Our last full day in the San Diego area was a new adventure for us. Bailey invited us to a photo shoot of the CampIt, a product she was preparing to launch. We had never been on a photo shoot before and I looked forward to capturing behind-the-scene activity and snapping candid photos of everyone.
We arrived at San Elijo State Beach campground, where her friends, Amy, Vanessa, and Valerie were setting up the “craft services” with snacks and drinks.
Bailey had lucked out in snagging the campsite a few weeks earlier. Campsites at the beach usually sell out within hours or minutes of them opening up online six months in advance.
The large size of the campsites surprised me. They accommodate tents and RVs up to 35 feet, include picnic tables, and bushes separate the sites for a bit of privacy. Restrooms and showers are also available.
Besides the “craft services,” a group of interns shot videos, photographed still shots, and also filled in as models. They and Bailey photographed Jon and me too. One of Jon’s photos made the cut and ended up on one of the GoCampit.com website’s pages.
I had expected fast-paced activity with someone directing people to their spots for filming or photography to catch the best light and background. Instead, the scene was calm and slow-paced. Even a walk down the stairs from the cliff to the beach was more of a stroll rather than a hurry-up-before-the-tide-comes-in rush.
Too late. The tide had covered up most of the beach. A few throws of the baseball and spikes of the volleyball, was about all they could do.
Back at the campsite, we all ate lunch and sat around talking. Then the videographer filmed Bailey and the interns/models, putting contents of the CampIt in the box one at a time.
They filmed the interns assembling a tent. A truly hilarious entertainment.
Then they filmed an interview with Bailey talking about the CampIt’s origin story.
After a few takes, Jon and I took our leave in search of a dinner spot before heading back to the trailer. Brigantine in Del Mar was the perfect place to fill our bellies with fresh seafood.
It was sad to leave San Diego after a perfect week of exploring Balboa Park, the San Diego Zoo, and visiting a photo shoot. Our week in San Diego couldn’t have been more perfect, but it was time to move on. We had more places to go, and more people to see.
The San Diego Zoo was a place we hadn’t visited in a long time, so we arranged to meet Kevin and Bailey, our son and his better half, there on Sunday, October 24, 2021. Runners, participating in the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Marathon & Half Marathon, foiled our plans.
Closed freeway exits and road closures had us driving around in circles, trying to escape the traffic. Jon and I stopped at Crest Cafe for breakfast, thinking the traffic would dissipate in about an hour. Kevin and Bailey joined us. Unfortunately, the grid lock had not abated by the time we finished our meals, so we nixed the zoo idea and crawled along for an hour or more before we could shake ourselves loose.
Jon and I went back on Tuesday, which turned out to be a very fine day indeed, to visit the zoo. We started with the shuttle to get our bearings. Note to visitors: The best seats to see the animals and take photos is on the right side of the double decker. We had snagged two seats on the left side, which wasn’t so great.
The 1915 Exposition brought more than the architectural buildings to Balboa Park. It also brought exotic animals for display during the exposition. Sadly, many of the animals were abandoned and left to the City of San Diego to care for them.
In October 1916, the Zoological Society of San Diego was born and Dr. Harry M. Wegeforth served as president until 1941. Wegeforth was instrumental in the creation of “cageless” exhibits by constructing moats instead of enclosing them with wires.
After a few unsuccessful attempts to hire a zoo director, Belle Benchley, the zoo’s bookkeeper, was named as the executive secretary with the duties of the zoo director. Later she was given the title of zoo director and served in that capacity until 1953.
The San Diego Zoo Wildlife alliance, a private nonprofit conservation organization, is now the parent organization for both the San Diego Zoo in Balboa Park and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park in Escondido, California.
We selected Albert’s Restaurant for our lunch. The sit-down diner’s plentiful assortment of soups, salads, and entrees should satisfy most patrons. Wine, beer, and mixed drinks are also available.
After our meal, we walked around the enclosures, expecting to see more animals. We guessed most of the animals must have been inside eating their meals because there were very few out and about. Birds in the aviaries were the exception.
The zoo’s 100 acres (40 ha) house over 12,000 animals of over 650 species and subspecies. In 2018, the zoo reached over 4 million visitors.
I knew the bronze lion outside the exit gate was something special as soon as I saw it. I never guessed how special until I did a little research and found out how the lion sculpture could stand on only one paw. Rex’s Roar took two years from a sketch design to installation to create the 10-ton bronze sculpture with a stainless steel structure.
Jim Burt of Blue Rhino Studios turned a design sketched by Tim Reamer, former San Diego Zoo Global illustrator, into a 3-D model that was enlarged through a 3-D printing process. Engineered by Thornton Tomasetti and cast by Artworks Foundry in Berkeley, California, Rex stands at 27 feet tall. Craigar and Mark Grosvenor made it all happen through their donation. Watch the Making of Rex on YouTube.
We had a great day at the zoo and another visit may be in the cards the next time we’re in San Diego. Maybe we’ll be able to catch sight of the animals we missed on this visit.
Our Fall 2021 Tour kept us mostly within California. It was refreshing not to have long days of driving. Although visiting family and friends was the main purpose of our trip, finding things to do and see still played a role in our plans.
We arrived at Sun Outdoors RV Resort in Chula Vista, California, on October 20, 2021, for a one-week stay. The Chula Vista RV Park where we stayed during our last visit to the San Diego area had closed permanently a week or two before our arrival. It was time to check out the new campground next to Sweetwater Marsh National Wildlife Refuge.
The campsites had plenty of space and we liked the amenities and facilities. And the ticket for a complimentary frozen drink was a bonus. We missed being surrounded by the mature vegetation planted at the Chula Vista RV Park until we saw the view from our rig’s patio and out the back window. The view is what will keep bringing us back to Sun Outdoors.
Balboa Park is always a favorite activity of ours while in San Diego. I especially like the architecture, and with the vendors, musicians, galleries, and museums, we always enjoy exploring the nooks and crannies we find on our walks through the park.
Originally named the Commerce and Industries Building when built for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition, the Casa De Balboa on the El Prado feature caryatids (weight-bearing features carved as human figures) or hermes elements under the eaves. Except here they are more ornamental than functional. The hermes depict naked women with arms overhead as if their presence holds up the eaves. Some of the women are shown kneeling, while others are shown from the waist up. How many people walk under those eaves in a day and never bother to look up at the faces staring down on them?
We ducked into the Museum of Photographic Arts to view the Aaron Siskind: Mid Century Modern exhibit (through May 1, 2022) and the 15th Annual Juried Youth Exhibition (through April 10, 2022). While I enjoyed Aaron Siskind’s photographs, there were plenty of works in the youth exhibit that blew me away. The crowded display and lighting in the youth room was perfect for viewing in person. Unfortunately, taking photographs of the art didn’t work out, so I have no samples to share.
Another 1915 Exposition structure is the Botanical Building with the lily pond out front. Constructed with lath (thin, narrow strips of straight-grained wood), it is one of the largest lath-built structures in the world.
It’s a great place to wander through to look at, or photograph, the various ferns, orchids, cycads, and other tropical plants and palms.
Designed after the Globe Theatre in London, the Old Globe Theatre was built in 1935 for the California Pacific International Exposition. The theater produces the annual Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas? musical along with 15 other productions during the year, of which many have earned nominations and 13 received Tony Awards.
Heading west on El Prado toward Cabrillo Bridge, the California Building and Tower commands the attention of viewers with its intricately designed carvings, busts, and colorful tiles.
The building and tower were also built for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition and display a mix of Baroque, Rococo Gothic, Spanish Colonial, Plateresque, and Churrigueresque architectural features. Somehow, those styles blend well together to create the imposing structure.
Once known as the Museum of Man, the Museum of Us has changed its focus to a more inclusive and respectful mission with recognition of the indigenous peoples who lived in San Diego before it became part of the United States.
On the day of our visit, Korean Day at Balboa Park was in full swing, including live music, at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion. Harrison Albright designed the Italian-Renaissance structure for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition. The pavilion is noted for its semi-circular colonnades, leaf clusters, and shell designs.
So here’s a tip when visiting Balboa Park: Don’t forget to look up at the buildings and their ornamental details. What you find may be a whimsical surprise.
We’re on day 35 of sheltering in place. Our yard isn’t sure what’s going on. Used to neglect because of our travels, future boysenberries are taking shape.
The lemon and lime bushes received much-needed grooming and now look more like trees. Well, the one on the right anyway.
Tomato, pepper, and zucchini plants seem to grow inches a day in the raised beds filled with new soil.
And the roses are in their blooming glory.
We’re not sure how long the virus will curtail our travels, but it looks like we’ll be around until harvest.
In the meantime, we are San Diego dreaming as we look back at past adventures. In November 2014, we stayed in San Diego so Jon could help our son Kevin and his girlfriend Bailey renovate their kitchen. We took a break after several days of work and hiked the Razor and Yucca Point trails in Torrey Pines State Reserve.
After our hike, we stopped in at South Beach Bar and Grill for lunch and refreshments while looking out the window at the beach and pier.
Then we headed to Ocean Beach and Dog Beach for recreation, relaxation, and the sunset. I spent most of my time photographing the scene.
As of the publication date of this post, all San Diego parks and beaches are closed until further notice. I’m sure I’m not the only one who longs for a day at the beach or a hike along the cliffs. Here’s to the day when we can again enjoy the warm sand under our feet, sea spray on our faces, and a salty breeze in our hair.