Boy Scouts improve Bennington Memorial Oak Grove.

Crew members of USS Theodore Roosevelt help Boy Scout Maxwell Thomson move logs in the USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove. Photo courtesy Kathleen Winchester.
Crew members of USS Theodore Roosevelt help Boy Scout Maxwell Thomson move logs in the USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove. Photo courtesy Kathleen Winchester.

Over the past year and a half, some amazing young men have been working to improve the USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove in Balboa Park. These community-minded Boy Scouts, with the help of the San Diego Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, have undertaken projects in the historic grove in order to achieve the rank of Eagle Scout.

You might remember the photos that I posted of the USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove. It’s tucked away in a corner of Florida Canyon, not far from Naval Medical Center San Diego and the Balboa Park Municipal Golf Course. The 66 live oak trees were planted in 1905 to memorialize 66 sailors killed on the USS Bennington on July 21st of that year. The gunboat’s boiler exploded while it was in San Diego Bay, and many men tragically perished.

The efforts of these hardworking Boy Scouts have added beauty, safety and memory to the old oak grove. Four have successfully become Eagle Scouts. They are Joshua Ortega, Sam Kinsey, Frederick Persons and Erik Ortlieb. The projects of two other young men are now underway. Those Scouts are Maxwell Thomson and Preston Buljat.

Most of these photographs have been contributed by local historian Kathleen Winchester. She and other members of the DAR’s San Diego Chapter have been instrumental in providing coordination and encouragement as the USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove is improved. Please read the photo captions to appreciate the unselfish work of these young men.

I have learned the grove’s kiosk will eventually contain the names of those who perished aboard the USS Bennington. And very soon a flagpole will be raised in the grove-the project of Preston Buljat.

In 2014, the San Diego Chapter of Daughters of the American Revolution partnered with the San Diego Park and Recreation Department and the Friends of Balboa Park as part of the latter’s “Adopt-A-Plot” program and adopted the Bennington Memorial Oak Grove.

The local DAR intends to purchase more oak trees to replace dead ones. If anyone wants to help with this worthy endeavor, contact the San Diego Chapter of DAR. All contributed funds will go straight to the purchase of trees.

As you can see in a few of the photos, U.S. Navy sailors from the San Diego homeported aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt have also lent a hand. Their involvement is especially meaningful as Teddy Roosevelt was the President of the United States in 1905 when the USS Bennington disaster occured. President Roosevelt was a conservationist who would have loved this shady grove of majestic oaks.

The sailors from the USS Theodore Roosevelt, by helping to beautify the USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove, honored their fellow seamen from an earlier time.

The USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove in Balboa Park has been improved by some amazing young men working to achieve the rank of Eagle Scout.
The USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove in Balboa Park has been improved by some amazing young men working to achieve the rank of Eagle Scout. Photo courtesy Kathleen Winchester.
The oak grove's entrance sign is an Eagle Project undertaken by Erik Ortlieb of Boy Scout Troop 4 in La Jolla.
The oak grove’s entrance sign is an Eagle Project undertaken by Erik Ortlieb of Boy Scout Troop 4 in La Jolla.
Erik Ortlieb poses with Kathleen Winchester of the DAR by the sign he built on October 16, 2016. It welcomes visitors into the beautiful old oak grove.
Erik Ortlieb poses with Kathleen Winchester of the DAR by a post of the wooden sign he built on October 16, 2016. The sign welcomes visitors into the beautiful old oak grove. Photo courtesy Kathleen Winchester.
Boy Scout Sam Kinsey works on the trail that leads into the historic USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove in Balboa Park.
Boy Scout Sam Kinsey works on the trail that leads into the historic USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove in Balboa Park. Photo courtesy Kathleen Winchester.
Boy Scout Joshua Ortega finished a footbridge in the grove just days before his 18th birthday. He is now attending Pepperdine University.
Boy Scout Joshua Ortega finished a footbridge in the grove just days before his 18th birthday. He is now attending Pepperdine University. Photo courtesy Kathleen Winchester.
Plaque on the bridge reads Eagle Scout Project - Joshua R. Ortega - Troop 299 - June 2016.
Plaque on the bridge reads Eagle Scout Project – Joshua R. Ortega – Troop 299 – June 2016.
Boy Scout Frederick Persons poses in front of the new kiosk he built. Around him are volunteers from Boy Scout Troop 295.
Boy Scout Frederick Persons poses in front of the new kiosk he built. Around him are volunteers from Boy Scout Troop 295. Photo courtesy Kathleen Winchester.
Crew members of San Diego aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt lend a helping hand by rolling logs that will border a path though the grove.
Crew members of San Diego aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt lend a helping hand by rolling logs that will border a path though the grove. Photo courtesy Kathleen Winchester.
Boy Scout Maxwell Thomson and U.S. Navy sailors roll logs into place in the USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove.
Boy Scout Maxwell Thomson and U.S. Navy sailors roll logs into place in the USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove. Photo courtesy Kathleen Winchester.
Maxwell Thomson poses with friends among logs which now mark the trail through the revitalized USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove!
Maxwell Thomson poses with friends among logs which now mark the trail through the USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove. Photo courtesy Kathleen Winchester.
15-year-old Maxwell Thomson takes a short break as DAR San Diego Chapter members cheer him on!
15-year-old Maxwell Thomson takes a short break as DAR San Diego Chapter members cheer him on! Photo courtesy Kathleen Winchester.

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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Beautiful photos of sunrise on Mount Laguna.

The sky turns red and yellow just before sunrise on Mount Laguna. Photo taken at the Storm Canyon Overlook on the Sunrise Highway.
The sky turns red and yellow just before sunrise on Mount Laguna. Photo taken at the Storm Canyon Overlook on the Sunrise Highway.

This morning I left downtown San Diego very early and drove an hour east to Mount Laguna. I wanted to see sunrise from a mountaintop.

I began taking photos from the Storm Canyon Overlook a bit north of the Laguna Mountain Lodge and Store. Breathtaking views of the desert below can be enjoyed at various points along the Sunrise Highway.

I then drove a short distance farther north to the Penny Pines Trailhead, parked, and hiked about a mile and a half northward along the Pacific Crest Trail. I didn’t go all the way to Garnet Peak, because the sun came to me!

Looking down toward a section of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park northeast of the beautiful Laguna Mountains, which rise to around 6000 feet in San Diego County.
Looking down toward a section of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park northeast of the beautiful Laguna Mountains, which rise to around 6000 feet in San Diego County.
Sign at the overlook explains Trails Through the Ages. Storm Canyon below was used by the Native American Kumeyaay for thousands of years for seasonal migrations.
Sign at the overlook explains Trails Through the Ages. Storm Canyon below was used by the Native American Kumeyaay for thousands of years for seasonal migrations. (Click photo to enlarge for easy reading.)
Trees west of the Storm Canyon Overlook are still a bit dark before sunrise.
Trees west of the Storm Canyon Overlook are still a bit dark before sunrise.
I've started toward the Pacific Crest Trail from the Penny Pines trailhead. The eastern sky is slowly brightening.
I’ve started hiking toward the Pacific Crest Trail from the Penny Pines Trailhead. The eastern sky is slowly brightening.
A chilly early November morning in the Cleveland National Forest near the top of Mount Laguna.
A slightly chilly early November morning in the Cleveland National Forest near the top of Mount Laguna.
I'm now heading north along the Pacific Crest Trail, which stretches 2,650 miles from Mexico to Canada. I'll go about a mile and a half toward Garnet Peak before turning around. Sunrise is imminent.
I’m now heading north along the Pacific Crest Trail, which stretches 2,650 miles from Mexico to Canada. I’ll go about a mile and a half toward Garnet Peak before turning around. Sunrise is imminent.
Many of the trees in the Penny Pines grove have died due to an ongoing bark beetle infestation. The recent drought caused many trees in the Cleveland National Forest to struggle, too.
Many of the trees in the Penny Pines grove have died due to an ongoing bark beetle infestation. The recent drought caused many trees in the Cleveland National Forest to struggle, too.
Looking roughly northeast as color creeps over the desert below.
Looking roughly northeast as color creeps over the desert contours below.
Miles of beauty, to the horizon.
Miles of beauty, to the horizon.
The trail here is still in shadow.
The trail here is still in shadow. Not for long…
Early sunlight touches a rocky rise.
Early sunlight touches a rocky rise.
That shiny strip in the distance is light reflecting from the inland Salton Sea.
That shiny strip in the distance is light reflecting from the inland Salton Sea.
The sun is about to clear a rocky desert mountain.
The sun is about to clear a rocky desert mountain.
The sun appears.
The sun appears.
Sudden morning light brightens vegetation near the trail.
Sudden morning light brightens vegetation beside the rough trail.
The sunshine is warm. I will soon have to remove my light jacket. Even though it is late November, the dry air from the desert is very pleasant.
The sunshine is warm. I will soon have to remove my light jacket. Even though it is late November, the dry air from the desert is very pleasant.
Slanting sunlight on small leaves.
Slanting sunlight on small leaves.
Looking down into a small canyon beneath the trail that descends toward the desert.
Looking down into a small canyon beneath the trail that descends toward the desert.
I'm rounding a corner, approaching a light-splashed peak.
I’m rounding a corner, approaching a light-splashed peak.
Garnet Peak, on the left, rises into the morning sunlight. A short trail leads to its summit from the Pacific Crest Trail.
Garnet Peak, on the left, rises into the morning sunlight. A short trail leads to its summit from the Pacific Crest Trail.
Light on one side of a boulder above me.
Light on one side of a boulder above me.
A beautiful view. I encountered nobody else on the trail this morning. Perhaps because today is Thanksgiving.
A beautiful view. I encountered nobody else on the trail this morning. Perhaps because today is Thanksgiving.
I am thankful that I saw this.
I am thankful that I could pause for a moment and enjoy this.
New light all around.
New light all around.
The smooth, dry contours of one part of Anza-Borrego State Park become more apparent. I believe the bulky mountain on the left is Whale Peak.
The dry contours of one section of Anza-Borrego State Park become more apparent. I believe the bulky mountain on the left is Whale Peak.
Looking east, shadows are retreating from mountain green.
Looking east, shadows are retreating from fresh mountain green.
Looking south, bright light on a broken boulder.
Looking south, bright light on a broken boulder.
Leaves feed on sunshine.
Leaves feed on sunshine.
I'm now headed back south toward the Penny Pines Trailhead. One last look north at Garnet Peak.
I’m now headed back south toward the Penny Pines Trailhead. One last look north at Garnet Peak in full daylight.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! Occasionally, when I get the itch, I travel to more distant parts of San Diego County. You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

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Waning rays of sunlight, magically captured.

One of the metal Wind Palms in front of the Hilton San Diego Bayfront catches golden light at the end of an October day.
One of the metal Wind Palms in front of the Hilton San Diego Bayfront catches golden light at the end of an autumn day.

I walked along the Embarcadero late today. As I reached the Hilton San Diego Bayfront the sun was beginning to set. Looking up, I observed that golden rays of waning sunlight had been magically captured by some peculiar palm trees…

Sunset begins behind trees of Embarcadero Marina Park South.
Sunset begins behind the trees of Embarcadero Marina Park South.
Late sunlight on one of the rotating Wind Palms created by artist Ned Kahn in 2008.
Late sunlight on one of the rotating Wind Palms created by artist Ned Kahn in 2008.
People jog along San Diego's Embarcadero as evening approaches.
People walk and jog along San Diego’s Embarcadero as evening approaches.
Waning rays of sunlight, magically captured.
Waning rays of sunlight, magically captured.

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 plant in Balboa Park now extinct in the wild.

Balboa Park's knowledgeable Ranger Kim Duclo points out an extremely rare specimen of Deppea splendens in the Botanical Building.
Balboa Park’s knowledgeable Ranger Kim Duclo points out an extremely rare specimen of Deppea splendens in the Botanical Building.

I learned something really amazing last Sunday in Balboa Park. I had joined one of Ranger Kim Duclo’s park tours as it was in progress, and I followed the group into the Botanical Building.

Near the center of the Botanical Building, Ranger Kim stopped beside a beautiful green tree and told us it was one of the rarest plants in the entire world!

Deppea splendens was originally discovered in 1973 by botanist Dennis Breedlove. He found it growing in a single spot in Mexico’s southern mountains. Fortunately Dennis gathered some seeds. Because when he returned in 1986, the plants had all been destroyed. The area had been developed into farmland.

Ranger Kim told us that specimens of Deppea splendens now grow in relatively few places–mostly in special havens like Balboa Park. He also said that one day the plant might be reintroduced into the wild, much as the California condor was saved locally from extinction and successfully returned to its natural habitat.

May that day come!

A look at the thriving Deppea splendens inside Balboa Park's lush Botanical Building.
Photo of a thriving Deppea splendens inside Balboa Park’s lush Botanical Building.
The distinctive flowers of Deppea splendens, a plant that is now extinct in the wild. This public domain photograph is from Wikimedia Commons.
The distinctive flowers of Deppea splendens, a plant that is now extinct in the wild. I found this public domain photograph at Wikimedia Commons.
These beautiful green leaves might be reintroduced into the wild one day!
These rare, beautiful leaves might be seen once again in the wild!

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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Photos of San Diego Bonsai Club exhibition.

Many beautiful works of bonsai art could be viewed today in the Casa del Prado in Balboa Park.
Many beautiful works of bonsai art could be viewed today in Balboa Park.

Here are more photos that you might enjoy! I took them this afternoon at the San Diego Bonsai Club exhibition, which was held inside the Casa del Prado in Balboa Park.

The art of bonsai has always fascinated me. A tiny, carefully tended tree can speak so much about life. About time and human struggle, about balance and poise.

It’s funny how artists can create a profound feeling of untamed natural beauty using orderly, controlled methods. It is absolutely contradictory. But there is much in art–as in life–that is hard to explain.

A sign outside the Casa del Prado directs visitors to an exhibition by the San Diego Bonsai Club.
A sign outside the Casa del Prado directs visitors to an exhibition by the San Diego Bonsai Club.
Demonstrations were part of the event. These friendly people were patiently working on their bonsai trees and explaining the process.
Demonstrations were part of the event. These friendly people in the Casa del Prado’s inner courtyard were patiently working on their bonsai trees and explaining the process to those who were curious.
The many tools of a bonsai gardener.
The many specialized tools of a bonsai gardener.
One member of the San Diego Bonsai Club created a cool display that contrasted her bonsai with photos of trees in local landscapes.
One member of the San Diego Bonsai Club created a cool display that contrasted her bonsai with photos of trees in local landscapes.
Like any other good art, bonsai evokes emotion. Nature inspires the bonsai artist. Styles can include Windswept, Formal Upright, Informal Upright and Forest.
Like any other good art, bonsai evokes emotion. Nature inspires the bonsai artist. Styles can include Windswept, Formal Upright, Informal Upright and Forest.
This bonsai Prostrata Juniper has been trained and pruned to appear ancient--the product of wild nature.
This bonsai Prostrata Juniper has been trained and pruned to appear ancient–the product of wild, tempestuous nature.
A tiny Japanese black pine is one object in a small room-like scene.
A tiny Japanese black pine is one object in a small room-like scene.
A fine work of art created by a lover of bonsai.
A fine work of art created by a lover of bonsai.
An ornamental porcelain berry arranged in an beautiful pot.
An ornamental porcelain berry arranged in an beautiful pot.
These tiny succulents are in a tiny wheelbarrow!
These tiny succulents are in a tiny wheelbarrow!
Visitors to the San Diego Bonsai Club exhibition in Balboa Park enjoy looking at a small, very beautiful oriental sweetgum tree.
Visitors to the San Diego Bonsai Club exhibition in Balboa Park enjoy looking at a small, very beautiful oriental sweetgum tree.

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 fun photos for you to share and enjoy!

Signs of autumn along the San Diego River.

Autumn officially begins in two days.

During my walk this morning in Mission Valley along a short stretch of the San Diego River, I noticed a few leaves have already begun to turn.

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 few photos around sunset at Marston Point.

This evening around sunset I took a short walk through Marston Point, which is located in the southwest corner of Balboa Park.

Trees were gradually darkening. Directly to the south, Cortez Hill–the part of downtown San Diego where I live–gleamed like a shining paradise in the sky.

To the west, buildings near the bay and on Bankers Hill were crowned with streaks of pale gold.

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!