Stones painted with love, optimism, dreams.

Paint a rock. Leave it here.
Paint a rock. Leave it here.

My walk around Cardiff-by-the-Sea today included a very short stretch of the Cardiff Rail Trail. I walked north from where this popular bike and pedestrian trail crosses Chesterfield Drive, just west of San Elijo Avenue.

As I walked I noticed what first appeared to be many small smooth stones spilled to one side of the path. Upon closer inspection, I discovered a treasure trove of colorful gems!

Scattered on dead leaves I found brightly painted butterflies and hearts. I read words expressing love and optimism. I saw painted dreams.

It appears these precious jewels were created by many generous hands.

Dream and smile.
Dream and smile.

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!

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!

Irritable crabs face off at Ocean Beach arena.

Some irritable crabs were facing off all around a watery square arena at the Ocean Beach tide pools yesterday.

Crabs small and smaller, feeling agitated, would lift their claws threateningly, scamper right up to a rival, show ’em who’s boss, then, seeming to forget everything, would bumble off in a different direction.

I can’t say there was too much actual grappling. Just a lot of showboating.

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!

Carving stone and the Blue Granite Shift.

Fascinating public art can be found at the California Center for the Arts, Escondido, in the outdoor space between the Concert Hall and the Museum. Scattered among trees and shadows are the stones of the 200-foot Blue Granite Shift, created by artist Mathieu Gregoire in 1995.

At the north end of the installation lie natural, uncarved stones. As you proceed south, the stones are subjected to human action, until they finally become sculpted and polished into smooth geometric forms.

When you walk back and forth through Blue Granite Shift, it’s like moving forward and backward through time, observing how complex natural forms that slowly evolved over eons are abruptly transformed by human ideas and cutting, reducing tools of creativity.

Every stone, touched or untouched by human hand, is part of the larger world, where all things, including the viewer, exist under one sun in a clock-like cycle of shifting shadows.

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 tiny story, or poem, about a stone garden.

Forgive me for mentioning my writing website Short Stories by Richard again.

Today I sat for several minutes at the Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa Park gazing out at the Karesansui, or Dry Stone Garden. I must’ve entered a meditative state of mind, because as I viewed the ruggedly beautiful stones and perfectly raked gravel a vision came to me.

In the past I learned the significance of the elements in a Japanese rock garden, so this tiny three sentence story, or poem, which I titled Across the Stone Garden, might not be entirely original or surprising.

But I think it’s a bit magical, and you might like it anyway.

To read it, click here.

Photos of a hike up Mother Miguel Mountain.

At the top of Mother Miguel Mountain you'll find the Stone House and its flags, and a view of nearby San Miguel Mountain.
At the top of Mother Miguel Mountain you’ll find the Rock House and its flags, and a view of nearby San Miguel Mountain.

Today I enjoyed a hike to the top of Mother Miguel Mountain, just northeast of Chula Vista. While not as high as nearby San Miguel Mountain, the views of the southern part of San Diego from Mother Miguel Mountain are pretty amazing.

On a clear day you can see Mexico, San Diego Bay, Coronado, downtown, Point Loma, and various peaks including Otay Mountain, Mount Soledad, Cowles Mountain and Mt. Helix. Looking down to the south you can see Salt Creek Golf Course, which was closed a couple of years ago and will undergo future development.

Fortunately it wasn’t very hot today, being early January. I just wore jeans, a simple shirt and some good shoes. Should you hike this steep rocky trail on a hot day, make sure to bring lots of water. There are virtually no trees and no shade. And it’s a constant very rocky climb. Pay attention to where you step and wear boots or shoes with a good grip!

In addition to a fair number of other hikers and some mountain bikers, I saw half a dozen ravens circling above and below, a few cacti, lots of sagebrush and wild grass, and many crumbled rock outcroppings. To the northwest one can look down at Sweetwater Reservoir. And of course, there’s impressive nearby San Miguel Mountain, rising not far to the northeast.

I started at the trailhead at the corner of Paseo Veracruz and Paseo Los Gatos and started up the Rock House Trail for the peak! It’s a moderately difficult 4.3 miles round trip with a 1,171 feet elevation gain. Follow the designated trail, which has many switchbacks.

Halfway up you find a sign which points out and names many of the distant sights that are visible. From there, the trail gets steeper. (Those airplanes flying overhead are making their approach to San Diego International Airport which is near downtown!)

At the top of Mother Miguel Mountain is the Rock House: a large mound of rocks with several flags and an adjacent low stone open shelter. On all sides are scenic views. If you proceed a little beyond the Rock House, there’s a large outcropping and nearby crude wood bench with a small plaque. From it you can look toward the northeast and see distant El Cajon Mountain, often called El Capitan.

If you want to read the photos of signs, click the images and they will expand for easy reading.

Now come along with me and get a taste of this rewarding hike!

Mother Miguel Trail Head Bulletin Board contains useful information and a map for hikers.
The Mother Miguel Trail Head Bulletin Board contains useful information and a topographic map for hikers.
The Mother Miguel Mountain Trail is inside the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge. Stay on the trails to protect the habitat of many animal and plants species, some of which are endangered.
The Mother Miguel Mountain Trail is inside the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge. Stay on the designated trail to protect the habitat of many animal and plants species, some of which are endangered.
Starting up the trail, which was muddy in spots.
Starting up the trail, which was muddy in spots. This winter it has been rainy in San Diego.
One of two information signs, on opposite sides of a small bridge spanning tiny creek.
One of two information signs, on opposite sides of a very small bridge spanning a tiny creek.
Sign describes this part of San Diego National Wildlife Refuge and protecting natural biodiversity.
Sign describes this part of San Diego National Wildlife Refuge and protecting natural biodiversity.
The small California gnatcatcher makes its home on Mother Miguel Mountain.
The small California gnatcatcher makes its home on Mother Miguel Mountain.
Second sign describes the Quino checkerspot butterfly, which is listed under the federal Endangered Species Act.
Second sign describes the Quino checkerspot butterfly, which is listed under the federal Endangered Species Act.
A section of very rocky trail.
A section of very rocky trail.
Looking down after climbing for a bit. I could see downtown San Diego and Point Loma in the far distance.
Looking down after climbing for a bit. I could see downtown San Diego and Point Loma in the far distance.
Sweetwater Reservoir appears below.
Sweetwater Reservoir appears below.

Another sign ahead.
Another sign ahead.
Left part of long sign, showing peaks and features from Mexico northward.
Left part of long sign, showing peaks and features from Mexico northward.
Right part of sign shows sights to the northwest, as far away as Mount Soledad in La Jolla.
Right part of sign shows sights to the northwest, as far away as Mount Soledad in La Jolla.

Looking southward toward the San Ysidro Mountains and Mexico.
Looking southward toward the San Ysidro Mountains and Mexico.
Looking back down the climbing trail, you can see green Mount San Miguel Park with its sports fields, not far from the trailhead.
Looking back down the trail, you can see green Mount San Miguel Park with its sports fields, not far from the trailhead.
The view of Sweetwater Reservoir keeps getting better as we climb.
The view of Sweetwater Reservoir keeps getting better as we climb.

You can see some of the now closed Salt Creek Golf Course to the southeast.
You can see some of the now closed Salt Creek Golf Course to the southeast.
San Miguel Mountain rises to the northeast.
San Miguel Mountain rises to the northeast.

Someone stands on an outcropping just below the summit of Mother Miguel Mountain.
Someone stands on an outcropping just below the summit of Mother Miguel Mountain.
Mount San Miguel Park is now far below.
Mount San Miguel Park is now far below.
Flags show we've almost reached the Rock House atop Mother Miguel Mountain.
Flags show we’ve almost reached the Rock House atop Mother Miguel Mountain.
We made it!
We made it!
A couple of hikers brought a blanket to rest on the grass beneath the sky.
A couple of hikers brought a blanket to rest on the grass beneath the sky.
This rocky enclosure at the Rock House might provide a little bit of shelter on a windy day.
This rocky enclosure at the Rock House might provide a little bit of shelter on a windy day.

Continuing along, we approach another rocky outcropping atop Mother Miguel Mountain.
Continuing along, we approach another rock outcropping atop Mother Miguel Mountain.
The view to the northeast includes part of the Cuyamaca Mountains.
The view to the northeast includes part of the Cuyamaca Mountains.
A simple wood plank serves as a bench. I was surprised to see it has a plaque.
A simple wood plank serves as a bench. I was surprised to see it has a plaque.
TO MY BROTHERS AND SISTERS OF THE MOUNTAIN FOR THE BETTER APPRECIATION OF HOME 2016
TO MY BROTHERS AND SISTERS OF THE MOUNTAIN FOR THE BETTER APPRECIATION OF HOME — 2016

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!

Photos from the Ponto State Beach jetty.

Yesterday, before heading to Escondido where I enjoyed watching the magical Zoppè Family Circus, I walked in the gray morning mist along the coast. I started in Encinitas and headed north up Coast Highway 101 through Leucadia, where I photographed many murals and other fun stuff. Finally I reached my destination: Ponto State Beach and the entrance to Batiquitos Lagoon.

I walked to the end of the two rock jetties that stretch a short distance into the Pacific Ocean on either side of the lagoon’s channel.

Some surfers were out, and a few people strolled slowly across the beach. Incoming surf splashed up near where I stood. Gulls wheeled in the overcast sky.

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!

Late summer beauty in my favorite garden.

As I often do, I spent my Sunday afternoon in Balboa Park.

I lingered for a good while in my favorite garden. The Japanese Friendship Garden is beautiful in any season of the year, and now it’s late summer.

My camera was busy.

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!

Lines, curves, contrasts and mysteries.

A mazelike X by artist Bob Matheny. His works of Almost Anonymous, mind-teasing art can now be absorbed at the San Diego History Museum.
A mazelike X by artist Bob Matheny. His works of Almost Anonymous, mind-teasing art can now be absorbed at the San Diego History Museum.

I took these unusual photographs yesterday during my afternoon walk through Balboa Park.

Each image seemed uniquely interesting to me for one reason or another. My eyes were drawn to lines, curves, contrasts and mysteries.

The passage of time glimpsed underfoot. Contrasted modes of decay.
The passage of time glimpsed underfoot. Contrasted modes of decay.
An elemental drama. Trees battle sky.
An elemental drama. Trees battle sky.
In one photo nature subdues architecture.
In one photo nature subdues architecture.
The iconic California Tower is swallowed by vertical distance.
The iconic California Tower is swallowed by vertical distance.
Looking through an arch of the California Quadrangle toward the original Administration Building, first building completed for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition.
Looking through an arch of the California Quadrangle toward the original Administration Building, the first building completed for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition.
Simple lines and curves, a small place in the park to rest.
Simple lines and curves: a small place in the park to rest.
Eyes are drawn in every direction in a nook beside the San Diego Museum of Art.
Eyes are pulled in every direction in a nook beside the San Diego Museum of Art.
Wild beauty is aesthetically arranged at the Japanese Friendship Garden.
Wild beauty is aesthetically arranged at the Japanese Friendship Garden.
The Japanese Friendship Garden, where reflection becomes meditation.
The Japanese Friendship Garden, where reflection becomes meditation.

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!

Late autumn’s beauty at Mission Trails.

Winter arrives in less than one week.

Today I enjoyed a late autumn walk in Mission Trails Regional Park, a large open space preserve located in the City of San Diego.

I moved along the Visitor Center Loop Trail, gazing at mountains and trees and fluttering yellow and brown leaves.

The relatively easy 1.5 mile trail follows the San Diego River for a short distance. Just right for a thoughtful little hike through nature’s infinite 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!