Begin the adventure of a lifetime in San Diego!

Would you, or someone you know, like to embark on the adventure of a lifetime?

You can start that adventure this very moment. Sign up to become one of a select few: those who help sail famous tall ships right here in San Diego. Including the oldest active sailing ship in the world, Star of India!

Start down the path to becoming a crewmember and you’ll create incredible memories. Your background, age or experience don’t matter.

Today I watched from the poop deck of Star of India as two new museum volunteers learned to tie knots.

With training, which includes a special class that begins every January, you, too, can help operate the replica 19th century schooner Californian; the replica 18th century British Frigate HMS Surprise; the 19th century three-masted Bark Star of India; the replica 16th century Spanish Galleon San Salvador; and the 20th century steam yacht Medea.

Learn all about this incredible opportunity by clicking here!

Retired? No problem? A student? No problem. Don’t know anything about ships or sailing? No problem!

Begin this adventure and you’ll learn nautical skills and acquire knowledge that very few people share.

Afraid of climbing high into a tall ship’s rigging? No problem! When operating these historic ships, there’s plenty to do down on deck, too!

This afternoon I spoke to Jim, First Mate of Star of India, and absorbed all sorts of interesting information. He told me there’s something new to learn at the Maritime Museum every single day. And he’s been with the museum now for almost 50 years! (He started out working in the gift shop!)

Interested? Begin your adventure of a lifetime now, by clicking here. You’ll even have a chance to help sail the beautiful Star of India herself, when next she goes out to sea, in November 2023!

That would make for one amazing memory.

Two beautiful tall ships of the Maritime Museum of San Diego, Star of India and Californian, head out into the Pacific Ocean.
Two beautiful tall ships of the Maritime Museum of San Diego, Star of India and Californian, head out into the Pacific Ocean.

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 missed Red Shoe Day? Donate online!

It’s Red Shoe Day in San Diego!

Volunteers hanging out at busy intersections this morning were collecting donations for the Ronald McDonald House, which helps sick kids who are being treated at local hospitals, providing a nearby place for their families to stay!

Did you miss an opportunity to place some money in a red shoe this morning? Well, you can donate online. Do it here!

Thank you!

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!

Become an advocate for Balboa Park!

Balboa Park contains endless scenes of amazing beauty.

Do you love Balboa Park?

Would you like to support San Diego’s beautiful, amazing crown jewel, PLUS get exclusive Balboa Park insider emails, learn about volunteer opportunities, enjoy picnic meet ups, AND get a free Forever Balboa Park enamel pin?

Then become an official advocate of Balboa Park. It’s free!

Click here to sign up!

Or, if you’d like, you can support Balboa Park financially with a sustaining membership.

Your gift allows Forever Balboa Park to grow our robust volunteer corps, including Garden Stewards, Park Ambassadors, Tree Stewards, Info Desk Volunteers…revitalize, restore and enhance Balboa Park’s historic gardens, landscapes and public spaces towards best in class conditions…enables us to provide a world-class visitor experience through creative placemaking, maps, guides, tours, information, and critical amenities in the House of Hospitality…

I signed up to be an advocate. Will you join me?

Learn all about the program 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!

Smiling new volunteer at Maritime Museum!

Today was Samantha’s first day volunteering at the Maritime Museum of San Diego. From one who is a big fan of the museum–thank you!

I walked slowly around the museum’s historic ships in the early afternoon, watching Sunday volunteers at work, and learned a few new things. There’s always something different and interesting to discover here!

As you can see, along with Samantha, many were working to maintain the Star of India.

Applying a clear UV-resistant acrylic to the main deck of Star of India.
Volunteering, and being members of a sail crew, seems to produce smiles!
Out on the museum’s barge, I saw the Robert Sharp is now pink! Don’t worry, I was told, that’s just a primer coat.
Hammering away on the Star of India’s forward capstan.
A group was setting out on a Sunday sailing adventure aboard tall ship Californian.
I haven’t yet enjoyed a Californian sailing adventure, but I promise to, one day. Looks incredible!
There she goes!

Stay tuned for more photos from Chula Vista, Allied Gardens, La Jolla . . . and who knows where else!

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!

Join the San Diego River March in Mission Valley!

A beautiful morning photo of the San Diego River taken from Mission Center Road. This spot often floods and traffic must be diverted.

Would you like to help clean up the San Diego River? There’s a volunteer event coming up that might interest you!

I was in Mission Valley this morning when I saw a poster promoting the First Annual San Diego River March. This coffee, walk and cleanup is being put on by the Ecological Servants Project, a newly formed organization based in El Cajon.

The founder of the Ecological Servants Project writes in a newsletter how his difficult life was transformed, in part by an encounter with nature’s boundless beauty. He came to understand that life itself is beautiful.

I do know the San Diego River could use many helping hands.

The date for the volunteer cleanup is Friday, March 18, 2022.

You can find all of the details at their website 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!

Project Reo and three beautiful murals!

During my walk down Reo Drive in Paradise Hills last weekend I came upon three large, very beautiful murals. I snapped photos, of course!

I’ve since learned of Project Reo, an organization of active neighborhood families who have worked to improve and beautify the small business district along Reo Drive. Their work has included the painting of murals!

To the eyes of a curious guy walking through the community, those positive efforts are clearly successful!

You can learn more about Project Reo and the history of Paradise Hills by reading a great article here.

Large, colorful flowers greet those passing the Los Tapatios Mexican Food restaurant.
An abstract sun at La Palapa Market. The title of this mural is Radiating Vibrance. It is one of three large murals painted by students and local volunteers, under the guidance of Enrique Lugo, an art teacher in Chula Vista.
Painted cacti and succulents at the corner of Reo Drive and Cumberland Street.
Empanada lady, painted on west side of the same building at a later time by San Diego artist Shirish Villaseñor.

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!

Sparks, scrapes and chisels at the Maritime Museum!

Lots of fascinating activity today at the Maritime Museum of San Diego!

As I walked about, I noticed volunteers and sail crew members were working on several very different vessels in the museum’s world-famous collection.

Sparks were flying from the black sail of the B-39 Soviet-era Russian submarine. Its life, sadly, has come to an end. Preparations are underway to tow the badly rusted Foxtrot-class diesel electric submarine to Mexico where it will be scrapped.

After watching guys using a torch on the sub’s outer hull, I walked to the far end of the Maritime Museum’s barge where the Robert Sharp’s stern was being restored. A friendly worker with a heat gun was crackling old varnish, which was then scraped off.

When I stepped onto the deck of the historic steam yacht Medea, I noticed a woodworker carefully repairing the boat’s wooden rail where it had split.

The elegant Medea has a fascinating history.

Did you know that, in addition to Medea being a pleasure yacht that cruised the isles and lochs of Scotland, it was used by France during World War I, and by the British Royal Navy and Norwegian Navy during World War II?

Learn much more 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!

New flowers in Balboa Park’s Alcazar Garden!

It looks like the Garden Stewards of Balboa Park have been busy in the Alcazar Garden!

I walked through Balboa Park today and discovered rows of beautiful, newly planted flowers in several areas of the garden. As you can see in my photos, it appears the larger sections will soon be planted, too!

A couple days ago I got an email newsletter from Forever Balboa Park that talked about this project. But, alas, it appears that email got deleted. So if it mentioned what sort of flowers these are, I don’t have the information.

If you know more about flowers than me (which means practically everybody), and you recognize what these are, leave a comment with your observation!

And if you’d like to volunteer to help beautify Balboa Park, San Diego’s magnificent crown jewel, here’s the website you need to check out!


Days later, I noticed more flowers planted!

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 beautiful transformation in National City!

A beautiful transformation began in National City in 2013. Hundreds of community members came together to make a positive, permanent change. Butterfly Park, a blighted strip of land near the corner of 20th Street and Palm Avenue, became more like its namesake!

I first learned about this wonderful transformation on Sunday, during an incredible tour provided by Olivewood Gardens and Learning Center’s super nice Cooking for Salud Coordinator, Patty Corona.

We walked through the park and were greeted by colorful butterflies everywhere we turned!

I learned how, during the course of several days, families from throughout the neighborhood, school students, the Kitchenistas of Olivewood Gardens, and even the mayor of the time worked in the park installing butterfly beauty: mosaics on benches, a table and a trashcan, beautiful metalwork on posts, and an outdoor stage shaped like a butterfly wing! Vegetation that attracts butterflies was planted, too!

According to this article, “The project was led by Pomegranate CenterOlivewood Gardens and Learning Center…pitched the idea for a community gathering space in November 2012.

(The Pomegranate Center was also instrumental in creating the Manzanita Gathering Place in City Heights. See those photos here.)

As we walked through the park, I learned the wavy metal sculptures on posts were created by Sweetwater High School welding students, and the log benches were the work of former National City Mayor Ron Morrison.

In 2015 the very colorful aluminum butterfly sculptures you see in my photos were decorated by community members using reflective vinyl, under the leadership of local artist Roberto Salas. This “Butterfly Path” can also be found in two other National City Parks: Kimball Park and Las Palmas Park.

I’ll be posting more photos of them in an upcoming blog post!

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 tour of Olivewood Gardens in National City.

Yesterday I enjoyed an awesome tour of Olivewood Gardens and Learning Center in National City.

As you will see in my photographs, Olivewood Gardens is a very special place.

It’s a green paradise in the middle of an urban setting, where students, families and neighbors learn about organic gardening and good nutrition. Olivewood Gardens and Learning Center is the destination of school field trips, where city kids can experience the virtues of a vegetable garden, being active outdoors, and environmental stewardship. There are also classes where parents learn how to prepare healthy meals, and how to become leaders in their community.

Graduates of Olivewood’s Cooking for Salud program are called Kitchenistas. They are integral participants in this non-profit organization’s educational programs. The Kitchenistas, through a Community Engagement Program, proudly work to improve the well-being of families throughout National City!

Patty Corona, the Cooking for Salud Coordinator, showed me all around Olivewood Gardens. We toured most of the grounds and checked out several demonstration gardening areas. We then walked through Olivewood’s historic Victorian house and its kitchen, which serve as the hub for a variety of fun events and educational activities.

In 2006, the beautiful 1896 Queen Anne style house and surrounding gardens were generously donated by the Walton family to the International Community Foundation “with the goal of leveraging the property to engage, grow, and promote healthy communities and dialogue through civic engagement and philanthropy in the San Diego-Baja California border region.” Through their own personal experiences, the Waltons understood the importance of eating healthy foods.

Learn more about the history of ICF and Olivewood Gardens, and the positive programs that are offered to the community, by visiting their website here.

Please enjoy these photographs from my tour! And read the photo captions for much more information.

I was excited to discover this small paradise in San Diego’s South Bay area, where gardens flourish, the sun shines, and nature’s beauty and healthy people thrive!

A view of Olivewood Garden’s beautiful Victorian house from N Avenue in National City.
One of many works of art gracing Olivewood Gardens and Learning Center.
Various signs near the the late 19th century house provide visitors with information.
Oliver H. Noyes, National City postmaster (and retired senator from New Hampshire), built this Victorian house for his family in 1896. They sold it in 1947 to the Newlan family, who sold it to John and Christy Walton in 1985…
In July 2006, Christy Walton donated her former home and garden to the International Community Foundation to increase cross-border dialogue and philanthropy…
An area of the garden north of the house where school students gather, experience and learn.
Beds with growing vegetables, where young hands can work in the earth.
Look at all the healthy veges growing in this organic garden!
When I was young, my family had a large vegetable garden. Simply standing here brought back happy memories.
More surprising artwork in the garden. A stunning mosaic depicts colorful flowers.
Here’s a small succulent garden, demonstrating native plants.
Mural on a garden shed is bright with fruits and vegetables. By artist Brianna Perkins.
Don’t hog the water. Think several generations ahead.
Many butterflies like these, decorated differently, can be found in parks around National City. They were created by artist Roberto Salas, the Kitchenistas, and families from around the community.
As we walked along, I spied these sunlit roses.
A closer look at the beautiful sculpture you saw earlier from the street. It’s titled Reina de los Mares (Queen of the Seas), by artist Rocio Sánchez.
Walking through a lush green world.
We’ve arrived at another larger garden south of the house.

A sign describes Lukas’ garden…

When the Walton family lived here, their son Lukas was diagnosed with cancer at the age of three. When his cancer returned…his parents decided to treat him with herbs, juices, and produce they grew themselves. They made changes to their garden, growing all their food organically (with no chemicals) and biodynamically (by building healthy, living soil).

Lukas graduated from college, cancer-free in 2010.

A funny mural painted by the chicken coop.
Olivewood Gardens is filled with natural beauty.
A nursery on the grounds, overlooking National City Golf Course.
Taking a trail few other visitors travel.
On the hill above the golf course, Olivewood Gardens is growing dragon fruit! These interesting cacti are indigenous to the Americas.
Making our way back to the Victorian house. This is where many classes, events and activities are held at Olivewood Gardens and Learning Center.
A mermaid sculpture beside the house.
Hand prints from the four members of the Walton family.
The kitchen area, where healthy cooking classes for students and parents take place.
Gorgeous stained glass window in the nearby dining room, where presentations to local teachers are also made.

The following few photos provide a taste of the house’s amazing interior decoration.

An old photograph in one room shows the house as it appeared over a century ago. Today the historic house remains in absolutely pristine condition.

Photograph of the Oliver H. Noyes home, circa 1900.
A smile at a very special place in National City!

Feeling inspired?

Do you want to volunteer, become an intern, learn gardening, take a cooking class, request a speaker, book a private event? Would you like to take steps toward becoming a community leader, so that you can create positive change?

Want to learn more?

Visit the Olivewood Gardens and Learning Center website 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!