Niki de Saint Phalle’s Grande Step Totem.

One fantastic sculpture by renowned French-American sculptor Niki de Saint Phalle presently stands at the California Center for the Arts in Escondido. Those who pass by the cultural center on their way up North Escondido Boulevard can’t fail to miss it.

I stopped by to have a look at the monumental sculpture, which is titled Grande Step Totem.

A plaque near its base is weathered and cracked and is difficult to read now. I’ve tried to transcribe the English portion of it accurately:

Grande Step Totem

Based in Native American spirituality, Saint Phalle’s Totem is more solemn than much of her work. With a muted color palette and subject matter, this piece encourages introspection. The Totem returned to Escondido on December 19, 2012 after spending the summer on view with several other Saint Phalle pieces on Park Avenue in New York City.

NIKI DE SAINT PHALLE

2001

Polyurethane foam resin, steel armature, ceramic tiles, stained glass, tumbled stone.

As you can see, some construction work was being done around the base of the sculpture when I visited last weekend. Here are my photos…

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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A colorful walk through nerdy, artsy Leucadia.

Keep Leucadia Nerdy.
Keep Leucadia Nerdy.

Last weekend I walked up Coast Highway 101 through a good slice of Leucadia. The following photos are of various cool sights I spotted. I saw lots of great murals, too, but those I’ll feature in an upcoming blog post.

Come along and join me on a very misty, occasionally drizzly morning! We start a bit south of Marcheta Street in Encinitas and work our way north up the west sidewalk of Coast Highway 101 to a place around Avocado Street.

A cool old door.
A cool old door.
A giant yeti holds some Mobil oil.
A giant yeti holds some Mobil oil.
Stickers at Juanitas Taco Shop.
Stickers at Juanitas Taco Shop.
A smile in a doorway!
A smile in a doorway!
A cool design stamped in the sidewalk. Leucadia established 1875.
A cool design stamped in the sidewalk. Leucadia established 1875.
Butterflies on a blue fence.
Butterflies on a blue fence.
Lou's Records. New releases every Friday.
Lou’s Records. New releases every Friday.
A fish in a hammock stretched between metal trees by a parking lot.
A fish in a hammock stretched between metal trees by a parking lot.
Eating breakfast on a misty morning at Pannikin Coffee and Tea.
Eating breakfast on a misty morning at Pannikin Coffee and Tea.
Pannikin is located in an historic 1888 Santa Fe Railroad Station, which was moved to this site on Coast Highway 101 west of the train tracks.
Pannikin is located in an historic 1888 Santa Fe Railroad Station, which was moved to this site on Coast Highway 101 west of the train tracks.
An El Camino Real bell above the sidewalk along Coast Highway 101 in Leucadia.
An El Camino Real bell above the sidewalk along Coast Highway 101 in Leucadia.
Rotary International plaque near the base of the El Camino Real bell.
Rotary International plaque near the base of the El Camino Real bell.
Joggers heading down the damp sidewalk near some art on electrical boxes.
Joggers heading down the damp sidewalk near some art on electrical boxes.
A cool little mural with a tropical ocean scene.
A cool little mural with a tropical ocean scene.
An anticuados smile on a fence.
An anticuados smile on a fence.
Some outdoor decor at a Mexican restaurant.
Some outdoor decor at a Mexican restaurant.
A large flower on The Cali Life Gallery.
A large flower on The Cali Life Gallery.
Another cool mural above a window with a colorful beach scene.
Another cool mural above a window with a colorful beach scene.
A surfboard in front of Progression Surf.
A surfboard in front of Progression Surf.
Cool art at a small shopping center on Coast Highway 101.
Cool art at a small shopping center on Coast Highway 101.
The small, green Leucadia Roadside Park.
The small, green Leucadia Roadside Park.
A trashcan in the park features fun tile art.
A trashcan in the park features fun tile art.
Colorful sailboats by an outdoor table.
Colorful sailboats by an outdoor table.
Getting ready for another day at Solterra Winery and Kitchen.
Getting ready for another day at Solterra Winery and Kitchen.
Walking along.
Walking along.
Live. Love.
Live. Love.
Fanciful design on a wall.
Fanciful design on a wall.
Bicyclists head south on old Coast Highway 101.
Bicyclists head south on old Coast Highway 101.
Leucadia Coast Hwy 101. The art and soul of Encinitas.
Leucadia Coast Hwy 101. The art and soul of Encinitas.
Signs point to distant cities and to Seaweed and Gravel.
Signs point to distant cities and to Seaweed and Gravel.
A happy mailman by a bike rack at the Leucadia post office.
A happy mailman by a bike rack at the Leucadia post office.
More cool Leucadia street art on an electrical box.
More cool Leucadia street art on an electrical box.
A Kiss for You.
A Kiss for You.
Welcome to Leucadia in a window.
Welcome to Leucadia in a window.
A very tall carved mermaid by the sidewalk.
A very tall carved mermaid by the sidewalk.
This fierce tiki likes to gnaw on rope, it seems.
This fierce tiki likes to gnaw on rope, it seems.
Two dolphins leap by the sidewalk.
Two dolphins leap by the sidewalk.
The beach must be up these stairs at Bamboo 2 U and Beach House Too.
The beach must be up these stairs at Bamboo 2 U and Beach House Too.
There's a huge seahorse just outside that Beach House.
There’s a huge seahorse just outside that Beach House.
Organic tacos and a whale sighting.
Organic tacos and a whale sighting.
Furniture and Curiosities.
Furniture and Curiosities.
An elaborate design on an electrical box by the sidewalk.
An elaborate design on an electrical box by the sidewalk.
There are so many stickers on the Leucadia Donut Shoppe windows, I won't be tempted by what can't be seen inside.
There are so many stickers on the Leucadia Donut Shoppe windows, I won’t be tempted by what can’t be seen inside.

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!

Amazing walk from Swami’s to the Cardiff Kook.

Surfer crossing sign near a golden dome of the Self-Realization Fellowship ashram in Encinitas.
Surfer crossing sign near a golden dome of the Self-Realization Fellowship ashram in Encinitas.

Today I went for a long walk beside the Pacific Ocean. I began along old Coast Highway 101 from the Coaster’s Encinitas Station, headed south through Cardiff-by-the-Sea, and walked all the way through Solana Beach to Via de la Valle.

The following photographs are from one very cool stretch of my walk.

Come along! We begin at Swami’s in Encinitas and proceed south down Coast Highway 101 to the Cardiff Kook sculpture.

As you will see, this is quite an amazing walk.

Please read the captions!

A woody with surfboard heads north along old Coast Highway 101 past one of the exotic Self-Realization Fellowship Golden Lotus Towers.
A woody with surfboard heads along old Coast Highway 101, past one of the Self-Realization Fellowship’s iconic Golden Lotus Towers.
As I walked south, a surfer passed me on the sidewalk going the opposite way.
As I walked south by the exotic ashram, a surfer passed me on the sidewalk going the opposite way. I turned to take a photo.
Here comes another surfer, heading through the park by the Swami's Beach parking lot. It appears he finished surfing at Swami's Reef for the day.
A few steps farther and here comes another surfer, heading through the park by the Swami’s Beach parking lot. It appears he just finished surfing at Swami’s Reef.
I've arrived at the entrance to Swami's Beach, which was mentioned in the Beach Boys' song Surfin' U.S.A..
I’ve arrived at the entrance to Swami’s Beach, which was mentioned in the Beach Boys’ song Surfin’ U.S.A.
Two huge Easter Island Heads carved of wood tilt in the grassy park at Swami's.
Two huge Easter Island Heads carved of wood tilt in the grassy park at Swami’s.
Both Easter Island Heads were created by Tim Richards and are in the Encinitas Public Art Collection.
Both Easter Island Heads were created by Tim Richards and are in the Encinitas Public Art Collection.
Cool art on a park planter.
Cool art on a park planter.
People walk past another planter with cool tile art.
People walk past another planter with cool tile art depicting a palm tree and Pacific Ocean sunset.
A blue wave seems to be surging up from the walkway ahead.
A blue wave seems to be splashing up from the walkway ahead.
This public artwork is the Swamis Surfing Memorial.
This public artwork is the Swamis Surfing Memorial.
Dedicated with appreciation to Gary Taylor and the others whose efforts of the past and future make Encinitas a better place to live and surf.
Dedicated with appreciation to Gary Taylor and the others whose efforts of the past and future make Encinitas a better place to live and surf.
One guy stretches while a couple gets ready to head down to Swami's Beach.
One guy stretches while a couple gets ready to head down to Swami’s Beach.
Descending steps to the public beach far below.
Descending steps to the public beach far below.
Benches above the bluffs allow people to watch the surfing action at Swami's internationally famous point break.
Benches above the bluffs allow people to watch the surfing action at Swami’s internationally famous point break.
My small camera catches some distant surfing action.
My small camera catches some distant surfing action.
Many surfers were out on a sunny September day, enjoying good conditions.
Many surfers were out on a sunny September day, enjoying good conditions.
Engraved on a rock by the benches are the words: Waves on the Point are dedicated to Syrus King.
Engraved on a rock by the benches are the words: Waves on the Point are dedicated to Syrus King.
Looking south along the beautiful shoreline as I get ready to resume my walk along Coast Highway 101, sometimes referred to as Pacific Coast Highway.
Looking south along the beautiful shoreline as I get ready to resume my walk along Coast Highway 101, sometimes referred to as Pacific Coast Highway.
Bicyclists head down South Coast Highway 101, leaving Encinitas.
Bicyclists head down South Coast Highway 101, leaving Encinitas.
I turn for a moment to glance back north at Swami's.
I turn for a moment to glance back north at Swami’s.
The surging Pacific Ocean and the narrow beach below.
The surging Pacific Ocean and the narrow beach below.
A cool pink residence near the highway with a great view of the ocean.
A cool pink residence near the highway with a great view of the ocean.
As I continue south I see a lifeguard tower coming up.
As I continue south I see a lifeguard tower coming up.
People gaze at the foaming water from a rocky beach.
People gaze at the foaming water from a rocky beach.
I couldn't help looking back north one more time.
I couldn’t help looking back north one more time.
Lifeguard tower 19 near the north end of San Elijo State Beach in Cardiff rises above wet sand.
Lifeguard tower 19 near the north end of San Elijo State Beach in Cardiff rises above wet sand.
I saw hundreds of surfers out in the water during my walk. Looks like fun!
I saw hundreds of surfers out in the water during my walk. Looks like fun!
Walking down a path that enters the campground area at San Elijo State Beach.
Walking down a path that enters the campground area at San Elijo State Beach.
A smiley for a laid-back, sunny day.
A smiley for a laid-back, sunny day in Southern California.
Entrance sign at San Elijo State Beach in Cardiff-by-the Sea.
Entrance sign at San Elijo State Beach in Cardiff-by-the Sea.
Continuing south along Coast Highway 101, approaching Chesterfield Drive.
Continuing south along Coast Highway 101, approaching Chesterfield Drive.
Up ahead I see the Cardiff Kook. The bronze sculpture is officially called Magic Carpet Ride, but to most people the figure on the surfboard appears a bit kooky.
Up ahead at the intersection I see the Cardiff Kook. The bronze sculpture is officially called Magic Carpet Ride, but to most people the youthful figure on a surfboard appears awkward and silly.
Someone looks up at the Cardiff Kook, which is often dressed up by pranksters in odd clothing and costumes.
Someone looks up at the Cardiff Kook, which is often dressed up by pranksters in odd clothing and costumes.
Magic Carpet Ride, 2007, bronze, Matthew Antichevich.
Magic Carpet Ride, 2007, bronze, Matthew Antichevich.
If the balloon is any indication, the Cardiff Kook must be celebrating a birthday.
If the balloon is any indication, the Cardiff Kook must be celebrating a birthday.
A poem for the Cardiff Kook.
A poem for the Cardiff Kook.

Magic Carpet Ride

Grommit of bronze
On an ocean of stone
Frozen in time
In Cardiff, at home
Action in art
Still life by the sea
Community pride
Goofy footed and free
Exuberant youth
Arms open and wide
A cultural ambassador
Takes his first ride
His story is our story
Personified Grace
Both the past and the future
See yourself in his face
Grommit of bronze
On an ocean of stone
Surfs by the sea
In Cardiff, at home.

A wonderfully kooky conclusion to an amazing walk!
A wonderfully kooky conclusion to this amazing stretch of my walk!

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!

Fascinating photos behind the scenes in San Diego.

Over the years I’ve taken photos “behind the scenes” at various interesting and historic places in San Diego. I thought it would be fun to revisit some of those blog posts, in case you’ve missed them.

Here are ten guided tours and curious walks that provided fascinating views of San Diego that many do not see.

Click the following links:

A tour inside the historic Spreckels Theatre.

A very cool tour of Petco Park in San Diego!

Get out of jail free at old police headquarters!

Photos behind the scenes at Copley Symphony Hall!

Photos aboard new Scripps research vessel Sally Ride!

Behind the scenes look at the Spreckels Organ.

Photos from Port of San Diego’s harbor tour.

History comes alive during tour of Spanish Village.

Photos: amazing tour of Spanish galleon build site!

Photos inside a World War II bunker on Point Loma.

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!

Torrey Pines Extension hike to the DAR plaque.

This morning I enjoyed an incredible (and relatively easy) hike along several short trails through Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve’s less-visited Northeastern Extension.

I started from the trailhead at the northeast end of Del Mar Scenic Parkway and, watching for rattlesnakes, climbed north along the Mar Scenic Trail to the DAR Trail.

When I reached the trail junction where one turns to reach the DAR plaque, I elected to continue west downhill for a short distance, just to enjoy the amazing scenery. Beyond picturesque Torrey Pine trees stretched the wide blue Pacific Ocean and Torrey Pines State Beach.

Finally I retraced my steps, turned north on the West Ridge D.A.R., and made my way to the historic DAR plaque.

It reads:

TORREY PINE STATE RESERVE

D A R TRAIL AND MEMORIAL GROVE

THIS TRAIL AND MEMORIAL GROVE
ARE DEDICATED TO OUR PLEDGE TO SAVE
AND FAITHFULLY DEFEND FROM WASTE
THE NATURAL RESOURCES OF OUR COUNTRY.
ITS SOILS, MINERALS, ITS FORESTS,
WATERS AND WILDLIFE.

THE CALIFORNIA STATE SOCIETY
OF THE
NATIONAL SOCIETY
DAUGHTERS OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION
MRS. LEROY CONRAD KAUMP, STATE REGENT
NOVEMBER 16, 1971
U.S.A. BICENTENNIAL PROJECT

What a fantastic walk!

Unlike the very popular main section of Torrey Pines State Reserve, which is located to the south across Los Penasquitos Lagoon, it’s possible you won’t encounter another human being while hiking through this small area of protected wilderness. Wear sturdy shoes or boots because the sandy path can be a bit slippery. And bring some water. It can get pretty warm!

Enjoy the following photos!

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!

Help students learn about San Diego history!

Help our students discover the past.
Help our students discover the past.

Do you love San Diego? Your help is needed!

The Old Town San Diego Foundation is raising funds so that Fourth Grade students across San Diego County can continue taking educational field trips to Old Town San Diego State Historic Park. The San Diego History Program helps kids learn about San Diego’s unique, culturally diverse early history. But financial assistance is urgently needed!

I found out about this program today while walking about Old Town’s Founders Day event. I learned thousands of students have been fortunate to enjoy these field trips in past years. Fourth graders visit Old Town’s interactive museums and enjoy special docent led tours.

The nice folks of the Old Town San Diego Foundation explained that without this program, many young people would probably never visit the birthplace of San Diego and California.

Often kids who participate are so amazed by what they discover, they bring their families back to Old Town! How cool is that?

But funds are now needed to continue this program.

Please visit the Old Town San Diego Foundation website here to learn more.

And please visit the “4th Graders Need Your Help” GoFundMe page here to make your contribution! Donations are 100% tax deductible.

(I know that some educators follow this blog. Spread the word!)

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!

Black life and civil rights in Southern California.

Barbershop, Los Angeles, 1956, Harry Adams. Photographer Harry Adams stands with a young woman in front of his barbershop.
Barbershop, Los Angeles, 1956, Harry Adams. Photographer Harry Adams stands with a young woman in front of his barbershop.

A powerful exhibition recently opened at the San Diego Museum of Art. Black Life: Images of Resistance and Resilience in Southern California features photographs of politicians, activists, athletes and entertainers from the African American community during the second half of the 20th century, a period of struggle to advance civil rights.

Photographers Harry Adams, Guy Crowder and Charles Williams, who worked primarily as freelancers for publications like the Los Angeles Sentinel, California Eagle and Los Angeles Times, recorded people and moments in a community that was rarely covered by the American media. Their photography is natural, emotional and absolutely authentic. As you will see, many of their images are iconic.

Black Life: Images of Resistance and Resilience in Southern California documents important history in the life of our region. The exhibition can be viewed in the San Diego Museum of Art’s free Gallery 14/15, which is located through an unlocked door beside the outdoor sculpture court and Panama 66.

What you see here is just a small fraction of the many photographs on display.

Child Holding Book, Los Angeles, 1983, Guy Crowder.
Child Holding Book, Los Angeles, 1983, Guy Crowder.
Muhammad Ali and Stokely Carmichael, Los Angeles, 1974, Guy Crowder. Carmichael is known for coining the term Black Power in 1966.
Muhammad Ali and Stokely Carmichael, Los Angeles, 1974, Guy Crowder. Carmichael is known for coining the term Black Power in 1966.
Marrie Burnett, Los Angeles, 1982, Guy Crowder.
Marrie Burnett, Los Angeles, 1982, Guy Crowder.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at Second Baptist Church, Los Angeles, 1958, Harry Adams.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at Second Baptist Church, Los Angeles, 1958, Harry Adams.
Baldwin School Integration, Los Angeles, 1962, Charles Williams. The NAACP campaigned to promote school integration.
Baldwin School Integration, Los Angeles, 1962, Charles Williams. The NAACP campaigned to promote school integration.
Protest Car, Los Angeles, 1962, Harry Adams.
Protest Car, Los Angeles, 1962, Harry Adams.
Harry Belafonte and Dorothy Dandridge, stars of Carmen Jones, 1954, Charles Williams.
Harry Belafonte and Dorothy Dandridge, stars of Carmen Jones, 1954, Charles Williams.
Diana Ross and Michael Jackson, Los Angeles, 1969, Guy Crowder.
Diana Ross and Michael Jackson, Los Angeles, 1969, Guy Crowder.
Dream Girls Cast, Los Angeles, 1983, Guy Crowder.
Dream Girls Cast, Los Angeles, 1983, Guy Crowder.

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!