Lingering flames in one autumn garden.

It’s mid-autumn. Winter will be here before you know it. Brilliant color in most gardens will be extinguished. But a few sunny “flames” still linger at the Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa Park!

I swung by this afternoon!

The fruit on one large Chinese flame tree between the Exhibit House and Koi Pond have mostly turned brown. But one or two clusters still appear reddish high up in the green leaves.

And small purplish flames are still visible in the Bonsai collection. A beautiful fire remains lit in one carefully pruned bougainvillea!

Unfortunately, too much light has been extinguished elsewhere in Balboa Park for the time being. Most museums are closed again due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Two attractions, the Japanese Friendship Garden and San Diego Zoo, remain open–the outdoor parts, at least!

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!

Walking by the Miramar College Vernal Pools.

Today I walked through a small section of Mira Mesa. I was on a mission to check out a cool sculpture I’d read about that stands in front of a fire station.

As I walked west along Hillery Drive from the Miramar College Transit Station, I observed what at first glance appeared like a scrubby vacant lot behind a fence. When I came to the corner of Hillery Drive and Black Mountain Road, a sign on the fence informed me that I was looking at an area of special environmental importance–a unique nature preserve!

I was walking right next to the Miramar College Vernal Pools.

Here’s a little information provided by three signs that I read:

This plot of land was originally leased to the Navy in 1931 and called Linda Vista Mesa Field, or Hourglass Field because of its distinctive shape. It was part of Camp Kearny, which was located on the site of the current Marine Corps Air Station Miramar. This field was used by the Army and Navy for dive bombing practice and emergency landings.

From 1957 to 1959, the field was used as a sports car racecourse, and from the 1970’s to 2008 what remained of the old runway was used for law enforcement training and nicknamed The Grinder.

The protected field now contains many seasonal vernal pools–a very rare type of wetland. Shallow vernal pools are wet during the rainy season–particularly in spring–then quickly turn to mud and dry out. Because of this unusual environment, a number of rare and endemic species live in vernal pool areas. In addition to teeming microscopic life and small crustaceans like the fairy shrimp, there are frogs, snakes, birds and mammals. More than 200 plant species thrive in and around vernal pools, including annual wildflowers.

One sign indicates the Miramar College Vernal Pools’ interpretive trails are open Monday through Friday from 7 am to 10:30 pm. Unfortunately, I walked by on a Saturday and had to observe this natural area from behind the surrounding fence.

If you want to read the signs, click my photos and they will enlarge.

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!

Cardiff’s beautiful Harbaugh Seaside Parkway.

Beautiful flowers by the path through old Carpentier Parkway, which is turning into Harbaugh Seaside Parkway.
Beautiful greenery by the path through old Carpentier Parkway, which is being transformed into Harbaugh Seaside Parkway.

In Cardiff-by-the-Sea, the bicycle and pedestrian-friendly Cardiff Rail Trail is a relatively new segment of the much longer Coastal Rail Trail, that when finally completed will link San Diego to Oceanside.

Right next to the Cardiff Rail Trail is a garden-like linear park. From what I can gather, this old park maintained by the Cardiff Botanical Society was originally named the Carpentier Parkway, and is now being revamped, turning into Harbaugh Seaside Parkway. I don’t know that much about the project, apart from a few pages I found searching the internet. The George and Betty Harbaugh Charitable Foundation was also instrumental in creating the Harbaugh Seaside Trails at the north end of Solana Beach between Highway 101 and the train tracks.

Yesterday I walked a short distance through the somewhat ragged but quite beautiful Harbaugh Seaside Parkway. Starting at Chesterfield Drive just east of the train tracks, turning off from the paved Cardiff Rail Trail, I walked north up a winding dirt path between flowers, trees, plaques and a sculpture.

I had to brush a thin layer of dirt from engraved pavers and stones.

Enjoy these photographs. I’ve transcribed some of the words that I found on plaques and a weathered sign in a kiosk…

The south end of the dirt path leads away from the Cardiff Rail Trail just north of Chesterfield Drive.
The south end of the dirt path leads away from the Cardiff Rail Trail just north of Chesterfield Drive.

I believe this old wooden Welcome to Cardiff By the Sea sign used to stand beside Highway 101.
I believe this old wooden Welcome to Cardiff By the Sea sign used to stand beside Highway 101.

Bird of Paradise

Lord sent me to this world
as a soul trapped in a human body,
like a bird trapped in a cage
I am waiting for the day
that the Lord will fly me back home.
–Rumi

In memory of my daughter
Chantal Paydar

“Carpentier Parkway proves it is possible to provide beautiful, lush, flowered garden landscaping while using 75% less irrigation water without resorting to using desert plants. This park in downtown Cardiff-by-the-Sea covers the area between San Elijo and the railway tracks from Birmingham to Chesterfield and used to be an ugly patch of weeds…”

Dedicated to the memory of Wayne Holden and to the Honor of all the Volunteers who have given time and donations for the Carpentier Parkway. 1999.

The Cardiff Chamber of Commerce commissioned the statue to be sculptured for Wayne Holden, who died at 47 years old… James Pugh, Sculpturer…

A beautiful old tree has two plaques at its base.
A beautiful old tree has two plaques at its base.

There was a lovely lady from Singapore
Whose humor was great and tales were lore
With a laugh so infectious none could ignore
For all that knew her till the age of eighty-four.

In memory of Kathleen Jack 1928-2013

Good Morning Cardiff by the Sea
Darreld Kitaen 10/2/36 – 1/3/19
Happy Days – Love and Peace

In Loving Memory
Richard W. (Dick) Kratzer

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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Dappled beauty at Japanese Friendship Garden.

This afternoon I enjoyed a new exhibition of beautiful cultural artifacts at the Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa Park. The exhibition, featuring pieces in the collection of the Mingei International Museum, concerns Japanese maneki neko, which are beckoning cat figurines believed to bring good luck.

Beforehand and afterward, I walked about the garden. Everywhere I turned I saw dappled light and shadow–in trees, on rocks, on the grass. So I took these photographs of the surrounding beauty…

If you love the Japanese Friendship Garden and would like to walk with them as they grow, read the above sign.

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!

Almost autumn beauty by the river.

It’s almost autumn. Tomorrow we’ll experience the autumnal equinox in the Northern Hemisphere. And the weather feels a bit like it.

I rose early this morning and found myself walking by the San Diego River in Mission Valley, enjoying the cool air. I moved slowly along the river wondering when the sun might break through the gray clouds. Maybe later in the morning.

Even though the very gradually yellowing leaves and gray, wrinkled trunks of nearby cottonwood trees seemed dull under the overcast, in places I found patches of unexpected light. Here and there new green was pushing through. I even found tiny flowers.

Nature in every season is beautiful.

It’s right there in front of you.

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!

Neighbor releases butterflies in San Diego park!

A neighbor in San Diego’s Cortez Hill community has released butterflies in a city park. She accomplished this with a paintbrush and stencils!

Take a look!

I learned from Joe Ciavarella of Friends of Tweet Street Park that the beautiful butterflies–and birds, flowers and dragonflies–you see in my photos were painted on planters and stones recently by Victoria Villavicencio, who periodically visits Cortez Hill.

Tweet Street Linear Park at the top of Cortez Hill becomes ever more inviting over time, thanks not only to the friendly workers of San Diego’s Parks and Recreation Department, but to unselfish community volunteers who devotedly plant, tend and clean the garden-like park.

From one who lives a few steps away: Thank You!

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!

Sunflowers on the Silver Strand.

There were many empty picnic benches on the bay side of Silver Strand State Beach today.

I chose a shady one that faced these bright sunflowers. Then I took out a notebook and struggled with my writing.

Words never seem adequate.

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!

If you’d like to read an inspirational little story about sunflowers and human kindness, click here!

Walking east along the Sweetwater River.

A couple weekends ago I walked a very short segment of the Sweetwater River Bikeway, from Hoover Avenue west to the Pier 32 Marina. You can revisit those photos here.

Today I returned to the Sweetwater River and walked east along the bikeway from Hoover Avenue all the way to Plaza Bonita.

I was struck by the contrasts.

The rocky-sided river channel, as seen looking down from Interstate 5, appears almost barren, but when you walk along the bike path you notice many plants among the broken rocks, and the ones that are deep-rooted were very green in the summer sunlight.

During the day bicyclists and runners passed me by as I slowly walked, and the nearby busy westbound lanes of U.S. Route 54 sometimes came into view. But late at night, the scene is obviously very different. There was graffiti which increased as I progressed east to Interstate 805. There was trash and frequent evidence of homelessness. As I came into the vicinity of Interstate 805, I passed several active homeless encampments. And the graffiti spoke of gang activity, with references to drugs and death.

But as I headed east, the river also became more alive. A marshy wetland appeared with discarded shopping carts and happily paddling ducks. Trees began to flourish along the banks, and eventually grew so thick they concealed a river full of reeds and lush greenery.

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!

Sunlight illuminates beauty in Alcazar Garden.

If you’ve ever wandered about Balboa Park in the late afternoon, and found yourself walking along El Prado directly next to the Alcazar Garden, you’ve probably seen the bright leaves.

I headed that way today.

For eyes turned toward the Alcazar Garden, the sunlight was illuminating great beauty.

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!

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!