Ghostly branches of a cottonwood in spring.

In late spring and early summer the branches of a cottonwood tree can become very ghostly!

I walked under a Fremont cottonwood by the San Diego River this morning. My eyes were intrigued by the windblown white “cotton” that had collected on its own gray limbs and branches.

Check out the upcoming photos. Those drooping white puffs that resemble cotton candy are actually a fruit called achene. Seeds are dispersed by the wind.

I’m no botanist, so I don’t pretend to understand much about it.

I do know, however, that these seeds can plant themselves in a fertile imagination. The cottonwood’s fuzzed branches appear ethereal, like phantom forms from some unearthly 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!

Bright yellow bursts of evening primrose!

This morning by the San Diego River I saw huge bursts of yellow flowers. It’s late spring–that time of year when Hooker’s evening primrose blooms!

Enjoy some photos!

(If you’re curious about that little red structure in the last two photographs, it’s the USGS stream gaging station at Fashion Valley. It contrasts nicely with the reddish stems and bright yellows!)

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!

Spring sunflowers by the San Diego River.

Large patches of bright yellow sunflowers can now be enjoyed along the San Diego River!

It’s springtime!

The native Bush Sunflower (also known as California brittlebush or Encelia californica) grows throughout San Diego’s coastal sage scrub habitat, and can be seen almost anywhere you go–on hillsides, in canyons, by sidewalks–at least where they haven’t been crowded out by invasive crown daisies.

Fortunately, the banks of the San Diego River support thriving native vegetation, and patches of California bush sunflowers are numerous.

I walked along a short segment of the San Diego River Trail in Mission Valley today and captured these photographs.

The newly opened T & C Neighborhood Park adjacent to the Town and Country resort was carefully planted with native vegetation, and I found many bush sunflowers blooming along its pathways!

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’s beauty on a west Santee walk.

I took the following photographs today during a long looping walk around the west half of Santee.

From the Santee Trolley Square transit station I headed north up Cuyamaca Street, then west along Mast Boulevard to the East Fortuna Staging Area at Mission Trails Regional Park. After taking a short hike in the park, I headed south down West Hills Parkway and back east to the trolley station via Mission Gorge Road.

During the walk through Santee I snapped these photographs. Much of the walk was past homes, schools and businesses, but there were also these glimpses of natural beauty. (Additional photos that I’ll post in the next day or two include my short Mission Trails hike, an unusual historical monument, and very unique public artwork.)

The following three photos were taken as I walked down Mast Boulevard over Santee Lakes Recreation Preserve. Far below, in the middle of Lake 2, two white pelicans were standing on a rock. I also saw dozens of swallows flying out from beneath the bridge, but the tiny birds darted about so swiftly I was unable to capture a good photograph of them. You can see one swallow zipping by in this first photo…

As I walked down Mast Boulevard under State Route 52, I saw an indication that I had almost reached Mission Trails Regional Park.

Then I headed into the East Fortuna Staging Area. From the entrance driveway and parking lot I took photographs of the mountains beyond trees lining the San Diego River, and some sycamore leaves.

Walking south down West Hills Parkway took me to the place where State Route 52 passes over the San Diego River…

Finally, where State Route 125 meets Mission Gorge Road, I was surprised to find a beautiful golden patch of California’s State Flower: the California poppy.

(Incidentally, last Tuesday, April 6 was officially California Poppy Day!)

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!

Color lingers by the river after sunset.

One more blog post this evening, then I’ll give it a rest.

These photographs were taken in Mission Valley by the San Diego River right after sunset. Pinks, blues and oranges lingered in sky and 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!

River ducks arrive, greet, depart!

These events were recorded in Mission Valley this morning. I watched from the middle of the pedestrian bridge that spans the San Diego River by the Fashion Valley Transit Center.

Two ducks splashed down. They exchanged quack-greetings with a duck that floated nearby. The single duck launched itself from the water. Contented ducks swam happily along….

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!

Watermarks art at Mission Trails Regional Park.

Extraordinary public art can be found at one entrance to Mission Trails Regional Park in San Diego. Titled Watermarks, the long, curving mosaic wall stands adjacent to the water pump station at Mission Gorge Road and Deerfield Street. Hikers proceeding through a gate in the beautiful wall find themselves on the Deerfield Crossing Trail.

Watermarks was created in 2000 by Lynn Susholtz and Aida Mancillas of artist collaborative Stone Paper Scissors. According to this page of the San Diego Civic Art Collection website: “Applied to the wall is a highly detailed mosaic of tile, indigenous rock and metal pieces etched sporadically with petroglyphs, text and animal tracks…(the wall) serves to illustrate the ecological, historical and cultural importance of the park and the San Diego River. Once used by the Kumeyaay Indian tribe and the Spanish missionaries, the San Diego River connects our histories, cultures and lives.”

I took these photographs on a gray day between winter showers.

I love how the blue tile mosaic river flows and meanders along the earthy wall. Native plants like mesquite, wild onion, yucca and sage appear like fossils on river stones, each labeled with both their English and Kumeyaay names. On the ground and bench, you can see how nature’s fallen leaves, and rain water collected in the sculpted animal tracks, imbue this amazing artwork with even more life.

Six miles downstream, in 1769, the Spanish established the Misión San Diego de Alcalá, creating the demand for a mission waterworks system which was continually modified from 1775 through the 1830’s. The Old Mission Dam, located at the top of the gorge, was constructed of local stone, clay deposits from the river, and a cement mortar mixture over a solid foundation of bedrock. The dam provided a reliable water source for crops and livestock brought in by the Spanish. The dam and subsequent aqueduct connection were fully operational for less than twenty years.

(If you’d like to see photos of a hike to the Old Mission Dam, 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!

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Early winter and three Santee bridges.

This afternoon I wandered a little around Santee–mostly through Town Center Community Park.

During the walk I crossed three bridges. The first two you’ll see are the pedestrian bridges that pass over Woodglen Vista Creek, providing access to several sports fields. The third bridge I crossed is where Cuyamaca Street passes over the San Diego River.

By looking straight down from the bridges I could see stagnant pools of leaf-covered water. It’s still early winter. We’ve only experienced one storm so far–and that was weeks ago.

And, yes, leaves are falling. The most prominent river trees here seem to be willows, and they now appear to be mainly yellow, a burnt orange, or brown. I saw many cottonwoods turning yellow and gray, too.

The late bright sunshine passing through the foliage made for beautiful scenery, as you can see.

Here come two more photos from the first bridge…

After crossing the first pedestrian bridge, I read an informative sign showing local insects and birds, plus a map.

You can see where Woodglen Vista Creek joins with the San Diego River…

I headed west down the pathway near those four sports fields to the next pedestrian bridge…

As I came to the second bridge, my eyes were greeted by another sign!

This one explains a little about Woodglen Vista Creek. People who live nearby can be treated to sightings of all sorts of native wildlife, from coyotes to caterpillars, red-tailed hawks to California ground squirrels…

Then I found myself walking west along River Park Drive toward Cuyamaca Street, with lots of baseball fields nearby.

Many families and kids were out playing and practicing!

As I walked, the bright orange of a California poppy caught my attention!

When I reached Cuyamaca Street, I turned back east to see a line of trees following the nearby San Diego River.

Turning south, I crossed over the San Diego River and couldn’t help taking many more photographs…

Having crossed the San Diego River, I turned my gaze back northeast.

There, in the distance, stood prominent El Cajon Mountain!

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!

December beauty from San Diego River bridge.

Along the San Diego River leaves are turning bright yellow, then brown. It’s December.

A couple of mornings last week I was waiting for a bus at the Fashion Valley Transit Center. To pass the time, I walked the very short distance to the new Town and Country river park.

I gazed down at still water from the pedestrian bridge. Through willow leaves I saw carpets of green duckweed. Ducks were floating quietly on silver and gold reflections.

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!

Hidden historical marker near Mission San Diego.

There’s an important historical marker near Mission San Diego de Alcalá that very few people know about or see. It’s located on private property along San Diego Mission Road, just inside the grounds of a condo complex. You can find it a short distance east of the mission, on some grass behind a fence, very close to the San Diego River.

I was able to take zoom photos of the “hidden” marker and its bronze plaque from the sidewalk.

The words read:

Padre Luis Jayme, Pastor of the Mission San Diego de Alcalá, was martyred near this site November 5, 1775. Father Jayme had asked that the Mission be moved to its present site from Presidio Hill in order to better grow foods for the Mission.

In this area the Mission padres produced grapes, olives and other farm products for the Indian and Spanish communities.

Also near this site a small structure housed the guard from the Royal Presidio, which served as escort and guard for the Mission padres.

The historical marker was placed where Father Jayme’s body was found. He was killed by a large force of native people, said to be Yuman Indians from distant villages, in an uprising in 1775, about a year after the nearby mission was built. The mission was pillaged and set on fire. Survivors of the attack fled to the Presidio, six miles away down the river.

Over the centuries Mission San Diego de Alcalá, the first Spanish mission in California, has been rebuilt several times. The remains of Father Luis Jayme are entombed under the floor next to the altar in the present church.

Looking west down San Diego Mission Road. The mission is located on the hillside beyond those trees..

The nearby San Diego River, where it is crossed by San Diego Mission Road…

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!