Old Town State Park expansion nears completion!

This morning I walked around the north end of Old Town San Diego State Historic Park. I wanted to check out the progress that has been made with the State Park’s big expansion.

Old Town’s new outdoor interpretative area is beautiful and appears to be nearing completion!

I took photos of the area under construction four months ago and posted them here. You can definitely see the progress!

This large plot of land where the old Caltrans building used to be–at the corner of Juan Street and Taylor Street–is being converted into an inviting space that is alive with native vegetation and historical exhibits. Visitors walking along various pathways will have the opportunity to learn about the life and culture of the Native American Kumeyaay people. The Kumeyaay lived here by the San Diego River long before Europeans arrived.

The California State Parks website refers to this outdoor space as Land of the First People Exhibit Area—called Iipay ~ Tipai Kumeyaay Mut Niihepok.

As I circled the construction site fence, I noticed many plaques have been installed. I’ll be eager to read them once this area opens to the public.

This is what I saw…

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!

Mutt’Tipi–People of the Earth mural in IB.

Today I enjoyed long walks in both San Ysidro and Imperial Beach. I captured many photos, which I’ll share in the next few days!

First up, I discovered this amazing mural in Imperial Beach at the corner of Palm Avenue and 2nd Street, on the side of a 7-Eleven. It was painted in 2018 and I was surprised that I hadn’t noticed it previously. It’s titled Mutt’Tipi–People of the Earth. The artist is Marissa Quinn.

MuttTipi is the name that some Native American Kumeyaay in our region have called themselves, and it translates to People of the Earth.

The mural’s spiritual and environmental message includes a variety of symbols, including the sacred sun and moon, once-endangered brown pelicans and healing honeybees. The pelicans have human legs, connecting them to past ancestors.

The mural itself has an earthy look, which appears to be by design. It is also the result of wind, soil, rain and sunshine, and time’s passage.

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Video recreates historic Voyages of the San Salvador!

Behind come America, Cloudia and galleon San Salvador.

A fantastic video produced by the National Park Service and Aperture Films, with a very big assist from the Maritime Museum of San Diego, recreates the historic Voyages of the San Salvador!

If you’ve ever visited the Maritime Museum of San Diego, you’ve certainly boarded the amazing working replica of a Spanish galleon. The San Salvador was built to recreate, as closely as possible, explorer Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo’s flagship of the same name, which he sailed during his voyage of discovery up the California coast. It was Cabrillo who discovered San Diego Bay for Spain in 1542.

A few years ago a film was made about Cabrillo’s historic Pacific Ocean voyage, using the Maritime Museum’s galleon during a trip to the Channel Islands. The film, titled Voyages of the San Salvador, was meant to be seen in the theater at Cabrillo National Monument, but I learned today from its leading actor, Al Sorkin, that you can view it online!

Voyages of the San Salvador, as described by the National Park Service: “…follows the 1542 expedition led by Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo on a journey to find a route to China to trade for valuable spices. The film explores the motivation behind this incredible risk and the lasting effects European exploration has had on the native Kumeyaay people. This expedition marked the first European landing on what is now the west coast of the United States.”

As you watch the video, you might recognize that the segment concerning Cabrillo’s departure from his home was filmed in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, at La Casa de Machado y Stewart. And the beach scene beneath towering cliffs was filmed at Torrey Pines State Beach.

Watch the incredible and very educational Voyages of the San Salvador–in English or in Spanish–by clicking here!

Al Sorkin, who played Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo in the National Park Service film Voyages of the San Salvador, poses for a photo at the Maritime Museum of 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!

Watermarks art at Mission Trails Regional Park.

Extraordinary public art can be found at one entrance to Mission Trails Regional Park in San Diego. Titled Watermarks, the long, curving mosaic wall stands adjacent to the water pump station at Mission Gorge Road and Deerfield Street. Hikers proceeding through a gate in the beautiful wall find themselves on the Deerfield Crossing Trail.

Watermarks was created in 2000 by Lynn Susholtz and Aida Mancillas of artist collaborative Stone Paper Scissors. According to this page of the San Diego Civic Art Collection website: “Applied to the wall is a highly detailed mosaic of tile, indigenous rock and metal pieces etched sporadically with petroglyphs, text and animal tracks…(the wall) serves to illustrate the ecological, historical and cultural importance of the park and the San Diego River. Once used by the Kumeyaay Indian tribe and the Spanish missionaries, the San Diego River connects our histories, cultures and lives.”

I took these photographs on a gray day between winter showers.

I love how the blue tile mosaic river flows and meanders along the earthy wall. Native plants like mesquite, wild onion, yucca and sage appear like fossils on river stones, each labeled with both their English and Kumeyaay names. On the ground and bench, you can see how nature’s fallen leaves, and rain water collected in the sculpted animal tracks, imbue this amazing artwork with even more life.

Six miles downstream, in 1769, the Spanish established the Misión San Diego de Alcalá, creating the demand for a mission waterworks system which was continually modified from 1775 through the 1830’s. The Old Mission Dam, located at the top of the gorge, was constructed of local stone, clay deposits from the river, and a cement mortar mixture over a solid foundation of bedrock. The dam provided a reliable water source for crops and livestock brought in by the Spanish. The dam and subsequent aqueduct connection were fully operational for less than twenty years.

(If you’d like to see photos of a hike to the Old Mission Dam, click 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!

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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!

Kumeyaay exhibit area in Old Town takes shape!

I swung by Old Town San Diego State Historic Park this afternoon for a short walk.

While most of Old Town has been very quiet during the COVID-19 pandemic, the construction of the new outdoor Kumeyaay exhibit space in one corner of the park has been going full speed ahead. And it’s really taking shape!

I last posted photos of the construction in October. See those here. At the time, I was calling it the “new Kumeyaay park.” But I see there’s now an updated California State Parks web page concerning the project, and this outdoor area featuring interpretive exhibits is officially called Iipay ~ Tipai Kumeyaay Mut Niihepok, which translates to Land of the First People.

To see that web page, which includes a rendering and a map, click 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!

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Native American flute mural in Barrio Logan.

There’s an extraordinary mural in Barrio Logan. It’s one of my favorites.

The spray painted art appears to feature Kokopelli, the flute-playing fertility deity from some Native American cultures in the Southwest. The landscapes and dwellings in this mural might indicate the people being portrayed are the Hopi. But I can’t say for certain. I’ve walked past this mural three different times searching for an artist signature, so that I could do more research, but to no avail.

The mural was painted on a row of three small buildings along Main Street, just southeast of the Coronado Bay Bridge. I asked a postal delivery person during one walk if he knew anything about the mural, and was told it has been there for years. Another person who works in one of the buildings could provide no information.

What follows is a series of photographs that I took walking along the sidewalk by this amazing mural, from right to left.

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!

Bronze wildlife sculptures at Viejas outlet mall.

Many realistic bronze sculptures representing regional wildlife can be found all around the Viejas Outlet Center in Alpine, California. This unique shopping mall, filled with beautiful artwork inspired by Native American Kumeyaay life and culture, is operated by the Viejas Group of Capitan Grande Band of Mission Indians of the Viejas Reservation.

The wildlife sculptures are found throughout the mall, among trees, on pedestrian walkways, even lurking atop artificial rocks and waterfalls. Families turning corners might encounter a bear, mule deer, mountain lions, a rattlesnake, coyote, river otter, Canada geese, and even desert bighorn sheep. Adult animals are often accompanied by their young. The bronze sculptures depict the animals interacting with each other naturally in their small realistic settings.

The wildlife sculptures were created by award-winning El Cajon artist Robert G. Berry, who began as a taxidermist before turning animal sculptor. His work can also be enjoyed at the San Diego Zoo, Cypress Gardens in Tampa, Florida, and at the Mission Trails Regional Park Visitor and Interpretive Center, which is also in San Diego. To see a few examples of his half dozen bronze sculptures at Mission Trails, click here!

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Powerful mural honors Kumeyaay people.

I recently came across an article about a newly painted mural in Chicano Park. So I headed to Barrio Logan today to see it up close.

The colorful, symbolic mural celebrates the Native American Kumeyaay story of Creation. It was designed by artist Carmen Linares Kalo. The painting was completed with the help of many artists. (You can see their names in some of the following photos.)

All of the murals inside Chicano Park are bold and vibrant, but I must say the imagery in this one is exceptionally powerful.

The Kumeyaay people lived on this land thousands of years before the existence of a United States or a Mexico or a Spain, and their spiritual connection to nature is beautifully conveyed. Different native animals represent different people in the story of Creation.

Sadly, one person in this world that we all share, when I approached the mural, was buried among painted flowers, homeless.

If you want to learn more about this mural, and its special dedication event a couple months ago, check out the article here.

If you’d like to read Kumeyaay stories concerning their world, its ancient creation and unending life, visit the web page Kumeyaay Religions and Legends and follow the links!

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!

Progress at Old Town’s new Kumeyaay park.

I walked around Old Town San Diego this afternoon looking for anything interesting or new. As I passed the area that is being developed into a new outdoor park with Kumeyaay interpretive displays, I noticed great progress has been made. I last blogged about this spacious new park in early May, and provided much more information about it here.

Today, as I walked along the west side of this new park, I took some photos over the construction fence. I saw that many native trees have been planted!

UPDATE!

Here are some photos I took in late October…

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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!