Oil painted walks in nature’s beauty.

It’s going to be hot this weekend. So I’m planning on taking it easy–do some reading by the water, perhaps write something.

Meanwhile, I thought it would be fun to create even more digital oil paintings!

My recent walk in San Clemente Canyon has inspired me to select a few past photos of nature’s beauty, and transform them into “paintings” with GIMP’s graphic Oilify filter.

If you think you recognize the ocean at Torrey Pines State Reserve, the San Diego River, Mount Laguna, snow at Cuyamaca Rancho State Park, and Mission Trails Regional Park–in no particular order–you’d be correct!

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!

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A hidden paradise in San Clemente Canyon!

You’d assume a hiking trail beside a freeway wouldn’t be beautiful.

Not when it’s a trail through enormous willows, oaks and sycamores in San Clemente Canyon!

Marian Bear Memorial Park occupies this narrow canyon between North Clairemont and University City–and so does California State Route 52. But when you hike by the creek through the many trees, which conceal the freeway, you quickly tune out the muffled noise of traffic. Your mind is busy with the surrounding beauty.

It’s everywhere.

Today around noontime I started from the Genesee Avenue trailhead and walked east. I passed under a freeway on-ramp, over stones in shallow muddy water, and entered a hidden paradise in the middle of the city.

The trail was easy. There were benches for resting. There was plenty of shade. I saw many birds. High above the trees I glimpsed a red-tailed hawk.

I saw families with smiling kids enjoying a day in nature. Bring water and sturdy shoes!

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!

Nature and art at San Diego River Garden!

There’s a very special garden in San Diego that few people visit. It’s called the San Diego River Garden. It’s situated near the center of Mission Valley, a short distance south of the San Diego River.

Every so often I drive past this native plant garden, but I never see a place to park. The stretch of Camino del Rio North beside it is mostly used by people going to and from nearby office buildings, and no street parking is available.

The gate of the San Diego River Garden’s small dirt parking lot is usually shut. The only other way in is to walk along a dirt path beside the road and pass through an entrance in the fence. Which is what I did this morning!

All was quiet. The early morning summer breeze was pleasantly cool. The few picnic benches were empty. I saw no other people. But I did see many active birds. And bright flowers. And lots of flourishing native plants including some cacti. And modest planters holding more greenery. And many winding trails. And Bigfoot! Yes, you heard me correctly! And–to my additional delight–a whole lot of nature artwork created by young students, including painted tiles scattered here and there on the ground and a cool mural on a shipping container!

According to the San Diego River Park Foundation website: “This site used to be a vacant area reserved for future use by the City of San Diego. But thanks to the City and the many volunteers, sponsors, groups that have come out to garden, the River Park Foundation is caring for this 5 acre area to make it attractive for the community.”

If you or your group would like to volunteer and do a little gardening out in the warm San Diego sunshine, or if you simply want to visit this beautiful kid-friendly park or learn more about it, 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!

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!

Letters Home: A fallen soldier and a memorial.

I’ve photographed many monuments that remember those who’ve fallen in war.

At the Veterans Memorial in Vista, California, the powerful monument to one particular soldier can easily bring you to tears.

Please look at the following images, read the two random letters that I photographed leading to the sculpture, then the plaque that describes the life and death of a young person who simply wanted to serve. Click those photos and they will enlarge for easier reading.

Veterans Memorial Park was created by the Pinamonti family to honor Ernie, son and brother, who was killed in the Vietnam War.

Sculpture at Veterans Memorial, by artist Rip Caswell, 2016.
Sculpture at Veterans Memorial, by artist Rip Caswell, 2016.

Dear Family, Today we are starting our first day of training...Mail call is the best part of the day and I really look forward to it...I miss everyone a great deal and I read the letters over and over. Sincerely, Ernie
Dear Family, Today we are starting our first day of training…Mail call is the best part of the day and I really look forward to it…I miss everyone a great deal and I read the letters over and over. Sincerely, Ernie
Dear Ernie...If there is anything you need, just ask and we will send it to you...Remember to write every couple days so I don't worry about you. Be good and take care of yourself. I miss you. Love, Mother
Dear Ernie…If there is anything you need, just ask and we will send it to you…Remember to write every couple days so I don’t worry about you. Be good and take care of yourself. I miss you. Love, Mother

Flag flies above Veterans Memorial Park in Vista, California.
Flag flies above Veterans Memorial Park in Vista, California.
On May 15, 1969, our family was forever changed by the knock on the front door that brought news that our 19 year old brother, Ernie, had died of wounds received while assisting a fellow soldier...
On May 15, 1969, our family was forever changed by the knock on the front door that brought news that our 19 year old brother, Ernie, had died of wounds received while assisting a fellow soldier…

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 photographs.

A new river park by Fashion Valley trolley station!

Northwest corner of Town and Country Resort and Convention Center's river park under construction. The new park will be across Riverwalk Drive from the Fashion Valley Transit Center.
The northwest corner of Town and Country’s new river park is under construction. The public park will be directly across Riverwalk Drive from the Fashion Valley Transit Center.

A new linear river park is under construction near Fashion Valley!

An ugly old parking lot of the Town and Country Resort & Convention Center is being converted into park space. And the north side of the San Diego River, directly adjacent to the Fashion Valley Transit Center, will be part of this new public park, too!

The project, which includes almost 8 acres of restored natural habitat, and beautiful new pathways along the San Diego River, is part of the Town and Country hotel’s extensive property-wide renovation.

Today I found myself standing high up on the Fashion Valley trolley station platform. I looked down to see how the northwest corner of the new park is taking shape.

Because I frequently use this station, I’ll continue to monitor developments!

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!

Wildlife arrives at San Diego River Discovery Center!

Native birds and wildlife arrived today at the San Diego River Discovery Center! Or, to be more precise, banners featuring images of river critters were hung today on a construction fence that surrounds the future nature center!

Did you know something cool is being built next to the San Diego River in Mission Valley?

The San Diego River Discovery Center at Grant Park is going to be where people of all ages gather to experience and learn about the natural environment along the San Diego River!

I blogged about this project in the past here. They’ve made progress since then, as you can see in one upcoming photo.

If you want to learn about the future nature center and how you might help make this dream a reality, visit the San Diego River Discovery Center website 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!

The miracle of the Surfing Madonna.

The Surfing Madonna in Encinitas, California. A mosaic by artist Mark Patterson.
The Surfing Madonna in Encinitas, California. A mosaic by artist Mark Patterson.

Have you heard of the miracle of the Surfing Madonna? Many in San Diego have witnessed the miracle. Indeed, the miracle is known around the world.

Next to the Encinitas Boulevard sidewalk, just east of Coast Highway 101, there’s a tiny open courtyard with a beautiful ocean mural and a shrine-like mosaic titled Surfing Madonna. The 10 by 10 feet mosaic depicts the Virgin of Guadalupe on a white surfboard, praying.

When it was first installed anonymously in a public place the artwork was considered illegal. Permission had not been granted by the city of Encinitas. The artist, Mark Patterson, was discovered and fined and the mosaic removed.

But a miracle happened.

After much controversy and legal uncertainty, and after having been moved from place to place, the unusual but beautiful mosaic, beloved by many in the beach community, finally found a home in Surfing Madonna Park, which you can see in my photographs.

To learn more about the miracle of the Surfing Madonna, read the words on the plaque beneath it.

The small Surfing Madonna Park, in a nook beside busy Encinitas Boulevard.
The small Surfing Madonna Park in a nook beside busy Encinitas Boulevard. The park is just a short walk east of Moonlight State Beach.
A plaque details the history of the Surfing Madonna.
A plaque details the history of the Surfing Madonna.

The plaque reads:

On Good Friday, April 22nd, 2011, the community of Encinitas was gifted with the Surfing Madonna mosaic, Our Lady, Star of the Sea.

Local artist, Mark Patterson and his good friend Bob Nichols, dressed up as constructions workers and hung the beautiful Surfing Madonna mosaic with its “Save the Ocean” theme. The mosaic was originally mounted underneath the train bridge, across the street from its current home.

The mosaic received international attention while the artist remained anonymous for months until discovered.

Although beloved by the community, she could not stay there and eventually found her way here, to her permanent home.

Mark Patterson sought to raise awareness of the value of the world’s Oceans. Through his vision he created the Surfing Madonna mosaic to spread a message of environmental awareness of Mother Ocean.

The mosaic gave birth to the Surfing Madonna Oceans Project which has continued to serve the Ocean and community through funding of local arts, environmental awareness, and by introducing special needs youth and their families to the joy of surfing and living with the Ocean.

Join us in celebrating the beauty of our world’s Oceans.

A beautiful environmental mural shows fish and other sea life, by Encinitas artist Kevin Anderson.
A beautiful environmental mural shows Garibaldi fish and other local sea life, by Encinitas artist Kevin Anderson.
Brick pavers in the small courtyard raised money for programs that help the Earth's oceans.
Brick pavers, some with religious themes, in the small courtyard. The pavers have raised money for programs that help the Earth’s oceans.
The Surfing Madonna and a prayerful message. Save the Ocean.
The unique Surfing Madonna and a prayerful message: Save the Ocean.

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Construction of new Kumeyaay park in Old Town.

In late 2018 I took some photos of the old Caltrans building being demolished in Old Town. I wrote that the land where it stood was to be converted into an outdoor park-like space with interpretative exhibits concerning the Native American Kumeyaay, who lived here long before Spanish missionaries arrived and established the nearby Presidio.

I posted a few photos of the Caltrans building demolition here.

Yesterday I walked around the construction site and observed that this new outdoor space of Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, near the corner of Taylor Street and Juan Street, is taking shape!

According to the California State Parks web page concerning this project, the new area is to include:

  • Interpretive elements such as a Native American interpretive public gathering area, a stage, displays and features, lighting, power, and benches.
  • Basic landscaping such as native trees, shrubs and ground covering, and detention and/or retention bio-swale.
  • Enhanced pedestrian circulation system with stabilized accessible pathways, seating, bollards and fencing, and signage.
  • Shaded ramadas with seating below.
  • Parking area with stabilized surface to accommodate 20 to 40 spaces including accessible spaces.

As you can see from my photos, various paths through the park have been laid out, and native trees appear ready for planting. You might also notice a few small concrete foundations have been poured.

I’ll continue to watch this expansion of Old Town San Diego State Historic Park as it develops!

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!

Colorful photos of historic Old Poway Park!

A couple years ago I headed up to the annual Rendezvous in Poway. The event is held in historic Old Poway Park.

The Rendezvous in Poway is a reenactment that includes many elements of the 19th century Old West, including costumed vaqueros, mountain men, cowboys, pioneers, and soldiers from the Civil War.

I blogged about the event here. I also blogged about a beautiful bronze sculpture that I came across while walking through the park. It’s titled The Pioneers. See it here.

This morning, as I went through some folders in my computer, I found one that I had named Old Poway Park. In it were various photos of the park.

Uh, oh! Yikes!

I had intended to blog those photos a day or two after the event!

My lousy memory being what it is, I thought it would be best to merely share a few photos I took of this very colorful historic park–I don’t recall most of the precise details.

I do remember that there was grass and picnic benches and shady trees, and excited kids waving as they rode along the short, looping track of the Poway-Midland Railroad, and that the Heritage Museum contained a great collection of artifacts and displays concerning Poway’s history. But I’m afraid these almost forgotten photos will simply provide a taste of my visit that day.

If you want to learn more about family-friendly Old Poway Park, its history, museum, fascinating buildings and railroad operations, visit their website here!

One day I’ll return to ride that steam locomotive train you see in the barn. The little kid in me cannot be denied.

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!

A trip to Coronado during the pandemic.

People sit on the grass at the Coronado Ferry Landing looking across San Diego Bay during the coronavirus pandemic.
People sit on the grass at the Coronado Ferry Landing looking across San Diego Bay during the coronavirus pandemic.

Today I went on a little mini-vacation. I walked from Cortez Hill where I live in downtown San Diego to Broadway Pier, boarded the Coronado Ferry and headed across the bay to one of my favorite places!

Today’s “trip” to Coronado was a bit different than usual, however. The ongoing coronavirus pandemic necessitated social distancing and frequent use of my face mask.

A crew member of the Silvergate ferry told me their ridership has begun to increase significantly now that San Diego has entered Phase 1 of the Reopening. Several weeks ago the ferry would carry perhaps 20 passengers for an entire day. Now there are easily 20 riders per trip.

As I walked through Coronado I saw people with and without face coverings, in groups, individually, in parks, on sidewalks. But most seemed to be conducting themselves in a considerate and measured way.

It appeared people were indeed very eager to be outside again after over a month of remaining mostly indoors. It was sunny and felt like summer. Restaurants were offering takeout service along the sidewalk. But many touristy shops were still closed.

Come along and read the photo captions…

More people sit near the small beach at the Coronado Ferry Landing.
Small groups sit spread out on the grass near the beach at the Coronado Ferry Landing.
This beach is usually much more active when there's no health crisis. A sometimes deadly, highly infectious novel coronavirus calls for social distancing.
This beach is usually much more active when there’s no health crisis. A sometimes deadly, highly infectious novel coronavirus calls for social distancing.
Fishing out on the blue water of San Diego Bay.
Fishing out on the blue water of San Diego Bay.
A few small groups were enjoying a Sunday early afternoon in Spreckels Park.
A few small groups were enjoying a Sunday early afternoon in Spreckels Park.
Bicycling has always been popular in Coronado, with tourists and locals alike. This street art depicts a fun bike.
Bicycling has always been popular in Coronado, with tourists and locals alike. This street art depicts a fun bike.
Something caught the attention of walkers in Rotary Park.
Something caught the attention of walkers in Rotary Park.
The COVID-19 crisis might prove fatal to the Lamb's Players Theatre. It's the most challenging time in their 49 year history. Perhaps send them a donation!
The COVID-19 crisis might prove fatal to the Lamb’s Players Theatre. It’s the most challenging time in their 49 year history. Perhaps send them a donation!
I spotted a UFO! It's the rather unique car of the Unarius Academy of Science, based in El Cajon. I once blogged about their spacey mural, if you recall.
I spotted a UFO! It’s the rather unique car of the Unarius Academy of Science. I once blogged about their spacey mural in El Cajon, if you recall.
Bicyclist heads down the street, with the Hotel del Coronado in the background.
Bicyclist rides along the street, with the grand, one-of-a-kind Hotel del Coronado in the background.
A couple heads down steps to the beach past signs concerning the latest coronavirus rules and regulations.
A couple heads down steps to the beach past signs concerning Coronado’s coronavirus rules and regulations.
People walk along beautiful Coronado Beach. The immense Disney Wonder cruise ship is parked in the ocean off San Diego waiting for the health crisis to end.
People walk along beautiful Coronado Beach. The immense Disney Wonder cruise ship is parked in the ocean off San Diego waiting for the health crisis to end.
If the Hotel del Coronado looks a bit different in this photo, that's because it's undergoing a big renovation during the pandemic.
If the Hotel del Coronado looks a bit different in this photo, that’s because it’s undergoing a big renovation during the pandemic.
Sign states that for the first time in 132 years, Hotel del Coronado has temporarily suspended operations.
Sign states that for the first time in 132 years, Hotel del Coronado has temporarily suspended operations.
Another look at large scale renovation underway at the world-famous Victorian beach resort.
Another look at major renovation underway at the world-famous Victorian beach resort.
As I walk back east along Orange Avenue, I pass the Coronado mural. I noticed it's printed on panels, not painted.
As I walked back east along Orange Avenue, I passed the Coronado mural. I noticed it’s printed on panels, not painted.
The marquee at the Village Theater indicates It's Intermission Time!
The marquee at the Village Theater indicates It’s Intermission Time!
One banner on the Orange Avenue median near Spreckels Park says Coronado We Stay Home Together. Support Our First Responders.
One banner on the Orange Avenue median near Spreckels Park reads: Coronado We Stay Home Together. Support Our First Responders.
The Coronado ferry will depart for downtown San Diego shortly. I stayed at a distance from the group ahead of me. They were told to don masks before boarding the ferry.
The Coronado ferry will depart for downtown San Diego shortly. I stayed at a distance from the group ahead of me. They were told to don masks before boarding the ferry.
The captain of the Silvergate poses for a photograph wearing his face mask. Thank you for taking us under the horns of the USS Midway and past a sea lion on a buoy!
The captain of the Silvergate poses for a photograph wearing his face mask. Stay safe!

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!