Mark Twain and friends visit San Diego!

Famous author Mark Twain and several literary friends visited San Diego today. They arrived at Heritage County Park for a very special event.

TwainFest 2022 welcomed some of the world’s most celebrated writers, delighting everyone who attended the outdoor festival. The free, family-friendly event is put on every year by Write Out Loud.

Mark Twain himself greeted visitors who wandered about…

I don’t know whether Twain realized he was standing only a block away from the house where humorist Squibob lived while in San Diego.

When I asked him, Mark Twain wouldn’t clearly acknowledge that he was inspired by Squibob. Historians say he probably was.

But we can all agree Twain’s novel The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is a classic of American Literature. The esteemed author must’ve been pleased when TwainFest visitors cheerfully whitewashed a fence, much to the consternation of Aunt Polly.

Soon Twain was joined by three other notable writers. Edgar Allan Poe, Paul Laurence Dunbar, and Emily Dickinson.

Yes, a fine summer day filled with imagination–another chapter in our own never-ending stories…

Out of the blue, a friendly Charles Dickens came strolling along through Heritage Park. The author confessed that one of his favorite works was A Christmas Carol.

In another area of the park, the Red Queen of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was playing croquet. I didn’t see Lewis Carroll, but he must’ve been nearby.

In the sunny Author’s Salon, Edgar Allan Poe was talking about his life–what he remembered of it.

Then Poe began his emotional recital of The Raven.

A few steps away, what were these smiling TwainFest visitors observing?

Tinker Bell and Peter Pan!

And that scoundrel, Captain Hook!

And what was going on over here?

Alice, the White Rabbit, the (Mad) Hatter and smiling guests had assembled for a quite unique tea party!

The Dormouse made a surprise appearance at the Mad Tea-Party as well!

And who is this fine fellow over here reading a story about gallant knights and noble acts of chivalry?

Don Quixote! (And his squire Sancho Panza.)

For his first big adventure, Don Quixote encountered a terrifying number of large fearsome giants who looked strangely like windmills…

Thank you, Mr. Twain, for the twinkle in your eye and your timeless humor.

And for bringing so many literary friends to 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!

Comic-Con exhibit at San Diego Library.

An exhibit at San Diego’s Central Library, on display during 2022 Comic-Con, traces the history of dime novels, pulp fiction, comics and graphic novels.

The fascinating display can be enjoyed on the Central Library’s 9th floor, in the Rare Books room containing their Special Collections.

Some important and rare works are on view, and descriptions provide insight into the history of each popular medium.

If you happen to be passing by the Central Library with its lattice metal dome during Comic-Con, head up the elevator to the rooftop! And go through the door you see in the next photograph!

If you’d like to view my coverage of Comic-Con so far, which includes hundreds of cool photographs, 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!

Repairing the historic Old Adobe Chapel.

I recently learned that the historic Old Adobe Chapel in Old Town is being repaired and restored by the City of San Diego. I was told the roof leaks and a long, very serious crack was discovered along one wall. (I believe you can see it in one upcoming photo.)

I happened to be walking through Old Town yesterday when I remembered being told this. So I walked to 3963 Conde Street to see for myself.

The Adobe Chapel (also known as the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception) is designated California Historical Landmark No. 49. It was originally built in 1850. Initially the structure served as a home, then in 1858 it was turned into a church that would become a center for activity in early San Diego.

The old chapel has a rich history. It was said to be the wedding place of the character Ramona in Helen Hunt Jackson’s wildly popular 1884 novel of the same name. The Adobe Chapel would later be bulldozed and rebuilt in the 1930’s. To learn more about its history, visit the Save Our Heritage Organisation (SOHO) website here and here. To enjoy a fascinating gallery of images, click here.

The Adobe Chapel is presently operated by SOHO. It is both a museum and special event venue. According to their website, it should be reopening, after repairs, sometime in 2022.

I see a long crack!
Photo of historical plaques and sign taken from a nearby parking lot.

ADOBE CHAPEL OF THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION

ORIGINALLY BUILT AS THE HOME OF SAN DIEGO’S JOHN BROWN IN 1850, THE HOUSE WAS CONVERTED TO A CHURCH BY DON JOSE AGUIRRE IN 1858. FATHER ANTONIO D. UBACH, FORMERLY A MISSIONARY AMONG THE INDIANS, WAS PARISH PRIEST HERE FROM 1866 TO 1907. IT IS SAID THAT HE WAS THE MODEL FOR “FATHER GASPARA” IN HELEN HUNT JACKSON’S RAMONA. IN 1937 THE WPA REBUILT THE ADOBE CHAPEL CLOSE TO ITS ORIGINAL SITE.

Old Adobe Chapel

BUILT IN 1850 AS A PRIVATE RESIDENCE. DEDICATED A PARISH CHURCH NOVEMBER 21, 1858 by FATHER JOHN MOLINER.

IN 1866, FATHER ANTONIO UBACH, THE PARISH PRIEST, WAS “FATHER GASPARA” OF HELEN HUNT JACKSON’S FAMOUS NOVEL “Ramona”

REBUILT BY UNITED STATES WORKS PROGRESS ADMINISTRATION 1937

A view of the Old Adobe Chapel from Conde Street in Old Town 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!

Another Whomping Willow at City College?

It appears Hogwarts isn’t the only school with a dangerous Whomping Willow. Because our own San Diego City College seems to have one of its own!

I was walking up Park Boulevard this morning, on my way from downtown San Diego to the Comic-Con Museum in Balboa Park, when I spied the fantastically twisted tree. A few of its gnarled. outstretched limbs had slammed against the nearby grass, sadly crushing goodness knows what.

I avoided the walking path that passes directly next to it, just to be safe.

That is a Whomping Willow, isn’t it?

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!

Actors read literary works online for TwainFest!

The spirit of Twain lives in this wonderful annual festival.

Do you love reading literature from the 19th century?

I do!

I love Mark Twain, Lewis Carroll, Emily Dickinson, Jules Verne, Charles Dickens, Mary Shelley, Edgar Allan Poe, Henry David Thoreau, Herman Melville . . . there are too many great Victorian authors from this period to mention!

If you love to read these authors, too, there’s an online event in progress that you’ll probably like!

During this special event you can listen to selections from 19th century literature read aloud by San Diego actors!

It’s part of Write Out Loud’s virtual TwainFest, and you can subscribe by clicking here to get daily links to new YouTube readings in your email!

What was the event like before the coronavirus pandemic? To see photos from TwainFest last year in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, click here!

Mark Twain uses his cane to point out his classic novel The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Many 19th century authors and fictional characters were seen walking about during TwainFest.
Mark Twain uses his cane to point out his classic novel The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.

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 stories I’ve written, click Short Stories by Richard.

Wizard of Oz street art in Coronado!

The Good Witch of the North and The Wicked Witch of the West meet on the yellow brick road, as a balloon flies away in Oz.
The Good Witch of the North and The Wicked Witch of the West meet on the yellow brick road, as a balloon flies away in Oz.

One of the utility boxes painted a few years back for the Art Outside the Box project in Coronado depicts scenes and characters from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and other novels in the popular Oz series by L. Frank Baum.

The happy artwork, which greets those walking down the Orange Avenue sidewalk near the Coronado Library, was painted by local students Eva B., Audrey S., and Sienna F.

L. Frank Baum and Coronado are closely related. The author spent many winters in a house near the famous Hotel del Coronado, whose fantastic architecture is said to be the inspiration for his Emerald City.

You can learn more and see photos of his winter house by clicking here!

Walking past Wizard of Oz street art in Coronado. The title of this public art is Fairy Tale.
Walking past Wizard of Oz street art in Coronado. The title of this public art is Fairy Tale.

Another side of the utility box depicting L. Frank Baum's wonderful land of Oz. The popular author often spent his winters writing in a house in Coronado.
Another side of the utility box depicting L. Frank Baum’s wonderful land of Oz. The popular author often spent his winters writing in a rented house in Coronado.

One of the magical creatures in Oz.
One of the magical creatures in Oz.

Dorothy walks along the yellow brick road as Art Outside the Box.
Dorothy walks along the yellow brick road. A fun work of Art Outside the Box.

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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!

Harry Potter characters cosplay at Comic-Con!

Professor Minerva McGonagall and Albus Dumbledore cosplay at 2018 San Diego Comic-Con.
Professor Minerva McGonagall and Albus Dumbledore cosplay at 2018 San Diego Comic-Con.

I missed the Harry Potter cosplay meetup today at 2018 San Diego Comic-Con, but I did manage to photograph many of the characters when I happened to see them walking about the Gaslamp Quarter!

Of course, wouldn’t you know, the one character I didn’t find was Harry himself.

Hermione Granger cosplay.
Hermione Granger cosplay.

Newt Scamander cosplay.
Newt Scamander cosplay.

Knight Bus conductor and Hogwarts Express conductor cosplay.
Knight Bus conductor and Hogwarts Express conductor cosplay.

Molly Weasley cosplay.
Molly Weasley cosplay.

Bellatrix Lestrange cosplay.
Bellatrix Lestrange cosplay.

Dolores Umbridge cosplay.
Dolores Umbridge cosplay.

Narcissa and Lucius Malfoy cosplay.
Narcissa and Lucius Malfoy cosplay.

Alastor "Mad-Eye" Moody cosplay.
Alastor “Mad-Eye” Moody cosplay.

Rubeus Hagrid cosplay along with "Mad-Eye" Moody at 2018 San Diego Comic-Con.
Rubeus Hagrid cosplay along with “Mad-Eye” Moody at 2018 San Diego Comic-Con.

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!

Stingaree: an exciting novel set in early San Diego!

Historical photo of the First and Last Chance Saloon, inside San Diego's rowdy Stingaree District.
Historical photo of the First and Last Chance Saloon, inside San Diego’s rowdy Stingaree District.

Murder! Gambling halls and brothels! Wyatt Earp! Corrupt police! Scheming businessmen! Secretive gangs! Pirates! A rip-roaring story dripping with suspense and excitement!

Would you like to read the first few chapters of a thrilling novel set in late 19th century San Diego? Jack Tyler, a talented author of adventure and steampunk fiction, is now writing an action-packed novel titled Stingaree, which takes place in San Diego’s old red-light district–an area of town that today is part of the Gaslamp Quarter. He has made many great chapters available to the public–for free! Click here to visit his website, then find the link to Stingaree.

In the late 1800s, the Stingaree was where sailors, ranch hands, and the working class sought their thrills in a depressed and rather desolate city. It was home to dozens of gambling parlors, whorehouses and saloons. Law-abiding citizens stayed away for their own safety. To be seen in the Stingaree might destroy one’s reputation. At night all hell would break loose. Those who prospered running tawdry businesses in the Stingaree had to pay the police bribes and watch their own backs.

In the novel Stingaree, the reader will recognize a variety of historical persons and locations. From the construction of the Hotel del Coronado, to George Marston’s department store, to the Horton House Hotel–the story is an exciting journey back in time. Jack Tyler successfully presents a city full of danger, uncertainty and great promise. From his imagination emerges an assortment of wonderfully inventive characters.

I must say I really enjoyed reading the completed chapters. This is the sort of smart, well-constructed story that would make for a really entertaining movie or television series. Cliffhangers and plot twists abound. Enjoy a fun read by clicking here and look for the link to Stingaree!

12 Favorite Places in San Diego to Read and Write.

The spacious Reading Room at downtown San Diego's Central Library.
The spacious Reading Room at downtown San Diego’s Central Library.

Do you love to read or write? I have a number of favorite locations in San Diego where I can pick up a book or pen while enjoying a pleasant view and relative peace. I find these places to be comfortable, inspiring and expansive for the mind. But, of course, my list is completely subjective. One can find countless benches, tables, parks and beaches in sunny San Diego.

Some readers and writers might like to place themselves in a coffee shop, or at the center of a bustling scene. Others might like to be surrounded by natural or artistic beauty. Others simply want solitude. Personally, I prefer the latter two–with a bustling scene in the quiet distance, perhaps.

Here are my 12 favorite spots, in no particular order:

San Diego Central Library’s amazing Reading Room. (See the above photo.)

Downtown San Diego’s large new Central Library is just a wonderful place all around. But perhaps its best feature is a gigantic eighth floor Reading Room, crowned by the building’s fantastic lattice dome. Comfortable sofas and easy chairs allow patrons to gaze through enormous windows out toward San Diego’s South Bay. And the Reading Room is so nice and quiet.

Benches can be found overlooking moored boats in San Diego Bay's Crescent Area.
Benches can be found overlooking moored boats in San Diego Bay’s Crescent Area.

Any bench near the water in San Diego Bay’s Crescent Area.

If you don’t mind the occasional company of homeless people, San Diego Bay’s Crescent Area is a fine place to stretch one’s legs and mind. It’s a not-very-touristy stretch between the Grape Street Pier and the Coast Guard Station, with a number of comfortable wooden benches facing picturesque boats moored in the bay. Bicyclists and joggers pass by frequently and gulls and pigeons swing by for an occasional visit. The wide view, stretching across the bay to Point Loma, always puts me in a thoughtful mood.

Picnic benches at Embarcadero Marina Park North offer views of sparkling San Diego Bay.
Picnic tables at Embarcadero Marina Park North offer views of sparkling San Diego Bay.

Picnic tables near the water at Embarcadero Marina Park North.

When writing, I like mental peace. I find this state of mind can be most easily reached inside a happy, carefree atmosphere. So I often seek out an available picnic table near the water at Embarcadero Marina Park North. The blue bay sparkles, boats sail past serenely, families laugh on the grass, colorful kites glide overhead. Sometimes I just sit and do nothing.

Several tables are usually open on the deck of the Inamori Pavilion at the Japanese Friendship Garden.
Several tables are usually open on the deck of the Inamori Pavilion at the Japanese Friendship Garden.

The Inamori Pavilion at the Japanese Friendship Garden.

Would you like to sit at a table overlooking a tranquil koi pond and waterfall? I would! That’s why I have become a member of the Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa Park. I wrote two short stories recently while sitting at one table. They are titled An Old Man on a Bus and Waterfall Tears.

You'll likely find solitude in the beautiful Administrative Courtyard in Balboa Park.
You’ll likely find solitude in the beautiful Administrative Courtyard in Balboa Park.

The little-known Administrative Courtyard in Balboa Park.

I discovered this perfect, blissful park a couple of years ago. It’s called the Balboa Park Administrative Building Courtyard and it’s located in the park’s Inspiration Point area, behind the Balboa Park Administration Building. Almost nobody goes there. You might have the entire beautiful place all to yourself. A perfect sunny place to really concentrate.

Shelter Island offers shade, grass, trees, and wide views of San Diego Bay and the downtown skyline.
Shelter Island offers shade, grass, trees, and wide views of San Diego Bay and the downtown skyline.

A bench, a picnic table or the grass on Shelter Island.

I love Shelter Island–especially the southwest end. Few tourists, great views, grassy lawns, a wonderful pier. When I walk along the park-like paths I feel as though I’m on vacation. Many benches and picnic tables along the length of Shelter Island make ideal places to read or write. Or just bring a blanket and lie down on the grass. It’s so pleasant you might fall asleep!

The area around La Jolla Cove is so beautiful, you might just sit in one spot and take in the scenery.
The area around La Jolla Cove is so magnificent, you might do nothing but sit in one spot for a long while, taking in the scenery.

A spot near the ocean at Ellen Browning Scripps Park in La Jolla.

When you’re visiting one of the most beautiful locations in the world, of course you’ll feel inspired. After finding a spot to read or write for a bit, get up and walk along the cliffs. Breathe in the fresh sea air. Watch birds, seals and the endlessly crashing waves. You’ll feel so alive.

Many picnic tables are often unused at Silver Strand State Beach. An ideal spot to quietly read or write.
Many picnic tables are often unused at Silver Strand State Beach. An ideal spot to quietly read or write.

An isolated picnic table at Silver Strand State Beach.

Silver Strand State Beach can be lonely, especially off-season and on the San Diego Bay side. There are usually dozens and dozens of picnic tables that are empty. Walk or pedal down the Silver Strand bike path, perhaps, and rest for awhile at a table. Then take out a book or your laptop or notepad. If you’d like to get up and stretch your legs, walk under the highway to the Pacific Ocean side, take your shoes off, walk on the beach and watch kitesurfers.

Sit atop the OB Pier high above the swelling blue ocean and you're certain to feel inspired and alive.
Sit near the end of the OB Pier high above the swelling blue ocean and you’re certain to feel inspired and alive.

Any bench above the water on the Ocean Beach Pier.

Sit on a bench out on the long Ocean Beach Pier and you’ll feel that you’re far from land–in a magical place between airy blue heaven and the rolling, living blue water below. When you glance up from your book or laptop, you’ll see fishermen sharing the rail with patient pelicans, and surfers bobbing below waiting for their perfect wave. But bring a jacket. The ocean wind can be chilly, even in summer.

Many benches await thinkers, dreamers, readers and writers at Spanish Landing in San Diego.
Many benches await thinkers, dreamers, readers and writers at Spanish Landing in San Diego.

A spot beside San Diego Bay at Spanish Landing.

This is another fine place to sit by the water. Spanish Landing is an uncrowded retreat from city life with a view of the marinas behind Harbor Island. You might hear aircraft taking off from nearby Lindbergh Field, but I seldom notice. There are many benches along the grassy park to choose from. Here you can also read interesting historical markers. With a little imagination, you might visualize Spanish explorers landing here many centuries ago.

One of the many beautiful, peaceful spots that can be found throughout Liberty Station.
One of the many beautiful, peaceful spots that can be found throughout Liberty Station.

Any bench at Liberty Station, particularly by the boat channel.

Liberty Station has many walking paths and benches where anyone can sit down to think or simply relax. My favorite spots overlook the boat channel. Light twinkles from the water, the breeze is pleasant, and paddleboarders and kayakers occasionally coast on by. There’s no hurry to do anything. If I write or read just a few words, I’m happy.

There are a couple of hidden benches not far from here in Balboa Park! Perfect for writers who like to observe people!
There are a couple of hidden benches not far from here in Balboa Park! Perfect for writers who like to observe people!

A hidden bench beside the Timken Museum of Art.

Against the north wall of the Timken Museum in Balboa Park, tucked behind a few trees, you’ll discover a couple of hard concrete benches. During a hot summer day they are so nice and cool! One can peer between foliage at the grassy area near the Botanical Building and reflecting pool, where people play, picnic and walk dogs. It’s like your own secret space in green heaven. But bring a seat cushion if you sit there for long!

Where are your favorite places to read or write? Leave a comment!

All of these photos are from Cool San Diego Sights. To see thousands of images from all around San Diego, simply navigate about my website!

Do you enjoy reading philosophical short works of fiction? You might enjoy visiting Short Stories by Richard!

Local authors honored by San Diego Public Library!

The 50th Annual Local Author Exhibit - Golden Anniversary - runs through February 29 at the downtown San Diego Public Library.
The 50th Annual Local Author Exhibit – Golden Anniversary – runs through February 29 at the downtown San Diego Public Library.

San Diego is the home of many thoughtful, creative residents. Proof of this can be seen at downtown’s San Diego Public Library, where a special exhibit features books by local writers that were published in 2015. It’s an impressive visual tribute to local writing talent. Works of fiction and nonfiction alike are on proud display. Congratulations to all!

Many exceptional books of all types were published in 2015 by local San Diego writers.
Many exceptional books of all types were published in 2015 by local San Diego writers.

One display case contains an old manual typewriter, and lists from past years of published authors in San Diego.
One display case contains an old manual typewriter, and several lists from past years of published authors in San Diego.

The many glass display cases feature books by local authors that came out in 2015. Some of the writers are quite famous!
The many glass display cases feature books by local authors that came out in 2015. Some of the writers are quite famous!

Christmas in San Diego by local legend Bill Swank. Cool San Diego Sights has 5 photos in this awesome book! What an honor!
Christmas in San Diego by local legend Bill Swank. Cool San Diego Sights has 5 photos in this awesome book! What an honor!

I made a cool discovery! It’s Bill Swank’s new book Christmas in San Diego! I blogged about it a couple months ago!

Through the Dark Door of Time: SAN DIEGO 1867, a novel by Barbara McMikle. Blood of the Band: An Ipai Family Story, by David L. Toler, Jr.
Through the Dark Door of Time: SAN DIEGO 1867, a novel by Barbara McMikle. Blood of the Band: An Ipai Family Story, by David L. Toler, Jr.

Sunshine/Noir II: Writing from San Diego and Tijuana. Coastal Zone, poems by Joe Safdie.
Sunshine/Noir II: Writing from San Diego and Tijuana. Coastal Zone, poems by Joe Safdie.

7 Deadly Sins That Poison the Soul and How to Conquer Them! by A.D. Brown. States of Terror. The Advocate's Geocache, by Teresa Burrell.
7 Deadly Sins That Poison the Soul and How to Conquer Them! by A.D. Brown. States of Terror. The Advocate’s Geocache, by Teresa Burrell.

Sally Ride: A Photobiography of America's Pioneering Woman in Space, by Tam O'Shaughnessy. Troubleshooting Your Mac, by Joe Kissell.
Sally Ride: A Photobiography of America’s Pioneering Woman in Space, by Tam O’Shaughnessy. Troubleshooting Your Mac, by Joe Kissell.

Books by local authors concern every subject imaginable, including art, history, culture and photography.
Books by local authors concern every subject imaginable, including art, history, culture and photography.

Horror, detective fiction, graphic novels, children's book--San Diego authors are prolific creators!
Horror, detective fiction, graphic novels, young adult and children’s books . . . San Diego authors are prolific creators!

Many eBooks were published online by local San Diego writers!
Many eBooks were published online by local San Diego writers!

A number of works by local authors were written in foreign languages.
A number of works by local authors were written in foreign languages.

How to be Happy in an Unhappy World, by Marie Chapian, a New York Times Bestselling Author.
How to be Happy in an Unhappy World, by Marie Chapian, a New York Times Bestselling Author.

Congratulations to all San Diego writers who had books published in 2015!
Congratulations to all San Diego writers who had books published in 2015!

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Do you like to read original, thought-provoking fiction? Please visit Short Stories by Richard.