Earth Day at Old Town’s Native Plant Garden.

Many volunteers improve the Native Plant Garden near the McCoy House Museum in Old Town San Diego.
Many volunteers improve the Native Plant Garden near the McCoy House Museum in Old Town San Diego.

I was pleased to stumble upon an Earth Day event today as I walked into Old Town San Diego State Historic Park. A variety of organizations had gathered along the path leading to the McCoy House Museum, and many volunteers were working in the nearby Native Plant Garden.

What did I see?

Sign welcomes visitors to Old Town San Diego State Historic Park's weekend Earth Day Open House!
Sign welcomes visitors to Old Town San Diego State Historic Park’s cool Earth Day Open House!
Volunteers work with a State Park Ranger in Old Town's native garden for Earth Day. The Old Town Transit Center is visible in the background.
Volunteers work with a State Park Ranger in Old Town’s native garden for Earth Day. The Old Town Transit Center is visible in the background.
A row of tents near the McCoy House Museum welcomes curious visitors during the Earth Day Open House event.
A row of tents near the McCoy House Museum welcomes curious visitors during the Earth Day Open House event.
These guys represent Green Love, an environmental organization of the Associated Students at San Diego State University.
These guys represent Green Love, an environmental organization of the Associated Students at San Diego State University.
Green Love's endeavors include campus outreach, environmental justice, sustainable transportation, and even a community garden.
Green Love’s endeavors include campus outreach, environmental justice, sustainable transportation, and even a community garden.
Friendly ladies of the Old Town Basketry Guild demonstrate their craft.
Friendly ladies of the Old Town Basketry Guild demonstrate their ancient craft.
Sheet details how to become a member of the Old Town San Diego State Historic Park Basketry Guild.
Sheet details how to become a member of the Old Town San Diego State Historic Park Basketry Guild.
Participants in Old Town's Earth Day hang out by the McCoy House, which today serves as a museum of San Diego's early history.
Participants in Old Town’s Earth Day hang out by the McCoy House, which today serves as a museum of San Diego’s early history.
At this table, the California State Parks Foundation celebrates Earth Day!
At this table, the California State Parks Foundation celebrates Earth Day!
This sheet shows upcoming volunteer opportunities in California State Parks!
This sheet shows upcoming volunteer opportunities in several regional California State Parks!
An expert showed me examples of native San Diego flowers, like the California golden poppy, our state's official flower.
A knowledgeable expert showed me examples of native San Diego flowers, including the richly golden California poppy, our state’s official flower.
Flyer provides info concerning the California Native Plant Society's San Diego Garden Tour 2019.
Flyer provides info concerning the California Native Plant Society’s San Diego Garden Tour 2019.
I declined to plant a seed today, but I did get some smiles.
I declined to plant a seed today, but I did get some smiles.
Guys with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife answered questions at their table. I believe that's a coyote.
Guys with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife answered questions at their table. I believe that’s a coyote.
Hard-working volunteers could be seen all around the Native Plant Garden.
Hard-working volunteers could be seen all around the Native Plant Garden.
These generous Target employee volunteers were repairing the fence around the McCoy House. Thank you!
These generous Target employee volunteers were repairing the fence around the McCoy House. Thank you!
Caring for our planet during a cool Earth Day event.
Caring for our planet during a cool Earth Day event.

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!

Magical light transforms Old Town backyards.

After work I got off the trolley at Old Town, crossed Congress Street, and headed into the State Historic Park. With the recent return to Daylight Saving Time, there’s an extra hour of light for a leisurely walk.

At first I wasn’t sure what I would photograph. Then, minutes before the sun might disappear behind the horizon, I found myself lingering near the backyards of several very early San Diego houses.

It was the golden, almost dreamlike light that caught my eyes.

I walked along a quiet pathway that passes behind a row of historic structures, including Colorado House, La Casa de Machado y Silvas, U.S. House and San Diego House.

These backyards, back porches and gardens always appear a bit timeworn and scraggly, but the late light magically turned them into something wholly new.

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!

Los Peñasquitos Lagoon between winter storms.

Debris has been washed by the ocean under the Los Peñasquitos Lagoon bridge at Torrey Pines State Beach.
Debris has been washed by the ocean under the Los Peñasquitos Lagoon bridge at Torrey Pines State Beach.

This morning, the day after a severe winter storm, I visited Torrey Pines State Beach and the ocean inlet to Los Peñasquitos Lagoon. Arriving at high tide, I found myself astonished by the incredible power of nature. Turbulent waves were crashing onto the pedestrian walkway under the North Torrey Pines Road bridge.

I spent some time exploring near the state park’s North Parking Lot and its entrance. I then headed north along a path at the edge of sandstone cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean. I took many photographs, striving to capture nature’s awesome power and beauty.

And more winter storms are on the way!

Please read the photo captions to learn a bit more about this special place.

A lifeguard keeps an eye on wild surf at Torrey Pines State Beach.
A lifeguard keeps an eye on wild surf at Torrey Pines State Beach.
The friendly lifeguard said that waves can wash over the walkway during high tide at this time of the year.
The friendly lifeguard said that waves can wash over the walkway during high tide at this time of the year.
The bridge over the lagoon inlet during a very high tide. The storm-disturbed water appeared very muddy.
The bridge over the lagoon inlet during a very high tide. The storm-disturbed water appeared very muddy.
An information sign was pushed over by high winds from yesterday's storm. The power of nature is displayed.
An information sign was pushed over by high winds from yesterday’s storm. The power of nature is displayed.
Open to the Ocean. Over time, the lagoon mouth has filled in and reopened, changed shape and relocated many times.
Open to the Ocean. Over time, the lagoon mouth has filled in and reopened, changed shape and relocated many times.
Across the lagoon to the south rises beautiful Torrey Pines State Reserve, home of the endangered Torrey pine, rarest pine tree in North America.
Across the lagoon to the south rises beautiful Torrey Pines State Reserve, home of the endangered Torrey pine, rarest pine tree in North America.
Looking west along Los Peñasquitos Lagoon. Light shines on a sheet of water swollen by high tide.
Looking west along Los Peñasquitos Lagoon. Light shines on a sheet of water swollen by high tide.
This coastal marsh in San Diego's North County is a special place where wildlife is abundant.
This coastal marsh in San Diego’s North County is a special place where wildlife is abundant.
The sandy beaches, sand dunes, sandstone cliffs and bluffs, provides the habitat for the Coastal Strand plant community.
The sandy beaches, sand dunes, sandstone cliffs and bluffs, provides the habitat for the Coastal Strand plant community.
A cheerful yellow bush sunflower.
A cheerful yellow bush sunflower.
Looking across the wetland toward the train bridge near the beach.
Looking across the wetland toward the train bridge near the beach.
Life in the Lagoon. Birds are the most commonly seen animals in the lagoon. Ample food and nesting materials allow many to live here year-round.
Life in the Lagoon. Birds are the most commonly seen animals in the lagoon. Ample food and nesting materials allow many to live here year-round.
A great egret stands in Los Peñasquitos Lagoon, patiently watching for fish in the water.
A great egret stands in Los Peñasquitos Lagoon, patiently watching for fish in the water.
People walk west from Carmel Valley Road into the North Beach Lot of Torrey Pines State Beach.
People walk west from Carmel Valley Road into the North Beach Lot of Torrey Pines State Beach.
Sign includes map of the San Diego Trans County Trail, which runs east from the ocean along Peñasquitos Creek, through Los Peñasquitos Canyon.
Sign includes map of the San Diego Trans County Trail, which runs east from the ocean along Peñasquitos Creek, through Los Peñasquitos Canyon.
Closed lifeguard Tower 5 at Torrey Pines State Beach is splashed by wild winter waves during high tide.
Closed lifeguard Tower 5 at Torrey Pines State Beach is splashed by wild winter waves during high tide.
Gazing down at powerful Pacific Ocean surf on a winter day between storms.
Gazing down at incoming Pacific Ocean surf on a winter day between storms.
Coaster train moves along tracks north of Torrey Pines State Beach, heading atop scenic sandstone cliffs into Del Mar.
Coaster train moves along tracks north of Torrey Pines State Beach, heading atop scenic sandstone cliffs into Del Mar.
A line of bicyclists head down Pacific Coast Highway from Del Mar toward Torrey Pines State Beach.
A line of bicyclists head down Pacific Coast Highway from Del Mar toward Torrey Pines State Beach.
Ocean waves crash toward the North Torrey Pines Road bridge over the entrance to Los Peñasquitos Lagoon.
Ocean waves crash toward the North Torrey Pines Road bridge over the entrance to Los Peñasquitos Lagoon.
Mud and debris under the bridge. The result of a strong winter storm and the mighty ocean.
Mud and debris under the bridge. The result of a strong winter storm and the mighty ocean.

This blog now features thousands of photos around San Diego! Are you curious? There’s lots of cool stuff to check out!

Here’s the Cool San Diego Sights main page, where you can read the most current blog posts.  If you’re using a phone or small mobile device, click those three parallel lines up at the top–that opens up my website’s sidebar, where you’ll see the most popular posts, a search box, and more!

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Snow and winter beauty at Cuyamaca.

Early this morning I headed to the mountains east of San Diego. I yearned to see the new snow.

I departed before a crowd of families and kids, eager to sled and throw snowballs, might jump into their cars. It doesn’t snow in a city whose climate is said to be the best in the world. For many San Diego residents a journey to the snow is a rare treat.

Cuyamaca Rancho State Park is a little less than an hour east of downtown San Diego. I drove from Interstate 8 up Highway 79 and lingered in several spots, crunching crackly ice and crisp snow under my shoes. Good thing I dressed warmly!

Here are a few photographs of winter’s beauty in the meadows and mountains of Cuyamaca.

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!

Old Town State Park expansion coming!

The old Caltrans building at Taylor Street and Juan Street is being torn down, to make room for the expansion of the adjacent Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.
The former Caltrans building at Taylor Street and Juan Street is being torn down, to make room for the expansion of Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.

One of the most visited state parks in California will soon undergo a major expansion!

I noticed during a recent walk that the old Caltrans building, located at the corner of Taylor Street and Juan Street, is being demolished. A banner hanging at the construction site informs passersby that this land will be added to Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, and will open to the public in Fall 2019!

I spoke to a state park employee and learned that initially the expansion will feature trees and benches. There are plans to eventually have interpretive exhibits or structures in this area that help visitors understand what life was like for the Native American Kumeyaay people, who inhabited this area for thousands of years before European explorers arrived. According to this informative web page, California State Parks is now working with tribal members representing the Kumeyaay Nation to “interpret their culture and their connections to the San Diego River and Old Town San Diego”.

I can’t wait to see the completed expansion!

Banner at demolition site. The former Caltrans District Office will be replaced with a new outdoor public space at Old Town San Diego State Historic Park in Fall 2019.
Banner at demolition site. The former Caltrans District Office will be replaced with a new outdoor public space for Old Town San Diego State Historic Park in Fall 2019.

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!

Learning about archaeology in San Diego!

Kids learn about archaeology at Arch In The Park, an annual educational event at the Historic Ranch House in Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve.
Kids learn about archaeology at Arch In The Park, an annual educational event near the Historic Ranch House in Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve.

Today I headed to the Historic Ranch House in Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve to enjoy the 20th Annual Arch In The Park!

Arch In The Park, hosted by the San Diego County Archaeological Society, is an educational event where curious people of all ages can learn about archaeology in San Diego and the surrounding Southern California region!

I enjoyed looking at many displays and learning about opportunities to intern and volunteer with different organizations. Students talked about what they were learning, and kids got a glimpse of what it’s like to work as an archaeologist. Other exhibits concerned anthropology, our natural environment, and enjoying our local State Parks and National Forests.

After I checked out the various booths near the old adobe Ranch House, I headed to a nearby field where actual excavations could be viewed. Archaeology students from Palomar College told me about what they were doing, how they were doing it, and what they’d discovered!

To read information on the following posters, click my images and they will enlarge.

If you’d like to learn more about the historic Los Peñasquitos Ranch House, click here!

Visitors check out displays by colleges, businesses and organizations concerning the region's archaeology, anthropology and natural environment.
Visitors check out displays by colleges, businesses and organizations concerning the region’s archaeology, anthropology and natural environment.
People learn to how to weave baskets, an essential skill of the region's Native American Kumeyaay people.
People learn to how to weave baskets, an essential skill of the region’s Native American Kumeyaay people.
A poster shows California State Parks Southern Service Center's various Archaeological Projects 2017-2018.
A poster shows California State Parks Southern Service Center’s various Archaeological Projects 2017-2018.
Another California State Parks display shows interns at work sorting and identifying material from excavations in Southern California.
Another California State Parks display shows interns at work sorting and identifying material from excavations in Southern California.
This curious dog was more interested in learning about archaeology than that nearby bobcat.
This curious dog was more interested in learning about archaeology than that nearby bobcat.
A display contains info regarding the Anza Borrego Foundation and the Colorado Desert Archaeology Society.
A display contains info regarding the Anza Borrego Foundation and the Colorado Desert Archaeology Society.
Members of the Colorado Desert Archaeology Society can volunteer and become citizen scientists at Anza Borrego, Palomar Mountain and Rancho Cuyamaca State Parks!
Members of the Colorado Desert Archaeology Society can volunteer and become citizen scientists at Anza Borrego, Palomar Mountain and Rancho Cuyamaca State Parks!
Rock samples from different geological formations in Penasquitos Canyon.
Rock samples from different geological formations in Penasquitos Canyon.
Guinevere, the Merlin Falcon, is an animal ambassador for the San Diego Humane Society. (She had a wing injury and can't fly properly.)
Guinevere, the Merlin Falcon, is an animal ambassador for the San Diego Humane Society. (She had a wing injury and can’t fly properly.)
At Red Tail Environmental's table, kids could create sand art based on a ground painting by Native Americans at Mesa Grande.
At Red Tail Environmental’s table, kids could create sand art based on a ground painting by Native Americans at Mesa Grande.
Chambers Group had an interesting poster concerning fossil mastodons and whales.
Chambers Group had an interesting poster concerning fossil mastodons and whales.
Kumeyaay artifacts were displayed at the SDSU Department of Anthropology's table. If you're a teacher, it might interest you they offer free classroom presentations.
Kumeyaay artifacts were displayed on the SDSU Department of Anthropology’s table. (If you’re a teacher, it might interest you that they offer free classroom presentations.)
Enjoying a sunny San Diego day at Arch In The Park, presented each year by the San Diego County Archaeology Society.
Enjoying a sunny San Diego day at Arch In The Park, presented each year by the San Diego County Archaeological Society.
The Forest Fire Lookout Association had a cool display of all the Lookouts of Southern California.
The Forest Fire Lookout Association had a cool display of all the Lookouts of Southern California.
When smoke is spotted from a fire lookout, this simple device is used. Visually lining up the sighting determines the fire's direction, or azimuth.
When smoke is spotted from a fire lookout, this simple device is used. Visually lining up the sighting determines the fire’s direction, or azimuth.
Cleveland National Forest had a big display, too. They also like volunteers.
Cleveland National Forest had a big display, too. They also love volunteers.
Some photos from the Laguna Mountain Recreation Area, one of my favorite places.
Some photos from the Laguna Mountain Recreation Area, one of my favorite places.
Some artifacts on display created by Native Americans from San Luis Rey. Two of the baskets (near the top of this photo) were made in the 1800s.
Some artifacts on display created by Native Americans from San Luis Rey. Two of the baskets (near the top of this photo) were made in the 1800s.
A friendly student at this table talked to visitors about the California State University San Marcos Anthropology Club.
A friendly student at this table talked to visitors about the California State University San Marcos Anthropology Club.
As I headed over to a field where real archaeological digs can be seen, I was passed by people on horseback, enjoying their day at Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve.
As I headed over to a field where real archaeological digs can be seen, I was passed by people on horseback, enjoying their day at Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve.
Excavations at Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve are carried out by students in the Archaeology Program at Palomar College.
Excavations at Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve are carried out by students in the Archaeology Program at Palomar College.
I learned the Kumeyaay in this region obtained obsidian for projectile points by trading with other native people who lived to the east, by the Salton Sea.
I learned the Kumeyaay in this region obtained obsidian for projectile points by trading with other native people who lived to the east, by the Salton Sea. Ancient arrowheads and other mysterious objects are sometimes unearthed in this area.
A field east of the Los Peñasquitos Ranch House where archaeology students search for clues about the historic and prehistoric past.
A field east of the Los Peñasquitos Ranch House where archaeology students search for clues about the historic and prehistoric past.
Walls and drainage structures poke out from the field. Their exact story is a puzzle that will eventually be pieced together.
Walls and drainage structures poke out from the field. Their exact story is a puzzle that will eventually be pieced together.
A part of a torn down barn's foundation has been discovered here.
A part of a torn down barn’s foundation has been discovered here. Small, interesting finds are collected by general type in a cupcake pan!
Tunneling gophers make reconstructing the past more difficult. They move materials about as they dig.
Tunneling gophers make reconstructing the past more difficult. They move materials about as they dig.
Nearby I saw several devices used for wet screening excavated soil, a process that follows dry screening.
Nearby I saw several devices used for wet screening excavated soil, a process that follows dry screening.
Smokey Bear checks out debris left on the ground in another corner of the field, the area used for dry screening.
Smokey Bear must also be an archaeology enthusiast! I spotted him checking out debris left on the ground in another corner of the field, the area used for dry screening excavated soil!

This blog now features thousands of photos around San Diego! Are you curious? There’s lots of cool stuff to check out!

Here’s the Cool San Diego Sights main page, where you can read the most current blog posts.  If you’re using a phone or small mobile device, click those three parallel lines up at the top–that opens up my website’s sidebar, where you’ll see the most popular posts, a search box, and more!

To enjoy future posts, you can also “like” Cool San Diego Sights on Facebook or follow me on Twitter.

Photos of restored rooms inside Casa de Estudillo.

Visitors to Old Town San Diego State Historic Park look into a restored room of La Casa de Estudillo.
Visitors to Old Town San Diego State Historic Park look into a restored room of La Casa de Estudillo.

Four years ago I posted photos of La Casa de Estudillo, a famous adobe house in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park that was originally built in 1827. That blog was called Ramona saved Casa de Estudillo in Old Town and concerned the fascinating history of this structure.

Over time various parts of the casa have undergone restoration and new rooms have opened up to public view. These rooms now appear furnished as they once might have been, in the very early days of San Diego.

I recently walked through La Casa de Estudillo and peered into a few of the rooms…

Sign describes the dining room of La Casa de Estudillo.
Sign describes the dining room of La Casa de Estudillo.
The eventual prosperity of the Estudillo family is reflected in their elegant dining room.
The eventual prosperity of the Estudillo family is reflected in their elegant dining room.
Expensive furniture and tableware imported by ship from distant places fill the otherwise simple room.
Expensive furniture and tableware imported by ship from distant places fill the otherwise simple room.
Sign describes commerce in the casa. Francisco de Paul Rodriguez rented space from the Estudillos for a store.
Sign describes commerce in the casa. Francisco de Paul Rodriguez rented space from the Estudillos for a store.
The store, or tienda, contained shelves of goods that might be purchased by the residents of Old Town San Diego. Much of the merchandise came by ship from the East Coast around Cape Horn.
The store, or tienda, contained shelves of goods that might be purchased by the residents of Old Town San Diego. Much of the merchandise came by ship from the East Coast around Cape Horn.
More shelves against one wall contain iron tools and basic furnishings like candlesticks for sale.
More shelves against one wall contain iron tools and basic furnishings like candlesticks for sale.
Sign describes how the Estudillos adapted to life on the frontier in the 1830's and 1840's.
Sign describes how the Estudillos adapted to life on the frontier in the 1830’s and 1840’s.
A bedroom inside La Casa de Estudillo contains a wealth of comfort, unusual in early San Diego, which was located far away from developed centers of commerce.
A bedroom inside La Casa de Estudillo contains a wealth of comfort, unusual in early San Diego, which was located far away from developed centers of commerce.
Several additional rooms at La Casa de Estudillo are undergoing restoration.
Several additional rooms at La Casa de Estudillo are undergoing restoration.
Sign describes how the casa started as a modest two-room structure and eventually grew into an expansive U-shaped building with a courtyard and outbuildings.
Sign describes how the casa started as a modest two-room structure and eventually grew into an expansive U-shaped building with a courtyard and outbuildings.
Photo of the Casa de Estudillo's tower from the central garden courtyard.
Photo of the Casa de Estudillo’s tower from the central garden courtyard.
Looking across the south end of the courtyard toward the outdoor oven and Seeley Stable beyond.
Looking across the south end of the courtyard toward the outdoor oven and Seeley Stable beyond.
Sign explains how the Estudillos cared for a growing family including many children.
Sign explains how the Estudillos cared for a growing family including many children.
Frozen Charlotte dolls, ca. 1850's. These china dolls were popular in the Victorian era.
Frozen Charlotte dolls, ca. 1850’s. These china dolls were popular in the Victorian era.
A look into the children's bedroom.
A look into the children’s bedroom.
Sign describes the Estudillo kitchen and pantry. The family's ranchos provided meat, game, vegetables and fruit.
Sign describes the Estudillo kitchen and pantry. The family’s ranchos provided meat, game, vegetables and fruit.
Jars, pots, sacks of flour and fruit are among the many items seen in the rather primitive kitchen.
Jars, pots, sacks of flour and fruit are among the many items seen in the rather primitive kitchen.
The kitchen inside La Casa de Estudillo provides an idea of what life might have been like in early San Diego.
The kitchen inside La Casa de Estudillo provides an idea of what life might have been like in early San Diego.

This blog now features thousands of photos around San Diego! Are you curious? There’s lots of cool stuff to check out!

Here’s the Cool San Diego Sights main page, where you can read the most current blog posts.  If you’re using a phone or small mobile device, click those three parallel lines up at the top–that opens up my website’s sidebar, where you’ll see the most popular posts, a search box, and more!

To enjoy future posts, you can also “like” Cool San Diego Sights on Facebook or follow me on Twitter.