Making music one Sunday in Balboa Park.

As I walked about Balboa Park this Sunday afternoon, it seemed a lot of people were outdoors making music. Not just the usual street performers.

I heard a flute playing beyond some trees. I heard mysterious bagpipes somewhere in the distance.

When I arrived at the courtyard of the Casa del Prado, some socially distanced musicians were spread about engaged in what appeared to be a jam session. I don’t know. All I can say is their fine music lifted the spirits of those passing by.

Walking through the park today was a sort of living impromptu concert, performed by many musicians.

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!

Balboa Park’s new Palisades plaza gets ready.

The new pedestrian plaza in Balboa Park’s South Palisades area is almost ready!

I noticed during my walk today that tables and colorful umbrellas have been placed around the new plaza’s perimeter. Remove that yellow tape, exchange sunshine for a drizzly afternoon, and I bet life immediately flows in.

The nearby San Diego Automotive Museum is also looking great with a fresh coat of paint!

We’re nearing Thanksgiving, a time for gathering. Unfortunately with the coming of cooler weather, the COVID-19 pandemic is worsening in many parts of the world. Because of the growing rate of infection in San Diego, it seems likely most of Balboa Park’s museums will be forced to close again.

On this overcast, rainy November day, very few people were about. But a day will come when smiling crowds gather again in one of the world’s most amazing city parks. And it will be more beautiful than ever.

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 walk through Maple Street Plaza in Escondido.

Looking toward the Escondido Civic Center from the north end of Maple Street Plaza.
Looking toward the Escondido Civic Center from the north end of Maple Street Plaza.

After my weekend visit to the Museum at the California Center for the Arts, Escondido, I walked south to check out Maple Street Plaza. This “festival plaza” joins the area around the Escondido Civic Center to the historic old business district along Grand Avenue.

On a Sunday afternoon the place was surprisingly empty. When I reached the plaza’s south end, I noticed that Grand Avenue, which appeared to have many vacant old storefronts, was similarly quiet.

Maple Street Plaza, built in 2012, struck me as a very handsome place, but in need of more life. There are beautiful benches, tables and seats, trees and an interactive fountain, which was off. If I had wanted to purchase a sandwich or ice cream or cup of coffee to enjoy in the plaza, I didn’t see any obvious place nearby where I might go. Perhaps I missed something.

Set in the paver blocks at my feet I discovered interesting brief descriptions of Escondido and its history.

A beautiful blue mosaic tile bench curls like a river of water in Maple Street Plaza.
A very beautiful blue mosaic tile bench curls like a river of water in Maple Street Plaza.

Another look at the sculpture that serves as a bench. You can see a fountain (that was off) beyond it, and the oak tree at the center of the plaza in the distance.
Another look at the sculpture that serves as a bench. You can see a fountain (that was off) beyond it, and the oak tree at the center of the plaza in the distance.

A 100 foot flagpole was in the middle of the street at Grand and Broadway from 1927-1944...
A 100 foot flagpole was in the middle of the street at Grand and Broadway from 1927-1944…

Excerpt from 1887 article in Escondido Times extols the virtues of the Vale of Valleys.
Excerpt from 1887 article in Escondido Times extols the virtues of the Vale of Valleys.

Escondido Creek begins above Lake Wohlford and flows to San Elijo Lagoon.
Escondido Creek begins above Lake Wohlford and flows more than 26 miles to San Elijo Lagoon.

Escondido was established as a dry town even though vineyards were plentiful.
Escondido was established as a dry town even though vineyards were plentiful.

More attractive places to sit in Maple Street Plaza.
More attractive places to sit in Maple Street Plaza.

A fine setting in Escondido on a sunny, quiet Sunday.
A fine setting in Escondido on a sunny, very quiet Sunday.

Escondido is often referred to as the Hidden Valley.
Escondido, which means “hidden” in Spanish, is often referred to as the Hidden Valley.

Standing by an oak tree at the center of Maple Street Plaza looking north.
Standing by an oak tree at the center of Maple Street Plaza looking north.

One of two interesting tables I spotted near the south end of the plaza. A cool abstract design unites the tabletop and seat.
One of two interesting tables I spotted near the south end of the plaza. A cool abstract design unites the tabletop and seat. (The other nearby table was occupied by someone who appeared to be homeless.)

Sidewalks were installed on Grand Avenue in 1905 and the street was paved in 1912.
Sidewalks were installed on Grand Avenue in 1905 and the street was paved in 1912.

A bench at the south end of Maple Street Plaza on Grand Avenue.
A bench near the south end of Maple Street Plaza on Grand Avenue.

Plaque on the bench indicates it's For the Citizens of Escondido. Escondido East Rotary.
Plaque on the bench indicates it’s For the Citizens of Escondido. Escondido East Rotary.

Landmark sign arches above the south end of Maple Street Plaza in Escondido.
A welcoming gateway sign arches above the south end of Maple Street Plaza in downtown Escondido.

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Sunday afternoon’s bright sails and kites!

Many bright dreams took flight this Sunday afternoon. I saw them in the sky above San Diego Bay.

The sails of tacking boats were flapping in the breeze.

Colorful kites were swaying back and forth, tugging eagerly at their strings high above Embarcadero Marina Park North.

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!

Life returns to Shelter Island!

A busy Sunday at the Shelter Island Launch Ramp.
A busy Sunday at the Shelter Island Launch Ramp.

Life has returned to Shelter Island! How quickly circumstances change!

For several months, during the coronavirus pandemic lockdown, San Diego Bay was an inactive blank–virtually no boats, almost no people along its shoreline. But now that society is well along in the process of reopening, appearances have radically changed!

I took a walk around the Shelter Island today. It looked like a typical Sunday in June. People picnicked on the grass, fished from the pier, and launched their boats into the bay.

The playground was closed and some people wore facial protection, but otherwise it felt like just another summer day…

As life returns to Shelter Island, a line forms at the boat ramp.
As life returns to Shelter Island, a line forms at the boat ramp.

Various types of boats are gathered inside the recently renovated launching basin.
Various types of boats are gathered in the recently renovated launching basin.

This boat is heading out into San Diego Bay.
This boat is heading out into San Diego Bay.

These guys are coming in. Pelicans stand on the rail across the water.
These guys are coming in. Pelicans stand on the rail across the water.

A cool little wooden sailboat sets out into the bay.
A cool little wooden sailboat sets out into the bay.

Still working to get that sail up!
Still working to get that sail up!

A sea lion goes from boat to boat hoping for fishing bait leftovers.
A sea lion goes from boat to boat hoping for fishing bait leftovers.

I believe this might be Wally the sociable sea lion. I blogged about him a couple times before. He hangs out here.
I believe this might be Wally the sociable sea lion. I blogged about him a couple times before. He hangs out here.

Today is Flag Day, so this sign works perfectly.
Today is Flag Day, so this sign works perfectly.

The huge Stars and Stripes racing yacht is passing the Shelter Island Pier. I haven't seen it on the bay for a very long time.
The huge Stars and Stripes racing yacht is passing the Shelter Island Pier. I haven’t seen it out on the bay for what seems a very long time.

The pier is filled almost end to end with people.
The pier is filled almost end to end with people.

This gull has landed atop a box at the foot of the pier. It would probably like some leftovers from Fathom Bistro, Bait and Tackle.
This gull has landed atop a box at the foot of the pier. It would probably like some scraps from Fathom Bistro, Bait and Tackle.

A perfect sunny day on the Shelter Island Pier. Across the bay you can see North Island Naval Air Station.
A perfect sunny day on the Shelter Island Pier. Across the bay you can see North Island Naval Air Station.

Somebody caught a little mackerel!
Somebody caught a little mackerel!

Lots of sails in the distance. Beyond them rises downtown San Diego's skyline.
Lots of sails in the distance. Beyond them rises downtown San Diego’s skyline.

Another sail seen from one of the lath shelters along Shelter Island’s Shoreline Park.
Another sail seen from one of the lath shelters along Shelter Island’s Shoreline Park.

Walking, bicycling, sailing... What could be better?
Walking, bicycling, sailing… What could be better?

A bright sailboat about to pass Scripps Institution of Oceanography research vessel Sally Ride. You might remember I took a tour of her when she debuted and blogged about it!
A sailboat about to pass Scripps Institution of Oceanography research vessel Sally Ride. I took a tour of her when she debuted and I blogged about it!

If you want to see what it’s like inside the oceanographic research vessel R/V Sally Ride, which is in the above photo, 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!

A rambling Sunday walk along Morena Boulevard.

Graphic on wall of Coronado Brewing Company San Diego Tasting Room. WISH YOU WERE beer.
Graphic on wall of Coronado Brewing Company San Diego Tasting Room. WISH YOU WERE beer.

Today I took a rambling walk along Morena Boulevard. These photos start around Knoxville Street in Bay Park and proceed south to the area where Morena and West Morena split.

You might notice few people in the photos. It’s Sunday and many businesses are closed. And of course there’s the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, keeping many at home.

If you ever drive through the Morena District, you’ll probably recognize some of these sights. Many of the old shops and small businesses along the street aren’t much to look at, but there are a few that stand out!

(I took this walk in order to photograph two really great murals in particular. I’ll post those pics shortly. I also wanted to check on the status of a mysterious, possibly historical wooden tombstone by a parking lot that I’d seen years ago. The mystery has deepened, as you’ll see in another upcoming blog post!)

Now let’s walk…

Sculpture of lady tending her garden in front of the Armstrong Garden Center.
Sculpture of lady tending her garden in front of the Armstrong Garden Center.

Another look at the gardening sculpture.
Another look at the gardening sculpture.

Beautiful bloom between the Knoxville Street sidewalk and Armstrong Garden Center.
Beautiful bloom between the Knoxville Street sidewalk and Armstrong Garden Center.

The Cordova Bar. This must be the place!
The Cordova Bar. This must be the place!

Mermaid door handles at the entrance to The Cordova Bar.
Mermaid door handles at the entrance to The Cordova Bar.

Sign on fence near U.S. Karate Academy encourages people to Be Your Best!
Sign on fence near U.S. Karate Academy encourages people to Be Your Best!

Banner on lamp post invites people to Shop for Home Decor in the Morena District.
Banner on lamp post invites people to Shop for Home Decor in the Morena District.

Cool motorcycle graphic on wall of Sidecar Bar.
Cool motorcycle graphic on wall of Sidecar Bar.

There's a T. Rex on the roof of Avian and Exotic Animal Hospital! It must've escaped!
There’s a T. Rex on the roof of Avian and Exotic Animal Hospital! It must’ve escaped!

This cool graphic of a van with a surfboard is on the side of Bird Rock Coffee Roasters.
This cool graphic of a van with a surfboard is on the side of Bird Rock Coffee Roasters.

Clouds and palm trees reflected on angles of window glass.
Clouds and palm trees reflected on angles of window glass.

Now I'm walking along near the Valero gas station.
Now I’m walking along near the Valero gas station.

A colorful mural near the front door of Nico's Mexican Food.
A colorful mural near the front door of Nico’s Mexican Food.

Super cool surfboards hang out beside the front door of Bird's Surf Shed.
Super cool surfboards hang out beside the front door of Bird’s Surf Shed.

Mural at Bird's Surf Shed was painted by Skye Walker in 2014.
Mural at Bird’s Surf Shed was painted by Skye Walker in 2014. Tubular, dude!

Vintage automobile parked alone in corner of a parking lot.
Vintage automobile parked alone in corner of a parking lot.

Looks like a farm around the entrance to Bull's Smokin' BBQ. Fun sculptures greet passersby on West Morena Boulevard.
Looks like a ranch around the entrance to Bull’s Smokin’ BBQ. Fun animal sculptures greet passersby on West Morena Boulevard.

Two bulls and one pig.
Walking beside two bulls and one pig.

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!

Listen to live Easter music around San Diego.

The historic Great Organ at St. Paul's Cathedral.
The historic Great Organ at St. Paul’s Cathedral.

There are many online opportunities to listen to live musical performances this Easter Sunday. During the present coronavirus pandemic, everyone who is safely at home can enjoy the inspiring music of Easter remotely.

As usual there will be a video live stream of the 2:00 Sunday organ concert at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion. Civic Organist Raul Prieto Ramirez will also chat with those who tune in to listen. To read the details, click here.

Many local churches will be live streaming their Easter services, and those who listen will hear beautiful music from San Diego’s finest organs. To see the complete list, including links to the live streams, click here.

Playing the organ inside the beautiful First Presbyterian Church of San Diego.
Playing the organ inside the beautiful First Presbyterian Church of San Diego.

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 quiet Sunday morning walk before the parade.

Morning light and shadow on the historic Army-Navy YMCA building, now home to The Guild Hotel.
Morning light and shadow on the historic Army-Navy YMCA building, now home to The Guild Hotel.

Before the excitement of this afternoon’s MLK Day Parade, I took a quiet morning walk through downtown San Diego.

My photos begin a few blocks shy of the west end of Broadway. I headed south until I reached the water, where I found a perfect bench to sit on.

Come along and read the captions to experience a few Sunday morning sights.

A splash of light from windows across Kettner Boulevard.
A splash of light from windows of the Electra condo building across Kettner Boulevard.

Reflections in the glassy Pacific Gate building.
Downtown reflections in the glassy Pacific Gate building.

Walking south between the trolley tracks and the Pacific Gate building.
Walking south on the pathway between the trolley tracks and the Pacific Gate building.

The visually interesting entrance to the Pacific Gate building.
The visually interesting entrance to the Pacific Gate building.

Old train tracks, severed from those used today.
Old train tracks, severed from those used today.

The distinctive Park Place condo building appears through an archway.
The distinctive Park Place condo building appears through an archway of the Harborview Apartments.

Across Harbor Drive is The Headquarters and palm trees.
Across Harbor Drive is The Headquarters and palm trees.

An elegant entrance to the Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego.
The elegant north entrance to the Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego.

Looking back.
Looking back.

A cool photo as I walk past The Headquarters.
A cool photo as I walk past The Headquarters.

Ducks enjoy a swim in the Seaport Village pond.
Ducks enjoy a swim in the Seaport Village pond.

Someone performs a morning stretch on the grass at Embarcadero Marina Park North.
Someone performs a morning stretch on the grass at Embarcadero Marina Park North.

Beautiful luminous clouds above treetops.
Beautiful luminous clouds above treetops.

Someone else likes to quietly read.
Someone else likes to quietly read.

A tranquil Sunday morning beside San Diego Bay.
A tranquil Sunday morning beside San Diego Bay. The San Diego–Coronado Bridge stretches in the distance.

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 dance of Petanque in Balboa Park.

Today, as I walked through the Morley Field section of Balboa Park, I was excited to see a good crowd competing at the Petanque Courts, otherwise known as the Petanquedrome!

Turns out today was the San Diego Club de Petanque’s big San Diego Select Doubles Open Tournament!

I paused to watch the spectacle.

Hands lifted and released, spheres spun and collided. Calculating players orbited. I thought I was watching a celestial dance.

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!

Late summer beauty in my favorite garden.

As I often do, I spent my Sunday afternoon in Balboa Park.

I lingered for a good while in my favorite garden. The Japanese Friendship Garden is beautiful in any season of the year, and now it’s late summer.

My camera was busy.

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!