A short story about a search in the dark.

Back in Middle School, a bunch of classmates and I spent a summer weekend camping on Catalina Island. At the Parsons Landing primitive campground to be exact.

We hiked all over the north part of Catalina and saw bison, cliff dived into the ocean, sat around a campfire, and even went on an afternoon snipe hunt. (We saw bison? That’s correct! A small herd of bison was transported to this Southern California island by Hollywood for the filming of The Thundering Herd, a 1925 silent movie.)

The snipe hunt fascinated me. We headed up one of the trails above the campground searching right and left and occasionally beating a bush with a stick. Everyone knew from the start that the snipes weren’t real, but we all had fun “hunting” them anyway. At least for a little while. I think what made the snipe hunt fun was the shared joke, and the fact that we were heading up a trail that was new to us.

An idea for a short story came to me some time ago, based loosely on that snipe hunt experience. Of course, I changed many elements for my fictional story. It was necessary that I make the setting of the story a dark night.

You’ll see why when you read my new story, The Snipe Hunt, by clicking 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!

To read a few thought-provoking stories I’ve written, click Short Stories by Richard.

Night slowly descends on Broadway.

Please enjoy some downtown San Diego photos taken this evening.

After sunset I walked east from the Broadway Pier. Strolling slowly along the sidewalk, I gazed up at the changing light on tall glassy buildings.

When I reached Fourth Avenue, I turned back west and took a final photograph down Broadway.

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!

The out of control “swap meet” in Balboa Park.

Don’t get me wrong. I love Balboa Park. I go almost every weekend.

Balboa Park is full of amazing beauty, culture, entertainment and history. It’s not only San Diego’s crown jewel, but one of the greatest urban parks anywhere in the world.

But lately the park is out of control.

I usually don’t write too critically about anything. The nature of my fun photo blog is optimistic. Cool San Diego Sights is not political or controversial. Which makes this particular post hard to publish. But I’ve seen enough.

Things have gotten out of control in Balboa Park. Unregulated vendors have taken over, turning its plazas and El Prado into a kind of swap meet. Anyone who has visited lately has experienced it.

Every single person I’ve spoken to about this “swap meet” is fed up, too. Many of these people are Balboa Park volunteers.

I’m told by people more knowledgeable than me that city leaders, who should act responsibly, have cancelled meetings concerning the situation.

Emergency access is hampered. Food vendors can seemingly dish out anything. Vendors frequently fight over spaces and park rangers must be called to deal with it. And the architecture and wonder and beauty of a very special place is almost lost behind the garish clutter.

Those I’ve spoken to who’ve criticized Balboa Park’s “swap meet” tell me they’re fine with the presence of a few vendors. And I agree. You know–the way it used to be. It’s festive and fun and adds color to the park–but this?

Balboa Park is also out of control after dark.

Once night falls, Balboa Park is practically taken over by vagrants and drug use. As visitors make their departure, the park becomes something quite different.

I’ve seen open alcohol and drug use on El Prado, in museum doorways, on benches, in dark places. I’ve seen the increased graffiti. Multiple windows have been broken at the International Cottages. Two of the cottages, I’m told, have had to hire security guards. We all heard about the stabbing near the Lily Pond a few months ago.

Lately two different people told me they’re afraid to walk through Balboa Park after dark. I don’t blame them. Perhaps that’s why Balboa Park empties of most visitors at nightfall and the park’s vibrancy fades.

Where is the leadership?

UPDATE!

It has come to my attention some people interpret this blog post as an attack on the vendors. Of course it isn’t! When I visit the park, I often enjoy a Chips Galore ice cream (or two) myself.

I’m being critical of a chaotic, unregulated situation that now appears out of control. Balboa Park is a very special place. It’s a National Historic Landmark, after all, along with places like Mount Vernon, the Apollo Mission Control Center and Martin Luther King’s Birthplace. Beyond the obvious safety and aesthetic concerns, and the fact that the park restaurants and museum cafe’s are hurt, is there no point when there would be too many vendor tables and tents jammed into the park?

ANOTHER UPDATE!

Proposed legislation that would address this situation made the news today, less than a week after I wrote my original post. The legislation is a compromise. It tries to address the concerns of both street vendors and those affected by them. It strives to be a win-win for all parties, and is the long-awaited first step in a process that will hopefully satisfy everyone.

From what I read, it sounds like the “swap meet” appearance of Balboa Park will be addressed, particularly during the busy summer months when the park receives numerous visitors.

You can read more about these developments here!

Christmas decorations appear around San Diego!

The Holiday Season is upon us! I’ve noticed during my walks in the past week or two that Christmas decorations are going up all around San Diego!

I’ve taken photographs!

(The first photo, above, is of the brightly lit Manchester Financial Group Building in Bankers Hill–you know, the Mister A’s building.)

Ribbons on lamp posts around downtown San Diego, including Cortez Hill.
Fun holiday decorations in Old Town include wreaths and nutcrackers with sombreros!
Holiday decorations at Liberty Station in Point Loma.
A Christmas Tree over San Diego Bay near the Hilton Bayfront.
A gorgeous musical Christmas Tree in the lobby of Symphony Towers.
I spotted Santa walking casually through the Gaslamp. Looks like he shaved.
A candy cane on a Gaslamp restaurant patio fence.
Ghirardelli’s has seasonal graphics on a window.
Ornaments dangle from branches in the Spanish Village patio at Balboa Park.
More signs of Christmas in Spanish Village Art Center.
This guy has his stocking ready, in case he meets Santa!
The Grinch Christmas Tree at the Old Globe is bright and very merry.
Huge snowflakes have fallen on the California Tower!

This blog now features thousands of photos around San Diego! Are you curious? There’s lots of cool stuff to check out!

Here’s the Cool San Diego Sights main page, where you can read the most current blog posts.  If you’re using a phone or small mobile device, click those three parallel lines up at the top–that opens up my website’s sidebar, where you’ll see the most popular posts, a search box, and more!

To enjoy future posts, you can also “like” Cool San Diego Sights on Facebook or follow me on Twitter.

Fierce new mural at 7-Eleven near Morena!

A new mural was being painted today near Morena Boulevard!

I noticed the artist at work when I drove through the intersection of Linda Vista Road and Napa Street. The mural is on the side of a 7-Eleven.

After dark, I had the opportunity to return and take a good look at the colorful mural and get these photographs. At night the wall is brightly illuminated.

A signature indicates the artist is Hanna of Hanna’s Murals. You’ve seen her work elsewhere on Cool San Diego Sights, particularly here.

This awesome new mural depicts two tigers and the word FIERCE. I’m not sure if the artwork is entirely finished.

Check it out!

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!

Eerie, mysterious night photos downtown!

The photographs that follow are mysterious. Many are eerie. All were taken at night in downtown San Diego.

About half of these images were captured this evening after nightfall, as I walked from the Gaslamp Quarter toward Cortez Hill. Other photos (such as the one with the moon) have been sitting in my computer for a long time. I was waiting for an appropriate theme.

I must say San Diego has come back to life after the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns. This evening I saw crowds converging on the San Diego Symphony’s new Shell on the Embarcadero, conventioneers partying and enjoying a sunset view from atop the San Diego Convention Center, and large Friday night crowds walking through and dining in the beautifully lit Gaslamp Quarter.

But even when surrounded by a bright whirl of life, one can find strangeness lurking in the dark…

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!

Multi-colored street lights coming downtown!

You know those strings of small lights that have been installed along certain downtown San Diego streets in the past year? This morning I saw workers on B Street toiling by one segment of the new lights, and I learned they’re installing a wireless network.

Once their work is complete, these strings of festive lights can be changed to different colors remotely!

What a cool enhancement for downtown’s atmosphere!

I can’t wait to see all the colors!

UPDATE!

A couple months later I saw more of these lights being strung in Little Italy by the trolley station!

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 story about a dream and night walking.

Photo of suns and moons taken from sidewalk.

I’ve published another short story today. It’s a very odd tale that you might enjoy reading.

It’s about moving through the night. Or about dreaming. Or about living. It is definitely about perception.

I’ve titled this strange little work of fiction Night Walking.

And now, having arranged these few words, I will head out my door and go day walking with my camera . . . through a world that often seems a dream . . .

If you’d like read this new story, click here!

Stars, constellations and one night in a sidewalk.

Walk along the west side of Highway 101 in Solana Beach, a short distance south of Plaza Street, and your curious eyes might see the night sky in the sidewalk. If you aren’t careful, you might plunge downward into bright stars and constellations!

This public artwork celebrates the City of Solana Beach’s incorporation on July 1, 1986. The star map underfoot shows what one would have seen gazing up into the night sky at a minute past midnight on that date.

I had some fun with these photographs, gradually increasing the contrast. Be careful! You might find yourself tumbling through space!

(Curious about that colorful mural in the distance? It’s titled Myths at Play, and you can see closer photos and learn more about it by clicking 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!

Is this what the Wise Men saw?

See that tiny, tiny dot in the night sky directly above the photographer’s knuckles? People are calling it the Christmas Star. Astronomers call it a great conjunction, when the two largest planets in our solar system–Jupiter and Saturn– appear very close together to eyes viewing from Earth.

Today is December 21, 2020, the Winter Solstice. I took this photograph with my little camera from the Cabrillo Bridge in Balboa Park shortly after dark. That’s downtown San Diego you see on the left.

The last time Jupiter and Saturn were in conjunction this closely (and could be seen in most of the Northern Hemisphere) was the year 1226. You’ll have to wait sixty years to see it again. I suppose I won’t be around.

I’ve read and heard conjecture that the biblical Magi were guided to Bethlehem by the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn on the year of Christ’s birth. Some believers claim the timing would have been about right.

Can you make out that miniscule dot? Is that the same “star” the Wise Men saw?

Another good question might be: Is a light from far away what the wise see?

Jupiter and Saturn will continue their orbits around the sun, as will the Earth, long after you and I and every worldly thing we have done and hold dear has vanished, turned to dust, to be swirled by an unseen finger, transformed into something else.

Great conjunctions will continue hundreds, thousands, millions of years into the future. A billion years from this moment–give or take a century–there will be another Christmas Star.