Gaze at infinite stars and beauty in Balboa Park.

San Diego Astronomy Association members set up telescopes in Balboa Park.
San Diego Astronomy Association members set up telescopes in Balboa Park.

Late this evening I took a stroll through Balboa Park. As the nodding, golden sun bid the blue sky farewell, a smattering of telescopes began to sprout under the brightening moon near the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center.

Today is the first Wednesday of the month. That’s the day members of the San Diego Astronomy Association gaze at stars and the universe’s infinite beauty, and invite casual passersby to gaze up at the wonders. Young and old bend over to peer through eyepieces, and are awed by the craters of the moon, planets that happen to be swinging overhead, colorful nebulae and distant galaxies…

The viewing begins in earnest around eight o’clock, when the sky is good and dark, right after the Reuben H. Fleet’s planetarium shows the monthly “Sky Tonight” program on their big IMAX screen.

Table with astronomy book, eyepieces and other equipment.
Table with astronomy book, eyepieces and other equipment.
One of many amateur telescopes set up the first Wednesday of every month.
One of many amateur telescopes set up the first Wednesday of every month.
Someone checks out a half moon around sunset.
Someone checks out a half moon around sunset.
Lights come on along El Prado and more stargazing enthusiasts arrive.
Lights come on along El Prado and more stargazing enthusiasts arrive.
My little camera barely registers the moon above the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center.
My little camera barely registers the moon above the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center.
The nearby fountain takes on a beautiful glow as night descends.
The nearby fountain takes on a beautiful glow as night descends.

San Salvador galleon replica nears completion!

Seaworthy replica of galleon San Salvador built by San Diego Maritime Museum.
Seaworthy replica of galleon San Salvador built by San Diego Maritime Museum.

On my way to the Cabrillo Festival yesterday, I swung by Spanish Landing across from the airport to check out the San Salvador. As you might recall from my blog post from early last December, the San Salvador is a replica of the galleon sailed by explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo in 1542. The San Diego Maritime Museum is building it.

I was surprised to see the cool ship is nearly completed! Check out some pics I took over the surrounding fence! I spoke to a young volunteer who was working near the ship, and she told me the San Salvador is expected to launch in early 2015. The galleon will be sailing up the coast of California, recreating the historic trip by the famous explorer. And a documentary will be filmed during the voyage!

The peculiar-looking vessel will be able to navigate the open ocean, she assured me, and is ready to go today, but the folks building her are doing as much additional detail work as they can while the ship remains on dry land.

Bow modeled after historic ship sailed by explorer Cabrillo in 1542.
Bow modeled after historic galleon sailed by explorer Cabrillo in 1542.
Stern of the wooden galleon that will sail on the Pacific in early 2015.
Stern of the wooden galleon that will sail on the Pacific Ocean in early 2015.
View of the San Salvador and a huge mast from Harbor Drive sidewalk.
View of the San Salvador and a huge mast from Harbor Drive sidewalk.
People on the upper deck of the almost finished galleon.
People on the upper deck of the almost finished galleon.

Festival recreates landing of explorer Cabrillo.

Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo discovered San Diego Bay for Spain in 1542.
Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo discovered San Diego Bay for Spain in 1542.

San Diego’s 51st Annual Cabrillo Festival was held today. Taking place at Ballast Point near the south end of Naval Base Point Loma, the event allowed the public to view a reenactment of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo’s entrance into San Diego Bay in 1542. Cabrillo, born in Portugal, commanded his voyage of discovery on behalf of Spain, sailing the galleon San Salvador up the west coast of America. In addition to the colorful reenactment, the festival included a short ceremony, speeches, costumes, National Park exhibits, food and dance provided by various cultural groups, and just a lot of interesting local history. I took some photographs. Here they are!

Visitors to the 51st Annual Cabrillo Festival await recreation of historic event.
Visitors to the 51st Annual Cabrillo Festival await reenactment of historic event.
People gather above the small beach at Ballast Point on Naval Base Point Loma.
People gather above the small beach at Ballast Point on Naval Base Point Loma.
As people await a rowboat full of reenactors, event commentary is provided.
As people await a rowboat full of reenactors, event commentary is provided.

A short walk out to a point beside the bay provided a view of the San Diego Maritime Museum’s tall ship Californian, which portrayed Cabrillo’s galleon San Salvador.

Tall ship Californian, in the distance, serves as Cabrillo's galleon San Salvador.
Tall ship Californian, in the distance, serves during event as Cabrillo’s galleon San Salvador.

I took pictures of two signs by the above fenced archeological site…

Sign at Ballast Point tells about archeological site of old Spanish whaling station.
Sign at Ballast Point tells about archeological site of old Spanish whaling station.
Stones and tiles are remains of an old tryworks oven where whale oil was boiled.
Stones and tiles are remains of an old tryworks oven where whale oil was boiled.

I headed back to the gathered crowd to await the main event…

Here comes the row boat containing explorer Cabrillo, a priest and crew members.
Here comes the rowboat containing explorer Cabrillo, a priest and crew members.
People watching the historical recreation are snapping photos like crazy now.
People watching this recreation of history are snapping photos like crazy.
Cabrillo leaps from the galleon's small boat onto the shore!
Cabrillo leaps from the galleon’s small boat onto the shore!
Cabrillo in armor raises his sword, while priest with cross stands behind him.
Cabrillo in armor raises his sword, while priest with cross stands behind him.
Cabrillo now plants a Spanish Cross of Burgundy flag on soil of New World.
Cabrillo now plants a Spanish Cross of Burgundy flag on soil of New World.
A proclamation is read on behalf of Spain by Portuguese explorer Cabrillo.
A proclamation is read on behalf of Spain by Portuguese explorer Cabrillo.
Actors depart the narrow beach and head up to join the onlookers.
Actors depart the narrow beach and head up to join the onlookers.
Kids pose with a modern day version of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo.
Kids pose with a modern day version of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo.
Many folks in costume were in the big crowd!
Many folks in costume were in the big crowd!
Navy honor guard prepares for anthems of four nations and a moment of silence.
Navy honor guard prepares for anthems of four nations and a moment of silence.
Making an adjustment to costume from the Old World centuries ago.
Making an adjustment to costume from the Old World centuries ago.
Anthems were played for Spain, Portugal, Mexico and the United States.
Anthems were played for Spain, Portugal, Mexico and the United States.

In addition to the four national anthems, a moment of silence honored the Native American Kumeyaay, who lived in this area long before Europeans arrived. Cabrillo spent a few days anchored in today’s San Diego Bay, a place he originally named San Miguel. He took on fresh water and traded with the native Kumeyaay people that he met.

People watch with interest during the short ceremony that included several speeches.
People watch with interest during the short ceremony that included several speeches.
Several beauty queens appear on stage and smile for everyone.
Several beauty queens appear on stage and smile for everyone.
Exhibits included various parts of Spanish conquistador armor.
Exhibits included various parts of Spanish conquistador armor.
Small boy tries on a surprisingly heavy steel helmet.
Small boy tries on a surprisingly heavy steel helmet.
Chainmail was being twisted with an apparatus at the end of this table.
Chainmail was being twisted with an apparatus at the end of this table.
Biscuits, nuts and an astrolabe are typical items carried on a Spanish galleon.
Biscuits, nuts and an astrolabe are typical items carried on a Spanish galleon.
Scouts demonstrate rope making with an interesting machine.
Scouts demonstrate rope making with an interesting machine.
Friendly lady was making woolen caps to be worn under those heavy steel helmets!
Friendly lady was making woolen caps to be worn under those heavy steel helmets!

Ghosts seen rising from graves on Haunted Trail.

One of several huge monsters awaiting visitors to the 2014 Haunted Trail.
One of several huge monsters awaiting visitors to the 2014 Haunted Trail.

Warning! Some of the upcoming pics are pretty darn scary! You’ve been warned!

Runner in Balboa Park passes behind a grinning ghoul!
Runner in Balboa Park passes behind a grinning ghoul!

This morning I was nearly frightened out of my wits. I was taking a nice brisk walk up the west side of Balboa Park, enjoying the fresh air and at peace with the world…when I found myself surrounded! I couldn’t escape from silent ghosts rising from the cold ground all around me!  A catastrophe!  The horror!  I had met my doom!

Oh, thank goodness, I realized at last. It’s just the Haunted Trail. You know, the yearly outdoor “haunted house” that’s extremely popular in San Diego around Halloween.

The spooky attraction, which brings in thousands of thrill-seekers on dark Autumn nights, is under construction once again. It’s larger than ever and looks super spooky. I walked around the perimeter and tried to get a bunch of cool daytime photos for you to enjoy. Here they are…

Black-robed ghosts and grim reapers are rising in the popular Halloween attraction.
Black-robed ghosts and grim reapers are rising in the popular Halloween attraction.
A ghost town in the mournful trees contains many grisly and horrible surprises!
A ghost town in the mournful trees contains many grisly and horrible surprises!
Welcome to Silent Hill, where nightmares rise from a well.
Welcome to Silent Hill, where nightmares rise from a well.
Props on ground behind a school bus filled with Halloween frights.
Props piled on ground behind a school bus filled with Halloween frights.
In late September, the Haunted Trail is a work in progress.
In late September, the Haunted Trail is a work in progress.
Mangled cloth mannequins lie lifeless on dead leaves.
Mangled cloth mannequins lie limp and lifeless on dead leaves.
Artists creating the scary park trail use gallons of paint each year.
Artists creating the scary park trail use gallons of paint each year.
Entrance to Haunted Trail rises again this year, as do many spooky old props.
Entrance to Haunted Trail rises again this year, as do many spooky old props.
Close look at skulls embedded in the castle-like entrance.
Close look at skulls embedded in the castle-like entrance.
Structure made of bones beside a Haunted Trail sign just inside entrance.
Structure made of skeleton bones beside a Haunted Trail sign just inside entrance.
Here's that huge bloody yeti I took a pic of last year, just as frightening as ever!
Here’s that huge bloody yeti I took a pic of last year, just as frightening as ever!
This poor guy has sat in that electric chair for so many years he must have a stiff back.
This poor guy has sat in that electric chair for so many years he must have a stiff back.
Surprise! Another zombie, ghoul or creature waiting to scare some nice visitor.
Surprise! Another zombie, ghoul or creature ready to scare a nice fun-seeking visitor.
This prop lying on the ground is quite eerie and realistic.
This prop lying on the ground is quite eerie and realistic.
A ravenous, hellish hound prowls the perimeter of a vast cemetery.
A ravenous, hellish hound prowls among tombstones in a dark cemetery.
I suppose all the undead have risen from this scary graveyard on the Haunted Trail!
I suppose all the undead have risen from this scary graveyard on the Haunted Trail!

Adventure is out there! It’s a breeze!

Adventure is out there! Just attach a bunch of balloons!
Adventure is out there! Just attach a bunch of balloons!

Okay, here’s a quick pic of some rather simple street art. I saw this colorfully painted utility box while walking up Bankers Hill a few days ago.

I love the symbolism in the image. A riot of small uplifting balloons whisking one’s home and carefully controlled life away on a carefree, restoring breeze was a theme that I really enjoyed in the Pixar movie Up!

Tomorrow I’m planning on a long walk. No telling where my legs will take me!

Take a cool ride on an old, restored streetcar!

Here comes the San Diego Trolley's cool Silver Line, approaching America Plaza!
Here comes the San Diego Trolley’s cool Silver Line, approaching America Plaza!

Do you love riding on trains? I do! Please take a ride with me on a cool restored streetcar that runs in a circle through downtown San Diego!

Here comes PCC 529 now, coming down the track toward the America Plaza trolley station! This beautiful President’s Conference Committee car was built in 1945 and is an example of the sort of transportation common throughout San Diego during that era. Streetcars have run through San Diego’s history since the 1890’s. Today they’re making a bit of a comeback with this Vintage Trolley, which runs on a downtown loop called the Silver Line.

PCC 529, before it was lovingly restored by volunteers, sat rusting under some pine trees in South Lake Tahoe. How it got there, I don’t know. But here it comes now, getting closer to the station, so lets tap our Compass cards on the ticket reader and hurry up to hop aboard!

PCC 529 is a lovingly restored President's Conference Committee streetcar.
PCC 529 is a meticulously restored President’s Conference Committee streetcar.
As we ride down C Street, a modern red trolley is seen on the opposite track.
As we ride down C Street, a modern red trolley is seen on the opposite track.

We immediately head up to the front seat to watch the friendly MTS driver pilot this old streetcar down the track. Unlike modern trolleys or light rail, this vehicle really clatters and jerks along and makes you feel like your laboring forward! Whenever the door opens, a bell rings!

Turning around, we notice the beautiful streetcar appears almost empty at the moment.
Turning around, we notice the beautiful streetcar appears almost empty at the moment.
No, there's one more passenger looking out the window at downtown San Diego.
No, there’s one more passenger looking out the window at downtown San Diego.
Images inside the Silver Line show streetcars on San Diego roads long ago.
Images inside the Silver Line show streetcars on San Diego roads and bridges  long ago.

Walking down toward the rear of the refurbished car, we check out some old black-and-white photos. It’s cool to envision the streets of San Diego filled with streetcars over half a century ago!

Here's an old photo of a streetcar that was pulled by a horse--or is that a mule.
Here’s an old photo of a streetcar that was pulled by a horse–or is that a mule.
Another passenger steps onto the restored trolley at the Fifth Avenue station.
Another passenger steps onto the restored trolley at the Fifth Avenue station.

The bells rings, the door opens, and another passenger steps aboard!

These windows open, so riders can enjoy the fresh air outside.
These windows open, so riders can enjoy the fresh air outside.

You can dangle your arm out a window if you like, I suppose. It’s fun to just sit and watch the buildings and people flash by. This is what I call riding in style!

As we get off at City College, other folks step aboard the historic streetcar.
As we get off at City College, other folks step aboard the historic streetcar.

Our short ride is over!

I turn around to enjoy another glance at this classic example of public transit.
I turn around to enjoy another glance at this classic example of public transit.
There goes PCC 529. That was one super fun ride!
There goes PCC 529. That was one super fun ride!

Thanks for joining me. That was fun!

Scuba divers help clean up San Diego waterfront!

Volunteers help clean up San Diego Bay near the Star of India.
Volunteers help clean up our San Diego Bay near the Star of India.

The annual San Diego Bay Downtown Cleanup was held this morning! Local scuba divers cleaned up underwater garbage at the edge of our beautiful waterfront, while other volunteers assisted gathering trash above water. I walked along the Embarcadero from the San Diego Maritime Museum down to Tuna Harbor and took a bunch of cool photographs. Hopefully these pics provide a little inspiration! Let’s make the world more clean and beautiful!

This guy was assisting divers removing trash along the Embarcadero.
This guy was assisting divers removing trash along the Embarcadero.
Power Scuba and Control Group teamed up for downtown waterfront cleanup event.
Power Scuba and Control Group teamed up for downtown waterfront cleanup event.
Looking out at diving boat from inside Anthony's Fishette.
Looking out at dive boat from inside Anthony’s Fishette.
Many San Diegans assisted in various ways, or just watched with curiosity.
Many San Diegans assisted in various ways, or just watched with curiosity.
Bags of garbage were gathered throughout the morning to be hauled away later.
Bags of garbage were gathered throughout the morning to be hauled away later.
A participant checks out what's going on in the water below.
A participant checks out what’s going on in the water below.
The boardwalk near the USS Midway was full of activity.
The boardwalk near the USS Midway was full of activity.
New trash compacting and recycling cans along the Embarcadero are solar powered.
New trash compacting and recycling cans along the Embarcadero are solar powered.
Old and young were helping out making our fine city even better.
Old and young were helping out the environment, making our fine city even better.
Scuba divers checked in here before beginning their underwater mission.
Scuba divers checked in here before beginning their underwater mission.
Piles of garbage found in the bay include construction cones and a shopping cart.
Piles of garbage found in the bay include construction cones and a shopping cart.
Bags of trash are collected as the morning progresses.
Bags of trash are collected as the morning progresses.
Pool skimming nets were handy for removing floating litter and debris.
Pool skimming nets were handy for removing floating litter and debris.
Port of San Diego's boat Tsunami II is used to help clean the bay.
Port of San Diego’s boat Tsunami II is used to help clean the bay.
Scuba diver gets hosed off on Tuna Harbor dock after gathering trash.
Scuba diver gets hosed off on Tuna Harbor dock after gathering trash.
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