Walking by the Miramar College Vernal Pools.

Today I walked through a small section of Mira Mesa. I was on a mission to check out a cool sculpture I’d read about that stands in front of a fire station.

As I walked west along Hillery Drive from the Miramar College Transit Station, I observed what at first glance appeared like a scrubby vacant lot behind a fence. When I came to the corner of Hillery Drive and Black Mountain Road, a sign on the fence informed me that I was looking at an area of special environmental importance–a unique nature preserve!

I was walking right next to the Miramar College Vernal Pools.

Here’s a little information provided by three signs that I read:

This plot of land was originally leased to the Navy in 1931 and called Linda Vista Mesa Field, or Hourglass Field because of its distinctive shape. It was part of Camp Kearny, which was located on the site of the current Marine Corps Air Station Miramar. This field was used by the Army and Navy for dive bombing practice and emergency landings.

From 1957 to 1959, the field was used as a sports car racecourse, and from the 1970’s to 2008 what remained of the old runway was used for law enforcement training and nicknamed The Grinder.

The protected field now contains many seasonal vernal pools–a very rare type of wetland. Shallow vernal pools are wet during the rainy season–particularly in spring–then quickly turn to mud and dry out. Because of this unusual environment, a number of rare and endemic species live in vernal pool areas. In addition to teeming microscopic life and small crustaceans like the fairy shrimp, there are frogs, snakes, birds and mammals. More than 200 plant species thrive in and around vernal pools, including annual wildflowers.

One sign indicates the Miramar College Vernal Pools’ interpretive trails are open Monday through Friday from 7 am to 10:30 pm. Unfortunately, I walked by on a Saturday and had to observe this natural area from behind the surrounding fence.

If you want to read the signs, click my photos and they will enlarge.

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!

Amazing views on La Jolla’s Coast Walk Trail.

The short but incredibly scenic Coast Walk Trail in La Jolla winds along the Pacific Ocean from the Cave Store on Coast Boulevard to Torrey Pines Road. You can find it by walking east up the hill from La Jolla Cove. Google Maps shows the trail.

Should your feet move down the Coast Walk, heading east, a short distance beyond rocky Goldfish Point, these photographs provide an idea of the breathtaking views you’ll likely experience…

We are the most perfect song.
The Coast Walk Trail follows the edge of high sandstone bluffs. It offers amazing views of the Pacific Ocean, La Jolla Shores and the more distant cliffs of Torrey Pines.
Sign asks those who walk by to help save this historic Coast Walk Trail.
Sections of the Coast Walk follow a white wooden fence.
Gazing back at the 200-foot high sandstone bluffs where we walked a few photos back. You can make out some of the seven different La Jolla Caves that can be visited from the ocean.
Kayakers gather in the distance off Goldfish Point not far from the watery entrance to famous Sunny Jim Cave.
A couple enjoys the view east, toward La Jolla Shores.
Several kayakers paddle across the ocean, just off the rocks down below!
Another photo back toward the 75 million years old eroded sandstone cliffs, the La Jolla Caves and Goldfish Point.
As I near the east end of the Coast Walk Trail, I find a perfect bench with an incredible view.
A very beautiful and inspiring place to be.
Waves curling in brush white foam across the deep blue.
In a few places, at the cliff’s edge, if you aren’t afraid of sheer drops and dizzying heights, you can look straight down and see underwater features!
An amazing view from the east end of the Coast Walk Trail in La Jolla.

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!

Early autumn beauty in San Clemente Canyon.

Yesterday I returned to Marian Bear Memorial Park in San Clemente Canyon to experience more of nature’s beauty.

It’s early autumn. The days are growing shorter. I noticed some sycamore leaves are changing.

I walked east from Genesee Avenue along the park’s main trail. Near the end of my walk I heard and then glimpsed a red-tailed hawk, but it was winging past way up in the blue sky. I envied its view.

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 very creepy corner of one city park!

Three months ago I enjoyed a great summer hike at Marian Bear Memorial Park in San Clemente Canyon. See those photos here. Today I decided to return and perhaps experience some autumn color, now that it’s October.

My walk was wonderful, as you’ll see in my next blog post, but there was one corner of this semi-wild city park where I thought I’d stepped into a very weird nightmare or horror movie!

Just in time for Halloween, take a look at the coming creepy photos!

As I hiked down a side trail that approaches Genesee Avenue from the east, the trees grew old and dense, the space beneath them darkened, and I soon found myself walking where few seem to tread among weirdly twisted roots and branches.

Had I entered an ancient, evil forest in Middle Earth? Were ravenous, sinister creatures eyeing me? Would I momentarily encounter the Blair Witch?

Those blood-red hacks in one tree trunk was too creepy for me!

I looked over my shoulder, turned my feet about, and doing my utmost to appear unfazed (in case any eyes were watching), I promptly scooted back to the park’s main 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!

Dappled beauty at Japanese Friendship Garden.

This afternoon I enjoyed a new exhibition of beautiful cultural artifacts at the Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa Park. The exhibition, featuring pieces in the collection of the Mingei International Museum, concerns Japanese maneki neko, which are beckoning cat figurines believed to bring good luck.

Beforehand and afterward, I walked about the garden. Everywhere I turned I saw dappled light and shadow–in trees, on rocks, on the grass. So I took these photographs of the surrounding beauty…

If you love the Japanese Friendship Garden and would like to walk with them as they grow, read the above sign.

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!

Almost autumn beauty by the river.

It’s almost autumn. Tomorrow we’ll experience the autumnal equinox in the Northern Hemisphere. And the weather feels a bit like it.

I rose early this morning and found myself walking by the San Diego River in Mission Valley, enjoying the cool air. I moved slowly along the river wondering when the sun might break through the gray clouds. Maybe later in the morning.

Even though the very gradually yellowing leaves and gray, wrinkled trunks of nearby cottonwood trees seemed dull under the overcast, in places I found patches of unexpected light. Here and there new green was pushing through. I even found tiny flowers.

Nature in every season is beautiful.

It’s right there in front of you.

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!

Living Coast Discovery Center needs your help!

I just read an article on the KPBS website about how the Living Coast Discovery Center desperately needs donations during the coronavirus pandemic.

Most of their revenue comes from people visiting the center, which has been closed. Meanwhile, the many animals in their care–the birds, turtles, snakes, small mammals and other wild critters rescued around South Bay’s wetlands–need to eat! That requires money!

So I thought perhaps some of my San Diego readers might like to help out, too.

Have your kids taken school field trips to the Living Coast Discovery Center? Have you enjoyed a visit with your family? These deserving people really need your help!

Click here to learn more and perhaps make a donation!

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!

UCSD: a walk back in time, and into the future.

Carved likeness of a famous naturalist at UC San Diego's John Muir College. The college motto is Celebrating the Independent Spirit.
Carved likeness of a famous naturalist at UCSD’s John Muir College. The college motto is Celebrating the Independent Spirit.

I was a student at UC San Diego’s John Muir College in the early 1980’s. Every so often I’ll walk through the campus and try to recrystallize those memories. But the older I get, the hazier those memories become.

My walk through UCSD yesterday did make it clear how, after nearly four decades, everything about the university has changed. The explosion of growth is ongoing. New buildings are everywhere. Muir College–once one of UCSD’s most esteemed pillars along with the original Revelle College–is now just a small part of a sprawling university that’s considered one of the best in the entire world.

It’s summer. Almost nobody could be seen as I walked around. That is, until I reached the north edge of John Muir College. Construction workers were busy.

The two enormous parking lots that I remember between Muir and Marshall Colleges are being transformed into what’s called the North Torrey Pines Living and Learning Neighborhood. And I learned from a friendly worker that the two new dormitory buildings near North Torrey Pines Road will be finished in a couple of weeks! Other impressive buildings, which include new academic centers—one for Social Sciences and one for Arts and Humanities–will be completed in a month or two!

The new North Torrey Pines Living and Learning Neighborhood is to become the home of Sixth College.

Six colleges now?

Time marches on.

Campus sign details the legacy of famous naturalist, environmentalist, explorer, and nature writer John Muir, advocate for America's national park system and one of the founders of the Sierra Club.
Campus sign details the legacy of famous naturalist, environmentalist, explorer, and nature writer John Muir, advocate for America’s national park system and one of the founders of the Sierra Club.

A grove of tall eucalyptus trees near the center of John Muir College, where there's an emphasis on individual study.
A grove of tall eucalyptus trees near the center of John Muir College, where there’s an emphasis on individual study.

McGill Hall behind trees of an outdoor common area.
McGill Hall behind trees of an outdoor common area.

It's summer. School's out. And there's the ongoing coronavirus pandemic situation, too.
It’s summer. School’s out. And there’s the ongoing coronavirus pandemic situation, too.

A John Muir quote on a banner. How fiercely, devoutly wild is Nature in the midst of her beauty-loving tenderness.
A John Muir quote on a banner. How fiercely, devoutly wild is Nature in the midst of her beauty-loving tenderness.

To the north of John Muir College, multiple large buildings will be finished in the near future.
To the north of John Muir College, multiple large buildings will be finished in the near future.

Banner on fence shows rendering of the new North Torrey Pines Living and Learning Neighborhood.
Banner on fence shows rendering of the new North Torrey Pines Living and Learning Neighborhood.

Part of UCSD's large expansion near North Torrey Pines Road.
Part of UCSD’s large expansion near North Torrey Pines Road.

A student dorm building that will be finished in a matter of two weeks. Time marches forward.
A student dormitory building that will be finished in two weeks.

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!

Sunflowers on the Silver Strand.

There were many empty picnic benches on the bay side of Silver Strand State Beach today.

I chose a shady one that faced these bright sunflowers. Then I took out a notebook and struggled with my writing.

Words never seem adequate.

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!

If you’d like to read an inspirational little story about sunflowers and human kindness, click here!

A walk by the beautiful river in Santee.

Marker beside the San Diego River Trail in Santee.
Marker beside the San Diego River Trail in Santee.

Yesterday I walked along a section of the beautiful San Diego River in Santee.

I started from Cuyamaca Street and headed west down the San Diego River Trail. When I reached the east edge of Mast Park, I turned south onto a dirt path, crossed the river via a footbridge, then turned back west once I reached a trail that follows the south side of the river. I continued west along a wooden fence until it came to an end, then turned back to Cuyamaca Street.

Here are my photos.

Starting west from Cuyamaca Street on the north side of the river.
Starting west from Cuyamaca Street on the north side of the river.

View toward the river broadens from the trail.
View toward the river broadens from the trail. (I continued to walk west and didn’t follow this particular dirt path.)

A bat box near the river.
A bat box near the river.

Sign at Mast Park describes habitat of the San Diego River Ecosystem. Snakes, lizards, turtles and ducks live here.
Sign at Mast Park describes habitat of the San Diego River Ecosystem. Snakes, lizards, turtles and ducks live here, plus many other birds.

Beginning south down a dirt path toward the river.
Beginning south down a dirt path toward the river.

Bright foliage.
Bright river foliage.

A wet, marshy area near the river's edge.
A wet, marshy area at the river’s edge.

Approaching a footbridge that spans the San Diego River.
Approaching a footbridge that spans the San Diego River.

Looking west from the bridge on a summer's day. It hasn't rained for a long time. The river here resembles a series of small lakes.
Looking west from the bridge on a summer’s day. It hasn’t rained for a long time. The river here resembles a series of small lakes.

Looking east from the bridge.
Looking east from the bridge.

Continuing south.
Continuing south.

Light in leaves.
Light in leaves.

Duckweed in pooled river water.
Duckweed in pooled river water.

Another sign south of the river. Except for the largemouth bass, all the creatures shown are native to California and the river.
Another sign south of the river. Except for the largemouth bass, all the creatures shown are native to California and the river.

Looking back north. I now turned west again and continued my walk.
Looking back north. I now turned west again and continued my walk.

A sign tells people to keep away from the endangered Least Bell's Vireo nesting area.
A sign tells people to keep away from the endangered Least Bell’s Vireo nesting area.

Following a wooden fence.
Following a wooden fence.

More light in leaves.
More light in leaves.

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!