Sunday, June 26, 2011

Sunday at Balboa Park

My shy, reserved granddaughter will be attending the San Diego Junior Theatre camp in Balboa Park tomorrow, so my daughter took her there to see the layout. I and my not so shy or reserved grandson went along.

There were many visitors, so we had to pray for a parking spot. We circled the parking lot not finding a spot and decided to just drive to the front of the building where the theatre camp would be held. There, right in front of the building was a "15 minute" spot. We had just enough time to familiarize my granddaughter with the layout of the area. Then, we got back into the car and drove to the area where she would be picked up every day. That accomplished, my daughter circled through that parking lot. As she stopped because of someone waiting for a parking spot, a couple walked up to the car and said, "We are leaving if you want our spot." That gave us the opportunity to wander through the park. If you had seen the line of cars waiting to park, you'd probably agree that our prayer was answered.

The Park was crowded but not over-crowded. We walked to the Bea Evenson Water Fountain. To the left, is a picture taken when there were less visitors. On the way up to the fountain, a lone street dancer got my grandson to join him in a dance routine.

We just missed a large group dance performance near the fountain. As we walked down the main street we saw the San Diego Bird Rescue group with some beautiful birds. The volunteers walked amidst the spectators allowing them to have a close-up view that they would not ordinarily enjoy.

My granddaughter wanted to see the tall tower near the western entrance to the Park. Actually, it is the California Tower housing the Ona May Lowe Carillon (picture at the top of blog). To the left is a picture of the entrance to the Museum of Man.

Then, with her curiosity satisfied, we walked back towards the Botanical Building. On the way, a small crowd surrounded a street magician. We stopped to watch his magic tricks. Then, on to the Botanical Building where we had the opportunity to rub and sniff some herbs. Interesting. There were many, many plants, but it was too crowded today.

I led our little group to a tree behind this building, which I've found very interesting because so many of it's roots were above the ground (picture below on the left). The children enjoyed climbing the roots. I think the this tree might be a Moreton Bay Fig Tree as its roots are similar to the large famous one near the Park Avenue entrance (picture below on the right).

As we passed the Village Grill, we decided to have, what was by now, a late lunch. It provided a good reprieve from all our walking. As time was marching on, we regrettably had to skip the Art Show at the Spanish Village Art Center.

There is just so much to see at Balboa Park, whether it be roadside entertainment, museums, plants or beautiful architecture. Actually, we probably only covered one-third of the park. And, a good time was had by all.

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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

San Diego Children's Museum

Today, I accompanied my eight year old granddaughter to the San Diego Children's Museum in Downtown San Diego. This museum affords children, from toddlers to teenagers, hands-on creative experiences. As we ventured through the three-story building, my granddaughter headed for the large zebra in the center. We entered it from the third floor and were able to see all around the building. Then, she painted on large rock-like structures, created a felt penguin and left it on the story wall, created bubbles with large hand-made wire wands, and experienced a rain house.

Then, off we went to lunch. As long as we kept our Museum stickers on, we could re-enter the museum when we returned. We checked out Cafe222 on Island and Second Avenues. After perusing the menu, we decided to eat there. My granddaughter chose Orange Juice and a Grilled Cheese Sandwich with Caesar Salad. I had coffee and a bowl of chili. The Grilled Cheese got a "thumbs up." But, so did my chili when she tasted it (a number of times). She immediately made plans to return for the chili, which I thought was very tasty, as well. There was plenty of chopped meat as well as fresh tomatoes. Then, my granddaughter offered me a crouton from her salad. "It's great and tastes homemade." As the daughter of a chef, she is quite savvy when it comes to food. This restaurant was featured on the Food Network's "The Best Thing I Ever Ate." Apparently, Bobby Flay liked the Peanut Butter and Banana Stuffed French Toast. I would like to try that as well.

After a hearty lunch, we returned to the Children's Museum where we re-visited the Zebra in the air. My granddaughter had eyed the chariots propelled by a hand pump earlier in the day and now that the area was quiet she decided to try it out. Then we went down to the lower level where she was able to go into a long tunnel what was really like a "jumpy house." After she enjoyed a few minutes in that, she sat at an easel and drew a picture. It was then I wished I had brought my camera. All I could see from my vantage point was the top of her head and long legs and sneakers. Then, up we went to the third floor again. After roaming around for a short while, she settled at a large table that would accommodate eight to ten children. The table was filled with different small logs and blocks for building. She was able to build a tower about three and one-half feet tall. As it grew higher than she could reach, she stood on a stool and continued building. Then, she decided she was finished and was going to leave it. I pointed out the smaller children who had also joined her, making their own creations. What if her tower fell on one of them? So, after warning the children and their mothers, my granddaughter pushed the tower over and it collapsed on the table. Everyone enjoyed watching it fall. This brought our fun day to an end.

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Friday, June 17, 2011

Demeanor of Public Officials

This week, the Internet blogs are replete with stories of another public official leaving office in self-admitted disrepute retaining a projected Federal pension of over $1 million.

While my main intention in writing this blog is to provide pleasant reviews of places I’ve visited, I am questioning today if we Americans have lost our senses. The latest public official in disrepute is one in a seemingly growing line of people who take their responsibilities to the American people lightly. It matters not whether they are Republican or Democrat. These officials seem to think they can do what they please and that they are above reproach. And, why wouldn’t they be with guaranteed pensions, much better healthcare than the average American citizen, and fellow officials who either excuse or turn a blind eye to their behavior. Unfortunately, there will probably be more of these people coming down the pike.

Contrast this to "EveryMan" in Everytown, USA. If this man admittedly acts inappropriately in a public manner, his job would most likely be jeopardized. If his employer is unhappy with "EveryMan's" performance or the public perception of his actions upon the employer’s business, will this "EveryMan" keep his job or his pension? Will his medical benefits be retained? How about a member of our Armed Forces? What happens if this person does something unbecoming to his or her profession?

Why am I writing this? Because I believe that “Silence is Assent.” There are good people who serve this Nation, whose image is besmirched by these others who misuse their elevated positions. However, when are we, as citizens of this great Nation, going to require that all people elected by us to serve in public office reflect, in every aspect of their lives, good character?

Presently, approximately twenty million people are out of work and the people who do have jobs work hard to buy gas, food, and clothing for their families. They are so busy trying to make ends meet, they have to trust that their elected officials will hopefully feel their pain and honestly represent them in serious Governmental matters.

Why do we put up with and pay for, what I consider, the shenanigans of elected officials (of either Party) who apparently think they are above us? Or are they?

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Thursday, June 16, 2011

Chula Vista Nature Center

Yesterday, my eight year old granddaughter and I went to the Chula Vista Nature Center, in Chula Vista, CA. It is located approximately 7 miles south of the center of the City of San Diego. We rode the trolley from Old Town, which took about 30 minutes. When we debarked, we went to the Visitors Center and requested the Nature Center Shuttle. No cars are allowed on the Center property so as to protect the reserve. About ten minutes later, the shuttle arrived. It took us to the Nature Center complex. After paying a very reasonable fee ($8 for me and $6 for her), we took in the beautiful exhibits of sculptured and blown glass created by thirteen local artists in large aquariums holding tropical fish. One was more beautiful than the other. One was called "Exploding Volcanoes", created by two ten year old artists. My granddaughter and I really enjoyed the beautiful colors and artistry. Further on, there were enclosed exhibits of spiders and snakes, which were not my "cup of tea." We left the main room and found an outside table to eat our lunch.

Then, on to the large birds. I've never seen a Golden Eagle, nor a Bald Eagle up close. This Nature Center provides just that. A man near us stated that both birds had a broken wing. The birds were very large and beautifully majestic. What an opportunity to see them in a natural setting. Also, the Center had several owls, a Ferruginous Hawk and a Turkey Vulture. These birds have been injured and cannot live in the wild anymore. Next door was the Shorebird Aviary where they breed Clapper Rails. We didn't see them but we did find a North American Ruddy Duck, a Black Oyster Catcher (picture above), and White-faced Ibis (picture below).

We couldn't leave without seeing the sharks and rays. Visitors are allowed touch the rays but neither of us was interested. The last exhibit was the Turtle Lagoon where we saw three Green Sea Turtles. They were swimming by the window and I spied my granddaughter taking a liking to one of them and waving at it, trying to get the turtle's attention.

At that, we had completed our approximately two hour tour. My granddaughter and I both agreed that it was very interesting and perhaps her Girl Scout troop might enjoy it as well. The beauty of this Nature Center was how close and personal it was. You can get more information on their website at .

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Sunday, June 12, 2011

San Diego Padres Game

Today I attended my first national baseball game, the San Diego Padres vs. the Washington DC Nationals. The main reason I attended as to watch my granddaughter "run the ball to the pitcher's mound" at the beginning of the game. I was allowed to sit near the dugout to get her picture, but as just as she ran out to the pitcher's mound, general business was happening in front of me, such people standing to admit latecomers, a man down in front lifting his little boy to see, etc. Oh well....back to my real seat. Actually, my real seat was fine because it appears that Petco Park enables everyone to see home plate no matter where you sit, which is a good thing, especially for me, a novice.

At the beginning of the ceremonies, the Padres celebrated the 236th birthday of the US Army with a cake. Then, I watched the newest inductees to the US Army take their oath. Approximately 100 new US Army members stood en masse behind the US Flag unfurled on the field.

Since this was my first national baseball game, I watched and witnessed an American pastime. This is much different than watching on TV. People were eating, talking, and generally enjoying themselves. Vendors were going up and down the steps barking their dogs, cotton candy, drinks, etc. I'm not sure how many people payed attention to the game until it was well underway. Unfortunately, the Padres lost 2-0 to the Nationals. The people seemed to be enjoying themselves anyway.

It was great to see the Padres honor the presence of the US Marines, as well as the Army. The whole crowd stood at hearing the Marine Hymn. I was dismayed to see that the Marines were sitting in the "nose-bleed" section while there was a whole section on the second level empty. It's too bad that they could not have been moved to the lower tier.

It is certainly commendable that the Padres honor the different branches of service to the Country. Since San Diego is a military town, it would be nice if the people who protect us every day had a special section at every home game. Maybe they do, but it would be nice if it were in a more accessible tier. My picture is small, but maybe you can see the crutches in the third row of the highest tier. I'm sure that no serviceman or woman was complaining....just happy to see the game. In my opinion, it makes them "a cut above the rest."

All in all, it was a good day. It was a very exciting day for my granddaughter, eight years old, and her four year old brother. Good memories. Thanks, Padres.

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Saturday, June 11, 2011

San Diego Zoo

One of my gifts for Mother's Day was a yearly pass to the San Diego Zoo. Yesterday, I decided to visit. Having a pass enables you to spend an hour or two at a time. I reasoned that all the walking would give me great exercise, as well as providing an opportunity to take photographs.

I arrived about 2pm and wandered by the monkey exhibit on to the Scripps Aviary. Since it was a cloudy day, that area didn't provide a good light for taking any pictures. Then, on to the Owens Aviary, which I always enjoy.

A pigeon just flew up and sat next to me, as though it was saying, "Did you notice me?"

As I walked through the different levels of the aviary with small birds zooming throughout, I remembered that I forgot a hat. On a visit last year, a bird pooped on my cheek and camera. Yuk! Thankfully, I had tissues until I could reach a restroom to wash up. It is still a wonderful experience to be able to walk among them.

The three colorful lorikeets were just sitting there on the same branch. What a "photo op."

Then, I made my way past the Panda Station, deciding against getting on line. This is a very popular spot. I followed the path to another of my favorite areas, a pond for flamingos, various large birds, such as an African Spoonbill (which I did not spot on this visit), a saddleback stork, ducks, and local herons and egrets that visit at feeding time. Luckily it was feeding time.

The Great Blue Heron in the picture flew away from the pond to another part of the path. I just missed him in flight. So, I waited around to see if he would take off again. I've always wanted to catch the bird in flight, but never seem to time it right. Sure enough, my daughter called and, as I answered the phone, the heron returned to the pond.

My daughter and her children decided to join me at the zoo, since the zoo would be open for two more hours. When they arrived, they wanted to see the Koalas. On the way, we stopped to see some baby ducks and two turtles. The children really enjoyed watching them.

When reached the Koalas, we found them sleeping. Since it was later in the day, there were fewer spectators, which enabled me to get some good photos.

The first photo was a Koala fast asleep. The second was the same Koala repositioning because an annoying tree branch.

This was a great visit. We are looking forward to the "nighttime" zoo, which opens on June 25. We attended last year and had a wonderful time. I really recommend that you spend a day at the San Diego Zoo and if you live anywhere in Southern California, you would really enjoy having a pass for multiple visits.

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Monday, June 6, 2011

My Photos in Poughkeepsie Journal On-line

A good friend recently alerted me that the Poughkeepsie Journal (Poughkeepsie, NY) was accepting photographs for their public photo gallery. I submitted three and today, I discovered that the staff approved them for inclusion. I was so elated to see my photography displayed on this site. When I reviewed other photographs there, I was even more gratified that mine were accepted. Thank you, Margaret. Also, many thanks to the staff of the Poughkeepsie Journal.

Check out the photos at . Select Photos under Features.

My photos are shown in the "Mid-Hudson scenes" and "Fall foliage" sections. I submitted them under the name, "GrandmaBeacon".

These are other pictures, which I didn't submit. I share these in hope that after viewing these scenes, you might want to visit the areas.

The photo on the left is of the Hudson River at Madame Brett Park in Beacon, NY. The subject of the photo at the top is an Estuary on the Hudson River, south of Beacon.

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