Life returns to Balboa Park one strange summer.

It’s late summer. It has been a very strange year.

The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted almost every aspect of our lives. But even though we still wear face masks and keep our social distance, there’s a sense in Balboa Park that a more normal life is slowly returning.

Earlier in the spring and summer the park was eerily quiet. But in the past week I’ve noticed growing numbers of visitors. There seems to be a desire to recover a small part of a disrupted summer.

Some of the museums have reopened. Vendors and street performers along El Prado are back. Picnics on the grass have become numerous. People are once again posing for pictures by the lily pond.

The sunshine and beautiful flowers never went away.

I took these photographs during walks through Balboa Park yesterday and on Labor Day.

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!

Mysteries in San Diego: solved and unsolved!

Occasionally during my walks around San Diego I stumble upon a mystery. Often there’s a solution to the mystery that I eventually discover; other more difficult mysteries remain unsolved.

It can be exciting to suddenly encounter the unknown!

Because it was too darn hot and muggy to be out walking today, and because I might not go walking for a few days, I thought we might travel back in time and review a variety of past mysteries. Several of these are still unsolved.

As always, if you know something that I don’t know, please leave a comment!

These mysteries still persist. Armchair detectives, get ready!

For the mystery of a vanished grave marker containing the name of an early San Diego character who was shot in the back, click here.

For the mystery of public art that few people see, that appears to be attributed to nobody in particular, click here.

For the mystery of old, faded signs on downtown San Diego buildings, click here.

For the mystery of musicians that were painted on downtown windows (and which have since vanished) click here!

The following mysteries were eventually solved!

For the mystery of an inexplicable lighthouse on an Old Town sidewalk, click here.

For the mystery of a fountain hidden in an almost never seen corner of Balboa Park, click here.

For the mystery of what seemed a forgotten Navy plaque on the Embarcadero, click here.

For the mystery of strange reflections on San Diego Bay, click here. (This mystery was my own photographic creation, but you might enjoy attempting to identify the reflections.)

For the infinite mystery contained in an ingenious invention that mimics the structure of the universe, click here and here.

And finally, for the mystery of a bloody crime scene that must be solved again and again, 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!

The famously “dumped” $200,000 sculpture!

The organic sculpture you see above seems to have been “dumped” in more ways than one!

In 1988, a sculpture titled Okeanos, commissioned for $200,000, was placed in front of La Jolla’s Scripps Green Hospital. World-famous British modernist sculptor William G. Tucker intended the thing to resemble an ocean wave. Art critics considered it a great, masterful work. People arriving at the medical facility thought it resembled something else.

So Okeanos, which was popularly called the Scripps turd, at the cost of another $40,000, was moved to the less-seen corner of John Jay Hopkins Drive and General Atomics Court, which happens to be near the middle of one the world’s most important biotechnology hubs.

Which seems appropriate. The dumping of this organic thing marked the end of a human push to expel it.

Okay, in all seriousness, Okeanos, when seen up close, is actually pretty interesting. It does make the surface of an ocean’s foaming wave appear like a complex, surging, living thing. I’m glad I checked it out!

I took these pics today during a long walk though UC San Diego and along North Torrey Pines Road, and half a dozen more blog posts concerning my adventure are forthcoming!

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 handful of problematic photos!

I didn’t know what to do with these photos!

They were taken all over San Diego–some recently, some years ago.

This evening I’m purging hundreds of old files from my computer. And I thought it would be a shame to not share these!

So now, for your viewing pleasure, in completely random order, I present this handful of problematic 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!

A strange mixture of sights downtown.

Go on any walk through downtown San Diego and you’ll see a strange mixture of sights. Sometimes you have to stop in your tracks to look again.

Many of the visions that rise before your eyes seem contradictory. Urban hipsters drinking coffee and listening to live music . . . a few steps away from people who are homeless. The boarded window of a looted Gaslamp shop . . . and spray painted messages of empathy and kindness.

And there are the sights that are wonderfully odd. Downtown’s reggae dog. A surprising tree in a surprising place. An insurance company for sharknados.

So much strangeness is mixed in the ordinary life of a city.

The mysteries appear everywhere.

I took these photographs during several walks the past few days.

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!

Watching a coronavirus game at Petco Park.

During this shortened coronavirus pandemic baseball season, is it possible to actually watch a Padres game at Petco Park? Assuming you aren’t positioned in one of the nearby high-rise buildings? Well, sort of…

Today after work I headed to Petco Park, knowing a Padres afternoon game would be in progress. I was curious to see whether anything interesting was going on at the ballpark–if there was anything to see at all. The Padres and other Major League Baseball teams have taken many steps to protect the public and their staff from the highly contagious COVID-19 virus.

I did see the Arizona Diamondbacks buses parked outside. I did hear the distant announcer vaguely calling plays, music playing between at-bats and innings, and recorded cheering.

When I walked around to Social Tap and the nearby entrance of Gallagher Square (which used to be called Park at the Park), I noticed some fans were hanging out behind the fence bordering the kids’ small ball field.

I joined them.

We could see the video screen that faces Gallagher Square, and one of Petco Park’s faraway scoreboards. We could clearly hear the game–as one would hear it on television, without the play-by-play or commentary. Through a teeny tiny gap in the fence it was possible to see the tops of the heads of visiting bullpen pitchers, the pitcher’s mound and a little tiny bit of the home dugout. But you really couldn’t tell what was going on.

What was fun was the idea that I was actually at the ballpark, with a few other devoted fans!

I happened to walk up as the Padres were trailing the Diamondbacks 1-2. Right after I arrived, a huge rally began and the Padres were soon leading 6-2. Everyone cheered.

Even though nobody heard the few of us.

The Pads won!

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!

An enormous sailing yacht, way up in the air!

Look what I saw as I walked past the Driscoll Mission Bay Boat Yard yesterday. A gigantic sailing yacht, suspended way up in the air!

That towering mast appeared about as high as a five-story building!

How did that enormous boat get up there?

Now that’s one peculiar sight!

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!

Petco Park readies for a strange season!

Images of baseball stars Fernando Tatís Jr. and Manny Machado anticipate the 2020 season at Petco Park.
Images of Padres stars Fernando Tatís Jr. and Manny Machado anticipate the 2020 baseball season at Petco Park.

Major League Baseball will indeed have a season in 2020. The news was announced yesterday.

There will be 60 games this year, and teams will travel less and observe complicated new safety rules because of the coronavirus pandemic. There will be no roar of the crowd. No fans will fill the stands.

It’s going to be really strange.

This morning I walked by Petco Park, the home field of the San Diego Padres, to see if there are any preparations underway for the shortened season.

From atop the hill in the Park at the Park, I saw the ball field being groomed. As I passed the main box office and neared the trolley tracks, I looked up at workers on a crane who were applying the second of two huge wraps to Petco Park.

The very unusual 2020 season will begin on July 23rd or 24th.

Go Pads!

Petco Park is newly painted and empty as the grounds crew prepares the field for Padres baseball. No fans will be in attendance this shortened season.
Petco Park is newly painted and appears pristine. The grounds crew is preparing the field for Padres baseball. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, no fans will be in attendance this shortened season.
Large wrap on Petco Park celebrates Jackie Robinson. Diversity. Equality. Unity.
Large new wrap on Petco Park celebrates baseball legend and civil rights hero Jackie Robinson. Diversity. Equality. Unity.
Workers on a crane at Petco Park prepare for the unusual 2020 Major League Baseball season--which begins in July!
Workers at Petco Park prepare for a very strange Major League Baseball season–which will begin in July!

UPDATE!

I snapped this photo several days later…

Dave Winfield, Tony Gwynn, Johnny Ritchey and current Padres stars. Together As One.
Dave Winfield, Tony Gwynn, Johnny Ritchey and current Padres stars. We Are San Diego. Together As One.

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!

Commonplace Abstractions displayed at America Plaza.

Untitled (Yardstick), Eric Snell, 1990.
Untitled (Yardstick), Eric Snell, 1990.

The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego is now displaying some very unique abstract artwork inside the America Plaza office building. One America Plaza, the tallest building in San Diego, stands across Kettner Boulevard from the museum’s downtown location.

This small exhibition of art is titled Commonplace Abstractions. The pieces, on view behind glass, were selected from MCASD’s collection. Each work of art incorporates one or more ordinary objects from everyday human life.

Step into the front entrance of America Plaza, head down the corridor to the left that leads to the nearby trolley station, and you’ll see how contemporary artists can use creativity and ingenuity to rearrange elements in our familiar world, and make it even more mysterious, thought-provoking, and strangely wonderful!

My photos provide a few examples of what you’ll see.

Painting with Coat Hanger, John Armleder, 1984.
Painting with Coat Hanger, John Armleder, 1984.
Office Depot, Mónica Arreola, 2003.
Office Depot, Mónica Arreola, 2003.
Day by day is good day, Peter Dreher, 1990, 2007.
Day by day is good day, Peter Dreher, 1990, 2007.

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!

Seaport Village suddenly turns blue!

The Pier Cafe at Seaport Village has been painted dark blue!
The Pier Cafe at Seaport Village is no longer brown. It has been painted dark blue!

Look what I noticed today during my evening walk along the Embarcadero. Seaport Village must have a brand new color scheme. Because many of its buildings along the water have recently been painted dark blue!

To me it all appeared very strange. Probably because I’m accustomed to Seaport Village’s old appearance.

Seaport Deli and Salad Bar has also been painted dark blue!
Seaport Deli and Salad Bar has also been painted dark blue! But it still has the red tile roof.
And so has the Harbor House restaurant! Seaport Village must have a new blue color scheme.
And the Harbor House restaurant has turned from brown to blue! Seaport Village must have a new color scheme.
The Seaport Village lighthouse has always been light blue. For many years you could purchase cookies here. I see a new eatery called Spill the Beans is coming.
The Seaport Village lighthouse has always been light blue. For many years you could purchase cookies here. I see a new coffee shop called Spill the Beans is coming.
And look! Buster's Beach House is now painted dark blue, too!
And look! Buster’s Beach House is now painted dark blue, too! It all appears a bit peculiar to me, but I might change my mind.

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!