A walk into history down Mule Hill Trail.

Walk down Mule Hill Trail at the south end of Escondido and you’ll find yourself stepping into history.

A while back I blogged about the forgotten town of Bernardo. A hundred years ago it was located in farmland near this trail, prior to the creation of Lake Hodges.

Down this same trail information signs mark the location of Mule Hill, where a skirmish took place during the Mexican-American War.

Seeking shelter among rocky outcroppings, General Kearny established a defensive position against pursuing Californios, as his U.S. Dragoons retreated toward San Diego after the Battle of San Pasqual.

The precise location of this skirmish was in debate for many years. Here are some interesting articles.

Today, after a short, easy walk south down Mule Hill Trail, you’ll see the outcroppings rising above several signs. You can find the wide dirt trail just east of Interstate 15, off Bear Valley Parkway, before Beethoven Drive.

Beginning south down Mule Hill Trail, part of the San Dieguito River Park.

The wide, easy trail leads south toward both Mule Hill and the forgotten town of Bernardo.

Off to the right near river trees, a solitary sign beckons.

Start of the Engagement, December 7, 1846

“Late in the evening, when we had arrived within about four hundred yards of the water where we intended to camp, they charged us, coming on in two bodies and compelling us to retreat to a pile of rocks about two hundred yards away on our left . . . ” source–Kit Carson’s Autobiography

Continuing our walk south. Jumbled boulders can be seen on the hill to our left.

We’ve arrived at three signs near a pair of rock outcroppings that figure in the early history of San Diego. The signs explain what happened here at Mule Hill.

Mule Hill Standoff

On December 7, the American soldiers, sailors and volunteers under command of Brigadier General Stephen Watts Kearny, were attacked from the rear by Mexican forces 250 yards northwest of this location…

The Mexican forces recruited for the defense of their homeland were led by Captain Andres Pico . . . The forces were primarily comprised of Californios, residents of California at that time who descended from Mexican and Spanish colonialists…

The Americans were short of food and resorted to eating their mules, hence the name “Mule Hill” for this site…

…Navy Lieutenant Edward Beale volunteered to sneak through the Mexican lines to seek help from San Diego, and he asked that army scout Kit Carson go with him.

Standoff Continues

On December 8, after the sun had set, Beale, Carson and a Native American (identity unknown to us) sneaked through three lines of Mexican sentries…Nearing San Diego, they separated…The Native American arrived in San Diego first…

On December 9, with little food, water or supplies and a number of wounded men, General Kearny made the decision to fight his way to San Diego…

On December 10, Sergeant John Cox died and was buried at Mule Hill…

On December 11… A relief column of 100 sailors and 80 marines, sent by Commodore Robert Stockton, had arrived. The Mexican force, now outnumbered, withdrew. Later that morning the Americans left Mule Hill and marched to what is now Old Town, San Diego, thus completing a 2,000 mile march from Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

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Oil painted beauty at Torrey Pines.

During my walk through Torrey Pines State Reserve today, it occurred to me that my photographs of trees, sandstone bluffs and the distant ocean might be the foundation for beautiful oil paintings. Simulated oil paintings, that is!

As I do occasionally, I’ve used graphic editor GIMP’s artistic Oilify filter to transform my photos into something mysteriously different . . .

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A walk through San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve.

Several weeks ago I enjoyed a fine, very easy nature walk.

I proceeded from the murals at Harbaugh Seaside Trails (near Highway 101 at the north end of Solana Beach) down the main dirt trail. The trail turned, passed through a tunnel under the railroad tracks, and entered San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve.

I then proceeded north up the Pole Trail (which runs parallel to the train tracks), crossed a couple of bridges, and ended at the San Elijo Lagoon Nature Center at the south end of Cardiff-by-the-Sea.

Come along with me as we look at these protected wetlands and watch for birds and other native wildlife…

Sign at Harbaugh Seaside Trails at start of my walk.

These trails were made possible by Nature Collective.

Beautiful words a short distance from the Harbaugh Seaside Trails murals. Annie’s Bench.

Nearby overlook with views of the Pacific Ocean off to the west.

Beginning our walk in earnest.

Here’s the railroad tunnel.

Artwork at the tunnel entrance depicts birds.

We are looking across San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve.

San Elijo Lagoon in the winter.

Pools of water support much life.

Heading north we encounter a fenced area and sign.

Map of the reserve. To the east there are additional trails to be explored.

A big mound of soil behind this fence.

Sign explains the sandy habitat restoration. The elevated sand dune attracts endangered birds, like the California Least Tern and Western Snowy Plover.

Continuing north.

Vegetated and shallow channels are home to rare indigenous plant and animal species. Birds include Ridgway’s Rail and Belding’s Savannah Sparrow.

Here comes the first bridge!

A profusion of native sunflowers.

That interesting building up and to the left is the Nature Center.

A plaque along the way memorializes Beloved Friend and Engineer Brian A. Martin.

Another footbridge spans a channel of water.

Plaque describes The Buhr Nature Bridge. Gabriel Buhr’s forward-thinking, planning and vision helped make the restoration of the San Elijo Lagoon possible.

Almost to the San Elijo Lagoon Nature Center!

Thanks for visiting Cool San Diego Sights!

I post new blogs pretty often. If you like discovering new things, bookmark coolsandiegosights.com and swing on by occasionally!

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 short but sunny Embarcadero walk.

I spent a couple hours today reading by the water and strolling along San Diego’s sunny Embarcadero. When I reached Ruocco Park, I was entertained by the above Lone Sound Ranger and decided–what the heck–I’ll continue to take photographs.

Nothing too unusual here. Just a typical day along San Diego’s waterfront.

Bay views . . . boats . . . street entertainers . . . vendor carts . . . monuments . . . downtown buildings rising to one side. It’s mid-January, so no huge crowds.

These photos were taken as I continued my way north, past Tuna Harbor and the USS Midway. You’ll probably recognize the Embracing Peace “kiss” statue.

My final shots were taken out on Broadway Pier, and then a few steps north of it where another street musician was singing with a big smile.

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I post new blogs pretty often. If you like discovering new things, bookmark coolsandiegosights.com and swing on by occasionally!

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Mural at entrance to Silver Strand tunnel.

Back in 2020, I posted photos of a long two-sided mural depicting sea life. The artwork was painted many years ago inside a pedestrian tunnel that passes under California State Route 75 at Silver Strand State Beach.

Today I went down to the Silver Strand for a walk and I noticed a new mural had been painted in 2021 at the west end of the same tunnel!

The mural presents images of boats, beach, ocean and birds. Both sides of the tunnel entrance were painted by Imperial Beach artist Esmeralda Robles.

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I post new blogs pretty often. If you like discovering new things, bookmark coolsandiegosights.com and swing on by occasionally!

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Winter beauty, a new waterfall and future weddings!

The Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa Park is always beautiful. Even between winter showers.

As I walked down into the Lower Garden today, I noticed great progress has been made on JFG’s big new waterfall.

I spied other construction, too! A special space is now being built where outdoor weddings can be held among all the natural beauty.

Expert, artistic pruning in the Upper Garden.

Naked branches during winter. Grays among greens.

Today is JFG’s “free entry for residents” third Tuesday. Several folks were setting up on the patio, including the garden’s long-time beekeeper! She showed me this wood home constructed for native bees.

Heading into the Lower Garden a few minutes after the Japanese Friendship Garden opened.

Looking across the canyon, I could see how the big new waterfall appears just about finished.

Walking down one of the garden’s special paths.

I was surprised to see a new area under construction. A worker told me this little plaza will be for outdoor weddings.

This path leading up to the new waterfall is still closed.

A structure near the new waterfall. I was told special events will be held up there.

I can’t wait for the new waterfall to be activated!

These stairs will allow visitors to climb toward the top of the waterfall.

Beauty is abundant down in the Lower Garden.

A rain chain at one corner of the Inamori Pavilion is dripping! After taking this photo, I hurriedly put my camera under my jacket.

Thanks for visiting Cool San Diego Sights!

I post new blogs pretty often. If you like discovering new things, bookmark coolsandiegosights.com and swing on by occasionally!

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!

Flowers along Secret Stairs in Valencia Park!

Did you know there are Secret Stairs in Valencia Park, a community in southeast San Diego?

The neighborhood stairs span two blocks, from Churchward Street to Las Alturas Terrace. (Google the stairs and you’ll see their location on Google Maps.)

A year ago four artists came together to beautify the somewhat neglected stairs. They embellished them with colorfully painted flowers and insects, plus a mural!

This article explains all about the Secret Stairs of Valencia Park and their new artwork. Herbert Delong, Shannon White, Isabel Garcia and Shirish Villaseñor were the artists. You’ve seen the work of Isabel and Shirish elsewhere on my blog. Together they call themselves Arte Atolondrada.

In the upcoming photos, I walked the Secret Stairs from south to north. If the steps seem a bit dirty and leafy, keep in mind San Diego has been experiencing winter storms.

Thanks for visiting Cool San Diego Sights!

I post new blogs pretty often. If you like discovering new things, bookmark coolsandiegosights.com and swing on by occasionally!

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!

The colorful birds of PB’s Wild Side!

Black-crowned Night Heron by David Krimmel.

A flock of wild birds has descended on Garnet Avenue’s trashcans in Pacific Beach!

The colorful artwork, created by professional and student artists, allows those walking down the sidewalk to explore PB’s Wild Side!

My visit to Pacific Beach yesterday happened to involve a leisurely walk down Garnet Avenue. I found eight different birds on trashcans. If there are more of these plaques out there, I didn’t see them.

The birds that are depicted can all be spotted in the wild here in San Diego.

You can learn more about this project of beautifulPB (who’ve also provided a mural map of Pacific Beach) at this website!

Common Loon by Hilary Dufour.

Ridgway’s Rail by Makena Seiler.

Belding’s Savannah Sparrow by Kyla Yu-Swanson.

Brown Pelican by Makena Seiler.

Double-crested Cormorant by Makena Seiler.

Least Tern by Makena Seiler.

Great Blue Heron and Anna’s Hummingbird by Hilary Dufour.

Thanks for visiting Cool San Diego Sights!

I post new blogs pretty often. If you like discovering new things, bookmark coolsandiegosights.com and swing on by occasionally!

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!

Elephant and flower in Mission Beach!

At the end of 2021, some very cool art was being painted on two garage doors in Mission Beach. I happened to see the work in progress during this walk. At the time I knew nothing about the artist.

I walked past these two murals again today and noticed they’re completed! And they’re by San Diego muralist Carly Ealey!

It’s an elephant and flower!

You can see this beautiful artwork just north of Ostend Court on Mission Boulevard.

Thanks for visiting Cool San Diego Sights!

I post new blogs pretty often. If you like discovering new things, bookmark coolsandiegosights.com and swing on by occasionally!

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 wonderful New Year’s Day in Balboa Park!

It’s a breezy and drizzly New Year’s Day in San Diego. But a visit to Balboa Park proved to be just as wonderful as ever!

I was surprised that a few museums were open. Several studios in Spanish Village were also open. And, of course, there was the reliable two o’clock Sunday concert at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion, where, due to the threat of rain, audience members got to sit right up close to the guest organist on stage!

The photo captions describe what I experienced…

Not the usual Sunday crowd on El Prado, but still pretty busy.

Roger, a regular Balboa Park busker, somehow managed to escape again!

Leaves and puddles in front of a colorful Spanish Village studio.

Gallery 21 was open. The 26th Annual Exhibition of 7 Printmakers continues through tomorrow, January 2, 2023. (I’ll be blogging about it shortly.)

I was greeted by a smile in Studio 9. Glass bottles were being converted into cool wind chimes!

A videographer records a street musician on El Prado.

The Palisades part of Balboa Park was unusually quiet on New Year’s Day.

Color in a tree and on the grass is a reminder that winter has arrived in San Diego.

Guest organist Jeobon Hwang rehearses before the Sunday afternoon Spreckels Organ concert.

Jaebon Hwang, organist at First United Methodist Church of San Diego, comes on stage.

I got to sit up close. The mighty Spreckels Organ thundered music directly into my bones!

Some people listening on the benches have umbrellas at the ready.

A flawless performance of classical music by one of San Diego’s outstanding organists!

Thanks for visiting Cool San Diego Sights!

I post new blogs pretty often. If you like discovering new things, bookmark coolsandiegosights.com and swing on by occasionally!

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!