NOTE: IN ORDER TO BETTER SEE PHOTOS IN THEIR FULL 1600 PX. RESOLUTION, VIEW THEM IN THE ALBUM FORMAT BY CLICKING ON THE LEAD PHOTO OR ANY PHOTO IN THE POST. This is especially true for landscape shots. Thanks to Mark for the idea of adding this alert so the photos can be seen at their best!

Saturday, June 30, 2018

San Diego in Bloom

One of the most surprising things about my trip to San Diego was the variety of blooming plants.

I saw this blooming tree in Balboa Park, I think it's called Angel's Trumpet.  Now, I believe the astounding variety of blooms is due to plants being brought there from South American countries.  For example this shrub is originally from Ecuador and is a relative of Datura, something I grew in my own garden once for its large flowers.


I got lucky and my visit coincided with the cacti blooming, but don't ask me to identify any of them because not a lot of cacti grow in the Midwest!  Maybe Prickly Pear?  It's a good place to start for a guess, feel free to laugh at me and correct me if I'm wrong!

The one below is an Indian Fig (or Barbary Fig) if I remember correctly.  It was growing outside the visitor center at Torrey Pines Recreation Area and had a sign.

Opuntia ficus-indica

Perhaps another Indian Fig Cactus? This one was located in Old Town State Historic Park and I caught a bird flying in for a look at the blooms.

At Mission San Diego de Alcala and a few other places I saw White Bird of Paradise which grows like a tree with a fan of large 5-foot-long leaves. It can grow to 30 feet tall and 15 feet wide!  I saw the standard orange Bird of Paradise plants in landscaping too, but didn't get any photographs.

Strelitzia nicolai

But the first blooms I saw were on the Jacaranda trees, straight out of the airport and everywhere I traveled. It loves full sun and sandy soil, and is native to Mexico and countries further south. The fragile blue hued blossoms were difficult to capture, so I settled for this shot.

Jacaranda mimosifolia

The twin flowers below were in a private garden.

And speaking of Datura, I believe this might be one of the species.  It was growing all over the rocks between the parking area and the beach at Torrey Pines.

Fences are good places to find unusual flowers.

And here's another tree I saw in Old Town.  The blossoms were so numerous that the tree was humming from all the bee activity.  Which did not stop families from sitting beneath it to get some shade in the heat of mid-day. A little identification help would be appreciated, Google didn't know what it was either!

Bougainvillea must be really easy to grow because like the Jacaranda it was everywhere!

Don't worry, I saved a few blooms aside for when I get to posting about my desert hiking.  I wanted to get to the San Diego Botanical Garden but ran out of time, which gives me something to do when I return again someday to visit my cousin and his hospitable family!

From left: Leacey, Cooper, Mom, Jack and cousin Chris

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Spring in Spring Green

I wanted to stay in Spring Green overnight in May at the end of a work day, but once again the mosquitoes descended upon me the minute I stepped out of my car and those hopes were dashed.

Instead I had to settle for a quick look around the Frank Lloyd Wright Visitor Center across the road from Taliesin. The house tour is something I consider once a year and then discard when I am confronted with the outrageous price of $54 for the 2 hour guided tour.  If you want to tour the entire estate plan to spend $90 each.  Honestly.

There is a restaurant in the Visitor Center, something I was not aware of.  The ceiling was interesting, and the menu was tempting but they had already closed for the day.  Perhaps lunch next time I swing through for work instead of a house tour, they are only open from 10:00 to 4:00 so plan accordingly.

The gift shop was full of many items to ponder, though none worth pulling out my Mastercard.  Lots of books dedicated to Wright's accomplishments and it was a reminder to me to seek some of those places out even if I can only see them from the outside.

There is a lovely view of the river that is responsible for all the mosquitoes from the windows, though I would imagine there are not as many of those winged pests on the water itself so perhaps that is a pleasant way to spend an afternoon as well.

Lots more from my trip to San Diego to come, I've just been too distracted to get it organized!

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

New Americans Museum

What better place for a museum called the New Americans Museum than San Diego? And what better time to ponder what makes us American than now?

My mother on our recent trip to San Diego - mural at old Training Station Barracks, now Liberty Station

For those not familiar with the story, my mother was a Canadian who married an American sailor and eventually ended up in San Diego in the 1970's.  She was naturalized during that time, so she is an American citizen.  How American does she feel though?  I've honestly never asked her even though it is something I've thought about myself on my own journey.

I'm a child of an immigrant, and was myself born in Canada on an American Naval base.  The honest truth is since I am white, speak English, and was born in Canada I have always been able to say that to anyone without fear of repercussion.  Since I married a Canadian my children are the children of immigrants and have always done the same.  Naturally our hearts are broken as we consider the current state of immigration in the United States.  One of the old barracks at Liberty Station was home to the New Americans Museum, where two photography exhibits moved me deeply and I had to brush away tears.  The questions posed by the young adults photographed in the first series were familiar ones that I have myself pondered over the years.

When I was a child I "felt" more Canadian, out of place in an American culture at times. As the years have gone on my experiences have changed me and in recent years I have felt out of place when I visit Newfoundland - just another impatient American out of place in a culture that still values a quieter life.

But of course I am both, influenced by one as I live another.  And "being American" is a state that is never stagnant but always changing.  It depends on who you ask, where they live, what they believe.  I always thought certain things though were undeniable about being I'm not so sure.

We could start with the American ideals, first with the idea of Democracy which is a government where representatives are elected by the people to represent them.  Or as Lincoln said, "Of the people, by the people, for the people."  Attention has been brought to the fact that voter turnout is low in the United States, especially in non-presidential election years, but did anyone know that out of 32 developed nations we placed 26th?  The usual suspects such as Sweden, Denmark, France, Germany, Canada and the UK of course have us beat, but it surprised me to learn that so do South Korea, Hungary, Slovakia, Estonia and Mexico!  Concerned with whether or not our elected officials are truly representing us or care what we think?  Vote!

The other exhibit at the museum dealt with refugees, which brings me to another ideal: Rights.

Immigrants, even illegal immigrants, are granted the same basic rights under our Constitution. Many parts of the U.S. Constitution use the term "people" or "person" and not the word "citizen", and therefore those laws apply to anyone physically on U.S. soil.  Otherwise we could act unlawfully to anyone visiting, give that a thought!   Justice Antonin Scalia wrote “it is well established that the Fifth Amendment entitles aliens to due process of law in deportation proceedings.”  The link I show above informed me that even though Wayne is not a U.S. citizen, he may even be entitled to vote, just not in federal elections!  I'll have to ask him whether he wants to look into that.  Rules vary by state and municipality.

Those seeking asylum must be granted a hearing by law.  While the U.S. does allow in a large number of refugees, it currently receives fewer than other countries per capita.  We are a larger, more populated country, therefore it follows that we would receive more individuals.  As of 2014 we were ranked 28 out of 43 countries, I'm sure we are ranked lower than that during these times.

Other founding ideals are Liberty, Opportunity and Equality.  I think of how I have the freedom and opportunities to go where I want, be who I want and have the life that I want and my heart aches for those who just want to go live where they might possibly not have to fear for their lives every minute of every day.  This freedom from fear, these expectations that overall I have control of my life and its direction are something that I used to take for granted.

Luckily for me, my family comes from a country who shares these ideals.  Many are not so lucky.  Think of them today and their struggles to find peace, think of how they are being treated when they get to the United States - once the ideal country for freedom, equality and justice.

Here's a link to a list of 9 children of immigrants who have had profound impact on our country.  Where would our country be without immigrants?  Not only are we turning away refugees, but now even people who lawfully obtained permission to be here probably won't be coming if they are from  certain countries due to the Supreme Court upholding the revised travel ban on the principal that the President of the United States has certain leeway when it comes to immigration law. 

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Ramona Roadster

Ramona, California has a series of 17 murals but I only found three when we drove through on our way to Julian.

The artist of '32 Ford Roadster is Saratoga Sake who also worked on 3 other murals in town.  I had to stop and get a picture of this one due to its interesting location on the side of a quonset hut automotive repair shop.

Linking up to Monday Mural.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Wandering Old Town San Diego Historic Park

Old Town San Diego State Historic Park includes five original adobe buildings as well as other buildings housing museums, unique retail shops, and several restaurants. Parking was free and easy to find mid-week.

San Diego became California's first Spanish settlement when a mission and fort were established here in 1769.

The park was filled with colorful plants and cacti of every sort.  There were a few families around, lounging in the plaza and enjoying the beautiful weather.

California passed into the hands of the newly made Mexican government before gaining statehood in the United States after the Mexican-American War. 

These days the park and the Old Town neighborhood is a place for tourists to gather.

While my mother shopped nearby I just wandered and enjoyed the sunshine and all the new plants to photograph!

Since Mexican food doesn't agree with me I had to settle for an iced tea that was out of this world, so of course I don't remember the name of the shop.

The Cosmopolitan Hotel & Restaurant looked like a good place to have lunch, maybe I will if I'm ever back. The original dates back to the 1829, but of course it has been extensively reconstructed.

The Blacksmith Shop was home to a small stagecoach museum.

But the visitors to this area were discharged from tour buses, not stagecoaches.

Across the street was a lovely church that was closed to the public due to a funeral.

But the painted walls are always open for viewing!  More to come from my trip  to San Diego in the days ahead.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Glittering Crystal and Golden Cherubs at the Westgate

Designed as a re-creation of an anteroom in the Palace of Versailles, the Grand Lobby of the Westgate Hotel in San Diego hosts afternoon tea on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

My mother had to go for the tea...I had to go admire its Baccarat crystal chandeliers, Flemish and French tapestries and Persian carpets.

High tea is one of my mother's cherished rituals, and the menu did not disappoint.

Martin's suggestion of a glass of champagne was not declined, and the melodious sounds of a harp playing added to the relaxing atmosphere.

Mom was in her happy place, indulging in an array of delicious tea sandwiches, sweet pastries, scones and seasonal berries.

I was in my happy place admiring the decor, including this light fixture featuring Hermes if I'm not mistaken.

Golden beauties were everywhere including this urn...

...and the table it sat upon.

What would you expect when modeling your decor on the Palace of Versailles?  Hopefully someday I will get there and see that spectacular Hall of Mirrors for myself.

In the meantime I was happy to make do with the golden cherubs adorning the mantels and tabletops at the Westgate before I headed out to the sunny streets in search of my own cherished ritual of peeking in doorways for architectural treasures.

Still, the little clock-holding cherub sitting on a desk in the Grand Lobby might have been my favorite find of the day!