Photos of Tanabata Festival in Balboa Park!

Late this afternoon I stepped into the Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa Park to enjoy their first ever Tanabata Festival!

I arrived half an hour before the festival officially opened, and as time progressed more and more people arrived for this joyful summer event. I lingered for a while to enjoy the sights, smells and tastes, and to learn about various aspects of Japanese culture and the Tanabata holiday.

According to the Japanese Friendship Garden website: “Originating from Chinese folklore, Tanabata is a holiday that celebrates the meeting of Orihime and Hikoboshi. Separated by the Milky Way, the stars Orihime and Hikoboshi are able to meet once per year on the seventh day of the seventh month. On Sunday, July 7th, JFG has partnered with the Minatomo Japanese Community to have their inaugural Tanabata Festival in San Diego!”

As I walked randomly about I learned about the Tanabata tradition of tanzaku: wishes are written on small pieces of paper which are then hung with other happy decorations on bamboo. I paused to admire some living moss art–kokedama. I then walked down into the Lower Garden.

Outside the Inamori Pavilion yummy Japanese food was being prepared. Inside the elegant pavilion there was artwork, including some bright, very colorful fluorescent paintings. I caught the first scheduled performance in the pavilion, which was an onigiri (rice ball) preparation demonstration. I was shown how to easily fold a paper flower.

I then headed back to the Upper Garden and listened as Write Out Loud presented a Japanese fairy tale. I paused to admire a bunch of origami artwork that was being created.

Every person I met was smiling.

I hope this is the first of many wonderful Tanabata Festivals at the Japanese Friendship Garden. That is my wish.

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!

A summer whale watching trip in San Diego!

Wow! Talk about a fun summer adventure! Today, thanks to Hornblower Cruises and Events, I enjoyed a summer whale watching trip out in the beautiful Pacific Ocean off San Diego!

I and other passengers aboard the Adventure Hornblower cruised out of San Diego Bay and continued many miles west of Point Loma in search of blue whales, the largest animal on planet Earth.

Spotting these enormous mammals, which move through the oceans in a constant pursuit of food, can be a hit or miss proposition, but it was such a sunny, perfect day and the wide ocean was so calm and blue, I didn’t really care what we might happen to discover!

We did see numerous pods of dolphins almost everywhere we turned. They fed and played in the gentle swells nearby, and didn’t seem to mind the big ship full of pointing humans passing overhead.

I took lots of photos, but dolphins break the surface unexpectedly then quickly melt back into the water, so my small camera just managed to get a few decent pics. You have to be there to feel the excitement, not to mention the fresh wind and bright sunshine. It’s an incredible, magical experience!

Had this been a winter whale watching trip, we would likely have seen gray whales as they migrate along the California coast to and from Mexico. During the summer it’s possible to spot a variety of other whales, including blue whales and humpback whales, but these species don’t follow a predictable route of migration.

Our captain took us a good distance out into the open ocean. All hands searched the horizon when we reached the Nine Mile Bank–an underwater mountain range teeming with sea life where blue whales often feed. On our way out we spotted the distant spout of a Fin Whale–the second-largest species on Earth–but were unable to successfully see it up close.

On our way back to San Diego we approached another boat that might have sighted a whale. We turned off our motor and silently drifted in, watching carefully, but we saw only dolphins and a group of feeding gulls and pelicans. The other boat had a drone hovering over the water, but it didn’t seem to find what it was looking for.

As we neared the channel into San Diego Bay, friendly people from the San Diego Natural History Museum in Balboa Park gave a short educational presentation, complete with close up photos of blue whales, an example of the filter-like baleen that these huge whales use to collect four tons of tiny krill per day, and a toothy dolphin skull. Kids enjoyed learning about all the cool marine life and had many questions!

I should mention, the summer whale watching trip included a narrated tour of the north part of San Diego Bay, where you always see something new. Including sea lions! It’s just as fun and interesting as a regular harbor cruise.

Because we didn’t spot a whale today, every passenger got a voucher for another free whale watching trip, or a harbor cruise on San Diego Bay. You can bet I’ll use mine!

Find out more about this awesome four hour summer whale watching adventure by visiting Hornblower’s San Diego website here!

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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!

Action photos from Labor Day weekend stickball!

Today I enjoyed watching an action-packed game of stickball in Little Italy.

San Diego’s annual Labor Day weekend stickball tournament has become a big community event, with sponsors and media coverage and people on lawn chairs lining sidewalks watching players crush the spaldeen. A solid swing of the broom handle will launch the ball like a rubber rocket to the other end of the block!

When games are underway, I always make it a point to walk through Little Italy, so I can hang out for a bit and watch the stickball teams compete for fame and glory. The action is intense but it’s all in good fun.

I learned that this year the stickball teams are all local. The game I watched had a number of exciting plays.

Here come photos that capture a bit of the flavor…

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!

Photos of a walk to the end of Oceanside Pier.

Yesterday I walked to the end of Oceanside Pier. It’s another one of my favorite places.

I experienced sunshine, the sparkle of the Pacific Ocean, a fresh sea breeze, the smell of wood, the cry of seagulls . . . and happy people all around: strolling, fishing, listening to music, talking, eating ice cream, leaning over the rail gazing down at the colorful beach and surfers in the blue water awaiting the perfect wave…

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 taste of the Lemon Festival in Chula Vista!

A giant smiling lemon greets me at the 22nd Annual Lemon Festival in Chula Vista!
A giant smiling lemon greets me at the 22nd Annual Lemon Festival in Chula Vista!

I’ve never been to Chula Vista’s Lemon Festival before. So this year I thought I’d take the trolley down to the South Bay to experience this big annual event!

Not only is the Lemon Festival, which takes place along a stretch of Third Avenue, a whole lot of fun, but visitors have the opportunity to learn about the history of Chula Vista and how it once was a major center of the Southern California citrus industry.

With construction of the Sweetwater Dam completed in 1888, and the arrival of the railroad in the South Bay, Chula Vista became the perfect place to grow sun-loving lemons. At one point in the early 20th century there were nearly two thousand acres of lemon groves in the area. Chula Vista even called itself the Lemon Capital of the World.

Today lemon trees are chiefly found in backyards. After World War II, the large groves began to make way for houses. Some of the developers would leave one lemon tree in the backyard of new homes.

I did see loads of lemons during the 22nd Annual Lemon Festival: lemon art, lemon costumes, lemons in treats, lemonade . . . Lemon yellow everywhere!

See for yourself!

About 50,000 people would turn out for the yearly lemon-themed event.
About 50,000 people would turn out for the yearly lemon-themed event.
These ladies had all sorts of sweet lemon treats for sale.
These ladies had all sorts of sweet lemon treats for sale.
Some friendly people from the Restored Church posed so that a blogger could take a funny photo at their booth.
Some friendly people from the Restored Church posed so that a blogger could take a funny photo at their Lemon Festival booth.
Artists at the Lemon Festival had all sorts of colorful artwork for sale that contained bright yellow.
Artists at the Lemon Festival had all sorts of colorful artwork for sale that contained bright yellow.
This lady registering people to vote had a cool lemon slice umbrella hat and smile.
This lady registering people to vote had a cool lemon slice umbrella hat and smile.
More ice cold lemonade! Sounds good on a hot summer day in San Diego's South Bay.
More ice cold lemonade! Sounds good on a hot summer day in San Diego’s South Bay.
Even this funny pooch in a wagon was selling lemonade!
Even this funny pooch in a wagon was selling lemonade!
The Chula Vista Historical Society had a booth with books and fascinating information.
The Chula Vista Historical Society had a booth with books and fascinating information.
Their display showed Chula Vista's agricultural past. Many packing companies once exported lemons around the world.
Their display showed Chula Vista’s agricultural past. Many growers and packing companies once exported lemons around the world. Some of the beautiful old crate labels have become valuable collectibles.
The display explains different grades of lemons, including culls, which were blemished, and used to make juice, furniture polish, and other by-products.
The display explains different grades of lemons, including culls, which were blemished, and used to make juice, furniture polish, and other lemon by-products.
The festival had just started and these ladies with the Third Avenue Village Association, that puts on the popular event, were putting the finishing touches on their booth.
The festival had just started and these ladies with the Third Avenue Village Association, that puts on the popular event, were almost done decorating their booth.
Another booth at the Lemon Festival had lots of old historical photographs.
Another booth at the Chula Vista Lemon Festival featured lots of interesting historical photographs.
Someone points to a photo of workers in a lemon grove at the Higgins Ranch in Keen Valley, 1901.
Someone points to a photo of workers in a lemon grove at the Higgins Ranch in Keen Valley, 1901.
Aerial photo of the Boltz lemon ranch in the mid 1920's.
Aerial photo of the Boltz lemon ranch in the mid 1920’s.
Typical Chula Vista lemon packing plant, circa 1920's.
Typical Chula Vista lemon packing plant, circa 1920’s.
Old photos of Chula Vista streetcar and train at Third Avenue.
Old photos of Chula Vista streetcar and train at Third Avenue.
Bonita lemon pickers, 1913.
Bonita lemon pickers, 1913.
Meanwhile, people spin a lemon-themed prize wheel at the festival.
Meanwhile, people spin a lemon-themed prize wheel at the festival.
At the Lemonade Bandstand, entertainment included live music, a largest lemon and lemon peel contest, a lemon costume contest, and lemon pie eating contest.
At the Lemonade Bandstand, entertainment included live music, a largest lemon and lemon peel contest, a lemon costume contest, and lemon pie eating contest.
People watch the Lemon Squeezers play rock and roll music with a twist!
People watch the Lemon Squeezers play rock and roll music with a twist!
Cool local band, the Lemon Squeezers, at the Chula Vista Lemon Festival.
Cool local band, the Lemon Squeezers, at the Chula Vista Lemon Festival.
That great music has people dancing!
That great music has people smiling and dancing!
Batman and Wonder Woman dropped on by and posed for a photo by the Lemon Bar sign.
Batman and Wonder Woman dropped on by and posed for a photo by the Lemon Bar sign.
All that fun made me thirsty for some lemonade!
All that fun has made me thirsty for some lemonade!

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Lingering in sunlight at the edge of an ocean.

Today I found myself walking through Coronado.

The sunshine was strong. I settled on a bench facing a margin of white beach and let my mind wander.

I and many others were sitting, relaxing, playing, speaking, thinking, soaking in one more summer at the edge of an ocean. A canvas of wide blue unrolled into the distance. Tiny glints of light beckoned from very far away.

My eyes were drawn irresistibly to a mystery beyond the horizon.

As our eyes rise to peer beyond life’s ebb and flow, we drift to strange places beyond our reach.

My photographs have been altered slightly. You might recognize Point Loma, Mexico and the small, rocky Coronado Islands that jut from the ocean a bit southwest of Tijuana.

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!

To read a few small stories that I’ve written, wander over to Short Stories by Richard.

Another fine summer walk in San Diego.

Six teams from California play stickball in Little Italy on a fine summer Sunday.
Six teams of firefighters from California play stickball in Little Italy on a fine summer Sunday.

My walk today began on Cortez Hill and proceeded down through Little Italy until I reached the Embarcadero. I then headed south along the water.

It’s a simple walk that never gets old.

Good times on Columbia Street.
Good times on Columbia Street.
Bayside Fire Station No. 2 is finally open!
Bayside Fire Station No. 2 is finally open!
A friendly firefighter told me the engines arrived on Friday!
A friendly firefighter told me the engines arrived on Friday!
Volunteers pull a huge rope together on the deck of Star of India.
Volunteers pull a huge rope together on the deck of Star of India.
Climbing into clouds of sail.
Climbing up into clouds of sail.
Visitors to the Maritime Museum of San Diego exit from the Soviet submarine.
Visitors to the Maritime Museum of San Diego exit from the Soviet submarine.
More museum volunteers handling ropes and chains by the water.
More museum volunteers handling ropes and chains by the water.
The museum's longboat was out on San Diego Bay. An overcast but very pleasant start to the morning.
The museum’s longboat was out on San Diego Bay. An overcast but very pleasant start to the morning.
Two huge ships at the Cruise Ship Terminal. The superyacht Attessa IV and impressive U. S. Coast Guard cutter Healy (WAGB-20).
Two huge ships at the Cruise Ship Terminal. The superyacht Attessa IV and impressive U. S. Coast Guard cutter Healy (WAGB-20).
Someone rides a scooter along Broadway Pier past the Coast Guard's newest, most advanced polar icebreaker. I haven't spotted any ice off San Diego!
Someone rides a scooter along Broadway Pier past the Coast Guard’s newest, most advanced polar icebreaker. I haven’t spotted any ice off San Diego!
Family boards the Coronado Ferry near Broadway Pier.
Family boards a Coronado ferry near Broadway Pier.
Many people were out on the Embarcadero today enjoying wonderful San Diego.
Many people were out on the Embarcadero today enjoying wonderful San Diego.
America, replica of the racing yacht that won the first America's Cup, cruises past.
America, replica of the racing yacht that won the first America’s Cup, cruises past.
And so does a sailboat.
And so does a sailboat.
Walking above the shining water.
Walking and sitting above the shining water.
Creating music.
Creating music.
Out on a harbor cruise.
Out on a harbor cruise.
Simply standing by the blue water.
Simply standing by the blue water.
An easy float through the Marriott Marina.
An easy float through the Marriott Marina.
The San Diego Symphony is set up and ready to go for their outdoor summer concerts at Embarcadero Marina Park South.
The San Diego Symphony is set up and ready to go for their outdoor summer concerts at Embarcadero Marina Park South.
Bayside Summer Nights will feature lots of great concerts, and fireworks.
Bayside Summer Nights will feature lots of great concerts, and fireworks.
On the water in a boat, and above it on a pier.
On the water in a boat, and above it on a pier.
I see the Coronado Island Marriott Resort beyond those fisherman.
I see the Coronado Island Marriott Resort beyond those fishermen.
And here's my favorite Coronado ferry, Silvergate. It usually departs near the San Diego Convention Center.
And here’s my favorite Coronado ferry, Silvergate. It usually departs near the San Diego Convention Center.

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!