The most scenic bus route in San Diego!

Without a doubt, the most scenic public bus route in the San Diego region is North County Transit District’s Route 101. It runs up the California coast north of San Diego.

Riders on bus Route 101 are treated to views of La Jolla (beautiful Torrey Pines), Del Mar, Solana Beach, Cardiff-by-the-Sea, Encinitas, Leucadia, Carlsbad and Oceanside.

It’s a long run with many stops–almost 30 miles and, depending on traffic, somewhere between one and a half to two hours–but you pass beach after beach, and you travel along historic Coast Highway 101 through some of Southern California’s most amazing and colorful beach cities.

Near the end of my last adventure in North County, I rode the bus south from the Oceanside Transit Center late in the afternoon. I was fortunate to have an “ocean side” seat with a window that cracked open a few inches. And my camera’s battery had some life left in it!

It’s hard to get good photographs through a barely cracked open window on a rapidly moving bus, but I got a few decent shots. They provide a brief glimpse of all I saw.

What follows are images taken as I rode from Oceanside to Encinitas. After the last photograph near the Golden Lotus Towers of the Self-Realization Fellowship ashram in Encinitas, my camera’s battery was exhausted.

If you ever plan to travel along San Diego’s beautiful northern coast, are in no big hurry, and would like to experience what the happy, laid-back, sometimes nostalgic Southern California beach scene is all about, consider riding bus Route 101.

You can meet some rather interesting people, too!

(There’s usually a surfboard or two in the aisle!)

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.

Aztec Bowl sign at North Park apartments!

I was walking up 30th Street in North Park a couple weekends ago when I saw what appeared to be a bowling alley sign rising in front of an apartment complex. As you might imagine, I did a double take! And snapped a few photos.

A little online research reveals that before these apartments were built, Aztec Bowling Lanes was located here.

Aztec Bowl was established in 1959. For 40 years–from 1960 To 2001–the place also featured entertainment in its Turquoise Lounge, where people would gather to enjoy retro decor and live bands. Music was also performed by the lanes as people bowled!

Over time the popularity of bowling slowly faded. Aztec Bowl was demolished in 2001 to make way for the residential buildings you see in my photographs. But the neon Aztec Bowl sign, recalling a little bit of San Diego history, remains!

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!

Mural in Lakeside celebrates a moment in history.

A fantastic mural painted in Lakeside at the corner of Woodside Avenue and Maine Avenue celebrates an important moment in this East County community’s surprising history.

Spectators in old-fashioned garb watch an automobile race around Lindo Lake near the long-vanished Lakeside Inn, once called The Coronado of the Hills because of its architectural similarity to the Hotel del Coronado. On one historic day in 1907, race car driver Barney Oldfield set a new world land speed record.

A corner of the mural indicates this nostalgic artwork was painted by David E. Ybarra for the Ron Schafer Family.

I’ve included a vintage photograph of the race depicted in the mural!

Barney Oldfield driving the Peerless Green Dragon at the Lakeside Track, San Diego, California. April 7, 1907. (Public domain photo from Wikimedia Commons.)

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!

Riding the world’s first outdoor glass elevator!

If you’re familiar with the history of the El Cortez in downtown San Diego, you probably know it featured the world’s very first outdoor glass elevator. (Although I’ve also seen information that says it was the first such elevator in the United States, second in the world.)

Based on an idea suggested by a hotel bellboy, an outdoor glass elevator, called the Starlight Express, was installed in 1956 on the side of the El Cortez Hotel, then the highest building in San Diego. People from all around Southern California would converge on the elegant hotel to be swept dizzily skyward to the chic Starlight Room restaurant on the twelfth floor.

Today I came across a black and white 1956 newsreel that has been released by Universal City Studios into the public domain. It shows thrilled passengers going up and down what was then the brand new, incredible, jaw-dropping Starlight Express!

Check out the “futuristic” costume (uniform?) of the smiling elevator operator! And check out how downtown San Diego appeared in the 1950s. A bit different than today, right?

I snipped sequential images from the old newsreel so you can enjoy a fun look!

By the way, the El Cortez Hotel also featured the world’s first moving sidewalk! You know–the sort of thing you might stand on in an airport terminal or at an amusement park. It was called the Travolator. Both the Starlight Express and Travolator were removed many years ago.

Read much more about the El Cortez and its extraordinary history in this detailed Wikipedia article. Among other things, you’ll learn how this Spanish Colonial Revival architectural style landmark was built on property once owned by a son of President Ulysses S. Grant, how a third of San Diego’s population showed up for the hotel’s opening day, and how it had an anti-aircraft battery on its roof during World War II!

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 cool Cruisin’ carhop mural at 101 Cafe!

If you love cool cars and nostalgia you’ll like this mural. It’s painted on the south side of 101 Cafe in Oceanside. The mural depicts a carhop outside wearing roller skates. She’s serving food to customers in a woodie, hot rod and several other classic cars.

101 Cafe dates back to 1928. The original twenty seat diner was built on US Highway 101, the main road back then from Los Angeles to San Diego.

The small restaurant has gone through many changes over the years. At one time it was a drive-in. It’s now a diner specializing in breakfast, and features 1950’s decor–including this great mural!

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!

Cool photo memories from January 2015.

Many bloggers periodically “reblog” their own material from years gone by. That way new readers have a window into the past.

Now that Cool San Diego Sights is well over six years old, I thought it might be fun to do something similar!

Starting today, once every month I’ll feature photos taken five years in the past. I’ll select material that is particularly interesting, unique or unusual! Keep in mind, some of my photographs from back then are less refined. They weren’t framed quite as carefully, or adjusted for contrast or sharpness.

Following are six links to select blog posts from January 2015…

Click for some fun!

Our Silences and precious freedom of speech.

Priest sprinkles startled pets with holy water!

Grass grows again at historic Lane Field!

1915 Road Race vintage car show in Balboa Park!

Timeline shows history of San Diego’s Embarcadero.

Historic reopening of California Tower in Balboa Park.

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!

Past, present, future, together in one walk.

Every moment, in the blink of an eye, is lost forever to the past.

My walk this morning through downtown San Diego made me wonder. Without leaving the present, I saw evidence of time’s passage.

In my small field of vision I saw people turning corners.

I saw buildings old and new.

The demolition and the construction.

Things that will be forgotten.

Things that are still remembered.

Many of the things I photographed this morning we’ve observed together in the past. Perhaps a little differently.

So now I offer a few passing images, which are like moments in a dream–or in a life.

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 San Diego and Arizona Railway centennial!

People gather for the 100th Anniversary celebration of the San Diego and Arizona Railway at the Pacific Southwest Railway Museum in Campo.
People gather for the 100th Anniversary celebration of the San Diego and Arizona Railway at the Pacific Southwest Railway Museum in Campo.

Yesterday I attended an extraordinary event. The 100th Anniversary of the San Diego and Arizona Railway was celebrated at the Pacific Southwest Railway Museum in Campo!

Hundreds came out to the museum to enjoy special attractions, historical displays and old-time entertainment. Almost everybody rode an excursion train through the nearby countryside (you can see photos of the ride here) before gathering for lunch and a gold spike ceremony that reenacted much of the original ceremony a century ago.

Please enjoy the following photographs. Read the captions if you’d like to learn a little more about the history of the San Diego and Arizona Railway. (Click the images of signs and they’ll enlarge for easier reading.)

Many signs, plaques and historical markers can be found throughout the railroad museum's grounds.
Many signs, plaques and historical markers can be found throughout the Pacific Southwest Railway Museum’s grounds.

In 1916 rails reached Campo on the last transcontinental railway link built in the United States. The line was completed in 1919. The line was eventually purchased by MTS to gain right-of-way for the San Diego Trolley in the city of San Diego.
In 1916 rails reached Campo on the last transcontinental railway link built in the United States. The line was completed in 1919. The line was eventually purchased by MTS to gain right-of-way for the San Diego Trolley in the city of San Diego.

Visitors wait in line at the old Campo depot to pick up tickets for a train ride during the centennial event.
Visitors wait in line at the museum’s old Campo depot to pick up tickets for a train ride during the centennial event.

Heading around the old Campo depot toward the passenger platform.
Heading around the Campo depot toward the passenger platform.

Gazing out at a few of the many old rail cars owned by the Pacific Southwest Railway Museum.
Gazing out at a few of the many old rail cars owned by the Pacific Southwest Railway Museum.

Visitors check out a caboose and more railroad cars to one side of the historic Campo train depot.
Visitors check out a caboose and more railroad cars to one side of the historic Campo train depot.

A simulated hobo camp and interesting sign attract the attention of one gentleman.
A simulated hobo camp and interesting sign attract the attention of one gentleman.

Hobo code used symbols made with chalk or coal to provide directions and warnings to other hobos.
Hobo code used symbols made with chalk or coal to provide directions and warnings to other hobos.

A recreated hobo encampment with campfire.
A recreated hobo encampment with campfire.

On December 14, 1906 John D. Spreckels, with his brother Adolph, announced his intent to construct a railroad from San Diego to Yuma, Arizona.
On December 14, 1906 John D. Spreckels, with his brother Adolph, announced his intent to construct a railroad from San Diego to Yuma, Arizona.

On October 2, 1916 the first passenger trains to Campo were initiated. On November 15, 1919 the Gold Spike Limited brought dignitaries to Carriso Gorge siding. The Impossible Railroad was completed!
On October 2, 1916 the first passenger trains to Campo were initiated. On November 15, 1919 the Gold Spike Limited brought dignitaries to Carriso Gorge siding. The Impossible Railroad was completed!

On February 5, 1950 the first diesel-electric locomotive pulled a freight train over the mountains, in place of a steam locomotive.
On February 5, 1950 the first diesel-electric locomotive pulled a freight train over the mountains, in place of a steam locomotive.

Checking out history at the Pacific Southwest Railway Museum, with its extensive collection of railroad rolling stock.
Checking out history at the Pacific Southwest Railway Museum, with its extensive collection of railroad rolling stock.

The Chula Vista Live Steamers were present for the event. They brought some of their 7.5 inch gauge operating steam trains.
The Chula Vista Live Steamers were present for the event. They brought some of their 7.5 inch gauge operating steam trains.

On top of one flatcar is a huge turntable that was used for turning railroad locomotives and cars.
On top of one flatcar is a huge turntable that was once used for turning railroad locomotives and cars.

A cool photo of a nearby Southern Pacific locomotive through the transported turntable.
A cool photo of a nearby Southern Pacific locomotive through the transported turntable.

A sign maps the route of the San Diego and Arizona Railway from San Diego through Mexico to El Centro.
A sign maps the route of the San Diego and Arizona Railway from San Diego through Mexico to El Centro. There are plans to use this line for freight trains once again. There is also talk that a tourist train might in the future run between Tecate, Mexico and Campo, California.

A sign describes two wooden passenger coaches built in the late 19th century. Coach 239 is one of the oldest surviving railroad passenger car artifacts in the West.
A sign describes two wooden passenger coaches built in the late 19th century. Coach 239 is one of the oldest surviving railroad passenger car artifacts in the West.

Visitors check out an enormous old freight car.
Visitors check out an enormous old freight car.

Here comes the San Diego & Arizona Eastern MW 1003 1931 Ford Model AA Rail Fire Engine.
Here comes the San Diego & Arizona Eastern MW 1003 1931 Ford Model AA Rail Fire Engine.

Visitors to the event check out a working 1902 American steam fire engine.
Visitors to the event check out a working 1902 American steam fire engine.

The American was built in 1902 by the American Fire Engine Company. It was restored with the help of the California State Firefighters' Association, and is now valued at over half a million dollars.
The American was built in 1902 by the American Fire Engine Company. It was restored with the help of the California State Firefighters’ Association, and is now valued at over half a million dollars!

People check out some of the railroad equipment on display on the museum grounds.
People check out some of the railroad equipment on display on the museum grounds.

Reading a sign by the railway Section House, where railroad workers were housed along the track.
Reading a sign by the railway Section House, where railroad workers were housed along the track.

Passengers disembark from the day's first excursion train and arrive at the outdoor venue for the gold spike event, near the museum's Display Building.
Passengers disembark from the day’s first excursion train and arrive at the outdoor venue for the gold spike event, near the museum’s Display Building.

A hay ride pulls up to the Display Building area.
A hay ride pulls up to the Display Building area.

Dr. Solar was entertaining kids with his magical Good-Time, Sunshine, Traveling Medicine Show.
Dr. Solar was entertaining kids with his magical Good-Time, Sunshine, Traveling Medicine Show.

Dr. Solar holds his applause meter.
Dr. Solar holds his applause meter.

Vintage auto enthusiasts brought their Model A and Model T Fords and Horseless Carriages.
Vintage auto enthusiasts brought their Model A and Model T Fords and Horseless Carriages.

Some cool period costumes!
Some fancy period costumes!

Vintage automobiles and vintage trains!
Vintage automobiles and vintage trains!

People were lined up for lunch near some of the Pacific Southwest Railway Museum's many outdoor railroad cars.
People were lined up for lunch near some of the Pacific Southwest Railway Museum’s many outdoor railroad cars.

Checking out a very cool old steam locomotive!
Checking out a very cool old steam locomotive!

A little switch engine of the San Diego and Arizona Railway.
A little switch engine of the San Diego and Arizona Railway.

The 100th Anniversary gold spike ceremony is about to begin. A train with red, white and blue bunting on the nearby track will be part of the historical reenactment.
The 100th Anniversary gold spike ceremony is about to begin. A train with red, white and blue bunting on the nearby track will be part of the historical reenactment.

Buffalo Soldiers representing nearby Camp Lockett are the event's color guard.
Buffalo Soldiers representing nearby Camp Lockett are the event’s color guard.

The gold spike ceremony begins.
The gold spike ceremony begins.

Standing for the National Anthem.
Standing for the National Anthem.

The master of ceremonies would introduce numerous present-day dignitaries, and many speeches would follow.
The master of ceremonies would introduce numerous present-day dignitaries, and many speeches would follow.

Native Sons of the Golden West dedicate a plaque celebrating the 100th anniversary of the San Diego and Arizona Railway's completion.
Native Sons of the Golden West dedicate a plaque celebrating the 100th anniversary of the San Diego and Arizona Railway’s completion.

Descendants of John D. Spreckels are asked to stand by Diana Hyatt, President of the Pacific Southwest Railway Museum Association.
Descendants of John D. Spreckels are asked to stand by Diana Hyatt, President of the Pacific Southwest Railway Museum Association.

During the centennial ceremony, the original gold spike from 100 years ago was on display in a glass case nearby.
During the centennial ceremony, the original gold spike from 100 years ago was on display in a glass case nearby.

The original gold spike used to celebrate the completion of the San Diego and Arizona Railway in 1919.
The original gold spike used to celebrate the completion of the San Diego and Arizona Railway in 1919.

The San Diego City Guard Band plays the San Diego Progress March, written for the railway's completion 100 years ago and performed then by the 1919 version of the City Guard Band.
The San Diego City Guard Band plays the San Diego Progress March, written for the railway’s completion 100 years ago and performed then by the 1919 version of the City Guard Band.

The gold spike reenactment begins. Railroad workers arrive by handcar.
The gold spike reenactment begins. Railroad workers arrive by handcar.

The railroad workers carry the last section of track to be laid.
The railroad workers carry the last section of track to be laid.

Reenactment of workers completing a transcontinental railroad route.
Reenactment of workers completing a transcontinental railroad route.

History is remembered in Campo, California.
Railroad history comes to life in Campo, California.

Here come dignitaries from 1919, including San Diego Mayor Wilde and William Kettner.
Here come dignitaries from 1919, including San Diego Mayor Wilde and William Kettner.

Politicians and dignitaries from a century ago seem to return to life during the San Diego and Arizona Railway centennial.
Politicians and dignitaries from a century ago seem to return to life during the San Diego and Arizona Railway centennial. Each would read from the original speeches.

Photographers record history from one side of the gold spike reenactment.
Photographers record today’s history from one side of the gold spike reenactment.

John D. Spreckels arrives from the Gold Spike Limited train.
John D. Spreckels arrives from the Gold Spike Limited train.

The shiny gold spike is put into place.
The shiny gold spike is put into place.

John D. Spreckels, creator of the San Diego and Arizona Railway, hammers the final spike.
John D. Spreckels, creator of the San Diego and Arizona Railway, hammers the final spike.

Those attending the big centennial celebration assemble around the John D. Spreckels reenactor for a photograph.
Those attending the big centennial celebration assemble around the John D. Spreckels reenactor for a photograph.

History is made again on a sunny November day in 2019.
History is made again on a sunny November day in 2019.

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!

Model ship builders restore family heirlooms!

Is there an old model ship in your attic? Perhaps a treasured family heirloom? Is it falling to pieces or in a terrible tangle? Would you like to restore it?

Today, during a visit to the Maritime Museum of San Diego, I learned of a group of dedicated model ship builders who are busy repairing and restoring old model ships!

The members of the San Diego Ship Modelers Guild love their hobby and hold regular meetings aboard the Maritime Museum ship Berkeley. I happened to be walking around the museum today before one of their evening meetings. I struck up a conversation with Guild Master James Pitt and was fascinated as he told me about various aspects of model ship building.

The San Diego Ship Modelers Guild, which was formed in 1971, has dozens of members hailing from all around Southern California and even Arizona. They have partnered with the Maritime Museum of San Diego, and guild members can often be seen working in the museum’s specially equipped Model Makers Workshop.

What interested me most was how the modeler’s guild has been repairing and restoring an increasing number of model ships of late. Many are family heirlooms passed down from previous generations, and are treasured for the memories and special meaning they embody.

If you have any sort of model ship that needs expert repair, check out the San Diego Ship Modelers Guild website by clicking here! Send them an email! I met a couple of the members and all were really nice guys!

I took some photos of a display for today’s meeting. You can see examples of model ships that have undergone restoration.

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 Art of Shag at the Comic-Con Museum!

Today I enjoyed a really great exhibition at the future home of the Comic-Con Museum. The popular artist Josh Agle, who goes by the name Shag, has a big gallery of super cool artwork on display free to the public through this weekend!

I must admit I was unfamiliar with the name Shag, but once I saw the artwork I recognized his distinctive style. And now I’m a big fan! His snappy colorful images have a 1960’s commercial art feel, and many of the pieces celebrate popular entertainment and scenes from that era. His sly, often subversive “Mid-Century Modern aesthetic” is all in good fun.

Shag’s art often depicts Hollywood stars raising glasses at decadent cocktail parties. Many of his images include exotic Tikis. He creates vivid, snazzy scenes that invoke a sense of what is referred to as retro decadence.

Some of his pieces pay tribute to classic cartoons and Disney. As you can see in my photos, he also re-imagines popular movies like Planet of the Apes, Star Wars and Guardians of the Galaxy, comic books like Spider-Man, and television shows like the Twilight Zone and Batman.

If you’d like to see some really cool art, definitely head over to Balboa Park tomorrow and check out the Art of Shag! The free exhibition will be open 10 am to 4 pm in the Federal Building, which used to house the Hall of Champions, and which is destined to become the Comic-Con Museum in 2021.

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!