Rain creates magic in a very special garden.

Raindrops on leaves at the Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa Park.
Raindrops on leaves at the Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa Park.

During today’s spring rain, the Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa Park shined with magic. Every leaf was enchanted. Every part of the garden was blessed with a profound and mysterious beauty.

Rain nourishes life: every life.

A spring storm creates unexpected beauty.
A spring storm creates unexpected natural beauty.
Wet, bright green leaves.
Wet, very bright green leaves.
Budding spheres of red magic open mysteriously.
Budding spheres of red.  Like magic they open mysteriously.
Water in the grooves of a beautifully marbled stone by the garden path.
Water in the grooves of a beautifully marbled stone by the garden path.
Droplets on a fern, like a curtain of beaded diamonds.
Droplets shining on a fern, like a curtain of beaded diamonds.
Sunlight through magical layers of green.
Sunlight through dreamy, magical layers of green.
More simple beauty at the always wonderful Japanese Friendship Garden.
Simple beauty at the always wonderful Japanese Friendship Garden.
Fragile blooms encrusted with crystal-like rain.
Fragile blooms encrusted with crystal-like rain.
Smooth forms of beaded water on a sloping leaf.
Smooth forms of beaded water on a sloping leaf.
One photograph of beauty in a special garden, on a rainy day in San Diego.
Another photograph of beauty in a special garden, on a rainy May day in 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!

Do you love Balboa Park? Follow my special blog which I call Beautiful Balboa Park!

A short hike in San Diego National Wildlife Refuge.

There was no need to alter this photo in the slightest way. The colors appeared astonishingly bright this morning in the sunlit mountains and hills east of San Diego.
There was no need to alter this photo in the slightest way. Nature’s colors appeared astonishingly rich this morning in the sunlit mountains and hills east of San Diego.

My 9:00 hike this morning turned out to be shorter than expected. That’s because I was the only one to show up for a scheduled nature hike in a beautiful section of the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge. Following directions, I parked a few minutes early at the Par 4 trailhead in Jamul, near the Cottonwood Golf Course. I kept checking my watch, hoping the US Fish & Wildlife Service ranger would arrive. I was looking forward to identifying the spring wildflowers and flowering plants along the trail. But it wasn’t to be. I suppose the event was cancelled due to yesterday’s rain.

I didn’t walk far because I didn’t want to adversely impact the still wet trail. Near the trailhead the footing was packed and firm, and my shoes barely made an impression, but perhaps a quarter mile into my hike there was just too much mud to continue.

As you can see, the hills of San Diego are bright green! This winter has been very rainy. During the summer the green in these photos will vanish as the native grasses, sagebrush and scrubby chaparral dry out in the relentless Southern California sun.

During my short hike, I did capture a few photos of tiny flowers and a bird! I’m sorry to report that I can’t properly identify them. Perhaps you can!

Sign at the Par 4 trailhead includes information for hikers and those on horseback. The trail follows the Sweetwater River in Jamul.
Sign at the Par 4 trailhead includes information for hikers and those on horseback. The trail follows the Sweetwater River in Jamul.
The San Diego National Wildlife Refuge Complex includes four areas designed to protect wildlife in Southern California.
The San Diego National Wildlife Refuge Complex includes four areas designed to protect wildlife in Southern California. (Click image to enlarge.)
There are patchy wildlife refuges in some of San Diego County's undeveloped areas. This map shops where they are located. The Par 4 trailhead is near the top of the bigger green blob.
There are various wildlife refuges in San Diego County’s undeveloped areas. This map shows where several managed by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service are located. The Par 4 trailhead is near the top of the bigger green blob.
A wet trail heads west over a green landscape. Many birds were seen flying across the open space.
A damp trail leads west over a green landscape. Many birds were seen flying across this open space. The morning’s short hike was made pleasurable by a fresh cool breeze and warm sunlight.
Beautiful tiny yellow flowers and raindrops on green leaves. What this plant is, I don't know. Leave a comment if you do!
Beautiful tiny yellow flowers and lingering raindrops on green leaves. What this plant is, I don’t know. Leave a comment if you do!
I spotted this little bird perched on a twig near the hiking trail.
I spotted this little bird perched on a twig near the hiking trail.
I tried to identify this small bird, using my California Birds pocket guide, but I couldn't decide. If you know, leave a comment!
I tried to identify this small bird using my California Birds pocket guide, but I couldn’t decide. If you know, leave a comment!
I'm no expert, but I did find these tiny jewel-like lavender flowers to be beautiful.
I’m no expert, but I did find these tiny jewel-like lavender flowers to be beautiful.
Dramatic white clouds in a blue sky. Natural beauty in San Diego's East County the day after a big storm.
Dramatic white clouds in a blue sky. Natural beauty in San Diego’s East County the day after a big storm.

After this very small hike, I drove along Highway 94 to Campo, winding my way through bright green rocky mountains. Then I headed back toward San Diego via Buckman Springs and Pine Valley, without any particular notion of where to stop. Then it occurred to me: Why not hike Cowles Mountain today? So I did, as you’ll see in the next blog post!

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!

Writing on a rainy day.

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It’s raining today. And I’m off from work. So I’ve been sitting at my computer wrestling with words.

I believe I’ve now finished another short story.  At least, it seems complete.  This story concerns youth, magic, innocence, dreams, the passage of years and what might happen in life. If you’d like to read it, click the following link: Final Real Magic is the title of the story.

Dreamlike visions on a wet, drizzly morning.

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It was drizzling very lightly this morning when I stepped out my door. I walked from Cortez Hill down to Broadway, then over to Santa Fe Depot. My camera was under my umbrella.

The light was dim and uncertain, causing many photographs to come out unfocused. A few strange photographs seem to contain mysterious phantoms from some half-remembered dream.  Haunting visions on a wet, drizzly morning.

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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!

Photos of San Diego River, after three storms.

The swollen San Diego River after three winter storms in six days. A gauge beside the water shows the river has subsided to about the 8 foot mark, after reaching a high level--I believe--of around 11 feet.
The swollen San Diego River after three winter storms in six days. A gauge beside the water shows the river has subsided to about the 8 foot mark, after reaching a high level–I believe–of around 11 feet.

I did some walking in a drizzle this morning before work.

I got off the trolley at the Fashion Valley station and proceeded to investigate the San Diego River in a section of Mission Valley that is often hit with flooding. Three very rainy winter storms were finally coming to an end. What did I see?

Palm trees surrounded by river water. Photo taken between the Fashion Valley Transit Center and the Town and Country Resort and Convention Center.
Palm trees surrounded by flowing river water. Photo taken from the pedestrian bridge between the Fashion Valley Transit Center and the Town and Country Resort and Convention Center.
A tall eucalyptus tree knocked over by the gusty winter storms. A common sight around San Diego.
A tall, shallow-rooted eucalyptus tree knocked over by the gusty winter storms. A common sight around San Diego.
Fashion Valley Road this morning was still blocked off from traffic, even though the San Diego River's water had subsided to street level.
Fashion Valley Road this morning was still blocked off from traffic, even though the San Diego River’s water had subsided to street level.
A friendly San Diego Lifeguard makes the rounds to make sure nobody needs a swift water rescue. My photo just missed his wave!
A friendly San Diego Lifeguard makes the rounds to make sure nobody needs a swift water rescue. My photo just missed his wave!
The parking structures at Fashion Valley Mall that are susceptible to flooding were definitely well underwater. Thank goodness, I saw no submerged cars.
The parking structures at Fashion Valley Mall that are susceptible to flooding were definitely well underwater. Thank goodness, I saw no submerged cars.
Bright green grass and dark clouds. I was sheltered from raindrops by the trolley tracks overhead.
Bright green grass and dark clouds. I was sheltered from raindrops by the trolley tracks overhead.
As usual, the San Diego River was flooding Avenida del Rio south of the mall. The short street is appropriately named!
As usual, the San Diego River was flooding Avenida del Rio just south of the mall. The short, dipping street is appropriately named!
Yesterday someone foolishly trying to walk through this powerful moving water had to be rescued. They got washed away. A helicopter was even brought in.
Yesterday someone foolishly trying to walk through this powerful moving water had to be rescued. They got washed away. A helicopter was even brought in.
No worries about flooding for the trolley--at least right here!
No worries about flooding for the trolley–at least right here!
The Highway 163 underpass was flooded and muddy. I had to walk another way around to work. Good thing I got an early start!
The Highway 163 underpass was flooded and muddy. I had to walk another way around to reach work. Good thing I got an early start!
Sign by the San Diego River. The low rainfall and the geologic composition historically allowed the river to run below ground much of the year, hence the nickname--the Upside Down River.
Sign by the San Diego River. The low rainfall and the geologic composition historically allowed the river to run below ground much of the year, hence the nickname: the Upside Down River.
The beautiful river this morning through leaves.
The beautiful river this morning through leaves.
Morning sky and clouds through bare winter river trees.
Morning sky and clouds through bare winter trees.
The San Diego River is unusually wide in its swollen state after the storms. It looks like an honest-to-goodness actual river!
The San Diego River is unusually wide in its swollen state after the storms. It looks like an honest-to-goodness actual river!
Walking along Mission Center Road in the rain by the San Diego River.
Walking along Mission Center Road in the rain by the San Diego River.

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!

Balboa Park, beautiful after the rain.

Girls in ponchos take photos with Will the bronze-gold Bard near the Balboa Park reflecting pool after the rain.
After the rain, girls in plastic ponchos take photos with Will the friendly Bard near the Balboa Park reflecting pool.

A major storm hit San Diego yesterday, causing flooding and uprooting trees.

I went for a walk through Balboa Park this morning. As I started across the Cabrillo Bridge, my hat protected my face from a few lingering very light showers. But they didn’t last long. My camera was out.

Rain has painted the arching west entrance to Balboa Park.
Rain has painted the arching west entrance to Balboa Park.
Leaves, puddles and a few early visitors entering Balboa Park after the latest San Diego storm.
Leaves, puddles, and a few early visitors entering Balboa Park after the latest San Diego storm.
Leaves blown by a very windy storm on a wet tile bench in the Alcazar Garden.
Leaves blown by a very windy storm on a wet tile bench in the Alcazar Garden.
The aftermath.
The aftermath.
The Plaza de Panama might be wet, but people find tranquility and many wonders in the park.
The Plaza de Panama might be wet, but people find tranquility and many wonders in the park.
Dripping branches and leaves seem to overhang The Watchers. This outdoor sculpture is by artist Lynn Chadwick.
Dripping branches and leaves seem to overhang The Watchers. This outdoor sculpture is by artist Lynn Chadwick.
Rainwater has collected in this beautiful flower.
Rainwater has collected in this beautiful flower.
Walkways glisten and the air is clean and cool.
Walkways glisten and the air is clean and cool.
The colors of the tiles in Spanish Village's patio are made bold and cheerful with the lingering moisture.
The colors of the tiles in Spanish Village’s patio are made bold and cheerful with the lingering moisture.
A magical passageway.
A magical passageway.
Magical life. A squirrel on the damp green grass feasts.
Magical life. A squirrel on the damp green grass feasts.
Walking toward the Casa del Prado, between the huge Moreton Bay Fig and the San Diego Natural History Museum.
Walking toward the Casa del Prado, between the huge Moreton Bay Fig and the San Diego Natural History Museum.  Everything is so green.
A photographer gets his subjects to pose. Hopefully nobody slips!
A photographer gets his subjects to pose. Hopefully nobody slips!
An iconic sculpture in the rain-wet courtyard of the House of Hospitality. Aztec Woman of Tehuantepec by Donal Hord, 1935.
An iconic sculpture in the rain-wet courtyard of the House of Hospitality. Aztec Woman of Tehuantepec by famed San Diego artist Donal Hord, 1935.
Beads of water on bright jewel-like flowers.
Beads of water on bright jewel-like flowers.
Cleaning up after the muddy, messy storm with a smile.
Cleaning up after the muddy, messy storm with a smile.
Gazing down at the Japanese Friendship Garden's canyon from an overlook by the koi pond.
Gazing down at the Japanese Friendship Garden’s canyon from an overlook by the koi pond.
The strong storm yesterday knocked over a towering eucalyptus tree at the Japanese Friendship Garden canyon's edge. Guys with chainsaws cut it up.
The strong storm yesterday knocked over a towering eucalyptus tree at the Japanese Friendship Garden canyon’s edge. Guys with chainsaws cut it up.
That long puddle almost looks impassable!
That long puddle almost looks impassable!
Rain or not, it seems an umbrella and cell phone simply can't be put aside.
Rain or not, it seems an umbrella and cell phone simply can’t be put aside.
Patches of dampness add character to the side of the Balboa Park Club.
Patches of dampness add even more character to the side of the Balboa Park Club.
A seldom used path to the old cactus garden is lined with bright rain-loving moss.
A seldom used path to the old cactus garden is lined with bright rain-loving moss.
Just a beautiful photo.
Just a beautiful photo.
The picnic benches behind the Balboa Park Club are empty as usual. Grass has turned bright green in collected pools of water.
The picnic benches behind the Balboa Park Club are empty as usual. Grass has turned bright green in collected pools of water.
The clouds are clearing. I hear a cry above. Paired Red-tailed Hawks whirl and dance in the sky together above Balboa Park.
The clouds are clearing. I hear a cry above. Paired Red-tailed Hawks whirl and dance in the sky together above Balboa Park.
This is Engineer Joe. He was blowing a train whistle to attract an audience. He is performing at the Marie Hitchcock Puppet Theatre! The super nice guy told me that this puppet theater has been in continuous operation since 1948! He also said Marie Hitchcock created the puppets used by the San Diego Zoo to feed California Condor chicks, saving the species from extinction!
This is Engineer Joe. He was blowing a train whistle outside to attract an audience! He is presently performing at the Marie Hitchcock Puppet Theatre.

Engineer Joe is a super nice guy. He told me that the Balboa Park puppet theater has been in continuous operation since 1948.  That’s a long time for a puppet theater! He also said Marie Hitchcock created the hand puppets used by the San Diego Zoo to feed endangered California Condor chicks in the early 1980s, saving the species from extinction!

The sun is out after the storm. A Balboa Park ranger opens the colorful table umbrellas in the Plaza de Panama.
The sun is out after the storm. A Balboa Park ranger opens the colorful table umbrellas in the Plaza de Panama.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around taking photographs!  Just for fun! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Do you love Balboa Park? Follow my special blog which I call Beautiful Balboa Park!

A very strange San Diego sight!

A strange liquid falls from the sky in San Diego. What is it?
A strange liquid falls from the sky in San Diego. What is it?

Umbrellas! In San Diego! My eyes must be deceiving me!

Who said it never rains in Southern California? Whoever that was, they must not have been downtown this morning!

It's only water. Perhaps we can cope. Most of these smart convention center visitors brought umbrellas!
It’s only water. Perhaps those of us who live in sunny San Diego can cope. Most of these smart convention center visitors brought umbrellas!
Honest-to-goodness rain has returned this winter, hopefully putting an end to our ongoing drought.
Honest-to-goodness rain has returned this winter, hopefully putting an end to our ongoing drought.
Umbrellas have sprouted like colorful flowers in the rain!
Umbrellas have sprouted like colorful flowers in the rain!

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!