Historical markers at entrance to Presidio Park.

Several historical markers can be found near the northwest entrance to Presidio Park. If you’ve ever driven along Taylor Street just past Morena Boulevard and the Presidio Recreation Center, you might’ve glimpsed them. They stand beside a sidewalk that comes to an abrupt end, in a place where almost nobody walks.

The three markers were placed years ago near three sites of historical importance: the Serra Palm, Derby Dike, and the La Playa Trail.

I’ve transcribed the words on each plaque.

I was told by a park ranger who happened to be parked nearby that the Serra Palm is long gone. He said it was probably blown over in a windstorm, and pointed out a pine tree that was toppled by our most recent storms.

The Serra Palm was planted in 1769 by Padre Junípero Serra, and marked the beginning of El Camino Real.

I’ve photographed a similar La Playa Trail marker near Mission San Diego de Alcalá. To view that photo, click here.

According to Wikipedia: “In 1934, six commemorative terra cotta plaques were placed along the length of the trail by the local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution and other groups, based on a relief designed by sculptor Rose M. Hanks. The original six were located at Mission San Diego de Alcala; at the foot of Presidio Hill in Old Town; near the intersection of Rosecrans St. and Midway Blvd. in the Midway area; at the corner of Rosecrans and Lytton streets in Loma Portal, across from the Naval Training Center San Diego golf course; at the corner of Rosecrans and Byron streets in Roseville; and at the site of the fuel depot at Naval Base Point Loma…”

SERRA PALM

TRADITIONALLY THE EARLIEST PLANTED TREE IN
CALIFORNIA. DIRECTLY IN THE REAR, BENEATH
THE BROW OF THE HILL, LIE THE DEAD OF THE
SACRED EXPEDITION OF 1769, BURIAL PLACE OF
OUR FIRST UNKNOWN SOLDIERS.
STATE REGISTERED LANDMARK NO. 67
MARKER PLACED BY CALIFORNIA CENTENNIALS COMMISSION
IN COOPERATION WITH
SAN DIEGO COUNTY HISTORICAL MARKERS COMMITTEE
DEDICATED SEPTEMBER 2, 1950

DERBY DIKE

UNTIL 1853 THE ERRATIC SAN DIEGO RIVER DUMPED TONS
OF DEBRIS INTO THE HARBOR OR POURED INTO FALSE
BAY, NOW MISSION BAY. AT TIMES IT THREATENED TO DE-
STROY OLD TOWN SAN DIEGO. LIEUTENANT GEORGE
HORATIO DERBY, U.S. TOPOGRAPHICAL CORPS, BUILT A
DIKE THAT DIVERTED THE WATERS INTO FALSE BAY. THIS
WAS THE FIRST EFFORT TO TAME THE RIVER, AND ONE
OF THE FIRST U.S. GOVERNMENT PROJECTS IN CALIFOR-
NIA. THE RIVER WAS NOT FULLY HARNESSED UNTIL THE 1950s.
CALIFORNIA REGISTERED HISTORICAL LANDMARK NO. 244
FIRST REGISTERED JUNE 10, 1936. PLAQUE PLACED BY THE
STATE DEPARTMENT OF PARKS AND RECREATION IN CO-
OPERATION WITH THE SAN DIEGO DEPARTMENT OF PARKS
AND RECREATION AND SQUIBOB CHAPTER, E CLAMPUS
VITUS, AUGUST 4, 1990.

LA PLAYA TRAIL
JEDEDIAH STRONG SMITH
PATHFINDER OF THE SIERRAS
HERE COMPLETED THE FIRST TRAIL FROM
THE ATLANTIC TO THE PACIFIC JAN. 1827
ERECTED BY
SAN DIEGO CHAPTER D.A.R. 1937

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Sunrise, palm trees, buildings, boats.

This chilly January morning I enjoyed a brisk walk. I brought out my camera when it was light enough for good photographs.

Come follow me from the County Administration Building north along San Diego Bay for a short distance. After returning back south, we’ll turn away from the water and head east on Ash Street, turn south on Pacific Highway, and end up near Broadway.

This morning the sky quickly turned blue after sunrise.

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!

Glorious sunset seen from Santa Fe Depot!

The sunset this evening was absolutely glorious.

I was walking along the long train platform of San Diego’s downtown Santa Fe Depot when the clouds began to really blaze. Fantastic light reflected from the windows of nearby high-rise condos and several hotels to the west. As night fell, dramatic color crowned dark palm trees.

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!

Bright reflections on waterfront buildings!

Having an amateur photoblog is loads of fun. My eyes are constantly moving about, searching for and anticipating interesting images.

Cool San Diego Sights helps me to perceive what I otherwise might not. Unusual reflections, shadows, hues, angles, spatial relations, minute details: an object’s complex, often momentary essence.

Before sunset today I walked along the Embarcadero, just north of the Broadway Pier. Glass buildings along the waterfront were shining. A jumble of bright reflections produced all sorts of fascinating contrasts.

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!

Searching for bats in Balboa Park!

As evening approaches, people slowly gather by the Balboa Park lily pond to watch for bats. The event was organized by the San Diego Natural History Museum.
As evening approaches, people slowly gather by the Balboa Park lily pond to watch for bats. The event was organized by the San Diego Natural History Museum.

This evening I joined a small group of people by the Lily Pond in Balboa Park searching for bats!

The San Diego Natural History Museum held the dusk event as part of the 2018 City Nature Challenge. The worldwide challenge–which is being held in almost 70 cities– encourages ordinary citizens to use their smartphones to record as many local flora and fauna as they can over a 4-day period. Images are submitted via the iNaturalist APP for identification! (If you want to see San Diego County’s totals thus far, here’s the link.)

Anyway, I arrived at the Lily Pond before sunset and was greeted by a couple of friendly experts representing the San Diego Natural History Museum. I was shown some cool equipment, videos and specimens, then stood by as a super sensitive microphone was turned on in order to detect the high frequency ultrasonic chirp-like noises produced by echolocating bats!

While we waited and the sky darkened, I learned a few fascinating facts. I learned that the bats most common in Balboa Park are the Mexican free-tailed bat, the hoary bat, and the western red bat. I learned some bats are solitary, and feed where insects aren’t abundant enough to support large colonies of bats. I learned bats drink by rapidly skimming above a body of water– which has been observed at the park’s lily pond. I learned some bats can fly as fast as a hundred miles per hour and as high as 10,000 feet! I also learned bats often feed around lights where flying insects gather, often live in the dead fronds of palm trees, and absolutely love hanging out under bridges.

Did we see or detect any bats? None were seen in the darkness, but the microphone did record the acoustic signature of a nearby Mexican free-tail!

When bats fly about and utilize echolocation, a microphone detects the high frequency sound and software produces a sonogram. Different bats can be recognized by their unique acoustic signatures.
When bats fly about and use echolocation, a sensitive microphone detects the high frequency sound and software produces a sonogram. Different bat species can be recognized by their unique acoustic signatures.
Demonstrating a powerful directional microphone, which is mounted on a long pole.
Demonstrating a powerful directional microphone, which is mounted on a long pole.
A friendly volunteer who travels around the county observing and recording bats points to several specimens. The one indicated is a Mexican free-tailed.
A friendly volunteer who travels around the county observing and recording bats points to several preserved specimens. The one indicated is a Mexican free-tailed.
Several people have gathered to learn about bats shortly before dusk. A curious duck listens in.
Several people have gathered to learn about bats shortly before dusk. A curious duck listens in.
Bats often live in the dead clustered fronds of palm trees. I see a passing gull and a nearly full moon above the Casa del Prado.
Bats often live in the dead clustered fronds of palm trees. I see a passing gull and a nearly full moon above the Casa del Prado.
Darkening palm trees above the Timken Museum of Art in Balboa Park. Perhaps some bats are hanging out in these.
Darkening palm trees above the Timken Museum of Art in Balboa Park. Perhaps some bats are hanging out in these.
Pointing at the cool bat-detecting instrument. As darkness fell, we recorded one Mexican free-tailed bat, but it must have been too chilly this evening for much activity.
Pointing at the cool bat-detecting instrument. As darkness fell, we recorded one Mexican free-tailed bat, but apparently it was too cold this evening for much bat activity.

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Walkers linger by the water at sundown.

I took these photographs this evening.

San Diego Bay had quieted. A thin fog was hanging over Point Loma. A cruise ship was heading out.

A few walkers lingered by the water as daylight gradually faded.

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!

Waning rays of sunlight, magically captured.

One of the metal Wind Palms in front of the Hilton San Diego Bayfront catches golden light at the end of an October day.
One of the metal Wind Palms in front of the Hilton San Diego Bayfront catches golden light at the end of an autumn day.

I walked along the Embarcadero late today. As I reached the Hilton San Diego Bayfront the sun was beginning to set. Looking up, I observed that golden rays of waning sunlight had been magically captured by some peculiar palm trees…

Sunset begins behind trees of Embarcadero Marina Park South.
Sunset begins behind the trees of Embarcadero Marina Park South.
Late sunlight on one of the rotating Wind Palms created by artist Ned Kahn in 2008.
Late sunlight on one of the rotating Wind Palms created by artist Ned Kahn in 2008.
People jog along San Diego's Embarcadero as evening approaches.
People walk and jog along San Diego’s Embarcadero as evening approaches.
Waning rays of sunlight, magically captured.
Waning rays of sunlight, magically captured.

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!