Balboa Park’s new Moreton Bay Fig tree platform.

On Sunday I finally stepped onto the new platform that recently opened in Balboa Park under the huge Moreton Bay Fig tree, north of the San Diego Natural History Museum. The shady platform with welcoming wooden benches made of old logs was built by the Friends of Balboa Park.

The platform is the perfect place to relax, eat a snack or read, while listening to a strumming guitarist, or birds in branches, or happy laughter from nearby picnickers.

I took a photograph from the Moreton Bay Fig’s new platform of a sign down by some huge roots. The sign describes the history of this impressive, very beautiful tree.

I’ve transcribed the above words:

A Legacy of the 1915 Exposition

This Moreton Bay Fig Tree was planted over a hundred years ago in a formal garden created for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition. While it has not moved, its surroundings have changed. The garden, designed for the Southern California Counties Building was later replaced by the San Diego Natural History Museum.

It has grown to be the largest Moreton Bay Fig in Balboa Park and one of the largest in California. It exceeds 70 feet in height, the canopy extends 125 feet in width and the trunk is 16 feet in diameter.

Balboa Park becomes even more wonderful as the years roll on…

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Hidden art at the Market Creek Plaza amphitheater.

The Market Creek Plaza shopping center in southeast San Diego’s Lincoln Park community is a popular destination. But unless you’ve attended an event at the amphitheater behind the shops and restaurants, you’ve probably never seen this “hidden” public art.

Artwork that is truly extraordinary!

On the left wall of the Market Creek Plaza Amphitheater one might notice scattered colorful disks. This is just a small part of the Children’s Wall. Turn a corner and you’ll discover a copper-inlaid tree surrounded by circular ceramic leaves painted by more than 600 local children!

And perched before it, in the shade of trees lining Chollas Creek, by a patch of green grass, you’ll encounter a child with a dragonfly in his toes. The very fine bronze sculpture is titled Dragonfly Dreams, and it was created by local artist Jean Cornwell Wheat.

You can learn about this beautiful “hidden” artwork, and other public art that is located nearby, 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!

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A very short, easy hike at East Fortuna.

Yesterday, as part of a much longer walk in urban Santee, I enjoyed a very short, easy hike in the northeast corner of 7,220-acre Mission Trails Regional Park.

I started at the East Fortuna Staging Area and proceeded from the Equestrian Circle Trailhead west a quarter mile or so, just to enjoy the beautiful natural scenery.

Imagine my surprise when I quickly spotted a roadrunner!

The City of San Diego’s wild, rugged Mission Trails area, during World War II, was used to train members of the 2nd Marine Division. Camp Elliott is where they learned to fire artillery and operate tanks. According to the above sign posted near the trailhead: “At the height of the war, 50,000 officers and men were dispatched to combat zones from Camp Elliott in a little over a year.”

The canyons, mountains and grasslands of Mission Trails are now home to abundant wildlife and natural beauty.

Trees in the distance line the San Diego River where its life giving water flows through the park.

Some bright California bush sunflowers near the trail…

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!

Nature’s beauty on a west Santee walk.

I took the following photographs today during a long looping walk around the west half of Santee.

From the Santee Trolley Square transit station I headed north up Cuyamaca Street, then west along Mast Boulevard to the East Fortuna Staging Area at Mission Trails Regional Park. After taking a short hike in the park, I headed south down West Hills Parkway and back east to the trolley station via Mission Gorge Road.

During the walk through Santee I snapped these photographs. Much of the walk was past homes, schools and businesses, but there were also these glimpses of natural beauty. (Additional photos that I’ll post in the next day or two include my short Mission Trails hike, an unusual historical monument, and very unique public artwork.)

The following three photos were taken as I walked down Mast Boulevard over Santee Lakes Recreation Preserve. Far below, in the middle of Lake 2, two white pelicans were standing on a rock. I also saw dozens of swallows flying out from beneath the bridge, but the tiny birds darted about so swiftly I was unable to capture a good photograph of them. You can see one swallow zipping by in this first photo…

As I walked down Mast Boulevard under State Route 52, I saw an indication that I had almost reached Mission Trails Regional Park.

Then I headed into the East Fortuna Staging Area. From the entrance driveway and parking lot I took photographs of the mountains beyond trees lining the San Diego River, and some sycamore leaves.

Walking south down West Hills Parkway took me to the place where State Route 52 passes over the San Diego River…

Finally, where State Route 125 meets Mission Gorge Road, I was surprised to find a beautiful golden patch of California’s State Flower: the California poppy.

(Incidentally, last Tuesday, April 6 was officially California Poppy 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!

A spring walk down Robyn’s Egg Trail.

A couple weekends ago I took photos as I walked down Robyn’s Egg Trail in Mission Hills.

The hiking trail begins north of Pioneer Park by Washington Place. It descends first west then southwest along the bottom of narrow Mission Hills Canyon, and finally ends by some homes on Titus Street. It runs perhaps half a mile. From nearby Pringle Street I then walked a block down to San Diego Avenue.

Robyn’s Egg Trail in spring is very green. A variety of flowers can be spotted here and there and birds are plentiful. The rough trail winds through grass, trees, prickly pear and other vegetation–some of it native, some of it invading the canyon from the backyards of the homes above. This trail in the city feels a bit wild. Few people seem to use it.

Should you try hiking Robyn’s Egg Trail, please be careful. In many places the path is badly eroded and merges with a stony creek bed. I suspect that during rains it’s very muddy. Even on a sunny spring day, there were narrow and steep places where I could have easily slipped and fallen.

You can see the trail marked on Google Maps.

During my walk I encountered one friendly lady walking her dog, and one homeless person who acted a bit odd. But otherwise I found quiet.

Robyn’s Egg Trail is a retreat from the city above into a small slice of nature.

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!

Historical marker at Kate Sessions nursery in Pacific Beach.

If you’ve driven down Garnet Avenue in Pacific Beach, you might have noticed a couple of enormous old trees at the corner of Pico Street, just east of Soledad Mountain Road.

By the sidewalk stands an easily overlooked historical marker. It reads:

KATE OLIVIA SESSIONS’ NURSERY SITE

1857-1940

THIS PLAQUE COMMEMORATES THE LIFE AND INFLUENCE OF A WOMAN WHO ENVISIONED SAN DIEGO BEAUTIFUL. ON THIS SITE SHE OPERATED A NURSERY AND GAINED WORLD RENOWN AS A HORTICULTURIST. SHE WAS THE FIRST WOMAN TO RECEIVE THE INTERNATIONAL MEYER MEDAL IN GENETICS.

CALIFORNIA REGISTERED HISTORICAL LANDMARK NO. 764

PLAQUE PLACED BY THE CALIFORNIA STATE PARK COMMISSION IN COOPERATION WITH THE PACIFIC BEACH WOMAN’S CLUB.

JULY 7, 1961

Kate Sessions is probably best known as the Mother of Balboa Park. In addition to owning other nurseries and growing fields in San Diego, she maintained a small nursery in a corner of Balboa Park (originally called City Park) under an 1892 agreement with the City of San Diego. She was required under the lease to plant 100 trees in the park each year. Most of the older trees in Balboa Park that you see today were planted by her hand.

The colorful jacaranda trees seen around San Diego were also introduced to the city by Kate Sessions.

I recently blogged about the very first camphor tree planted in North America. She’s the one who planted it. The historic camphor tree stands just west of Balboa Park in Bankers Hill near a beautiful historic house. To revisit that old blog post, click here.

Here are a couple more photos that I took this weekend by the historical marker…

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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Balboa Park’s hidden Australian Garden.

The nation of Australia presented the City of San Diego with many beautiful plants in 1976 for the United States Bicentennial. These plants can be found in Balboa Park’s seldom visited, little known Australian Garden.

Should you drive into the heart of Balboa Park by turning from Park Boulevard onto Presidents Way, you’ll glimpse the top of the Australian Garden to your right. To see most of the native Australian trees and shrubs, however, you must drive or carefully walk down winding, slightly steep Paseo de Oro, which motorists pass just before they reach the large parking lot behind the Spreckels Organ Pavilion. Look for the Gold Gulch Remote Parking Lot sign. There’s no sidewalk!

You can also reach the Australian Garden by walking south down Gold Gulch Trail, which begins near El Prado at the Zoro Garden. The trail passes under the Space Theater Way bridge near the Fleet Science Center and continues along the east side of the Japanese Friendship Garden. Once you see a fenced area where the green Balboa Park shuttles are stored, you’re there!

Plants in the Australian Garden, according to this page, include: “Grevellia, Acacia, Callistemon, Banksia, Hakea, Stenocarpus, Leptospermum, Melaleuca, and Eucalyptus.” There are no signs in Gold Gulch Canyon at the garden, but apparently there are plans to create trails in this area of Balboa Park and erect an informational kiosk.

In 1935, this small canyon was the home of Gold Gulch, a popular attraction at Balboa Park’s California Pacific International Exposition. According to Wikipedia, Gold Gulch was an “Old West mining town-ghost town re-creation for fairgoers to experience the atmosphere of a mining boomtown… Gold Gulch inspired and influenced subsequent Western theme parks…Examples include the Calico Ghost Town…and the “Ghost Town” section of Knott’s Berry Farm… and Frontierland by Walt Disney.…”

The above photo of the “hidden” Australian Garden was taken from a point above the canyon, behind the WorldBeat Cultural Center and Centro Cultural de la Raza.

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Nature’s wonders at Ranch House Crossing.

I spent nearly the entire day walking. Part of my journey was through a small part of the Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve.

Even my short, easy hike at Los Peñasquitos Creek just west of Black Mountain Road was awe-inspiring.

As I walked beside the water at the Ranch House Crossing, nature’s wonders enveloped me. The overhanging oaks and willows, their thirsty roots, sunlight in fluttering leaves….

Put on a pair of sturdy shoes and see for yourself!

Benthic organisms, or bottom dwellers, such as water snails and freshwater clams are a good indicator of the water quality in the stream.
A riffle is an area where the water is shallow and moves fast. Rounded stones called cobbles are formed by ages of tumbling and water wear.

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!

Cherry blossoms appear in Balboa Park!

Spring must be around the corner, because pink clouds of cherry blossoms have appeared in Balboa Park’s beautiful Japanese Friendship Garden!

I arrived at Balboa Park late this afternoon, after a long walk elsewhere in San Diego. Luckily I captured the last rays of sunlight filtering into JFG’s Lower Garden, with its many Japanese cherry trees.

Enjoy a few 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!

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!

The first camphor tree planted in North America!

What you’re looking at is an historic tree. It’s the very first camphor tree planted in North America!

The now immense old camphor tree grows in the yard of the Britt-Scripps House in San Diego’s Bankers Hill!

I blogged about the Britt-Scripps House years ago here. The mansion was built in 1887 by Eugene Britt, then purchased in 1896 by newspaper publisher E.W. Scripps. (Today it’s for a sale again. And the price was recently reduced to under five million dollars. A bargain! To see photos of this historic house’s elegant interior, check out this page.)

The beautiful camphor tree was planted in 1885 by none other than horticulturist Kate Sessions, who introduced many of the majestic trees visitors see in Balboa Park today!

By the way, did you know one of the rarest plants in the entire world can be found in nearby Balboa Park?

A tree that is now extinct in the wild has found a home in the Botanical Building. A few years ago I blogged about that 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!