Beautiful photos of sunrise on Mount Laguna.

The sky turns red and yellow just before sunrise on Mount Laguna. Photo taken at the Storm Canyon Overlook on the Sunrise Highway.
The sky turns red and yellow just before sunrise on Mount Laguna. Photo taken at the Storm Canyon Overlook on the Sunrise Highway.

This morning I left downtown San Diego very early and drove an hour east to Mount Laguna. I wanted to see sunrise from a mountaintop.

I began taking photos from the Storm Canyon Overlook a bit north of the Laguna Mountain Lodge and Store. Breathtaking views of the desert below can be enjoyed at various points along the Sunrise Highway.

I then drove a short distance farther north to the Penny Pines Trailhead, parked, and hiked about a mile and a half northward along the Pacific Crest Trail. I didn’t go all the way to Garnet Peak, because the sun came to me!

Looking down toward a section of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park northeast of the beautiful Laguna Mountains, which rise to around 6000 feet in San Diego County.
Looking down toward a section of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park northeast of the beautiful Laguna Mountains, which rise to around 6000 feet in San Diego County.
Sign at the overlook explains Trails Through the Ages. Storm Canyon below was used by the Native American Kumeyaay for thousands of years for seasonal migrations.
Sign at the overlook explains Trails Through the Ages. Storm Canyon below was used by the Native American Kumeyaay for thousands of years for seasonal migrations. (Click photo to enlarge for easy reading.)
Trees west of the Storm Canyon Overlook are still a bit dark before sunrise.
Trees west of the Storm Canyon Overlook are still a bit dark before sunrise.
I've started toward the Pacific Crest Trail from the Penny Pines trailhead. The eastern sky is slowly brightening.
I’ve started hiking toward the Pacific Crest Trail from the Penny Pines Trailhead. The eastern sky is slowly brightening.
A chilly early November morning in the Cleveland National Forest near the top of Mount Laguna.
A slightly chilly early November morning in the Cleveland National Forest near the top of Mount Laguna.
I'm now heading north along the Pacific Crest Trail, which stretches 2,650 miles from Mexico to Canada. I'll go about a mile and a half toward Garnet Peak before turning around. Sunrise is imminent.
I’m now heading north along the Pacific Crest Trail, which stretches 2,650 miles from Mexico to Canada. I’ll go about a mile and a half toward Garnet Peak before turning around. Sunrise is imminent.
Many of the trees in the Penny Pines grove have died due to an ongoing bark beetle infestation. The recent drought caused many trees in the Cleveland National Forest to struggle, too.
Many of the trees in the Penny Pines grove have died due to an ongoing bark beetle infestation. The recent drought caused many trees in the Cleveland National Forest to struggle, too.
Looking roughly northeast as color creeps over the desert below.
Looking roughly northeast as color creeps over the desert contours below.
Miles of beauty, to the horizon.
Miles of beauty, to the horizon.
The trail here is still in shadow.
The trail here is still in shadow. Not for long…
Early sunlight touches a rocky rise.
Early sunlight touches a rocky rise.
That shiny strip in the distance is light reflecting from the inland Salton Sea.
That shiny strip in the distance is light reflecting from the inland Salton Sea.
The sun is about to clear a rocky desert mountain.
The sun is about to clear a rocky desert mountain.
The sun appears.
The sun appears.
Sudden morning light brightens vegetation near the trail.
Sudden morning light brightens vegetation beside the rough trail.
The sunshine is warm. I will soon have to remove my light jacket. Even though it is late November, the dry air from the desert is very pleasant.
The sunshine is warm. I will soon have to remove my light jacket. Even though it is late November, the dry air from the desert is very pleasant.
Slanting sunlight on small leaves.
Slanting sunlight on small leaves.
Looking down into a small canyon beneath the trail that descends toward the desert.
Looking down into a small canyon beneath the trail that descends toward the desert.
I'm rounding a corner, approaching a light-splashed peak.
I’m rounding a corner, approaching a light-splashed peak.
Garnet Peak, on the left, rises into the morning sunlight. A short trail leads to its summit from the Pacific Crest Trail.
Garnet Peak, on the left, rises into the morning sunlight. A short trail leads to its summit from the Pacific Crest Trail.
Light on one side of a boulder above me.
Light on one side of a boulder above me.
A beautiful view. I encountered nobody else on the trail this morning. Perhaps because today is Thanksgiving.
A beautiful view. I encountered nobody else on the trail this morning. Perhaps because today is Thanksgiving.
I am thankful that I saw this.
I am thankful that I could pause for a moment and enjoy this.
New light all around.
New light all around.
The smooth, dry contours of one part of Anza-Borrego State Park become more apparent. I believe the bulky mountain on the left is Whale Peak.
The dry contours of one section of Anza-Borrego State Park become more apparent. I believe the bulky mountain on the left is Whale Peak.
Looking east, shadows are retreating from mountain green.
Looking east, shadows are retreating from fresh mountain green.
Looking south, bright light on a broken boulder.
Looking south, bright light on a broken boulder.
Leaves feed on sunshine.
Leaves feed on sunshine.
I'm now headed back south toward the Penny Pines Trailhead. One last look north at Garnet Peak.
I’m now headed back south toward the Penny Pines Trailhead. One last look north at Garnet Peak in full daylight.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! Occasionally, when I get the itch, I travel to more distant parts of San Diego County. You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

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Volunteers restore habitat in San Dieguito River Valley!

Hard-working volunteers remove non-native vegetation in a small part of the San Dieguito River Valley.
Hard-working volunteers remove invasive vegetation in a small area of the San Dieguito River Valley.

Today I happened upon a bunch of energetic volunteers working to restore habitat in the San Dieguito River Valley! They were removing non-native vegetation near the Sikes Adobe Historic Farmstead!

Lots of invasive, rapidly growing wild mustard appeared to be the main problem. I also learned from a friendly San Dieguito River Park ranger that mustard is highly flammable, much more so than California coastal sage and chaparral plants that are native to our arid region.

Today’s work, coinciding with Family Volunteer Day, was an effort of several organizations, including the San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy. Their mission is to implement the vision of the San Dieguito River Park, a greenway that stretches all the way from Volcan Mountain near Julian to Dog Beach in Del Mar! Their conservation and educational programs, along with their purchases of land in the River Park planning area, will ensure that the beautiful San Dieguito River Valley will be a rich and healthy natural treasure for many lifetimes to come!

Want to learn more? Or maybe get involved? Here’s their website!

This Saturday event was part of Family Volunteer Day, a worldwide day of service promoted by generationOn.
This Saturday event was part of Family Volunteer Day, a worldwide day of service promoted by generationOn.
Youth have fun while they work to make the Earth a healthier place.
Youth have fun while they work to make the Earth a healthier place.
A San Dieguito River Park ranger had brought many pots of native lemonade berry to plant.
A San Dieguito River Park ranger had brought many pots of native lemonade berry to plant.
Another perfect day to work outdoors and help the environment!
Another perfect day to work outdoors and help the environment!

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!

Are you a blogger? Do you want to help make the world a better place? You might want to join Bloggers Lifting Others Generously.

California Native Plant Society in Balboa Park.

People check potted greenery during the California Native Plant Society's Fall Plant Sale in Balboa Park.
People look at potted greenery during the California Native Plant Society’s Fall Plant Sale in Balboa Park.

Yesterday the California Native Plant Society had their Fall Plant Sale in Balboa Park. I stumbled upon the cool event during my random walk through the park.

Lots of people were looking at all sorts of potted plants, perhaps thinking of making a purchase for their yards. Residents of San Diego are encouraged to use native flora for landscaping. San Diego has a cool arid climate, and like the rest of Southern California our growing city has a limited supply of water.

Many plants and flowers native to the San Diego region were for sale in the outdoor courtyard of the Casa del Prado.
Many plants and flowers native to the San Diego region were for sale in the outdoor courtyard of the Casa del Prado.
Balboa Park's iconic California Tower is seen through an archway at the Casa del Prado.
Balboa Park’s iconic California Tower is seen through an archway at the Casa del Prado.
Many packets of seeds were also for sale.
Many packets of seeds were also for sale.
Fred Roberts, a local botanist, artist and author had some of his beautiful bird art for sale at one end of the long table.
Fred Roberts, a local botanist, artist and author had some of his beautiful bird art for sale at one end of the long table.
He also created these flower shirts.
He also created these flower shirts.
One good thing about native plants is they don't require very much water. We live in an arid climate!
One very good thing about native plants is they don’t require much water. San Diego has an arid climate!

If you’d like to see some photos of the House of Spain’s lawn program in Balboa Park yesterday, which included lots of colorful dancing, I posted thoseĀ here!

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A walk along rocks south of the OB Pier.

Walking south along the Ocean Beach boardwalk near the foot of the OB Pier, toward the old Silver Spray Apartments and Plunge.
Walking south along the Ocean Beach boardwalk near the foot of the OB Pier, toward the old Silver Spray Apartments and Plunge.

Let’s take a walk along the shore! We’re going to start at the boardwalk near the foot of the Ocean Beach Municipal Pier, pass quickly around the historic, ruin-like Plunge, then head along a rocky trail between cliffs and the crashing ocean.

We’ll see tide pools, tiny pocket beaches and amazing scenery. Many refer to this stretch as a part of San Diego’s Sunset Cliffs, even though the official Sunset Cliffs neighborhood lies farther south down the Point Loma peninsula.

Ready to go exploring? Let’s start!

People explore tide pools between the sand-filled, long-defunct Plunge and the OB Pier.
People explore tide pools between the sand-filled, long-defunct Plunge and the OB Pier.
The Plunge, often called the Sandbox, was built in 1917. Famous English Channel swimmer Florence Chadwick, who grew up in San Diego, trained here.
The saltwater Plunge, now often called the Sandbox, was built in 1917. Famous English Channel swimmer Florence Chadwick, who grew up in San Diego, trained in this historic pool.
We've passed the Plunge, which is officially part of the beach, and are now carefully traversing sandstone rocks along the base of cliffs. It can be very slippery.
We’ve passed the Plunge, which is officially part of the beach, and are now carefully traversing sandstone rocks along the base of cliffs. It can be very slippery.
Looking back north we see the Ocean Beach Municipal Pier and beach.
Looking back north we see the Ocean Beach Municipal Pier and beach.
People enjoy looking into small tide pools in the eroded sandstone. I occasionally saw some crabs.
People enjoy looking into small tide pools in the eroded sandstone. I occasionally saw some small crabs.
The easily carved sandstone is like a book containing years of names and often humorous images.
The easily carved sandstone is like a book containing years of names and often humorous images.
OB is a place for free spirits, and the rocks along the water attract many.
OB is a place for free spirits, and the rocks along the water attract many.
Looking north again. I see Pacific Beach and La Jolla in the distance.
Looking north again. I see Pacific Beach and La Jolla in the distance.
Splashing water and curious eyes.
Splashing water and curious eyes.
People peer down at us from the street level high above.
People peer down at us from the street level above.
A small group walks along the crude trail.
A small group walks along the crude trail.
A perfect day to explore nature's many wonders beside the ocean.
A perfect day to explore nature’s many wonders beside the ocean.
Someone heads toward one of the small pocket beaches tucked between rocky outcrops.
Someone heads toward one of the small pocket beaches tucked between rocky outcrops.
Standing on a tiny beach at the water's edge.
Standing on a tiny beach at the water’s edge.
The sandstone cliffs are unstable and sometimes you hear of people falling and needing rescue.
The sandstone cliffs are unstable and sometimes you hear of people accidentally falling and needing rescue.
Here comes a guy and his dog.
Here comes a guy and his dog.
As we continue to walk south, we can see the coast vanishing into the distance. The actual Sunset Cliffs neighborhood is farther down the Point Loma peninsula.
As we continue to walk south, we can see the coast vanishing into the distance. The actual Sunset Cliffs neighborhood is farther down the Point Loma peninsula.
A white sailboat out on the wide blue Pacific Ocean.
A white sailboat out on the wide blue Pacific Ocean.
In places the rocky and slippery sand footing is a bit difficult to navigate, even on the trail. Wear good shoes.
In places the rocky and slippery sand footing is a bit difficult to navigate, even on the trail. Wear good shoes!
Looking north. Spectacular scenery.
Looking north. Spectacular scenery.
More natural beauty.
More natural beauty.
The rough trail continues south. Fewer people seem to be in this section.
The rough trail continues south. Fewer people seem to be in this section.
Now we're approaching an interesting part of the walk, with a short, undulating path along a sea wall.
Now we’re approaching an interesting part of the walk, with a short, undulating path along a sea wall.
Looking back.
Looking back.
We've almost reached the end of our walk. The concrete pathway ahead has either been undermined by water, or intentionally made into a ramp for thrill seekers.
We’ve almost reached the end of our walk. The concrete pathway ahead has either been undermined by water, or intentionally made into a ramp for thrill seekers.
At the foot of old stairs that climb up to Orchard Avenue.
At the foot of old stairs that climb up to Orchard Avenue.
As we head up, someone begins down.
As we head up, someone begins down.
Two people begin their own adventure along the rocks.
Two people begin their own adventure along the rocks.
Looking back north at the short stretch we just finished.
Looking back north at the short stretch we just finished.
Someone gets exercise on the steps. At the top there is some fun artwork.
Someone gets exercise on the steps. At the top there is some fun artwork.
Sitting on a unique surfboard bench, gazing across the blue ocean.
Relaxing on a unique surfboard bench, gazing across the magical blue ocean.

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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I support restoring the Palisades in Balboa Park.

Some supporters of Balboa Park, including The Committee of One Hundred, would like to restore the Palisades area of the park to its former glory. I learned about this visionary effort on Labor Day while grabbing some napkins at the cafe inside the Casa de Balboa. A stack of postcards had been placed nearby. I picked one up. Here’s a photo:

Photos on a postcard created by The Committee of One Hundred shows Balboa Park's Palisades area in 1935 and 2017.
A postcard created by The Committee of One Hundred shows Balboa Park’s Palisades area in 1935 and 2017.

As you can see, in 1935, during the California Pacific International Exposition, the Palisades contained spacious lawns, flowers and benches where today you’ll find a large ugly parking lot.

Sounds familiar? For decades the Plaza de Panama on El Prado contained a similarly ugly parking lot. But after that parking lot’s removal and replacement with tables, umbrellas, potted greenery and public art, the Plaza de Panama has become a bustling hub of activity full of people enjoying the sunny San Diego outdoors, as was originally intended.

Now back to the Palisades area. After a little more research, I’ve learned The Committee of One Hundred is already working to replace the four long-lost murals that used to be above the entrance of the 1935 California State Building, which is home to the San Diego Automotive Museum. To see more about that project, check out The Committee of One Hundred’sĀ 2017 newsletter.

Given what I’ve read and know, I must say I’m in full agreement with the idea of restoring the Palisades. The parking lot is an absolute eyesore and many of the surrounding buildings appear bare and decayed. Most people who park here don’t linger. They immediately head in the direction of El Prado.

The Palisades parking lot seems completely unnecessary. Today, without spending a penny in construction, it appears to me there’s already plenty of parking across Park Boulevard south of the Veterans Museum–that huge lower lot is usually mostly empty. Simply add signage and one or two more stops for the parking shuttle.

When San Diego Comic-Con opens their new museum in the Federal Building next year, I imagine many more visitors will be drawn into the Palisades area. It seems to me the energetic people at Comic-Con International and other museums who would greatly benefit from a revitalization of the Palisades–the San Diego Air and Space Museum in particular–could use their considerable combined influence to help speed a beautiful restoration.

And why must it be an exact restoration? Why not add more flowers, some new outdoor art, and even a lively, splashing fountain? Why not both restore history and make history? Balboa Park should be forward-looking, optimistic, alive! San Diego’s world-renowned gem could shine even more brightly! Just imagine!

Photos from the Labor Day Stickball Tournament.

Batter gets ready to swing during the Labor Day Stickball Tournament in San Diego. Sixteen teams, including five from the East Coast, played over two days.
A batter gets ready to swing during the Labor Day Stickball Tournament in San Diego. Sixteen teams, including five from the East Coast, played over two days.

I watched some of the action today at the 2017 Labor Day Stickball Tournament in Little Italy. This annual San Diego tradition–which has been going on for 19 years now–includes West and East Coast stickball teams competing for glory. Even a slight drizzle couldn’t stop the intense street action!

I took some photos while enjoying a few of the games. A good crowd lined the sidewalks to watch play on three different street blocks in Little Italy. Stickball in San Diego seems to be growing in popularity–at least it appears that way to me!

Every year the event seems to grow. Many were lining the sidewalk watching a very exciting stickball game.
Every year the event seems to grow. Many people were lining the sidewalks watching action-packed stickball games. The dog barked excitedly with every great play.
Banner for the Nineteenth Annual Labor Day Stickball Tournament in Little Italy, sponsored by Mission Federal Credit Union.
Banner for the Nineteenth Annual Labor Day Stickball Tournament in Little Italy, sponsored by Mission Federal Credit Union.
Cars head down the nearby street as a game is in progress. It rained a little bit today, as you can see.
Cars head down the nearby street as a game is in progress. It rained a little bit today, as you can see.
Running for home in front of the San Diego Firehouse Museum during the 2017 Labor Day Stickball Tournament.
Running for home in front of the San Diego Firehouse Museum during the 2017 Labor Day Stickball Tournament.
Playing hard, with a smile. Good times, good people.
Playing hard with a smile. Good times, good people.
A big grid of teams this year for the stickball tournament. Just from personal observation, the event seems to grow every Labor Day weekend.
A big grid of 16 teams this year for the stickball tournament. Just from personal observation, the event seems to grow every Labor Day weekend.
A player stretches, a team huddles.
A player stretches as a team huddles. The play on hard asphalt is blazing fast and fierce.
Getting ready to be a stickball hero!
Getting ready to be a stickball hero!

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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Natural beauty at the West Coast Shell Show!

Colorful snail shells on display at the West Coast Shell Show.
Colorful snail shells on display at the West Coast Shell Show.

On Sunday I peered into Balboa Park’s Casa del Prado and discovered a surprising exhibition open free to the public. It was the San Diego Shell Club’s amazing West Coast Shell Show!

There were so many beautiful shells covering table after table it blew my mind. Every shell, I noted, was unique and interesting, and many that I saw seemed like exquisite works of art. Nature’s abundant beauty was spread throughout the room. It seemed I had blundered into a vast treasure of spilled jewels.

When I walk along a beach, I like to search the sand for bright or colorful objects washed up by the tide. But I honestly know next to nothing about shells from molluscs on land or in the sea. So I learned a few fascinating facts during my short conversations with a friendly hobbyist and a dealer.

Among other things, I learned some shells are highly prized for their rarity and apparent perfection, and that a few can fetch many thousands of dollars. I also learned there are relatively few serious shell collectors worldwide. But those who have a passion for shells have a hobby that promises new discoveries at every turn and inexhaustible wonder.

The West Coast Shell Show was presented in Balboa Park by the San Diego Shell Club.
The West Coast Shell Show was presented in Balboa Park by the San Diego Shell Club.
Beautiful shells of all types could be enjoyed--and purchased--inside the Casa del Prado over the weekend.
Beautiful shells of all types could be enjoyed–and purchased–inside the Casa del Prado over the weekend.
A variety of different colored abalone shells were on display at the show.
A variety of different colored abalone shells were on display at the show.
A wide variety of beautiful cowry shells, a type of sea snail.
A wide variety of beautiful cowries. They almost look like polished agates to me. The cowry is a type of sea snail.
The story of shells appears to have many chapters and subplots.
The Story of Shells appears to have many chapters and pages.
The many shells seemed to me like exotic jewels, no two exactly alike.
The shells seemed like exotic jewelry or small works of art, no two exactly alike.
One display case showed a large variety of fantastic chitons. These almost look like polished wood!
One display case showed a large collection of fantastic chitons. To me these almost look like varnished wood!
Dr. Wesley M. Farmer had a table full of scientific books, plus lots of unique art he'd created concerning nudibranchs, a type of sea slug. They shed their shells after their larval stage.
Dr. Wesley M. Farmer had a table full of scientific books, plus lots of unique art he’d created concerning nudibranchs, a type of sea slug. They shed their shells after their larval stage.
All sorts of fascinating mollusc art created by Wes Farmer, including specimens made with colored oven bake clay.
All sorts of fascinating mollusc art created by Wes Farmer, including specimens made with colored oven bake clay.
The public could enjoy many amazing sights at the West Coast Shell Show!
The public could enjoy many fantastic displays at the West Coast Shell Show!

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!