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!

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!

Learn to sail a world-famous tall ship!

Volunteers work on the Star of India, world-famous tall ship of the Maritime Museum of San Diego.

Do you live in San Diego? Do you love adventure, the outdoors, and exciting new challenges? If so, then listen up!

You now have the rare opportunity to learn to sail one of the world’s most famous tall ships, the Star of India! Not to mention other amazing sailing ships belonging to the Maritime Museum of San Diego, such as the replica Spanish galleon San Salvador, and the official tall ship of the State of California: Californian!

The classes are free but require an annual museum membership, which for most individuals is a mere fifty dollars. If I didn’t work full time, I’d seriously consider signing up!

I saw the following sign on the Embarcadero today. As it says, many people dream of this opportunity. The orientation is coming up this Wednesday, January 5, so quickly inform anyone you know who might be interested!

You can also learn more by visiting this page on the Maritime Museum of San Diego’s website!

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!

Uncle Sam wants your Grandpa!

I spotted these attention-grabbing recruitment ads pasted to a wall while walking in downtown San Diego. It appears that Uncle Sam Wants Your Grandpa!

I then read the fine print. Actually, the USS Midway Museum is looking for volunteers. And I don’t think you even need to be a grandpa, or a veteran!

Want to make the past come alive on a historic aircraft carrier? Want to be part of a team that includes tutors, docents, storytellers and ambassadors?

Funny that I spotted these during San Diego Fleet Week.

Check out the details 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 help homeless people in San Diego.

Homeless man walks through life with his stuff.

Seven years ago I published 20 Ways To Help the Homeless in San Diego. This special page lists twenty organizations and initiatives that can use your help, to reach and assist homeless people all around San Diego.

This morning I revised the page. I’ve removed links to charitable operations and websites that no longer exist, added others.

If you find it in your heart, please visit this page again. There are many opportunities to volunteer, mentor, donate, provide hope.

Perhaps you’ll feel inspired to help out in your own way.

Have a great day!


Heart and art on National Dog Day!

Today is National Dog Day!

What a perfect time open your heart and adopt a furry friend. Or provide a little help to your local animal shelter.

In San Diego, you might consider a visit to the San Diego Humane Society or Helen Woodward Animal Center. Adopt a rescue animal, donate or even volunteer. Click the above links!

In celebration of National Dog Day, please enjoy this collection of fun photographs.

I’ve captured all sorts of dog-themed art during my random walks around the city. Whenever I spot murals or street art featuring cute canines, my camera is on it!

This blog now features thousands of photos around San Diego! Are you curious? There’s lots of cool stuff to check out!

Here’s the Cool San Diego Sights main page, where you can read the most current blog posts.  If you’re using a phone or small mobile device, click those three parallel lines up at the top–that opens up my website’s sidebar, where you’ll see the most popular posts, a search box, and more!

To enjoy future posts, you can also “like” Cool San Diego Sights on Facebook or follow me on Twitter.

An amazing urban transformation in City Heights!

In November 2013 an incredible thing happened. Over a hundred volunteers from several neighborhoods in City Heights–Castle, Swan Canyon, Fairmount Village and Azalea Park–came together to transform a dangerous, trash-filled vacant lot into a beautiful community gathering place.

In a matter of only a few days, the Manzanita Gathering Place, which you can see in the following photographs, was born.

I was introduced to the Manzanita Gathering Place in the northeast corner of Azalea Park last weekend and was absolutely amazed. The tranquil, rustic, art-filled spot, overlooking Manzanita Canyon, made me feel as if I’d traveled faraway, to the top of a mountain crowned with ancient magic.

Four columns around a stone sitting area are covered with mosaics. About 1500 square feet of mosaic art! The columns represent the four elements: earth, air, water and fire. They also represent the hearts of the many hands that made them–community members from four adjoining urban neighborhoods.

I was told the Manzanita Gathering Place is the perfect place to watch a sunset. I did see the Ocean Discovery Institute across the canyon below. Students often walk from there into the canyon to learn about nature.

A collaboration of community organizers, government, artists, business owners, schools and diverse neighborhood residents, the Manzanita Gathering Place was a Pomegranate Project. According to the Pomegranate Center’s website, the organization helps “communities design and build art-filled gathering places. In sometimes as little as four months from first community meeting to completion of the gathering place, hundreds of volunteers would give thousands of hours planning, designing and building their park. Between 1990 and 2017, Pomegranate Center created some 60 such projects in multiple cities, states, and countries…”

The Manzanita Gathering Place design team consisted of Brennan Hubbell, Ilisa Goldman, Vicki Leon, and mentor Milenko Matanovic, founder of the Pomegranate Center. In 2015 this truly amazing project received a Merit Award from the American Society of Landscape Architects.

A very beautiful nearby mural was painted in 2018 by San Diego artists Gloria Muriel and Alexander Banach…

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 extraordinary mosaics of Azalea Park!

Some of the most extraordinary public art in San Diego can be found in Azalea Park, a neighborhood at the south end of City Heights. Walk or drive along the streets of Azalea Park and you’ll discover unexpected mosaics decorating the sides of trashcans and round sidewalk benches.

When you stop to look closely at these mosaics, it becomes evident that a great deal of effort, thought and artistry was involved in their making. The beautiful designs are truly stunning. Look at the coming photographs and see for yourself.

I was surprised to learn that all of these fantastic mosaics were created by a volunteer group of Azalea Park residents! The team of community beautifiers call themselves the Azalea Park Mosaic League!

Led by local artist Vicki Leon, members of the Azalea Park Mosaic League continue to make their neighborhood a more attractive and welcoming place.

A couple days ago I posted photos of their Art’s Popping Up mosaic sculpture on Poplar Street. If you haven’t seen that yet, click here!

Last weekend I had the opportunity to visit Vicki Leon’s art studio in Azalea Park. The following two photographs show beautiful lotus mosaics that will be installed in Little Saigon, and how she is helping friends and neighbors to create their own mosaic street address signs! Check our her website here.

Her work, and the volunteer efforts of the Azalea Park Mosaic League, can inspire us all to make our own neighborhoods more beautiful!

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!