A travelling poet and a bagpiper in Balboa Park.

Today I met two cool people during my walk around Balboa Park. One is a travelling poet, the other a Scottish bagpiper.

The poet’s name is DJ Leary. You can find him online @wordsbydj.

Danny was perched in front of an old manual typewriter by the entrance to the Casa Del Prado Theater. Inspired words were pouring (pounding?) out from his fingertips for curious passersby. I peered over his shoulder at sudden lines of truth. We talked just a little. We shared some experiences. I could tell in an instant that Danny loves writing and life’s endless mystery.

I urge you to go here and read some of his poems.

The bagpiper is Frank Hunter. He’s a member of the House of Scotland Pipe Band. I met him while I was walking across the grass at the International Cottages.

Frank kindly introduced me to the bagpipes: their ancient origin, evolution and important role in history. He brought out his instrument, assembled it, tuned it, and performed. He told me about his own heritage and how the Highland Light Infantry is his family regiment. He had much to say, and all of it was immensely fascinating.

I’ve heard Frank playing bagpipes around Balboa Park before, and I urge visitors to the park to listen for their unmistakable voice. You will not be disappointed.

Balboa Park is full of amazing people.

Simply smile and say hello.

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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 Scottish Highland Games.

The 45th Annual San Diego Scottish Highland Games gathers the clans and the public together for a weekend of fun at Brengle Terrace Park in Vista.
The 45th Annual San Diego Scottish Highland Games gathers the clans and the public together for a weekend of fun at Brengle Terrace Park in Vista.

This morning I headed to the 45th Annual San Diego Scottish Highland Games and Gathering of the Clans. The big Southern California event is held every year in Vista, in San Diego’s North County, at Brengle Terrace Park.

This was my first visit to any sort of Scottish Highland Games, and I wasn’t sure what to expect.

What an absolutely amazing experience!

How can I adequately explain what I saw? When I arrived I quickly reviewed the thick program, put it in my jeans pocket and just wandered about. The many sights and sounds were almost more than my brain could absorb. There was laughter, smiles and good times in every direction. There were exciting athletic games, traditional Scottish music and, of course, tasty food. And lots of history and culture, too!

I’ll let my many photos do the talking. Read the captions to learn more. If you can, head to Brengle Terrace Park tomorrow, because the weekend event continues through Sunday!

The event attracts people from around Southern California. Visitors are immersed in Scotland's unique and colorful culture.
The event attracts people from around Southern California. Visitors are immersed in Scotland’s unique and colorful culture.
Dozens of Scottish clans participate in the yearly gathering. Their proud history is on display in many tents on the grass.
Dozens of Scottish clans participate in the yearly gathering. Their proud history is on display in many tents on the grass.
These friendly Celtic beauty queens smiled for a photo at the information tent.
These friendly Celtic beauty queens smiled for a photo at the information tent.
Gentlemen in kilts enjoy their Scottish heritage and each other's company.
Gentlemen in kilts enjoy their Scottish heritage and each other’s company.
The Scottish Clan and Tartan Information Center had different plaid tartans on display, many with ancient origins.
The Scottish Clan and Tartan Information Center had different tartans on display, many with ancient origins.
The Royal Scottish Country Dance Society was present. I forgot to go see the dancing in the park's Recreation Center. I'll remember next time!
The Royal Scottish Country Dance Society was present. I forgot to go watch the dancing in the park’s Recreation Center. I’ll remember next time!
Sweeney's was selling some Irish Soda Bread and Scones, freshly baked!
Sweeney’s was selling some Irish Soda Bread and Scones, freshly baked!
These friendly ladies are the Sassenachs of San Diego. They are big Outlander fans and have a cool blog! Check it out at sass3journey.com
These friendly ladies are the Sassenachs of San Diego. They are big Outlander fans and have a cool blog! Check it out at sass3journey.com
Musicians on the Main Stage include The Ploughboys.
Musicians performing on the Main Stage include The Ploughboys.
Strong athletes compete on the Brengle Terrace Park's baseball field. The Scottish Heavy Athletics include Weight Toss, Weight Throw, Hammer Throw, Braemar Stone and Caber Toss
Strong athletes compete on the Brengle Terrace Park’s baseball field. The Scottish Heavy Athletics include Weight Toss, Weight Throw, Hammer Throw, Braemar Stone and Caber Toss.
Heaving a heavy stone as far as he can!
Heaving a heavy stone as far as he can!
The athletes talk and rest before each takes their turn.
The athletes talk and rest before each takes their turn.
Another stone flies! The ancient sport--Braemer Stone Put--was used for challenges of strength by early Highland Chieftains.
Another stone flies! The ancient sport–Braemer Stone Put–was used for challenges of strength by early Highland Chieftains.
World Champion and multiple record holder Vern Alexander lets fly! Many champions are participating in the 2018 San Diego Scottish Highland Games!
World Champion and multiple record holder Vern Alexander lets fly! Many champions are participating in the 2018 San Diego Scottish Highland Games.
A seal at the Scottish American Athletic Association table. Strive for Perfection. Settle for Excellence.
A seal at the Scottish American Athletic Association table. Strive for Perfection. Settle for Excellence.
This guy was retrieving a hammer that he'd thrown far across the baseball field.
This guy was retrieving a hammer that he’d thrown far across the baseball field.
Here comes another attempt at a record!
Here comes another attempt at a record!
Some of the throws nearly went over the outfield fence!
Some of the hammer throws nearly went over the outfield fence!
Not far away, someone checks out the tent of Clan MacLellan.
Not far away, someone checks out the tent of Clan MacLellan.
The Scottish American Military Society was present for the annual gathering.
The Scottish American Military Society was present for the annual gathering.
I saw many maps of historical Scotland, some showing heraldic coats of arms.
I saw many maps of historical Scotland, some showing heraldic coats of arms.
Many beautiful crafts bore images of Scotland and the Scottish people.
Many beautiful crafts bore images of Scotland and the Scottish people.
Real men wear kilts! Instructions show how you can make your own Scottish style Great Kilt.
Real men wear kilts! Instructions show how you can make your own Scottish style Great Kilt.
A Scottish drum major practices on the field, with flags flying in the background.
A Scottish drum major practices on the field, with flags flying in the background.
The 42nd Black Watch Color Guard is the official guard for the San Diego Scottish Highland Games.
The 42nd Black Watch Color Guard is the official guard for the San Diego Scottish Highland Games.
Gentleman at the Scottish Plant Badge Society tents answers the question of a curious visitor.
Gentleman at the Scottish Plant Badge Society tents answers the question of a curious visitor.
Different native plants are used by the Scottish clans as badges, or emblems.
Different native plants are used by the Scottish clans as badges, or emblems.
Some rousing entertainment draws an audience to the stage inside the beer garden.
Some rousing entertainment draws an audience to the stage inside the beer garden.
Lots of Scottish food could be enjoyed, including meat pies.
Lots of Scottish food could be enjoyed, including authentic meat pies.
Two gents stride across the grass to another area of the park, where pipe bands, drummers and bagpipers compete.
Two gents stride across the grass to another area of the park, where pipe bands, drummers and bagpipers compete.
Different age groups compete in solo piping, drumming, and drum major for trophies.
Different age groups compete in solo piping, drumming, and drum major for trophies.
Someone stands in the distance practicing bagpipes. The distinctive sound could be heard all around the park!
Someone stands in the distance practicing. The distinctive sound of bagpipes could be heard all around the park!
The House of Scotland Pipe Band from Balboa Park joined many other groups from around Southern California for the annual competition.
The House of Scotland Pipe Band from Balboa Park joined many other groups from around Southern California for the annual competition. (I love it when they perform at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion.)
Good times everywhere I turn!
Good times everywhere I turn!
A small group practices on the green.
A small group practices on the green.
This larger group has just finished their practice up on the hillside.
This larger group has just finished their practice up on the hillside.
Elsewhere in Brengle Terrace Park, people were watching Sheep Dog Trials!
Elsewhere in Brengle Terrace Park, people were watching Sheep Dog Trials!
A shepherd uses a whistle to command a sheep dog to herd four sheep.
A shepherd uses a whistle to command a sheep dog to herd four sheep.
People sit on the grass and watch the fascinating herding competition. Some dogs were really good; others seemed a bit confused.
People sit on the grass and watch the fascinating herding competition. Some dogs were really good; others seemed a bit confused.
Four sheep are successfully directed into a pen!
Four sheep are successfully directed into a pen!
Back at the athletics competition, I saw men attempting to toss a 42 pound weight over a pole vault bar, and women doing the Sheaf Toss over a bar with a pitchfork.
Back at the athletics competition, I saw men attempting to toss a 42 pound weight over a pole vault bar, and women doing the Sheaf Toss over a bar with a pitchfork.
A female contestant readies to toss the sheaf with a pitchfork.
A female contestant readies to toss the sheaf with a pitchfork.
Another lets fly!
Another lets fly!
This tough looking guy is going to try to fling that heavy weight over a bar high above him.
This tough looking guy is going to try to fling that heavy weight over a bar high above him.
I don't recall if this guy made it!
I don’t recall if this guy made it!
As women compete in the Braemer Stone Put, the Caber Toss competition is beginning!
As women compete in the Braemer Stone Put, the Caber Toss competition is beginning!
Those big wood poles are called cabers. They're tossed with the objective of flipping them end-over-end, landing as straight as possible.
Those big wood poles are called cabers. They’re tossed with the objective of flipping them end-over-end, landing as straight as possible.
That looks super heavy. One guy went backwards when he lost his balance.
That looks super heavy. One guy went backwards when he lost his balance.
A caber goes flying. I saw one successful flip, but I don't recall which photo shows it.
A caber goes flying. I saw one successful flip, but I don’t recall which photo shows it.
Guys retrieve the heavy caber after an attempt on the baseball field.
Guys retrieve the heavy caber after an attempt on the baseball field.
There goes another caber!
There goes another caber!
A young generation of Scots keeps history alive at the San Diego Scottish Highland Games.
A young generation of Scots keeps history alive at the San Diego Scottish Highland Games.
Good times, warm conversation and fellowship.
Good memories, conversation and fellowship.
Drummer for the Wicked Tinkers gets the crowd enthused as he works his way through the beer garden.
Drummer for the Wicked Tinkers gets the crowd enthused as he works his way through the beer garden.
A wonderful time is had at the 45th Annual San Diego Scottish Highland Games.
A wonderful time is had at the 45th Annual San Diego Scottish Highland Games.

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Scottish culture, history celebrated in San Diego.

Clan Logan's crest is a pierced human heart. HOC MAJORUM VIRTUS, translated from Latin is Valour of My Ancestors.
Clan Logan’s crest is a pierced human heart. HOC MAJORUM VIRTUS, translated from Latin is Valor of My Ancestors.

I’d read that the 12th Annual San Diego Tartan Day being held in Balboa Park would end at four o’clock this afternoon. So I arrived during my walk with a good hour to spare. Or so I thought! At three o’clock, the event was already drawing to a close!

I did manage to get some interesting photos. A number of tents and folks in costume were scattered about the lawn of the House of Pacific Relations International Cottages. Unfortunately, I missed the dancing and music. Maybe next year…

A robed Highlander with walking stick strides across the lawn at Balboa Park's International Cottages. Historical dresses, kilts and patterned tartans were abundant.
A robed Highlander with walking stick strides across the lawn at Balboa Park’s International Cottages. Historical dresses, kilts and distinctive tartans were abundant.
The House of Scotland in Balboa Park was the center of today's 12th Annual San Diego Tartan Day.
The House of Scotland in Balboa Park was the center of today’s 12th Annual San Diego Tartan Day.
Some leftover treats in the House of Scotland cottage as the event draws to a close.
Some leftover treats in the House of Scotland cottage as the event draws to a close.
Displays in Scotland's small cottage celebrate rich history, art and culture.
Displays in Scotland’s small cottage celebrate rich history, art and culture.
The crests of many diverse clans hang on one wall.
The crests of many diverse clans hang on one wall.
This merry fellow was looking down at cottage visitors from a spot near the ceiling.
This merry fellow was looking down at cottage visitors from a spot near the ceiling.
The Scottish Clan and Tartan Information Center drew a great deal of interest.
The Scottish Clan and Tartan Information Center was attracting a great deal of interest.
Exhibit on one outdoor table helped identify many differently patterned tartans.
Exhibit on one outdoor table helps identify many differently patterned tartans.
Participants from The Stewart Society of Edinburgh brought to life Scotland's rich heritage.
Participants from The Stewart Society of Edinburgh celebrate Scotland’s rich heritage.

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House of Scotland Pipe Band in Balboa Park.

House of Scotland Pipe Band performs at Spreckels Organ Pavilion.
House of Scotland Pipe Band performs at Spreckels Organ Pavilion.

Today’s free Sunday organ concert at Balboa Park’s Spreckels Organ Pavilion featured the amazing House of Scotland Pipe Band! The House of Scotland makes its home in the International Cottages just steps away from the pavilion.

I’ve always loved bagpipe music. It’s even better, if that’s possible, when accompanied by Dr. Carol Williams, San Diego’s famous Civic Organist, on the majestic Spreckels Organ. The large-lunged instruments combine their resonance, and with the addition of a booming drum, the melodies that are produced really stir the blood. I wish the concert had gone on all afternoon!

Songs included Highland Cathedral, Flower of Scotland, Blue Bells, Amazing Grace, Scotland the Brave, and The Ballad of Glencoe.

Raising and twirling the baton in time with great bagpipe music.
Raising and twirling the baton in time with great bagpipe music.
Dr. Carol Williams accompanies bagpipes with Spreckels Organ.
Dr. Carol Williams accompanies bagpipes on the Spreckels Organ.
The big booming drum of the House of Scotland!
The big booming drum of the House of Scotland!
Balboa Park visitors mingle with musicians after the stirring concert.
Balboa Park visitors mingle with musicians after the stirring concert.

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