Bay Cafe makes way for new observation platform.

The Bay Cafe is making way for an observation platform on San Diego Bay.
The Bay Cafe is making way for an observation platform on San Diego Bay.

The Bay Cafe is almost gone.

Many years ago, I loved to grab some food in the small waterfront cafe and bring it up onto the rooftop. From a table beneath an umbrella, I’d gaze out at the sparkling water.  I’d observe passing sailboats, people on the Broadway Pier, and cruise ships docked at the nearby terminal. When two or more huge cruise ships were in port, I’d watch with interest as the departing Coronado ferry and harbor tour boats navigated the narrow space between them. In those days, the Bay Cafe also served as an embarkation hub for San Diego Harbor Excursion, now called Flagship. A ramp from inside the deli plunged down to a floating dock, where a gift shop was housed in a special boat. On this small dock a harbor cruise photographer asked guests to pose by a life preserver.

Up on the roof, if I wanted a change of view, I’d grab another table where I could gaze back toward downtown and watch tourists flow along Harbor Drive. There were almost always several empty tables. Few people seemed to realize the rooftop was open.

The Bay Cafe’s roof was also used for many years by broadcasters covering parades down Harbor Drive. From up there you could see everything.

My walk this morning brought back those memories. And a bit of sadness. The Bay Cafe is being demolished as I type these very words. The structure will be removed, but the concrete pad and pilings will remain, as part of an observation platform jutting over the water. It’s just one small part of the Embarcadero’s recent renovation. I’m sure the change will be great. I believe there are supposed to be benches where folks can just sit and enjoy the views. If there are, I’ll surely enjoy them. But time and progress march on. The Bay Cafe is almost just a memory.

Demolition of the old waterfront cafe and harbor tour embarkation hub is underway.
Demolition of the old waterfront cafe and harbor tour embarkation hub is underway.
Many years ago dining could be enjoyed on the sunny roof, with views of the water, sailboats and downtown skyscrapers.
Many years ago dining could be enjoyed on the sunny roof, with views of the water, sailboats and downtown skyscrapers.
Improvements on the Embarcadero consign this wonderful place to memory.
Improvements on the Embarcadero consign this wonderful place to memory.

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Priest sprinkles startled pets with holy water!

Many animals were blessed in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.
Many animals were blessed today in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.

The animals were blessed today in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.

Dozens of beloved pets received a sprinkling of holy water at the annual Benediction of the Beasts, a long-time local tradition.

Monsignor Mark Campbell, Catholic priest of Our Mother of Confidence Parish in University City, administered the blessings. The traditional church ritual, which dates back to ancient times, invokes St. Anthony of the Desert, the Patron Saint of Animals. In the very early years of San Diego, livestock were blessed for an abundant harvest.

I watched for livestock but, alas, didn’t see any.

After today’s blessings, the fun event included a mid-afternoon costume and animal trick contest, which I missed. The male human ritual of watching football could not be violated.

Front row dogs wait patiently for the ceremony to begin.
Front row dogs wait patiently for the religious ceremony to begin.
Monsignor Mark Campbell reads from Genesis and praises faithful pets.
Monsignor Mark Campbell reads from Genesis and praises faithful pets.
Holy water is cast by the Catholic priest upon animals to bestow health and blessings.
Holy water is cast by the Catholic priest upon animals to bestow health and blessings.
Animals lined up for blessings included dogs, cats and rabbits.
Animals lined up for blessings included dogs, cats and rabbits.
These two guys seemed to enjoy the proceedings.
These two guys seemed to enjoy the proceedings.
Bunny rabbits need blessings as much as any other creature.
Cute, furry bunny rabbits need blessings as much as any other creature.
Here comes Chopper, the motorcycle-riding dog, a local celebrity.
Here comes Chopper, the motorcycle-riding dog, a big time celebrity.

Chopper, the canine motorcyclist, is quite the sensation in San Diego. I must’ve seen him on local television news a dozen times. He’s even made a cameo appearance on TMZ!

Chopper rides his motorcycle up to the priest for a sprinkling of holy water.
Chopper rides his motorcycle up to the priest for a sprinkling of holy water.
This dog was a bit spooked and didn't know what to make of things.
This dog was a bit spooked and didn’t know what to make of this craziness.
A cat is fascinated by the shiny aspergillum waving about.
A cat is fascinated by the shiny aspergillum waving about.
One dog seems bored while the other appears suspicious!
One dog seems bored while the other appears suspicious!
A long line of pet owners waited in Old Town during the Benediction of the Beasts.
A long line of pet owners waited in Old Town during the Benediction of the Beasts.

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Bike share stations pop up around San Diego.

DecoBike bikeshare location on Broadway between Santa Fe Depot and America Plaza.
DecoBike bikeshare station on Broadway between Santa Fe Depot and America Plaza.

During my walks around San Diego in the past few months, I’ve noticed new bike sharing stations popping up at various locations. The green-signed docks still contain no bikes, but according to articles I’ve read the program is supposed to finally begin this month, after many delays.

Bike sharing in San Diego will be facilitated by DecoBike, a company based in Miami, where a similar system has been installed. They plan to eventually have around 180 electronic rental stations and 1,800 standardized bicycles.

San Diegans and city visitors will be able to rent bicycles for one-time use, or purchase a monthly or annual membership. The number of bikes available at any station will be visible in real time on DecoBike’s online station map.

According to signs at each bikeshare station, renting a bike will cost $5 per half hour, $7 per hour, or $12 for two hours. Memberships will cost $15 for one day, $35 for one week, or $50 for one month.

Looks interesting. Perhaps I’ll do a little more bicycling!

New bike sharing locking docks in East Village just north of Petco Park.
More locking bicycle docks in East Village, just north of Petco Park.
DecoBike bikeshare stations feature a touchscreen, instructions and a row of bike docks.
DecoBike bikeshare stations feature a touchscreen, instructions and a row of bike docks.
Sign shows rental and membership rates.
Sign shows rental and membership rates.
Another bike sharing station on El Prado near the west end of Balboa Park.
Another bike sharing station on El Prado near the west end of Balboa Park.

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History inside Old Town’s San Diego Union Building.

Plaque marks the birthplace of the San Diego Union newspaper in 1868.
Plaque marks the birthplace of the San Diego Union newspaper in 1868.

There are many interesting houses and buildings within Old Town San Diego State Historic Park. One of the most fascinating is the San Diego Union Building. Take a step inside and you’ll see the carefully restored birthplace of a present-day major newspaper: the San Diego Union Tribune.

The framework of the building, erected around 1851, is believed to have been originally fabricated in Maine, then shipped to San Diego around Cape Horn. The San Diego Union was first published on October 10, 1868. The newspaper’s editor at that time was Edward “Ned” Wilkerson Bushyhead, a Cherokee Indian with a Scottish ancestor.

The newspaper began as a modest four page weekly, and was produced on a massive wrought iron Washington hand press. In the museum one can also see an authentic 1860’s recreation of the editor’s room, which contains a desk once owned by the son of Ulysses S. Grant!

The San Diego Union Building in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park contains a print shop and editor's office.
The San Diego Union Building in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park contains a print shop and editor’s office.
The prefabricated wood-frame building was erected in 1851.
The prefabricated wood-frame building was erected circa 1851. In 1967 the building was restored by James S. Copley, who at the time was owner of the San Diego Union Tribune.
Old wood stove just inside the front entrance to accurately restored newspaper office.
Old wood stove just inside the front entrance of accurately restored newspaper office.
Drawers hold hand-set type that used to be used in old newspaper printing presses.
Drawers hold hand-set type that used to be assembled in a press for newspaper printing.
Massive Washington hand press can be glimpsed to the right in small printing shop.
A massive Washington hand press can be glimpsed to the right in the small printing shop.
The small editor's office contains a desk once owned by the son of President Ulysses S. Grant. Ulysses S. Grant, Jr. built a grand hotel in San Diego's New Town.
The small editor’s office contains a desk once owned by the son of President Ulysses S. Grant. In 1910 Ulysses S. Grant, Jr. built a grand hotel in San Diego’s New Town. (I took this photo in August 2017.)
The Newspaper Museum is open daily from 10 to 5.
The Newspaper Museum is open daily from 10 to 5.

UPDATE!

In August 2017, during Stagecoach Days in Old Town, I was able to actually enter the print shop and take better photos of the presses and other objects inside. (Usually visitors must peer or take photographs from a greater distance.)

Washington hand presses were common on the frontier because of their relative light weight. They required two people for efficient operation.
Washington hand presses were common on the frontier because of their relative light weight. They required two people for efficient operation.
Fresh paper was laid on inked type. Setting the type for new articles on just one page could take hours. Fortunately, many advertisements on a page remained the same.
Fresh paper was laid on inked type and an impression made. Setting the type for new articles on just one page could take hours. Fortunately, many advertisements on a page didn’t change.
This jobber printing press would have been used for small jobs such as stationery and handbills.
A jobber printing press like this would have been used for small jobs such as stationery and handbills.
This safe is the one original object displayed inside the reconstructed San Diego Union Building in Old Town.
This safe is the only original object displayed inside the restored San Diego Union Building in Old Town.
A type case full of large cast metal sorts. Individual letters were combined into words, sentences and paragraphs.
A type case full of large cast metal sorts. Individual letters were combined into words, sentences and paragraphs.
Manual typesetting for old presses, as one might imagine, took patience and a good eye.
Manual typesetting for old presses, as one might imagine, took lots of patience and a good eye.
Gazing from the print shop toward the building's entrance area.
Gazing from the print shop toward the small building’s entrance area.
According to one sign, the San Diego Union Building was erected around 1850 by Miguel Pedrorena. The Washington Press, type and printing supplies arrived by steamship from Northern California.
According to one sign, the San Diego Union Building was erected around 1850 by Miguel Pedrorena. The Washington Press, type and printing supplies arrived by steamship from Northern California.
A docent explains how the San Diego Union newspaper was composed and printed many years ago.
A knowledgeable lady in period attire explains how the San Diego Union newspaper was composed and printed a century and a half ago, long before the digital age.

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Kids’ NewsDay benefits Rady Children’s Hospital!

Selling special edition Union-Tribune newspapers during Kids' NewsDay!
Selling very special edition Union-Tribune newspapers during Kids’ NewsDay!

Smiling volunteers could be seen throughout San Diego this morning selling special edition newspapers! Today was the 25th anniversary of Kids’ NewsDay, a much-anticipated yearly event whose purpose is to benefit Rady Children’s Hospital.

Over the years, thousands of children and families have been helped by the money raised by generous people who purchase this inspiring edition of the San Diego Union-Tribune. Since the first Kids’ NewsDay in 1990, about 30,000 volunteers have sold over a million papers, raising nearly 3 million dollars! That’s amazing! The featured section of the newspaper is filled with stories of kids overcoming extremely difficult situations, many with rare or life-threatening diseases. The stories are filled with optimism, and the most inspiring stories are written by children themselves!

If you would like to make a donation to Rady Children’s Hospital, please click this link!

Kid's NewsDay helps raise funds for Rady Children's Hospital in San Diego.
Kid’s NewsDay helps raise funds for Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego.

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New public art along downtown trolley tracks.

New public art being applied to building on San Diego's waterfront.
New public art being applied to building on San Diego’s waterfront.

Early yesterday morning, I strolled for a few minutes along San Diego’s beautiful Embarcadero. I wanted to get some photographs to update last year’s blog post about the Star of India’s tattered sails.

While heading back east on Beech Street, I noticed some gigantic public art is being applied to the west side of the relatively new Ariel Luxury Apartments building. This high-rise stands between Santa Fe Depot and the Little Italy trolley station.

I’ve found no info on the internet about this new artwork. Here are some pics!

A red San Diego trolley passes fishermen catching a huge fish!
A red San Diego trolley passes fishermen catching a huge fish!
This new artwork is on the side of the Ariel Luxury Apartments in downtown.
This new artwork is on the side of the Ariel Luxury Apartments in downtown San Diego.

Half a century ago, San Diego was home to the world’s largest tuna fishing fleet! This image of fishermen working together is very similar to a sculpture on Shelter Island, which I have yet to blog about!

Workers on platform busy mounting a gigantic trophy fish to a high-rise building!
Workers on platform mount a gigantic trophy fish to a high-rise building!

I’m not sure what the white stuff is running down the building’s side. I suppose that will be removed when all is done!

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Microburst destroys trees along San Diego River.

Large trees by San Diego River snapped by sudden violent microburst winds.
Large trees by San Diego River snapped by sudden violent microburst winds.

Late yesterday, a few minutes after five o’clock, a violent microburst tore through Mission Valley, several miles north of downtown San Diego. Similar microbursts occurred elsewhere around the city and county, bringing thunder and lightning, torrential downpours and extremely violent winds. San Diegans saw on the news how many small airplanes parked at Montgomery Field in Kearny Mesa (a few miles farther north) were thrown through the air and overturned like mere toys.

I was fortunate. I left the place where I work in Mission Valley half an hour early. Many of my coworkers weren’t so fortunate. One, walking to the Hazard Center trolley station, took shelter in a grocery store while the wind, sounding like an oncoming tornado, knocked over sturdy steel shopping cart corrals in the parking lot with ease. He reported the fury of the storm only lasted a few minutes.

Early this morning I walked along the pathway that follows the north side of the San Diego River. For better than a mile, from Qualcomm Way west well past Mission Center Road, I photographed the aftermath of the terrifying microburst. The amount of damage to the river’s lush canopy of trees was indescribable. Hundreds of trees, large and small, were torn to pieces or uprooted by the brief microbust.

These pics aren’t so cool, but they are interesting…

Popular pathway through Mission Valley is covered with miles of fallen trees.
Popular pathway through Mission Valley is covered with miles of fallen trees.
Walking along the river required fancy footwork the morning after the freak storm.
Walking along the river required fancy footwork the morning after the freak storm.
One of many trees torn to pieces next to residential buildings.
One of many trees torn to pieces next to residential buildings.
The late summer microburst came on a very hot, humid San Diego day.
The late summer microburst came on a very hot, humid San Diego day.
San Diego River seen behind devastated trees near walking path.
San Diego River seen behind devastated trees near walking path.
This hurricane-like rainstorm ended so quickly no severe flooding occurred.
This hurricane-like rainstorm ended so quickly no severe flooding occurred.

This sign talks about the history of flooding in Mission Valley, and how nature occasionally flushes out accumulated debris and keeps the river healthy. Because the storm was so brief, nature didn’t create much flooding yesterday–but it certainly created quite a bit of debris!

Many trees around the developed parts of Mission Valley were also uprooted!
Many trees around the developed parts of Mission Valley were also uprooted!

Tree trimming businesses and city workers converged in full force on Mission Valley today! Many truckloads of branches were hauled off from all over!

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