Beauty at the Meditation Gardens in Encinitas.

Some of the most beautiful gardens in San Diego County can be found in Encinitas. I visited one of those gardens this weekend.

The Meditation Gardens at Self-Realization Fellowship is a quiet retreat for those who like to walk or sit quietly in a place where the mind can find peace and the spirit, inspiration.

Pathways wind through a lush, carefully tended world. Benches in green nooks invite rest and reflection. There are exotic plants, trees and flowers, ponds filled with bright koi, and breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean. Like distant poetry, surfers far below ride the curling rhythmic waves of Swami’s.

The Meditation Gardens recently reopened after a long closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Visitors to the garden, as the Self-Realization Fellowship website suggests, might discover “a greater realization of the Divine Presence that lies within.”

The amazing garden is free to the public.

Enjoy a sample of its beauty…

This is the site of the Golden Lotus Temple, built in 1937. Here thousands came to services conducted by Paramahansa Yogananda… In 1942 cliff erosion made the temple unstable and later it had to be dismantled…

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!

Tiny sidewalk mysteries in Balboa Park!

When you walk randomly through a city, you encounter unexpected mysteries.

The other day I was walking through Balboa Park, west of the Cabrillo Bridge, when strange, tiny mysteries greeted my eyes. Down in the concrete sidewalk were a few dozen scattered leaf impressions.

I found them on the north side of El Prado, west of Balboa Drive, in the vicinity of the Sefton Plaza statues of Balboa Park’s founders.

Did leaves falling on fresh new concrete produce these impressions? The impressions seem too deep for that.

What’s more, many of the leaf shapes don’t appear to match any of the nearby trees or vegetation.

Were these mysterious impressions produced naturally or deliberately?

Stamped in the concrete sidewalk a short distance to the west, at Sixth Avenue, is the year 1968. Perhaps that’s a relevant clue.

What do you think? Does anybody know?

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!

Working to clean and beautify National City!

During my visit to the fun “A Kimball Holiday” event on Saturday, I met a couple of guys who are working to clean and beautify National City!

In an effort to promote a pedestrian corridor along Interstate 805, they are asking the public which improvements would be most important. Native and drought-resistant landscaping, trash and recycling receptacles, lighting, signage and more are being considered.

I don’t live in National City, but I am a very big walker who passes through its neighborhoods from time to time, so obviously I was excited to hear of this effort!

The guys I spoke to are hoping to receive a Caltrans Clean California Program grant to implement this positive vision for the community.

All I can say is, National City certainly deserves these improvements. This community might be a bit under-resourced, but its residents are equal members of the California family.

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!

Beautiful poinsettias before a Balboa Park closure.

The Botanical Building in Balboa Park is set to be closed next year as the historic lath structure undergoes its major restoration. So this holiday season is your last chance for a while to see the popular annual poinsettia display.

I walked through the Botanical Building today to experience the bright Christmas reds and floral beauty. I took these photographs.

If you’d like to learn more about the Botanical Building’s upcoming renovation, check out the Forever Balboa Park web page concerning the project here!

This year’s 35th Annual Poinsettia Display lasts through December 31, 2021.

As many history buffs know, poinsettias have an important connection to San Diego’s North County city of Encinitas. That’s where years ago the Paul Ecke Poinsettia Ranch was located. Paul Ecke, Sr. was almost singlehandedly responsible for making the poinsettia an important part of Christmas celebrations around the world.

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!

San Diego County Orchid Society’s amazing Fall Show.

The San Diego County Orchid Society had one of their flower shows in Balboa Park today. As I walked near the Casa del Prado, I noticed the Fall Show event sign, and my feet turned toward amazing natural beauty.

I love the many different gardening, art and craft shows that are held nearly every weekend in Balboa Park. But the Orchid Society‘s shows might be my favorite.

Want to know why?

Simply look at these photos from the 2021 “Orchids in the Park” Fall Show!

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 fun Harvest Fair in Balboa Park!

A very fun Harvest Fair and Marketplace could be enjoyed today in Balboa Park!

The San Diego Floral Association hosted this annual event–which they call Birds, Bees, Flowers and Trees–at the Casa del Prado’s outdoor courtyards.

During my walk through Balboa Park, I lingered at this autumn festival to look about and meet some cool people.

This is what I discovered…

The family friendly event provided many educational opportunities.
Vendors had all sorts of unique crafts and art for sale.
Representatives from the organization Senior Gleaners pose for a photo. They’ll pick your fruit and donate to local agencies that feed the hungry. Or you can volunteer and help pick fruit!
Ikebana International had a table with some beautiful flower arrangements.
The San Diego Audubon Society was present. We talked about local estuaries, lagoons and feral parrots in my Cortez Hill neighborhood!
I learned there’s a College Area Community Garden in a canyon near San Diego State University.
These cool folks in costume were representing the San Diego Costume Guild!
The San Diego Beekeeping Society was showing this hive of bees. Hundreds of people around San Diego County keep bees. Many are hobbyists.
If you happen to come upon an injured parrot, call these friendly ladies at SoCalParrot.org. They perform urban wild parrot rescues.
The San Diego Floral Association had lots of helpful and interesting information on display.
The colorful Harvest Fair included a “Flower Power” floral design competition!

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!

San Ysidro mural painted for California Clean Air Day.

A mural was recently completed in San Ysidro to raise awareness for the 4th Annual California Clean Air Day, which took place last Wednesday.

Today I headed down to Casa Familiar’s new Environmental Justice office at 161 San Ysidro Boulevard to see the mural, which was painted by Amanda Kachadoorian and other artists along a low wall nearby.

My photos show just how gorgeous the artwork is!

According to information I received concerning it, the “mural represents the fight for clean air by elevating conservation and restoration of natural habitats. The mural focuses on the Tijuana River Valley depicting a natural landscape with native plants…”

San Ysidro is home to the world’s busiest land border crossing. This San Diego South Bay community experiences a disproportionate amount of air pollution. The high level of pollution comes from 60,000 idling cars every day as motorists wait at the border.

The beautiful mural was commissioned by the community organization Casa Familiar in collaboration with Coalition for Clean Air.

You can learn more about a past Air Pollution Study in San Ysidro 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!

Another wonderful walk in Balboa Park!

Several walks today. Many photographs taken.

I started in Balboa Park!

And, you know what? Balboa Park on a Saturday morning in late September was just as wonderful as ever…

Friendly painters interpret beauty at the Lily Pond.
Brushstrokes reveal wonder.
This cool guy was playing music for the painters!
Ladies in old-fashioned garb ready a canopy by the Botanical Building.
Garden Stewards do some gardening (and smiling) in the Casa del Prado courtyard!
The Casa del Prado revitalization not only includes garden beds redone with the help of the San Diego Floral Association, but painting the building with historic color and new lighting.
Mitchell, Balboa Park’s cool didgeridoo dude, was hanging out on El Prado. He was wearing Jupiter today! He told me he’s going to be picking up his awesome new sculpted Draco (dragon) didgeridoo soon. He said he’ll send me pics of it which I hope to share!
Peeking into the House of Hospitality courtyard.
The fellow with the enormous camera is a freelance photographer. He saw a big spider building a long web between a Palm Canyon tree and the nearby restrooms. We marveled at how a mere spider could accomplish such a feat.
A bunch of walkers were streaming down El Prado. I believe they were raising funds for the Family Health Centers of San Diego.
I had to circle back to the Casa del Prado because the San Diego Bonsai Club’s exhibition opened at 10 am.
Another wonderful day walking 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!

Visiting the Kumeyaay-Ipai Interpretive Center in Poway.

Once a month, every third Saturday, the Kumeyaay-Ipai Interpretive Center in Poway opens to the public.

Today I enjoyed a tour of the archaeological site and its educational visitor center. I was surprised to find so much history preserved in this small island of natural beauty just off Poway Road.

Poway is derived from the Native American Kumeyaay word Pauwai, which means the shape of an arrowhead or the merging of two creeks. A short distance to the south is Poway Creek.

As you will see in the following photographs, a small Kumeyaay village of approximately 20 families once lived on the hill that I and my docent tour guide, Heidi, explored.

The Kumeyaay people have lived in this region for at least 10,000 years. These first people had their lives severely disrupted with the arrival of Europeans in 1769. Today, descendants of those who lived in Pauwai are members of the San Pasqual Band of Mission Indians.

Please enjoy the following photos to get a taste of what you might discover when you visit. Read the captions for a few of the things I learned.

Are you a local history or anthropology enthusiast? Or a community-minded person who loves the outdoors? The Kumeyaay-Ipai Interpretive Center is always looking for volunteers!

Check out their Facebook page and learn about the special days and hours when you can visit here.

Sign at the end of Ipai Waaypuk Trail, south of Poway Road, where there is parking.
Kiosk welcomes visitors to an important historical site.
My tour guide Heidi starts up stairs that lead to short looping trails.
At the Replica Village in a clearing stand several recreated Kumeyaay ewaas. These are shelters made of sycamore or willow tree branches, covered with cattails or baccharis, and tied with yucca or agave fiber string. These replica ewaas are old and need to be refurbished. The Kumeyaay would refresh their watertight ewaas regularly. A grinding stone, or metate, lies nearby.
This nearest ewaa was recently reconstructed. Volunteers who’d like to maintain this special place are welcome!
Heading up to the top of the hill along a very short, moderately steep section of trail.
I’m shown Wild Cucumber. Like many native plants, it had various practical uses. Seeds ground into a powder by the Kumeyaay were added to pigments to create rock art. The crushed roots, when tossed into water, would paralyze fish!
In the distance we could see Mt. Woodson, Iron Mountain, and Cuyamaca Peak. Depending on the season, the Kumeyaay would migrate east to the mountains or west to the Pacific Ocean coast.
One of several outdoor ramadas built for visitors to the Interpretive Center. Historical ramadas erected by the Kumeyaay were shady places for village activities and ceremonies.
It was thought that rock art might be found on these monumental boulders crowning the hilltop, but a thorough study using modern technology detected no traces.
A wise Kumeyaay observer found in this rock formation a whale, a turtle, and the head of a dolphin. Do you see them?
A nearby fire pit once used by the Kumeyaay villagers.
Soot remains in this natural rocky oven. A crack in the rear conveniently served as a flue for smoke.
Cooking stones would be heated in the fire, then placed in baskets to prepare food.
Many small broken pottery sherds have been found near this primitive kitchen.
At the top of the hill are very deep grinding holes, or morteros, where acorns were ground for thousands of years. After being reduced to powder, the acorns would be leached of tannic acid and cooked into a mush called shawii.
A important cultural site representing thousands of years of indigenous history in Poway.
A Coast Live Oak beside the trail. One of several types of oak trees in the San Diego region. Acorns were a staple of the Kumeyaay diet.
As I and my tour guide walk back down the trail, another group heads up toward the hilltop.
A hollow Elderberry branch. Not surprisingly, these were used to make musical instruments such as flutes.
Some of the rugged natural beauty that we enjoyed.
At another ramada replica, we saw a series of genuine metates that Third Grade students can use during educational field trips! These metates were rescued during road construction many years ago and were donated to the Interpretive Center.
There is much to learn about Kumeyaay tools, food, basket weaving, pottery and more!
Third Grade students use these small stones to paint their own rock art!
We head into the building at the Kumeyaay-Ipai Interpretive Center to learn even more!
Look at all the smiling docents!
Dorothy M. Tavui was a Kumeyaay friend who helped to establish the Interpretive Center in Poway.
Shelves full of artifacts that kids can explore and handle to learn about Kumeyaay life.
A willow basket full of acorns. The long conical acorns are from Coast Live Oaks. The big acorns are from Black Oaks in the Cuyamaca Mountains. They were the largest and tastiest! The abalone shells you also see were obtained from the coast and often used as trade items.
Old photo of a 6 foot tall willow basket! Acorns would be gathered in season to last the entire year.
Sandals made of natural plant fibers.
I learned this is a seed beater! It’s being demonstrated on dried blooms of sage.
A beautiful mural inside the Kumeyaay-Ipai Interpretive Center in Poway shows what village life was like here for many thousands of years. By artist Brigitte Lopez, 2012.

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 hike near the Buena Vista Audubon Nature Center.

A beautiful, very easy nature hike can be enjoyed at the south end of Oceanside near the Buena Vista Audubon Nature Center. The quarter mile hike follows a quiet looping trail with views of the Buena Vista Lagoon Ecological Reserve.

Yesterday I walked the trail and took these photographs.

The Buena Vista Audubon Society runs the Nature Center, which is located at 2202 South Coast Highway. The trail begins and ends a few steps from the building’s front entrance, directly across the driveway.

The Buena Vista Audubon Society engages the community and local students by offering nature education and various birding opportunities. They are also active in working to protect and restore wetlands and other environmentally sensitive land. You can learn more about their mission at this web page.

The Nature Center was closed when I happened by, but the trail was wide open and inviting on a sunny July day.

Here and there through dense bulrushes, or at viewing platforms, one can see the placid lagoon, and birds floating in the water or taking flight. Not only does local wildlife depend on this important natural habitat, but Buena Vista Lagoon is used by thousands of migrating birds that follow the Pacific Flyway.

One section of the hike was on a wood plank boardwalk over shallow water, then the trail turned toward dry land where I saw majestic trees, including sycamores, cottonwoods, and even a few Torrey pines.

During my walk I happened to meet Buena Vista Audubon Society’s Executive Director Natalie Shapiro. Before I began my hike, I observed her picking up trash along the Coast Highway, where it crosses the lagoon. Then I saw her again on the trail! She asked if I’d like to volunteer! Volunteers are always greatly appreciated!

She was super friendly and explained to me the difference between bulrushes and cattails, which I tend to confuse. At the margins of the lagoon, the plant community includes both of these, not to mention pickleweed and saltgrass.

Since the 1940s, Buena Vista Lagoon has been sealed off from natural tidal fluctations, and it has consequently become a stagnant fresh-water system. But there are now plans to open the lagoon to the ocean, creating a more healthy wetland.

If you’d like to enjoy this very easy, educational nature hike, head to Oceanside. And plan to visit when the Buena Vista Audubon Nature Center is open! I need to do that, too!

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!