Boy Scouts improve Bennington Memorial Oak Grove.

Crew members of USS Theodore Roosevelt help Boy Scout Maxwell Thomson move logs in the USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove. Photo courtesy Kathleen Winchester.
Crew members of USS Theodore Roosevelt help Boy Scout Maxwell Thomson move logs in the USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove. Photo courtesy Kathleen Winchester.

Over the past year and a half, some amazing young men have been working to improve the USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove in Balboa Park. These community-minded Boy Scouts, with the help of the San Diego Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, have undertaken projects in the historic grove in order to achieve the rank of Eagle Scout.

You might remember the photos that I posted of the USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove. It’s tucked away in a corner of Florida Canyon, not far from Naval Medical Center San Diego and the Balboa Park Municipal Golf Course. The 66 live oak trees were planted in 1905 to memorialize 66 sailors killed on the USS Bennington on July 21st of that year. The gunboat’s boiler exploded while it was in San Diego Bay, and many men tragically perished.

The efforts of these hardworking Boy Scouts have added beauty, safety and memory to the old oak grove. Four have successfully become Eagle Scouts. They are Joshua Ortega, Sam Kinsey, Frederick Persons and Erik Ortlieb. The projects of two other young men are now underway.

Most of these photographs have been contributed by local historian Kathleen Winchester. She and other members of the DAR’s San Diego Chapter have been instrumental in providing coordination and encouragement as the USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove is improved. Please read the photo captions to appreciate the unselfish work of these young men.

I have learned the grove’s kiosk will eventually contain the names of those who perished aboard the USS Bennington. And very soon a flagpole will be raised in the grove-the project of another Boy Scout.

In 2014, the San Diego Chapter of Daughters of the American Revolution partnered with the San Diego Park and Recreation Department and the Friends of Balboa Park as part of the latter’s “Adopt-A-Plot” program and adopted the Bennington Memorial Oak Grove.

The local DAR intends to purchase more oak trees to replace dead ones. If anyone wants to help with this worthy endeavor, contact the San Diego Chapter of DAR. All contributed funds will go straight to the purchase of trees.

As you can see in a few of the photos, U.S. Navy sailors from the San Diego homeported aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt have also lent a hand. Their involvement is especially meaningful as Teddy Roosevelt was the President of the United States in 1905 when the USS Bennington disaster occured. President Roosevelt was a conservationist who would have loved this shady grove of majestic oaks.

The sailors from the USS Theodore Roosevelt, by helping to beautify the USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove, honored their fellow seamen from an earlier time.

The USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove in Balboa Park has been improved by some amazing young men working to achieve the rank of Eagle Scout.
The USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove in Balboa Park has been improved by some amazing young men working to achieve the rank of Eagle Scout. Photo courtesy Kathleen Winchester.
The oak grove's entrance sign is an Eagle Project undertaken by Erik Ortlieb of Boy Scout Troop 4 in La Jolla.
The oak grove’s entrance sign is an Eagle Project undertaken by Erik Ortlieb of Boy Scout Troop 4 in La Jolla.
Erik Ortlieb poses with Kathleen Winchester of the DAR by the sign he built on October 16, 2016. It welcomes visitors into the beautiful old oak grove.
Erik Ortlieb poses with Kathleen Winchester of the DAR by a post of the wooden sign he built on October 16, 2016. The sign welcomes visitors into the beautiful old oak grove. Photo courtesy Kathleen Winchester.
Boy Scout Sam Kinsey works on the trail that leads into the historic USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove in Balboa Park.
Boy Scout Sam Kinsey works on the trail that leads into the historic USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove in Balboa Park. Photo courtesy Kathleen Winchester.
Boy Scout Joshua Ortega finished a footbridge in the grove just days before his 18th birthday. He is now attending Pepperdine University.
Boy Scout Joshua Ortega finished a footbridge in the grove just days before his 18th birthday. He is now attending Pepperdine University. Photo courtesy Kathleen Winchester.
Plaque on the bridge reads Eagle Scout Project - Joshua R. Ortega - Troop 299 - June 2016.
Plaque on the bridge reads Eagle Scout Project – Joshua R. Ortega – Troop 299 – June 2016.
Boy Scout Frederick Persons poses in front of the new kiosk he built. Around him are volunteers from Boy Scout Troop 295.
Boy Scout Frederick Persons poses in front of the new kiosk he built. Around him are volunteers from Boy Scout Troop 295. Photo courtesy Kathleen Winchester.
Crew members of San Diego aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt lend a helping hand by rolling logs that will border a path though the grove.
Crew members of San Diego aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt lend a helping hand by rolling logs that will border a path though the grove. Photo courtesy Kathleen Winchester.
Boy Scout Maxwell Thomson and U.S. Navy sailors roll logs into place in the USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove.
Boy Scout Maxwell Thomson and U.S. Navy sailors roll logs into place in the USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove. Photo courtesy Kathleen Winchester.
Maxwell Thomson poses with friends among logs which now mark the trail through the revitalized USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove!
Maxwell Thomson poses with friends among logs which now mark the trail through the USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove. Photo courtesy Kathleen Winchester.
15-year-old Maxwell Thomson takes a short break as DAR San Diego Chapter members cheer him on!
15-year-old Maxwell Thomson takes a short break as DAR San Diego Chapter members cheer him on! Photo courtesy Kathleen Winchester.

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!

Mysterious night photos aboard Star of India.

Night watch aboard the tall ship Star of India. I walked the deck alone…

A murmur of unseen water.

A web of mysterious shadows on every side.

The gentle flap of a sail.

The call of a night bird.

Solitude.

A halo of light from the saloon, illuminating classic 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!

See the history of rum at the Maritime Museum!

Visitors to the Maritime Museum of San Diego view a display concerning the history of rum.
Visitors to the Maritime Museum of San Diego view a display concerning the history of rum.

A cool new exhibit opened this weekend at the Maritime Museum of San Diego. Rum: Sailors, Pirates and Prohibition follows the colorful history of rum, from its origin to the present day, with a focus on its surprising history in San Diego.

There are all sorts of interesting artifacts, old photographs and displays, as you can see from the few photos I took this afternoon. Among other things, visitors to the exhibition can learn how rum is made, about the use of rum by sailors, including those of the British Royal Navy, and how rum runners used sea caves in San Diego during Prohibition.

Anyone with a love for history should check it out!

Rum: Sailors, Pirates and Prohibition is a cool new exhibit inside the Steam Ferry Berkeley, at the Maritime Museum of San Diego!
Rum: Sailors, Pirates and Prohibition is a cool new exhibit inside the Steam Ferry Berkeley, at the Maritime Museum of San Diego!
A display in the Gould Eddy Gallery shows some of the coopering tools used in making oak rum barrels.
A display in the Gould Eddy Gallery shows some of the coopering tools used in making oak rum barrels.
Slave collars from the 18th century. Some believe African slaves in the Caribbean discovered the process of distilling the residue of sugar refining--molasses and sugarcane juice--into alcohol.
Slave collars from the 18th century. Some believe African slaves in the Caribbean discovered the process of distilling the residue of sugar refining–molasses and sugarcane juice–into alcohol.
A display features an explanation of grog and rum on British Royal Navy ships. Grog was rum diluted with water to prevent drunkenness. The grog ration was abolished in 1970.
A display features an explanation of grog and rum on British Royal Navy ships. Grog was rum diluted with water to prevent drunkenness. The grog ration was abolished in 1970.
Old photo of the Malahat, the Queen of Rum Row. The five-masted schooner successfully delivered rum and other spirits along the West Coast during Prohibition.
Old photo of the Malahat, the Queen of Rum Row. The five-masted schooner successfully delivered rum and other spirits along the West Coast during Prohibition.
Local sea caves and coves in La Jolla and Sunset Cliffs were used at hideouts for rum runners arriving from Mexico during Prohibition.
Local sea caves and coves in La Jolla and Sunset Cliffs were used at hideouts for rum runners arriving from Mexico during Prohibition.
Photos of the Monte Carlo, San Diego's Prohibition era floating casino. In 1937 it became beached on Coronado during a winter storm. Her wreckage can still be seen underwater at low tide.
Photos of the Monte Carlo, San Diego’s Prohibition era floating casino. In 1937 it became beached on Coronado during a winter storm. Her wreckage can still be seen underwater at low tide.
Photos of Blind Pigs and Speakeasies. A Speakeasy sold alcohol during Prohibition, and provided entertainment. Their drinks were tastier than the poisonous rums and moonshines concocted in bathtubs.
Blind Pigs and Speakeasies. A secretive Speakeasy sold alcohol during Prohibition, plus provided its guests with entertainment. Drinks were tastier than the poisonous rums and moonshines concocted in bathtubs.
A photograph of anti-alcohol activists taken during Prohibition. Lips that touch liquor shall not touch ours!
A photograph of anti-alcohol activists taken during Prohibition. Lips that touch liquor shall not touch ours!
Display celebrates the rise of local San Diego distilleries. Our city is now considered the craft beer capital of the United States.
Display celebrates the rise of local San Diego distilleries. Our dynamic city is now considered the craft beer capital of the United States.

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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Photos of Extreme Sailing on San Diego Bay!

Super fast GC32 catamarans fly through and above San Diego Bay during an Extreme Sailing Series 2017 race!
Super fast GC32 catamarans fly through and above San Diego Bay during an Extreme Sailing Series race!

Today I headed over to Harbor Island to check out the Extreme Sailing Series races out on San Diego Bay. The exciting Ultimate Stadium Racing Championship takes place over eight weekends, in eight international cities. Elite teams from countries around the world sail identical, super fast GC32 catamarans, which at their highest speed actually fly above the water!

I was amazed at how close some of the action was. A good crowd of people watched a sequence of relatively short races from the shore of Harbor Island, and from the Race Village, while announcers described exactly what was happening out on the water. When the catamarans flew by, many cheered for their favorite team!

The event continues through Sunday. Except for the VIP section, everything is free and open to the public!

I got a few decent photos!

Boy points toward fleet of high-tech foil-equipped catamarans manned by elite level teams. Another wild race is about to begin.
Boy points toward fleet of high-tech foil-equipped catamarans manned by elite level teams. Another wild race is about to begin.
A crowd watches the free Ultimate Stadium Racing Championship event from Harbor Island's festive Race Village.
A crowd watches the Ultimate Stadium Racing Championship event from Harbor Island’s temporary Race Village. Viewing is free!
Some of the best sailors in the world, many who've won Olympic Gold, various world championships, and the America's Cup, vie for supremacy in San Diego.
Some of the best sailors in the world, many who’ve won Olympic Gold, World Championships, and the America’s Cup, vie for supremacy in San Diego.
The Extreme Sailing Series includes stadium racing competition in eight international cities. San Diego is Act 7.
The Extreme Sailing Series includes stadium racing competition in eight international cities. San Diego is Act 7.
The race announcers add character and deep knowledge to an already exciting scene.
The race announcers add spice and sailing knowledge to an already exciting scene.
The SAP Extreme Racing Team out of Denmark seemed ahead of the pack nearly every race. They've already been the winner in 3 cities.
The SAP Extreme Sailing Team out of Denmark seemed ahead of the pack in nearly every race. They’ve already been the winner in 3 cities.
Once the catamarans attain sufficient speed, they become airborne, maintaining control with foils!
Once the catamarans attain sufficient speed, they become airborne, barely maintaining control with foils! Gusts of wind in the sails can really make these racing craft sway!
Lots of people were enjoying the VIP section.
Lots of people were enjoying the VIP section.
The Race Village features many vendors and organizations. US Sailing has a scavenger hunt for kids.
The Race Village features many vendors and participating organizations. US Sailing has a fun scavenger hunt for kids.
Young people compare how different sail arrangements produce speed.
Young people compare how different sail arrangements can produce speed.
A large diagram provides a guide to the amazing GC32. Each team's vessel is exactly alike. Skill and strategy determine victory.
A large diagram provides a guide to the amazing GC32 catamaran. Each team’s vessel is exactly alike. Skill and strategy determine ultimate victory.
Legend beneath the diagram explains various key parts of the GC32, including the J-Foils, which create lift.
Legend beneath the diagram explains various key parts of the GC32, including the J-Foils, which create lift. (Click image to enlarge.)
Our local Team Extreme San Diego was making a great showing! San Diego has produced many of the world's top sailors.
Our local Team Extreme San Diego was making a great showing! San Diego has produced many of the world’s top sailors. (Need I mention Dennis Conner?)
Beautiful sailboats do battle on San Diego Bay, with the downtown skyline providing a picturesque background.
Beautiful sailboats do battle on San Diego Bay, with the downtown skyline providing a picturesque background.
The crew of each vessel is a highly skilled athlete. The action is wild and fast-paced!
The crew of each vessel includes many highly skilled athletes. The action is wild and fast-paced!
A dance upon sparkling water.
A dance upon sparkling water.

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 fun photos for you to share and enjoy!

Furling the sails of brigantine Exy Johnson.

Nimble members of the Exy Johnson crew furl the tall ship's sails after a cruise on San Diego Bay.
Nimble members of the Exy Johnson crew furl the tall ship’s sails after a cruise on San Diego Bay.

One final blog post concerning the 2017 Festival of Sail.

After spending most of Labor Day in Balboa Park, I finally walked down Laurel Street to San Diego Bay. I wanted to savor one last look at the visiting tall ships.

As I lingered near the Exy Johnson, crew members were climbing about the rigging, furling the many sails. It’s always a breathtaking sight: godlike sailors risen into the blue sky, the masters of white clouds…

Securely furling the brigantine's square topsails high on the foremast takes muscle, coordination and concentration.
Securely furling the brigantine’s square topsails high on the foremast takes strength, coordination and concentration.
Dangling high above the water!
Dangling high above the water!
Several of Exy Johnson's hardworking crew wrestle a jib sail onto the bowsprit.
Several of Exy Johnson’s hardworking crew wrestle a jib sail onto the bowsprit.
Carefully scrambling about the beautiful tall ship.
Carefully scrambling about the beautiful tall ship.
Teamwork is required as a staysail is neatly furled.
Teamwork is required as a staysail is neatly furled.
The final day at the Festival of Sail is almost over. The masts and yards of the docked brigantine appear bare.
The Festival of Sail approaches its end. The masts and yards of the docked brigantine now appear bare.
Sky-riding sailors, a common sight in the bygone Age of Sail.
Sky-riding sailors, a common sight in the bygone Age of Sail.

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 huge postcard from historic Liberty Station!

A huge postcard has appeared on Dewey Road in Point Loma, at the southwest end of the Liberty Station's Arts District!
A huge postcard has appeared on Dewey Road in Point Loma, at the southwest end of Liberty Station’s Arts District!

I walked around Liberty Station today before sitting down by the boat channel to write another short story. And look what I discovered! It’s the first time I’ve seen this cool mural!

This new public art resembles a gigantic postcard, which reads: Greetings from U.S. Naval Training Station. It was created by the two artists who painted the postcard-like Greetings from San Diego mural, which I photographed a month ago in North Park. Victor Ving and Lisa Beggs are travelling around the country in an RV and creating a whole bunch of these huge colorful postcard murals!

Painted inside the letters I see scenes from Ingram Plaza, the Barracks Arcade, Liberty Public Market and the USS Recruit!

As you might know, the U.S. Naval Training Station, or Naval Training Center San Diego, was a military base where thousands of sailor recruits learned the ropes upon enlisting in the U.S. Navy. It closed in 1997 and has been redeveloped into a mixed cultural, recreational, shopping, business and residential complex in Point Loma. It’s like a spacious park with lots of grass, arched walkways and fountains–a perfect place to relax!

During my stroll today though Liberty Station, I discovered even more public art, which I’ll blog about shortly. And please watch for my new work of fiction at Short Stories by Richard. I think it’s almost done!

Greetings from U.S. Naval Training Center. A cool new mural at Liberty Station by artists Victor Ving and Lisa Beggs.
Greetings from U.S. Naval Training Center. A cool new mural at Liberty Station by artists Victor Ving and Lisa Beggs.

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!

America comes home to San Diego.

Tall ship America, owned by Next Level Sailing, turns about in San Diego Bay as it comes in to dock at the Maritime Museum.
Tall ship America, owned by Next Level Sailing, turns about in San Diego Bay as it comes in to dock at the Maritime Museum.

Earlier this month, on December 11, America came home to San Diego, after a long and very eventful journey representing The America’s Cup. Its epic America’s Cup Tour included many stops, from the Gulf of Mexico up the East Coast and then south again to the Caribbean. During the tour it hosted throngs of visitors and was welcomed by some of our nation’s finest yacht clubs.

But there was also one very dangerous adventure! In October the ship had to take shelter from Hurricane Matthew by heading up the St. Johns River in downtown Jacksonville, where it docked in a less windy spot behind the large Hyatt building. America survived with little damage!

The beautiful ship is a replica of the schooner America that beat 15 top British racing yachts in a 53 nautical mile regatta around the Isle of Wight in 1851. The Royal Yacht Squadron’s 100 Guinea Cup, won easily by the New York Yacht Club, became a challenge trophy known as the America’s Cup. Today it is the oldest international sporting trophy in existence.  (San Diego’s own legendary yachtsman Dennis Conner won the America’s Cup four times.)

The replica America that makes San Diego its home is owned by Next Level Sailing, and it is glorious to behold when under sail. Now that the America’s Cup Tour is safely over, it is once again available for charters and whale watching adventures out on the blue Pacific.

This afternoon I happened to catch America out on San Diego Bay, heading in to the Maritime Museum, where it docks. I got a few photos before I hurried back home to take shelter from tonight’s storm! Not a hurricane, thank goodness!

America passes the Maritime Museum of San Diego's Soviet Foxtrot B-39 submarine. It's a cloudy New Year's Eve afternoon, with a storm on the way.
America passes the Maritime Museum of San Diego’s Soviet Foxtrot B-39 submarine. It’s a cloudy New Year’s Eve afternoon, with a storm on the way.
America carefully approaches the dock behind the steam ferry Berkeley.
America carefully approaches the dock behind the steam ferry Berkeley.
Time to tie her up to the dock.
Time to tie her up to the dock.
A member of America's crew leaps through the air to secure the beautiful ship, a replica of the racing schooner that ushered in The America's Cup.
A member of America’s crew leaps through the air to secure the beautiful ship, a replica of the victorious racing schooner that ushered in the America’s Cup.
Welcome home, America!
Welcome home, America!

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!