youth interesting in aviation, personal growth and community service.

The Civil Air Patrol always needs volunteers! Click here to learn more!

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!

Talented kids play the Spreckels Organ!

By far, the best part of my day in Balboa Park was the two o’clock Sunday concert at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion. San Diego Civic Organist Raúl Prieto Ramírez introduced four amazing kids, who each proceeded to play complex musical pieces!

These amazing local students range from 9 years old to 11th grade. The audience listened attentively as Aska Enomoto, Blake Bundschuh, Declan Bohley and Stephen Priest made the king of instruments come alive. Each young person explained why they loved playing organ. All received trophies for their outstanding achievements!

Only the most talented musicians are allowed to play the historic Spreckels Organ, the world’s largest outdoor musical instrument!

My blog doesn’t feature sound, unfortunately, so these photos will have to suffice. A picture might not be worth a thousand notes, but perhaps you can hear a majestic note or two coming through your eyes.

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 the colorful 2019 Mariachi Festival!

Ready for some super colorful photos?

In past years, the National City Chamber of Commerce’s amazing Annual International Mariachi Festival and Competition has been held in Pepper Park. You might remember my photographs in 2016 and 2017. For this year, 2019, the event was held in Chula Vista’s spacious Bayside Park!

I love the whirling colors of Mexican ballet folklórico dancing, and the soaring, unabashed joy of mariachi music, so today I had to go again!

I took photos of anything and everything!

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!

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!

Japanese music, pottery in Balboa Park.

Today I walked into the Exhibit Hall at the Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa Park just in time to listen to a wonderful small concert.

I seemed to drift into a living dream as I listened to extraordinarily beautiful music played on the traditional Japanese koto and shakuhachi. The musicians, Kyoko Takeda and Jon Crick, talked about the pieces they performed, and the instruments they played.

I heard flowing streams, and the wind, and deer calling, and raindrops, and notes rising and falling, and echoing mysteries, and perhaps even a whisper of the essence of life.

After the concert, I walked about the Exhibit Hall and enjoyed looking at the current exhibition, which is titled Tradition and Beyond. Five talented San Diego potters have used traditional Japanese ceramic techniques to create organic pieces. I saw a flowing, easy, natural beauty, spun carefully from the human spirit, much like music.

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!

To read a few stories I’ve written, visit Short Stories by Richard.

Magic windows appear in Balboa Park!

Visitors to Balboa Park see a magical landscape from a window-like balcony high in the California Tower.
Visitors to Balboa Park see a magical landscape from a window-like balcony high up in the California Tower.

Visit Balboa Park and you’ll discover many magic windows. They appear wherever you turn.

I looked through many magic windows today…

Windows at the Japanese Friendship Garden look out at the Karesansui Dry Stone Garden, where magic gradually appears for those who are still.
Windows at the Japanese Friendship Garden look out at the Karesansui Dry Stone Garden, where magic gradually appears for those who are still.
A bamboo kakei spills droplets of magic into a liquid window.
A bamboo kakei spills droplets of magic into a liquid window.
A rock window has been opened and polished, revealing the Earth's inner magic at the San Diego Mineral and Gem Society building.
A rock window has been opened and polished, revealing the Earth’s inner magic at the San Diego Mineral and Gem Society building.
Small windows to magical creativity delight the eye at the San Diego History Center. A current exhibition concerns the art of Bob Matheny.
Small windows to magical creativity delight the eye at the San Diego History Center. A current exhibition concerns the art of Bob Matheny.
Good Question, Bob Matheny, wood and enamel paint, 1967. True magic will forever remain a mystery.
Good Question, Bob Matheny, wood and enamel paint, 1967. True magic will forever remain a mystery.
A feathered subject in a magically rippling window appears for a photographer in Balboa Park.
A feathered subject in a magically rippling window appears for a photographer in Balboa Park.
A window to nature's magic at the Botanical Building.
A delicate window to nature’s magic at the Botanical Building.
Looking up toward a lath skylight full of green magic.
Looking up toward a lath skylight full of green magic.
The magical qualities of song become visible for a few minutes near the House of Ukraine at the International Cottages.
The magical qualities of song become visible for a few minutes near the House of Ukraine at the International Cottages.
This small window-like scene at the House of China contains a fantastic, magical vision carved from cork!
This small window-like scene inside the House of China contains a fantastic, magical vision carved from cork!
A magic window at the House of Charm looks forward into the future. The Mingei International Museum is undergoing a major renovation and expansion.
A magic window at Balboa Park’s House of Charm looks forward into the future. The Mingei International Museum is undergoing a major renovation and expansion.
One of many fine sculptures in the Plaza de Panama, and a window of the San Diego Museum of Art. Beyond that window are galleries full of magic.
One of many fine sculptures in the Plaza de Panama, and a window of the San Diego Museum of Art. Beyond that window are galleries full of magic.
Reflections join magically together in two very different rear windows of the San Diego Museum of Art.
Cloud reflections join magically together in two very different rear windows at the San Diego Museum of Art.
Deep inside one magic Balboa Park lamp one can find the Conrad Prebys Theatre Center.
Beyond this magic lamp’s window one can see the Conrad Prebys Theatre Center.
Window panes contain old magic at the Old Globe Theatre.
Window panes contain old magic performed at the Old Globe Theatre.
Another window into the future. This advanced art student is phenomenal. I didn't get his name. I am certain he will achieve great magic.
Another window into the future. This advanced art student is phenomenal. I didn’t get his name. I am one hundred percent certain he will produce great magic.
Nature's magic on Balboa Park's West Mesa, in a window formed by my camera's lens.
Nature’s magic on Balboa Park’s West Mesa, in a window formed by my camera’s lens.
A portal to the magic sky opens in a wall at the Spanish Village Art Center.
A portal to the magic sky opens in a wall at the Spanish Village Art Center.

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!

Do you love Balboa Park, too? Check out my other website Beautiful Balboa Park!

A beating heart, and neighboring stars.

I’ve written another short story. It’s titled A Heart That Would Not End.

This new story was inspired by my friend Mitchell the didgeridoo player.

Mitchell’s smile can be seen all around San Diego. Perhaps you’ve seen him playing one of his didgeridoos at Seaport Village or Balboa Park, or entertaining visitors inside the San Diego Zoo or Safari Park.

Not only does his music surge like the beating heart of the cosmos, but Mitchell has a deep interest in astronomy and our particular corner of the galaxy. He has created a unique Stellarium: a large three dimensional transparent cube filled with shining stars that represents our sun’s neighborhood. He has shown me photographs.

One day I hope to look into the Stellarium with my own eyes.

To read my new story, click here.

The triumphant return of the Spreckels Organ!

The amazing Spreckels Organ, largest outdoor musical instrument in the world and the joyful lungs of Balboa Park, made its triumphant return today!

After six weeks of silence because of a broken motor on the main blower, the Spreckels Organ is once again producing fantastic music, with a little help from San Diego’s world-famous Civic Organist, Raúl Prieto Ramírez!

Raul began today’s concert with Johann Sebastian Bach’s powerful Toccata and Fugue in D minor. The talented San Diego Children’s Choir then took the stage to perform a variety of classical songs, including Franz Schubert’s moving Ave Maria.

To honor Veterans Day, Raul concluded the program by playing three John Philip Sousa compositions: Semper Fidelis, In Memoriam, and Stars and Stripes Forever.

In a troubled world where the flag often flies at half-staff, this Sunday we were reminded that human good can prevail. With a little dedication any broken instrument in this world–even the mighty Spreckels Organ–can be repaired.

I saw many smiles in the sunshine.

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!