Sunday, February 28, 2016

Balboa Park*

Balboa Park
Balboa Park is one of the oldest dedicated public recreational areas in the US.  It is a 1,200 acre urban park with open spaces, gardens, museums, theaters and the San Diego Zoo.  We've been twice now.  It is simply a wonderful place to spend time whether just people watching or museum going.  The architecture of the main promenade and boulevard is Spanish Colonial Revival and is the location for most museums.  Some of the landmark buildings remain from the 1959 Panama-California Exposition and the 1935 California Pacific International Exposition.

We have visited the San Diego Museum with its typical holdings of European, American and some Asian art, and the Museum of Photographic Arts where we saw a fabulous exhibit by Flor Garduno titled Trilogy.  The show consists of 3 subjects: fantastic women, bestiality and still life.  Her control of the darks, blacks really, is superb.  Most of the photos have large areas of the deepest blacks.  Of particular interest to me was the way she would place a black woman with or adjacent to a white woman against a dark background.  The white woman was stark and immediately noticeable.  The black woman would appear gradually to the viewer bringing to mind all sorts of sociological questions.  

Sunday afternoon we attended the organ recital at Spreckles Organ Pavilion joined by the lovely Kathy Midgley. This organ is the second largest pipe organ in the world with 4,725 pipes ranging from pencil size to 32 feet.  The performance was open-air, the stage a vaulted ornate structure similar to the Hatch Shell in Boston.  San Diego has a civic organist, Dr. Carol Williams who performed the concert.  She was very amusing as well as talented.  It was nice sitting in very warm sun, listening to the 2nd largest pipe organ in the world with friends and watching the constant arrival of airplanes to SD airport.  Oddly, their was no noise from the planes to interfere with the music.  

Spreckles Organ Pavilion
Following the concert Wayne and I went to marvel at the Moreton Fig trees, giant trees. The tiny little red spot in the photo is me hiding among the roots.

Morton Bay Fig, Balboa Park

Saturday, February 20, 2016

San Diego Botanic Garden

San Diego Botanic Garden with Wayne, Duncan, Bonnie, Phil, Kathy
The Botanic Garden is actually located in Encinitas where Wayne and I spent 10 days in . There are 37 acres of bamboo groves, desert gardens, a tropical rainforest, and native plants.  There is a subtropical fruit garden where we all picked and ate oranges and kumquats.  

No bananas were rip enough to eat.  But the flower was beautiful.

Of particular interest to me was the small forest of Cork Oak.  They were unlike any tree I am familiar with.  The form moves through space like a sea creature.  And, the bark from which the cork is culled is soft and thickly craggy. They are not native to California.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Old Town

Margaritas with Wayne at the Rockin Lobster Baja
Old Town is the oldest settled area in San Diego, and is the site of the first European Settlement in present-day California.  Originally there was a fort, the Presidio and a Mission.  The Mission eventually moved up river.  Following Mexico's independence the Spanish left town and the Presidio fell into ruins.  Most of the settlers moved to what is now called Old Town.  The Presidio, adjacent to Old Town, is a park with no historical structures remaining. Old Town today is a vibrant area filled with Mexican restaurants and shops with artisan goods.  It's very festive.  We met Kathy, Phil and Matt for Margaritas at the Rockin Lobster Baja.  They were rockin Margaritas!  I would recommend this joint.  We went alone to dinner at Miguel's Cocina.  Everywhere we have eaten at Mexican Restaurants the foodsome of the beautiful plants in Old Town.  

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Valentine's Day in the Gaslamp Quarter

Wayne at the Water Grill, Gaslamp District
To celebrate Valentine's Day we drove into the Gaslamp Quarter of San Diego.  It was hopping with people.  I don't know if that is typical for a Sunday or if the holiday brought more out.  It was also unseasonably warm at 80 degrees.  We were searching for a restaurant we ate in several years ago where I had the best calamari eva'.  We never found it, but did find a very nice seafood restaurant, The Water Grill.  Wayne had what he described as the best octopus he's ever eaten.  He also had a new favorite IPA, The Green Flash.It seems San Diego has become prevalent in micro breweries.  Sweetness had a Sloppy Joe.  Said it reminded her of her childhood back in Arkansas when the farmer would bring the slop around.    The Gaslamp Quarter is a quite large historical district of San Diego, 16 blocks. The area was developed in the 1860's as a "new town" closer to the bay .  It has many significant and beautiful Victorian buildings that are actively used.  

Disturbing to see as we approached the Quarter was the high number of homeless people encamped on the sidewalks with tents, carts, etc.  Disturbing not from the people but from the realization that this country is allowing homelessness to not only exist but seemingly grow unexamined and unaddressed.  I felt like we were in a 3rd world country.  

Some of the beautiful Victorian Buildings in the Gaslamp Quarter.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Torrey Pines State Natural Preserve

Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve, View from The South Fork Trail
Earlier in the week I went to my first work out at IB Fitness.  The instructor Lee announced that he was going to Torrey Pines to hike on Sunday if anyone wanted to join him. Since it was predicted to hit 75 degrees, we decided to take advantage of the invitation.  We met up with Lee at IB Fitness and followed him to the Reserve.  The approach was from high up in the hills with a wide view of the pacific.  There were hundreds of people parked and walking along the road into the park.  We drove to the lodge to start our hike.  It's hard to believe that this pristine area is part of San Diego. It is comprised of 2,000 acres that include chaparral and, obviously, the Torrey pine. I had brief thoughts of descending into Carlsbad Cavern as well as the Cliffs of Moher.  Although neither the walk down and out or the pacific cliffs were nearly as extreme.  
After leaving the Reserve, we drove to La Jolla for lunch.  I was surprised at the size of La Jolla.  It has a population of approximately 43,000 and is part of San Diego.  I remembered it from a few years ago as this little exclusive seaside village.  Apparently we missed the larger portion and only saw the cove area.  We sought out and found the same restaurant from our prior visit.  George's at the Cove sits above the cove with nice blue views.  La Jolla was also hopping with people.  Sunday and good weather brings everyone out.  
Selfie in La Jolla at the cove.
Despite our grumbling and swearing off football, we did watch the Super Bowl this evening. 

More pictures at flickr. 

Thursday, February 4, 2016

I'll Even Kiss a Sunset Pig*

Sweetness Getting a Little Sun
Sweetness got her stitches out today, and she looks marvelous.  She asked that I thank everyone for their texts, emails, and phone calls inquiring about her health and offering to take care of the brute who damaged her perfection.  She spent some time sunning at Imperial Beach where dozens of surfers are catching the wave and occasional helicopters circle scouting for Mexican illegals.  

We've been here 4 days and are still exploring possibilities.  We've both joined separate gyms, a necessity to shed the 2 weeks of driving, eating, drinking, eating, drinking, driving.  
Imperial Beach, or IB as the locals call it, is not as upscale as Anna Maria or Bradenton Beach, Florida where we've spent the last 3 winters. There are fewer restaurants and shops.  It's true, one must get into one's car and drive when in California. We finally washed the Arizona dust off our car today.  People were pointing and looking disgusted.  

The sunsets are beautiful and the surf sounds are nice.  The temps are cool mornings and evenings but into the 60s and 70s mid day.  Tonight we go dine with Wayne's niece, husband and daughter near Old Towne.  

*Additional photos and movies at flickr.
*California by Joni Mitchell

Monday, February 1, 2016

California Dreaming*

California Imperial County
Sun, sand dunes, snow and ocean.  We saw it all today.  At one point we were at sea level, and within moments we were 4180 feet above sea level. We began the day at 60 degrees, hit 37 and snow covered hills in the high altitude, and arrived in San Diego with 60 again.    Some 3756 miles from home, we sat down in Imperial Beach for the next 2 months. We did not have one unpleasant encounter, were amazed at the variety and beauty of the country, gasoline was cheap everywhere, BBQ was abundant, music uplifting and the sun shone on us all the way.  We ended our day with an incredible sunset that I promise is not Photoshop enhanced. 
Pacific Ocean view from Imperial Beach, CA
More Pictures at flickr.