Padres Opening Day Block Party in East Village.

Funny pig at Padres Opening Day Block Party.
Funny pig at Padres Opening Day Block Party.

I enjoyed a stroll through East Village this morning. It was my opportunity to take a few pics of the Padres Opening Day Block Party just north of Petco Park.

Dozens of tents and booths were lined up on either side of J Street. Kettle corn, barbeque on the grill, baseball souvenirs, assorted nonprofits and salespeople and radio shows…all the usual suspects were there. And, of course, baseball fans!

Baseball fans in East Village by Petco Park.
Baseball’s Opening Day celebrated in East Village by Petco Park.
Padres fan tests his pitching arm.
San Diego Padres fan tests his pitching arm.
Dodgers fans might require a security blanket.
Dodgers fans might require a security blanket.
People relax and enjoy live music on Padres Opening Day.
People relax and enjoy live music on Padres Opening Day.

The fun, whimsical Sixth Avenue playground.

Imaginative children's playground in Balboa Park.
Imaginative children’s playground in Balboa Park.

Whenever I walk past the Sixth Avenue playground, located among pine trees in the northwest corner of Balboa Park, I wish I were a child again. To romp, climb and swing through this crazy colorful jumble would be a ton of fun!

The fun, whimsical Sixth Avenue playground.
The fun, whimsical Sixth Avenue playground.
Morning view of what is probably a fairly ordinary playground, but I still like it!
Morning view of what is probably just an ordinary playground, but I still like it!

San Diego’s unknown tiny corner of heaven.

This hidden gem is the perfect spot for a picnic or quiet relaxation.
This hidden gem is the perfect spot for a picnic or quiet relaxation.

This morning I headed out to enjoy a special event in Balboa Park: the Japanese Friendship Garden’s Cherry Blossom Festival. Unfortunately, lots and lots of people were in line at the front entrance, and my feet didn’t want to stop. So I kept moseying along, pointing my nose toward the park’s Gymnasium, where I believed the big annual Rummage Sale was being held. This massive fundraiser is put on every year by the Thursday Club, and attracts thousands of eager bargain-seekers. Well, what do you know? The only thing going on in the Gymnasium was a basketball game. Strike Two. Okay, I thought to myself, I’ll just keep on going and have a leisurely walk…

Thursday Club Rummage Sale banner on Park Boulevard.
Thursday Club Rummage Sale banner on Park Boulevard.

Wham! Suddenly in front of my eyeballs loomed a gigantic banner–the Rummage Sale was being held this year across Park Boulevard, in Balboa Park’s Activity Center, a building I’d never visited. In fact, I’ve seldom walked about the park’s Inspiration Point area, except to visit the Veteran’s Museum. My restless feet were once again redirected…

People descend stairs of Balboa Park Administrative Building.
People descend stairs of Balboa Park Administration Building.

The handsome Spanish Colonial Revival style Balboa Park Administration Building (which originally was headquarters for San Diego’s Naval Hospital, built in the early 1920s) lured me forward into uncharted territory.   Several people leaving the Rummage Sale were heading down the stairs.  So up the stairs I went, around the quiet building and…WOW!

Gazebo with colored tile roof near entrance to hidden park.
Gazebo with colored tile roof near entrance to hidden park.

I’d stumbled upon a corner of heaven.

Balboa Park Administration Building Courtyard's benches are empty.
Balboa Park Administrative Courtyard’s benches are empty.

After a bit of research, I learned this beautiful and seldom-visited area is called the Balboa Park Administrative Courtyard. One website calls it a San Diego hidden gem, and I must concur. The place was stunningly beautiful–and completely empty. Nobody was present. Not a soul. On this warm Saturday, the rest of Balboa Park was crowded with people.

Fountain in the Balboa Park Administrative Building Courtyard was once part of San Diego's United States Naval Hospital.
Fountain in the Balboa Park Administrative Courtyard was once part of San Diego’s United States Naval Hospital.

The park-like courtyard and three nearby buildings–the old Navy chapel (now the Veteran’s Museum), the administration building, and an old medical library and auditorium building–used to be part of a sprawling Navy Hospital campus. Today the modern hospital is located just east of the courtyard, down in Florida Canyon. You can see a small part of it in the first photo. Naval Medical Center San Diego (NMCSD) is also known as Bob Wilson Naval Hospital or Balboa Hospital.

Palm trees line courtyard behind Balboa Park's Administrative Building.
Palms line the tranquil courtyard behind Balboa Park’s Administration Building.
Another view of Balboa Park's seldom-visited paradise.
Another view of Balboa Park’s seldom-visited paradise.

I’m glad I randomly walked in a new direction! Adventures and discoveries await in unexpected places!

Trees, green grass, blue sky and a small corner of heaven.
Trees, flowers, walkways, blue sky and a small corner of heaven.

I revisited this beautiful place in late 2014…

Plane approaching Lindbergh Field flies above Balboa Park Administration Building.
Plane approaching Lindbergh Field flies above Balboa Park Administration Building.
A pleasant stroll past bird of paradise flowers.
A pleasant stroll through an arbor past bird of paradise flowers.
Fountain is near center of a large, quiet grassy space.
This fountain is near the center of a large, quiet grassy space.  A second, slightly smaller fountain can be found to the north.
Some people rest on a bench in the sunny courtyard.
Some people rest on a bench in the sunny courtyard.

Two more pics from September 2015.  Still as beautiful and peaceful as ever!

Have a picnic.
Have a picnic.
Read (or write) a book.
Read (or write) a book.

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Colorful chalk wisdom on a Little Italy sidewalk.

Is it right, true, needed--then say it!
Is it right, true, needed–then say it!

A couple days ago I spotted these colorful words of wisdom on a Little Italy sidewalk.

A big rainstorm is coming. The chalk will be washed away.

Be aware. Love you.
Be aware. Love you.
Kiss a friend.
Kiss a friend.
Chalk flowers on sidewalk.
Chalk flowers on the sidewalk.
You are perfect.
You are perfect. (Even, perhaps, if nobody is.)

Joshua Randle, a great musician in San Diego.

Joshua Randle and friend play music on San Diego's embarcadero.
Joshua Randle and friend play music on San Diego’s embarcadero.

I was surprised during my walk today to hear some exceptionally good music from two young performers near Seaport Village. Joshua Randle and his friend were playing extremely polished music with outstanding vocals and providing great, energetic entertainment for everyone passing by. I have no doubt that these guys will become superstars!

Please check out Joshua’s website!

Joshua Randle is a talented up-and-coming singer and musician.
Joshua Randle is a talented up-and-coming singer and musician.
A beautiful day and some great positive, stirring music.
A beautiful San Diego day and some great positive, stirring music.

Cool modified images of cacti in Balboa Park.

People take a walk through Balboa Park cactus garden.
People take a walk through Balboa Park’s amazing Desert Garden.

My walk through Balboa Park last weekend ended at the Desert Garden, located east of the Natural History Museum just across Park Boulevard. I was able to get some cool cacti pics before my camera’s batteries finally fizzled.

Here are some photos that I modified using good old GIMP.  It’s fun to goof around randomly and produce different effects!

While I recognized many different types of cactus, I sadly don’t know many names. Sorry about that.

Fuzzy cactus with red thingamajigs attached.
Fuzzy cactus with red thingamajigs attached.
I played with the brightness and contrast.
I played with the brightness and contrast.
Slightly altered pic of jagged cactus in Balboa Park.
Slightly altered pic of cool jagged cactus in Balboa Park.
I fiddled with contrast, darkness and color saturation.
I fiddled with contrast, darkness and color saturation.
Sunlight amplified on green cactus in Balboa Park.
Sunlight amplified on a green cactus in Balboa Park’s Desert Garden.
Barrel cactus photo with super high contrast applied.
Barrel cactus photo with super high contrast applied.

Here are even more modified cacti photos from late 2014!

Contrast increased on photo of a spiky cactus.
Contrast increased on photo of a spiky cactus.
Some fat barrel cacti in a large desert-like garden in Balboa Park.
Some fat barrel cacti in a large desert-like garden in Balboa Park.
A cool image I created by goofing around with various settings.
A cool image I created by goofing around with various settings.
This huge tangled cactus visible from Park Boulevard is the craziest thing I ever saw!
This huge tangled cactus visible from Park Boulevard is the craziest thing I ever saw!
Now I'm radically altering some pics.
Now I’m radically altering some pics.
Cool silhouette in Balboa Park's cactus garden.
Cool silhouette in a popular Balboa Park cactus garden.
I completely changed these colors just for fun!
I completely changed these colors just for fun!

True believers line up to seek converts.

Child asks passersby if they are ready for death.
Child asks passersby if they are ready for death.

Balboa Park is a great place to see lots of street performers. It’s also a fine place to spot true believers. Lining El Prado on any given weekend, people who avidly believe in all sorts of religions, philosophies and political ideas hope to make converts of passersby. You can check out their posters and pamphlets, ask a question, or just walk on by. Being in southern California, it’s mostly laid back and good-natured.

I walked down El Prado yesterday and got a few pics:

Proselytizing in Balboa Park and argumentation.
Proselytizing in Balboa Park occasionally includes heated debate.
Muslims use Jesus to engage possible converts.
Muslims use Jesus to engage possible converts.
Atheists on El Prado make their case to tourists.
Atheists on El Prado make their case to passing tourists.
Scientologists with mysterious stress-detecting machines.
Scientologists with mysterious stress-detecting machines.
Hare Krishna advocates sit chanting their mantra.
Hare Krishna advocates sit chanting their mantra.