A look inside Old Town’s Wood Shop!

The working Blacksmith Shop is one of Old Town San Diego State Historic Park’s most popular attractions. At one end of the blacksmith shop is a small wood shop, where I seldom see any activity. But that wasn’t the case today!

Gary, a California State Parks volunteer, was busy working on some projects inside the Wood Shop. He was nice enough to describe the elegant Mediterranean chair that he is creating, plus a beautiful wooden cabinet and stand!

He then demonstrated some of the old-fashioned tools one can see in the wood shop. Many of the historical tools hanging on the walls are so old they are no longer very functional. But they do provide an idea of what a wood shop might have held in the early days of San Diego, around the mid-19th century.

I asked him about Old Town’s cannon carriage project that I blogged about over a year ago. He has the materials ready, but he’s awaiting word concerning it!

Gary explained that the above tool is an antique drill press. (Sort of looks like a massive mousetrap!)

By pulling a cord, this rather primitive lathe smoothly rotates a length of wood around a horizontal axis. I forgot to ask Gary, but I believe this might be an old bow lathe.

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Planting rare trees at Torrey Pines State Reserve.

An important reforestation effort is underway at Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve.

In recent years the critically endangered Torrey pine population has been reduced significantly by bark beetles, particularly in the park’s North Grove. So over 450 Torrey pine seedlings and 581 native shrubs grown in the nursery at the San Diego Safari Park are being planted in different locations around the Reserve.

You can read more about the project, an effort of California State Parks, the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance, and the U.S. Forest Service, by clicking here.

I walked the loop of the Guy Fleming Trail yesterday, where visitors can see many of the dead Torrey pines. Among dead trees, clustered close to the ground, stand strange blue tubes. These plastic protectors shield growing trees and other plants from animals and drying winds.

Native shrubs that have also been planted, mostly above the west-facing bluffs facing the Pacific Ocean, include sea dahlia, jojoba, lanceleaf liveforever, fingertips (San Diego dudleya), lemonade berry, coast lilac, and San Diego mountain mahogany.

As I walked along, observing all those blue tubes, I paused to read signs that explain how bark beetles kill the rare and beautiful Torrey pine. This tree’s natural protection against beetle infestation is sap. During drought trees produce less sap than usual and become especially vulnerable.

Without sufficient water, trees cannot produce enough oleoresin, an oozy sap-substance, and one type of chemical defense that can flush beetles from trees…

Bark Beetle Trapping and Observation in Progress.

The Five-Spined Engraver Beetle is a native insect that survives by burrowing in the Torrey pine tree. During normal conditions, the pines will excrete sap to prevent beetles from laying eggs within the tree. The sap simultaneously protects the damaged bark from fungus and disease…

…The stacked black funnels that are seen on a dead Torrey pine contain a specialized chemical pheromone to attract and trap beetles…

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Fun events during California State Parks Week!

It’s California State Parks Week!

At Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, some fun, free activities are planned.

Tomorrow, June 14, visitors will be invited to explore the park’s beautiful new outdoor Land of the First People with park interpreters.

On June 16, in Old Town’s grass plaza, families will enjoy engaging in historical pastimes including the Kumeyaay game ‘p’shok,’ as well as lawn games such as ‘hoop and stick,’ egg races, and tug of war from the Californio period.

Up the coast at Cardiff State Beach, on June 15, kids can participate in My Fun Future in the Outdoors, when California State Park employees share their favorite reasons to work in Parks. Kids can speak to heroes and become inspired!

Click the above links to learn more!

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!

Kumeyaay words for native animals, plants.

The rich culture of our region’s Native American Kumeyaay is honored at Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.

Near the corner of Juan Street and Taylor Street, the beautiful Iipay ~ Tipai Kumeyaay Mut Niihepok Land of the First People outdoor interpretive area teaches interested visitors a little of the Kumeyaay language. Kumeyaay words for many native animals and plants can be read along the edge of walkways.

During my last visit, I photographed many of the engraved artworks representing wild mammals, birds, reptiles, insects, cacti and trees, and the corresponding Kumeyaay and Spanish words.

If you want to see more of the surrounding area, the Land of the First People opened last year, and soon thereafter I took these photographs.

Incidentally, today there will be a special event held in this corner of Old Town San Diego State Historic Park. Earth Day will be celebrated! So if you read this in time, and you’re in the area, you might want to come on by!

Milyaapan. Mexican free-tailed bat.
Sha-ii. Turkey vulture.
Meshalyaap. Monarch butterfly.
‘Aahmaa. California quail.
‘Ensnyaaw. Coast live oak.
‘Aashaa kwilaaw. Northern mockingbird.
Hatepull. Nuttall’s woodpecker.
Kekhuu. Northern flicker.
Hallyewii. Alligator lizard.
Iihay halakwal. Salamander.
‘Emallk. Big-eared woodrat.
Perhaaw. Gray fox.
Kwak. Mule deer.
Nyemtaay. Mountain lion.
E’mull. Shaw’s agave.
Ehmaall. Ground squirrel.
‘Ewii. Southern Pacific rattlesnake.
Waipuk. California kingsnake.
Kusii. Jimsonweed.
Hattepaa. Coyote.
Hampachoka Huumpaashuuk. Anna’s hummingbird.
‘Ehpaa. Coast prickly pear.
Ashaa hahpaa. Cactus wren.
Ku’uun. Red-tailed hawk.
Hachehwach. Hooded oriole.
Kupally. Blue elderberry.
Nyemii. Bobcat.
Llyexwiiw. Striped skunk.
Para ak hepeshu. Great blue heron.
Hantak. Treefrog.
Ashaa milshlap. Mallard.


I took photographs of more words during a later visit…

Hantak sa-ai. California toad.
‘Ehnaally. Western pond turtle.
Mashhaatiit. Dragonfly.
E’pilly. Southern cattail.
Meshalyaap heyull. Western tiger swallowtail.
Para ak nemeshap. Great egret.
Chi ariar tenurr estik. California killifish.
‘U’uu. Great horned owl.
Nemas. Raccoon.
Miskenan. Stink beetle.
Kellyemuy. Bumble bee.
Hiiwaat. Deergrass.
‘Eshpaa ewall nemeshap. Bald eagle.
Kilyaahwii. Mourning dove.
Tellypuu. Greater roadrunner.
Meniish. Scorpion.
‘Aanall. Honey mesquite.
‘Eshpaa. Golden eagle.
Kunyaaw. Black-tailed jackrabbit.
Menniih. Tarantula.
Muu. Bighorn sheep.

The following are animals that are extinct or no longer found in the area around San Diego…

Sha-ii guatay. California condor.
Nyemii guatay yow kwakulsh. Sabertoothed cat.
Nemuuly. Grizzly bear.
Kwa nyilly. Pronghorn.

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!

Free “Hidden History Talks” in Old Town!

During the ups and downs of this long COVID-19 pandemic, Old Town San Diego State Historic Park’s indoor museums have been mostly closed. But I learned today that outdoor “Hidden History Talks” are now being held free to the public on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at 2 pm.

There are several interesting locations in the State Park where the talks might be held, including the courtyard of the Casa de Estudillo and the donkey pen behind Seeley Stable. Visitors to the park should watch for signs indicating where that day’s free history talk will be.

Today I sat on a bench in the beautiful Casa de Estudillo garden and listened to a California State Parks employee talk about the remarkable biodiversity in San Diego, which is partly attributed to the importation of plants and trees by Spanish missionaries, settlers, traders, and early civic visionaries like Kate Sessions.

The garden at the Casa de Estudillo is a sort of microcosm of this biodiversity.

Trees and shrubs were pointed out on all sides, and explanations were made of why they had been planted here–many a century and a half ago. Curious eyes turned this way and that at the mention of pepper and olive trees, pomegranates, and loquat, mulberry, pecan and walnut trees. And many others!

Among the things we learned was that small pepper trees from Spain, newly planted around Old Town’s plaza, had to be protected from roaming cattle. A century and a half later those pepper trees are huge and beautiful!

Everything we learned was fascinating.

I was told that eventually the normal walking tours should return to Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, but it all depends on the COVID-19 pandemic’s trajectory and public health orders.

If you’d like an idea of what the regular one hour walking tours are like, 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!

Torrey Pines’ scenic, very easy Discovery Trail.

The very easy Discovery Trail at Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve is a fine place to walk or sit on a bench, while drinking in nature’s beauty.

The short .13 mile highly accessible trail follows the edge of a bluff just east of the historic Lodge (the park’s Visitor Center) and its parking lot.

There are scenic overlooks with views of Carmel Valley, Los Peñasquitos Lagoon and even the Pacific Ocean. Signs describe many of the natural marvels around you. Native plants along the way are identified with information plaques.

Last weekend I slowly walked north along the Discovery Trail.

I began at Torrey Pines Park Road across from the Beach Trailhead parking lot. That’s where I saw the sign pictured below. I then headed north until I reached the rear of the old Lodge.

TORREY PINE WOODLANDS. The Torrey Pine tree is one of the most rare pine trees in all of North America. The young trees that you see today may be the remnants of what was once an ancient coastal forest. This natural plant community is found only in nutrient-poor sandy soils, along the sandstone bluffs, canyons, and ravines of Torrey Pines State Reserve and on Santa Rosa Island…

Wherever you stand, you are in a watershed. Here Carmel Valley Creek, Los Peñasquitos Creek and Carroll Canyon Creek all drain to one point: Los Peñasquitos Lagoon’s exit to the Pacific Ocean…

You are looking at a saltmarsh, where salt water from the ocean mixes with fresh from rivers and streams…Los Peñasquitos Marsh Natural Preserve remains a natural coastal wetland.

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!

Grand Opening for Old Town’s new Kumeyaay expansion!

I just received the above information. There will be a Grand Opening of Old Town San Diego State Historic Park’s recently completed expansion!

The new outdoor interpretive area, which I visited yesterday and blogged about here, is called Iipay ~ Tipai Kumeyaay Mut Niihepok, Land of the First People. It’s a beautiful place, with winding walkways and public art and displays concerning the history and culture of the Native American Kumeyaay. These First People have lived in our region for thousands of years, long before European explorers arrived.

The big Grand Opening is scheduled for Tuesday, October 26, 2021, and will take place between 1 pm and 4 pm.

Kumeyaay bird singers will perform during the historic Grand Opening ceremony!

If you plan to go, look for the large park-like space full of trees and native greenery, at the corner of Taylor Street and Juan Street!

Old Town State Park’s new Kumeyaay expansion opens!

Old Town San Diego State Historic Park’s major expansion has opened!

The beautiful new outdoor area, situated at the north end of the State Park, near the intersection of Taylor Street and Juan Street where an old Caltrans building used to stand, is called Land of the First People. It honors our region’s Native American Kumeyaay.

Pathways wind through native vegetation, beautiful public artwork, and interpretive displays on stones that describe the history and culture of the Kumeyaay, who lived here for many thousands of years before the arrival of Europeans. A Kumeyaay village called Kosa’aay existed where Old Town is now, near the mouth of the San Diego River.

I arrived at Old Town San Diego State Historic Park this evening just before sunset and noticed the construction fence circling this new area had finally come down! So I had to investigate immediately!

Artwork I discovered includes numerous disks along the pathways, showing native animals and the Kumeyaay words for each; a circular plaza with a mosaic depicting stars and constellations recognized by the Kumeyaay; and two benches made extraordinary with mosaics by local artist Betsy K. Schulz. Her amazing mosaics can be found all around San Diego. I’ll provide more photographs of these two benches in my next blog post!

Before it became too dark as night fell, this is what my camera captured…

Iipay ~ Tipai Kumeyaay Mut Niihepok — Land of the First People.
Ha silly hatekarr – sea otter
The Kumeyaay created pottery made of local clay for cooking and storage. A large askay or saakay kept water cool…
The traditional Kumeyaay diet was highly diverse, but shawii (acorn mush) was eaten daily…
The traditional Kumeyaay cosmology of Maay Uuyow (Sky Knowledge) is extensive and elaborate…
Hand tools like those shown here are used with the bowl-like hollows and other indentations in xepiicha (grinding stones) to process acorns, seeds, fibers…
This ancestral land is respectfully dedicated to the First People, the Kumeyaay.
The people of the Kumeyaay Nation have historically lived in and traveled through the Southern California and Northern Baja California region. This area extended from the Pacific Ocean to the desert…

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!

Building a cannon carriage and adobe walls in Old Town.

Saturday, on my way to TwainFest, I walked a little around Old Town San Diego State Historic Park to see what I might see.

At the blacksmith shop, wood shop and nearby grounds, I observed some interesting activity!

First, I learned from Todd in the blacksmith shop that a new carriage for Old Town plaza’s historic cannon will soon be built! I blogged about this project back in April here. I detail a little about the cannon’s history in that blog post.

Todd showed me how he had removed some of the original iron fittings from the wooden carriage. All of the iron will be saved, then refitted to a brand new carriage once it’s built. Welds will be hidden to preserve the original appearance.

The carriage will be constructed in the wood shop, a small work room attached to the blacksmith shop.

Here are a few photos of the wood shop…

Then I noticed two people working in the dirt area outside the blacksmith shop, behind Seeley Stable. This is the new spot in the State Park where adobe wall-making is demonstrated.

I’ve been told the old adobe demonstration area, which I blogged about here, will be used in the future for a Kumeyaay interpretive display.

As I watched slimy fingers jam mud mortar between large sun-dried adobe blocks, I took a look at information concerning which structures in Old Town are original adobes, and which ones are reconstructed.

Six original adobe buildings shown are: Casa de Machado y Silvas, c. 1843; Casa de Machado y Stewart, c. 1830; Casa de Estudillo, c. 1827; Casa de Bandini/Cosmopolitan Hotel, c. 1829; Altamirano-Perdrorena House, c. 1869; and the oldest structure in San Diego, Casa de Carrillo (between Old Town San Diego State Historic Park and the Presidio), c. 1817.

Reconstructed adobe buildings are: Robinson-Rose Building, c. 1853; Casa de Wrightington, c. 1804; San Diego House, c. 1841; Casa de Rodriguez, c. 1830; Colorado House (Adobe Annex), c. 1854; Casa de Alvarado, c. 1830; and Alvarado Saloon, c. 1830.

Typical adobe wall construction involved a foundation and a layer of small stones and shards topped by adobe bricks, which are cemented with lime and sand or mud plaster.

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!

Old Town State Park expansion nears completion!

This morning I walked around the north end of Old Town San Diego State Historic Park. I wanted to check out the progress that has been made with the State Park’s big expansion.

Old Town’s new outdoor interpretative area is beautiful and appears to be nearing completion!

I took photos of the area under construction four months ago and posted them here. You can definitely see the progress!

This large plot of land where the old Caltrans building used to be–at the corner of Juan Street and Taylor Street–is being converted into an inviting space that is alive with native vegetation and historical exhibits. Visitors walking along various pathways will have the opportunity to learn about the life and culture of the Native American Kumeyaay people. The Kumeyaay lived here by the San Diego River long before Europeans arrived.

The California State Parks website refers to this outdoor space as Land of the First People Exhibit Area—called Iipay ~ Tipai Kumeyaay Mut Niihepok.

As I circled the construction site fence, I noticed many plaques have been installed. I’ll be eager to read them once this area opens to the public.

This is what I saw…

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!