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!

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A free walking tour of Old Town San Diego.

A small group on a free walking tour learns about the history of Old Town San Diego.
A small group on a free walking tour learns about the history of Old Town San Diego.

A free walking tour of Old Town San Diego State Historic Park is available every day at 11 am and 2 pm. The tours meet in front of the Robinson-Rose House Visitor Center, at the northwest end of Old Town’s large grassy plaza.

When I visit Old Town San Diego, I’ll sometimes join the walking tour while it’s in progress. Last weekend I happened to be in front of the Robinson-Rose House right at eleven o’clock, so I decided to enjoy the full one hour tour!

During this easy walk a guide in period costume provides fascinating information about San Diego’s early history. Several different periods are covered, from the Spanish mission period, to the Mexican rancho period, to the early American period. The main interpretive period is 1821 to 1872.

Among the following photos are a few interesting bits of history…

Free walking tours begin daily at 11 and 2 in front of the Robinson-Rose House Visitor Center at Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.
Free walking tours begin daily at 11 and 2 in front of the Robinson-Rose House Visitor Center at Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.
Inside the Robinson-Rose House visitors can see a large model behind glass. It shows what Old Town San Diego looked like in 1872.
Inside the Robinson-Rose House visitors can see a large model behind glass. It shows what Old Town San Diego looked like in 1872.
The tour guide leads our group out into Old Town's historic Plaza de las Armas.
The tour guide leads our group out into Old Town’s historic Plaza de las Armas.
We learn that the Native American Kumeyaay village of Cosoy was located right here, long before Old Town was established.
We learn that the Native American Kumeyaay village of Cosoy was located right here, long before Old Town was established.

The Native American Kumeyaay village of Cosoy was located where Old Town San Diego’s plaza was established. Before the San Diego River was diverted in 1877, its water ran very close to Old Town and was an integral part of the life of early people in our desert-like Southern California coastal region.

Our tour now heads toward restored buildings that stand on the southwest side of the plaza.
Our tour now heads toward restored buildings that stand on the southwest side of the plaza.
We enter Casa de Machado y Silvas, where today visitors can view the small Commercial Restaurant museum.
We enter Casa de Machado y Silvas, where today visitors can view the small Commercial Restaurant museum.
Our tour guide talks about tiny San Diego during the Mexican rancho period. Trade goods were acquired from merchant ships in exchange for cattle hides, which were called California Banknotes.
Our tour guide talks about tiny San Diego during the Mexican rancho period. Trade goods were acquired from merchant ships in exchange for cattle hides, which were called California Banknotes.

When Mexico won its independence from Spain in 1821, the Spanish soldiers of the nearby San Diego Presidio switched their allegiance to Mexico, which couldn’t afford to pay them. For their service, they were given land at the foot of Presidio Hill, where many soldiers and their families built houses. That is how Old Town started.

You can learn more about La Casa de Machado y Silvas and the fascinating Commercial Restaurant museum here.

We head back outside into the plaza.
We head back outside into the plaza.
We learn more about Old Town by the unusual, tall flagpole.
We learn more about the history of Old Town by the unusual, tall flagpole.
Old Town's flagpole resembles a ship's mast!
Old Town’s flagpole resembles a ship’s mast!

You might notice the flagpole at the center of Old Town’s Plaza looks a lot like a ship’s mast. Because originally it was!

When an American force under Captain Samuel F. DuPont sailed into San Diego Bay in 1846 to take control of Old Town unopposed, the plaza had no flagpole, because most of the independent-minded Californios who lived here didn’t feel a strong attachment to Mexico. So a ship’s mast was used to raise the flag of the United States.

You can see a bronze plaque commemorating the event here.

You can learn more about the old Spanish cannon that sits in the middle of Old Town’s plaza near the flagpole here.

We head toward a tree that stands near the Colorado House.
We head toward a tree that stands near the Colorado House.
This is where the Franklin House hotel once stood.
This is where the Franklin House hotel once stood.

A vacant area of ground beside the Colorado House (now home of the Wells Fargo Museum) is where the Franklin House hotel used to stand. It was Old Town’s only three story building, notable for its relative elegance and its baths.

The Franklin House was destroyed during the great fire of 1872 along with several adjacent buildings including Old Town’s courthouse, ensuring that San Diego’s future would be located in Alonzo Horton’s New Town, which was then called Horton’s Addition.

To learn more about San Diego’s first courthouse, click here.

To learn more about Colorado House and the Wells Fargo Museum, click here.

We head toward a beautifully restored adobe house that stands alone behind the plaza buildings.
We head toward a beautifully restored adobe house that stands alone behind the plaza buildings.
Entering the grounds of La Casa de Machado y Stewart Museum.
Entering the grounds of La Casa de Machado y Stewart Museum.
Many artifacts are displayed in the main living room of La Casa de Machado y Stewart. An adjacent bedroom is where parents and daughters slept. The sons slept outside in San Diego's temperate climate.
Many artifacts are displayed in the main living room of La Casa de Machado y Stewart. An adjacent bedroom is where parents and daughters slept. The sons slept outside in San Diego’s temperate climate.

Our tour group then walked over to Casa de Machado y Stewart. We learned many things, including the fact that the fancier china seen on the dining table came by merchant ships that crossed the Pacific from Asia.

The more simple items like candlesticks were made by local blacksmiths. Because iron was rare in San Diego, harpoons from a brief period of whaling in San Diego Bay were used to make a variety of furnishings and household utensils.

You can learn more about the Casa de Machado y Stewart here.

You can learn about Old Town’s blacksmith shop here.

We also learned that the art of brick-making was introduced to Old Town by members of the Mormon Battalion, whose arrival in San Diego you can learn about here.

The outdoor oven was made of clay and adobe bricks. Cow manure provided fuel!
The outdoor oven was made of clay and adobe bricks. Cow manure provided fuel!
The garden outside La Casa de Machado y Stewart not only provided vegetables for eating, but native herbs used for medicine.
The garden outside La Casa de Machado y Stewart not only provided vegetables for eating, but native herbs used for medicine.
Our tour guide explains the uses of prickly pear. The cochineal beetle found on prickly pears is used to make red dye. That plant you see is about 150 years old!
Our tour guide explains the uses of prickly pear. The cochineal beetle found on prickly pears is used to make red dye. That plant you see is about 150 years old!
Finally, we head over to the beautiful, iconic Casa de Estudillo.
Finally, we head over to the beautiful, iconic Casa de Estudillo.
The courtyard of the U-shaped Casa de Estudillo includes a simple fountain at the center.
The courtyard of the U-shaped Casa de Estudillo includes a simple fountain at the center.
Sitting on wooden benches, learning more about San Diego's unique early history.
Sitting on wooden benches, learning more about San Diego’s unique early history.

The walking tour concluded inside the courtyard of La Casa de Estudillo. In many respects, this beautiful house is the centerpiece of Old Town San Diego. Two past blog posts provide a great deal of information about La Casa de Estudillo.

You can peer into the house’s restored rooms and learn about their history here.

You can learn how a wildly popular novel saved this historic building from destruction here!

The walking tour is over. Now visitors to Old Town can roam wherever they fancy, and visit the numerous free museums around the plaza.
The walking tour is over. Now visitors to Old Town San Diego can roam wherever they fancy, and visit numerous free museums scattered around the plaza.

Finally, to enjoy a good overview of San Diego’s early history, I recommend a visit to Old Town’s excellent McCoy House Museum. You can check out my blog post featuring its many exhibits by clicking 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!

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!

Photos of Donal Hord’s sculpture Spring Stirring.

During my walk through the Scripps Institute of Oceanography on Saturday, I paused in the grassy area just north of the Judith and Walter Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics Munk Laboratory to admire an amazing sculpture by Donal Hord.

Spring Stirring, 1947-1948, was carved from black diorite and stands 46 inches tall. It was exhibited in 1949 at the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s Third Sculpture International. In 1964, Spring Stirring was given to the University of California’s Scripps Institute of Oceanography by Cecil and Ida Green.

Donal Hord, who achieved worldwide fame for his fine sculptures, developed a deep love for San Diego. He lived most of his life here. Today some of his most important pieces endure as public art around San Diego.

To see the sculpture for yourself (and some fantastic coastal scenery in La Jolla) follow in my footsteps and take a short walk here.

You can find many photographs of Donal Hord’s public sculptures and reliefs by putting his name in the search box on this blog.

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!

Jessop’s Street Clock removed from Horton Plaza.

The historic 1907 Jessop’s Street Clock, San Diego’s biggest tourist attraction over a century ago, has been removed from Horton Plaza. I made the discovery after work today as I walked through downtown’s once popular but now almost vacant shopping mall.

Horton Plaza is to undergo redevelopment. The one-of-a-kind, gold-plated, precious gem-filled, award-winning Jessop’s Clock has been moved to a warehouse for refurbishment. According to a posted notice of application, the amazing street clock will be reinstalled at a new location.

To learn more about the history of the Jessop’s Street Clock, and see many more photographs, you can check out an old blog post of mine 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!

Learning to dance on a ferry.

A restful day. I spent some time at the Maritime Museum of San Diego.

I sat on the indescribably beautiful passenger deck of the steam ferry Berkeley, reading and writing.

For a while I watched as elegantly dressed folk moved upon the historic ferryboat’s wooden dance floor. In time with sprightly music, they danced on reflected, golden light. The dancers weaved, promenaded, whirled, and gracefully bowed to one another.

After the event had ended, I learned that the Maritime Museum Dancers had been joined by the San Diego Regency Dancers, who are members of the Jane Austen Society.

With great big smiles they were learning a few new steps.

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!

Manifest Your Future in amazing Balboa Park.

Young members of the De La Motte Strings have a bright musical future.
Young members of the De La Motte Strings have a bright musical future.

Please enjoy these photographs of life in Balboa Park. I took them today.

Is Balboa Park in your future?

Manifest Your Future in Balboa Park!
Manifest Your Future in Balboa Park!
Beautiful music beckons.
Beautiful music beckons.
Art students from Canyon Crest Academy show their art in Spanish Village. Each student has an amazing future.
Art students from Canyon Crest Academy show their art in Spanish Village. Each student has an amazing future.
Savera Soin's future will be filled with color.
Savera Soin’s future will be filled with color.
Moving ahead to find new wonders.
Moving ahead to find new wonders.
Perhaps a cactus is also in your future.
Perhaps a cactus from a San Diego Cactus and Succulent Society show and sale is in your future.
A couple moves forward down a winding path through the Japanese Friendship Garden.
A couple moves forward down a winding path through the Japanese Friendship Garden.
For the foreseeable future (until July 21, 2019) visitors to the Japanese Friendship Garden can enjoy an exhibition of art by Kathleen Kane-Murrell.
For the foreseeable future (until July 21, 2019) visitors to the Japanese Friendship Garden can enjoy an exhibition of art by Kathleen Kane-Murrell.
Magic might suddenly appear in your future.
Magic might suddenly appear in your future.
Yummy samples of Cheez-It Snap'd treats were in my future. At present they are in my stomach.
Yummy samples of Cheez-It Snap’d treats were in my future. I couldn’t avoid them! At present they are in my stomach.
Mysterious eyes peer from the future of some. It all depends where feet turn.
These mysterious eyes peer from the future of a few. It all depends where feet turn.
Enjoy every day. That future is now.
Enjoy every day. That future is now.

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!

Do you love Balboa Park? Check out my other website Beautiful Balboa Park!

Cool San Diego Sights is now on Instagram!

I’ve finally done it!

People keep asking me if I’m on Instagram. Until now I’ve replied no.

For over five years I’ve posted tens of thousands of unique photographs here on Cool San Diego Sights, and to my other blog, Beautiful Balboa Park. So I figured it’s time to get in gear and start posting photos to Instagram, too!

My new Instagram page, titled coolsandiegophotos, can be found at https://www.instagram.com/coolsandiegophotos. Check it out!

This morning I added several dozen photographs that I took in the past month to my Instagram page. From this point forward, I’ll post select photos as I continue to walk about San Diego!

I’ve also added an Instagram icon to my website’s sidebar. Do you see it under the word FOLLOW? Click it if you’d like! (Those other icons help you to follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Tumblr.)

Cool San Diego Sights will continue to be my main blog and center of activity. It’s where all of my photographs appear, and where readers can enjoy descriptions of random walks and discoveries.

If you do choose to follow my Instagram, thank you!

Have a great day!

Richard