Category Archives: Manmade

Peace in Ocean Beach

Picture of the Moment

One of the more eclectic neighborhoods of San Diego is Ocean Beach.

It’s a time warp right out of the ’60s.

It’s fun to go there because it’s a beach, of course, and it’s one of the best places to watch storm waves crashing to shore.

It’s also interesting to drive the streets because you never know what you might find on any given day.

Recently I found a large garden ornament, which fits in well with yesterday’s Music on Monday’s focus on peace.

Peace symbol in Ocean Beach stamp

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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My six favorite San Diego vista points

Out & About

The following are my six favorite places from which to view San Diego:

San Diego Sky Tours

San Diego Sky Tours takes you on a 20-minute flight over downtown San Diego, Petco Park (home of the San Diego Padres), Qualcomm Stadium (home of the San Diego Chargers), Sports Arena (home of the Los Angeles Clippers when they were the San Diego Clippers), SeaWorld, Coronado Bridge, Hotel Del Coronado, beaches, San Diego River, and more! Take a ride in a biplane, a tour aircraft, or a helicopter. Nothing quite like it. Rates start at $124.

Remember, too, that if you fly into San Diego, sit on the left side of the airplane. The view of downtown San Diego as you are coming in for the landing is not to be missed!

Downtown San Diego from San Diego Sky Tours

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Mount Soledad

A very popular tourist vista because it’s just minutes north of downtown San Diego, and downtown La Jolla, one of the area’s best tourist venues, is on the north side.

Mount Soledad rises about 823 feet above the coastline. There is a huge cross and Veterans Memorial at the top. On a clear day you can see Tijuana, Los Angeles, and probably Tokyo!

View from Mount Soledad

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Mount Helix

The most popular vista point in East San Diego County. Mount Helix rises 1,365 feet above sea level. It’s about 14 miles inland but you can see the ocean on a clear day. There is am amphitheater and large cross at the top. Along with Easter Sunrise Service, there are usually theater presentations during the summer. Right now the only thing I see on the Mount Helix calendar are weddings and Power Yoga.

Mount Helix is my favorite place to see the sun rise.

Sunrise from the top of Mount Helix in La Mesa, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Manchester Grand Hyatt Hotel

In downtown San Diego on the harbor front. Comprising two towers, the older one, at 497 feet tall, has a vista point bar at the top. Unfortunately, it is way too small and crowded all the time. Be sure to visit Seaport Village at the foot of the towers.

Downtown San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

California Tower

The California Tower is 198 feet tall and located in Balboa Park.  While it is not as tall as the other vistas, the views are spectacular.

After having been closed for eighty years, it opened again on January 1, 2015. If you go, and I highly recommend that you do, make reservations and buy tickets online. They sell out far in advance, and it’s not even Tourist Season yet!

You won’t go to the tippy top because it’s not safe yet, but you won’t be disappointed. Afterwards, enjoy the rest of Balboa Park, including the world-famous San Diego Zoo.

California Tower and San Diego Museum of Man, Balboa Park, San Diego

Gian Panda Gao Gao at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Coronado

A trip to Coronado has to be on everyone’s list of places to visit while in San Diego. You will travel over the very beautiful Coronado Bridge on your way to see the Hotel del Coronado, one of the most famous hotels in the world; Frank Oz’s house where he wrote much of “The Wizard of Oz”; Coronado Beach, one of the best beaches  in the United States according to those who rank such things; and downtown San Diego from across the harbor. If your budget includes splurging at a restaurant, splurge at Peohe’s.

San Diego-Coronado Bay Bridge

Downtown San Diego from Marriott Coronado Island Resort

Hotel del Coronado

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Out & About—Mission San Antonio de Pala

Out & About

Father Antonio Peyri of Mission San Antonio de PalaI always thought that a Mission was a Mission was a Mission. Not so!

Mission San Antonio de Pala was founded in 1810 by Fr. Antonio Peyri (picture ►) as an “assistant mission” to Mission San Luis Rey de Francia, 23 miles west.

Peyri was born in 1769 in the Villa de Porrera in the Archdiocese of Catalonia, Spain. Interestingly, I could not find an actual birth date for Peyri but every source knows that he was baptized on January 8, 1769, and confirmed on October 30, 1772.

Peyri was ordained to the priesthood on March 16, 1793, and embarked for Vera Cruz, Mexico, on May 8. After three years with the Franciscans at San Fernando Collage [sic?], he left for Alto California on March 1, 1796, arriving in San Francisco on June 18. He was called in 1798 to establish Mission San Luis Rey de Francia—the main mission 23 miles west of Mission San Antonio de Pala—where he served for 34 years.

The church was dedicated on June 13, 1816. The campanario is the only free-standing one of its kind in Alta California mission chain.

Mission San Antonio de Pala in Pala, California

Mission San Antonio de Pala in Pala, California

Mission San Antonio de Pala in Pala, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The campanario was restored in 1998 and is a copy of one in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico. The two bells were cast in Mexico by Cervantes. The bottom bell is dedicated to St. Francisc, St. Luis the King, St. Clare, and St. Eulalia, and the top bell is dedicated to Jesus and Mary.

The bells are rung only on Sundays and for funerals, weddings, deaths, and for emergencies, such as wildfires approaching. Sadly, the Mission found it necessary to install a large sign telling tourists NOT to ring the bells out of respect for local customs.

The mission was very successful and prosperous, converting over 1,300 Indians to Catholicism. Most of the Alta California missions started to decline in 1846 due to secularization by the Mexican government.

Mission San Antonio de Pala in Pala, California

Mission San Antonio de Pala in Pala, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

There is a plaque placed in 1996 by the Order of Alhambra stating,

“THIS MISSION HAS BECOME THE
MOTHER CHURCH OF CATHOLICISM
AT
CAHUILLA, LA JOLLA, PAUMA, PICHANGA,
RINCON, SANTA ROSA, AND TEMECULA
IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA.”

The names are Native American Indian tribes, not cities.

The mission was severely damaged in the Christmas Day 1899 earthquake. Restoration in 1902-03 resulted in archetypal paintings being whitewashed, although they eventually were restored as well.

Mission San Antonio de Pala in Pala, California

Mission San Antonio de Pala in Pala, California

Mission San Antonio de Pala in Pala, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Restoration of the quadrangle began in 1954 and was completed in 1959. Thousands of adobe bricks were made from the mission ruins, and cedar logs were, once again, brought from Palomar Mountain. The quadrangle is a very peaceful place, unlike most quadrangles that I have visited throughout the United States.

Quadrangle at Mission San Antonio de Pala in Pala, California

Quadrangle at Mission San Antonio de Pala in Pala, California

Quadrangle at Mission San Antonio de Pala in Pala, California

Quadrangle at Mission San Antonio de Pala in Pala, California

Quadrangle at Mission San Antonio de Pala in Pala, California

Quadrangle at Mission San Antonio de Pala in Pala, California

Quadrangle at Mission San Antonio de Pala in Pala, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

According to one source, the mission was destroyed by the historic Southern California floods of 1916, heaviest and most disastrous in San Diego County, but was rebuilt the same year using the original adobe. Another source says only that the foundations of the chapel and campanario were undermined and caused the buildings to crumble. The story of the 1916 flood will eventually be a blog post of its own; quite interesting.

The chapel and museum wing are original (but what does that mean in light of the paragraph immediately above?), the chapel undergoing extensive restoration in 1992 due to termite damage that threatened to collapse the roof.

I found the museum quite interesting in light of me finding the original “The Peace of the Resurrection” (see my previous post and first picture ▼).

The Peace of the Resurrection by Raul Anguiano at the Mission San Antonio de Pala in Pala, California

Mission San Antonio de Pala in Pala, California

Mission San Antonio de Pala in Pala, California

Mission San Antonio de Pala in Pala, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Many of the quadrangle buildings are home to the Vivian Banks Charter Elementary School where I taught chess on Thursday afternoons.

Mission San Antonio de Pala in Pala, California

Mission San Antonio de Pala in Pala, California

Mission San Antonio de Pala in Pala, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Mission San Antonio de Pala is the only original Alta California mission still ministering to Native American people.

Mission San Antonio de Pala in Pala, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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“The Cemetery” at Mission San Antonio de Pala

Out & About

Cemeteries have always fascinated me. Nonetheless, I have only been to two funerals in my life, that of my granddad who died in 1978 when I was 23, and that of my best friend who died in 1989. I didn’t even get to go to my wise old grandmother’s funeral in 2003 because my three uncles threatened me with violence, one stating that he “didn’t know what might happen” if I went. Since he had more weapons than the United States Army, I decided to stay away.

San Diego is the only place that has two national cemeteries—Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery (picture ▼) and Miramar National Cemetery—and Southern California is the only region that has three of them, with Riverside National Cemetery about 60 miles from me. My husband’s dad is interred at Riverside National Cemetery.

Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I find national cemeteries to be kind of dull, boring, and uninteresting due to their monotonous conformity.

However, they always seem to be located in beautiful places.

I think the most interesting cemeteries I ever visited were in New Orleans; those are what I call cemeteries.

We don’t seem to have a lot of cemeteries here in San Diego, but while out and about a couple of weeks ago I discovered “The Cemetery”:

The Cemetery at Mission San Antonio de Pala, Pala California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Located at the Mission San Antonio de Pala in Pala, California, founded in 1816 to convert the native Indians to Catholicism, The Cemetery is the original Mission cemetery and claims to hold the remains of hundreds of Native American converts to Catholicism, as well as other early California pioneers.

If The Cemetery holds hundreds of remains, they are not well marked after all these years, or they were buried in a mass grave.

Actually, while researching this post, I discovered that the cemetery is also known as the “Old Luiseño Cemetery,” named after the tribe of Indians the Mission had served. Graves typically were marked by wooden crosses, a great supermajority of which have fallen, deteriorated, or been misplaced.

Over at Interment.net, I found a partial list of those interred in the cemetery.

There might have been about twenty grave markers in The Cemetery. Here are some that I found interesting:

Grave marker at the cemetery at Mission San Antonio de Pala in Pala, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Grave marker at the cemetery at Mission San Antonio de Pala in Pala, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Grave marker at the cemetery at Mission San Antonio de Pala in Pala, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Grave marker at the cemetery at Mission San Antonio de Pala in Pala, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Grave marker at the cemetery at Mission San Antonio de Pala in Pala, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Grave marker at the cemetery at Mission San Antonio de Pala in Pala, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Grave marker at the cemetery at Mission San Antonio de Pala in Pala, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Grave marker at the cemetery at Mission San Antonio de Pala in Pala, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I don’t think this last one is a grave marker unless it’s a place holder for all those grave markers that aren’t there anymore.

Grave marker at the cemetery at Mission San Antonio de Pala in Pala, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Imagine my surprise 49 years later

My wise old grandmother

I came to San Diego in April 1993 via a circuitous route that started in College Station, Texas, took me north to Fargo, North Dakota, west to Seattle, Washington, and then south to San Diego. I wasn’t really looking for a place to live. Rather, I was looking for a place to kill myself. All because of my sexual orientation and how being gay was perceived in Texas and in the Mormon and Catholic religions in which I had been raised.

I don’t know into which religion I was born, but my mom’s side of the family were Mormons and dad’s side were Catholics. For many years I wondered how they ever got together. Then I put two and two together and got four, realizing that my oldest brother was born a couple months shy of nine months after my parents had married. The old Texas-style shotgun wedding….

When my dad killed himself in 1961, my mom moved us to Brigham City, Utah, to be closer to her side of the family. Four years later, and I was back in Kingsville, Texas, living with my wise old grandmother. She had adopted me out of the Thomas D. Dee Memorial Hospital in Ogden, Utah, where I had been placed because I was such a juvenile delinquent.

St Gertrude Catholic Church in Kingsville TexasShortly after being adopted, I was baptized and confirmed in St. Gertrude Catholic Church (picture ►). After my confirmation in 1966, my wise old grandmother bought me a remembrance gift from the church gift store. It was a picture of the face of Jesus Christ on cloth. I now know that my picture was of a monotype on cloth called “The Peace of the Resurrection” and was done in 1955 (my birth year!) by Raul Anguiano, a famous Mexican artist.

Inquiring minds might want to know how I know that. Well, a couple of weeks ago I was at the Pala Indian Reservation teaching chess to students at their elementary school, the Vivian Banks Charter School. The school happens to be located in the historic Mission San Antonio de Pala, a Catholic mission founded in 1816.

Mission San Antonio de Pala

Vivian Banks Charter School in Pala, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Since I was unfamiliar with the territory, I got there very early. My intent, though, was actually to explore the historic mission grounds, take pictures, and visit the museum.

Imagine my surprise when I walked into one of the museum rooms and found my picture of Jesus Christ hanging on the wall. Not just any picture, though. It was the original picture on cloth! Looked like this:

The Peace of the Resurrection by Raul Anguiano at the Mission San Antonio de Pala in Pala, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The paper attached to the frame informs us that it is the

“Original monotype by Anguiano,
a famous Mexican artist, in 1955.”

It is titled “The Peace of the Resurrection”

José Raúl Anguiano Valadez (February 26, 1915 – January 13, 2006) was part of the “second generation” of Mexican muralists continuing in the tradition of Diego Rivera and José Orozco, two names with which I am familiar. Anguiano was born during the height of the Mexican Revolution, which inspired a lot of his murals and paintings.

I always liked that picture because even though the face’s eyelids are closed, there appear to be eyeballs staring out at you from behind the eyelids, and they seem to follow you around the room as you move about.

I took my picture with me when I went off to college at Texas A&M University. It got left behind in Texas in April 1993 and I never recovered it after deciding to spend my life in San Diego.

It was pretty neat to find the original so close to where I live now but 49 years later.

The Peace of the Resurrection by Raul Anguiano at the Mission San Antonio de Pala in Pala, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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The most beautiful fire station ever!

Out & About

When I was in Rancho Santa Fe last week (and I’ll be going again on Thursday), I took a self-guided tour of downtown.

There really isn’t much there except for ten banks, ten wealth management companies, ten real estate companies, ten escrow companies, and one fantastic restaurant which is way out of my price range.

I did find the most beautiful fire station I have ever seen. Looks like this:

Fire Station #3 in Fairbanks Ranch, Rancho Santa Fe, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Fire Station #3 in Fairbanks Ranch, Rancho Santa Fe, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Fire Station #3 in Fairbanks Ranch, Rancho Santa Fe, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

At first I thought it was just another Rancho Santa Fe mansion, but why would someone build a mansion in Rancho Santa Fe that was just feet from a major roadway and not behind a high privacy wall protecting the compound?

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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San Diego Historical Landmarks—#14D: Casa de Pedrorena

San Diego Historical Landmarks

Old Town San Diego State Historic ParkWithin Old Town San Diego State Historic Park (San Diego Historical Landmark #14) are many historic buildings and rebuilds. We’ll explore nine of them since they also have been designated San Diego Historical Landmarks.

The fourth one, San Diego Historical Landmark #14C, is Casa de Pedrorena.

Casa de Pedrorena

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Miguel de Pedrorena JrCasa de Pedrorena was built in 1869 by Miguel de Pedrorena Jr (picture ►), a wealthy stockman. His dad, a native of Madrid, Spain, living in Peru had come to San Diego as a ship’s agent, marrying into the prominent Estudillo family in 1842. Although he claimed the lot adjacent to the Estudillo home in Old Town, the historic Casa de Estudillo, he died in 1850 before he could build a home.

One online source states that the structure was built in 1850 by Miguel Sr. Since he died on March 21, 1850, I’m going to go with it being built in 1869 by Miguel Jr. I just don’t believe an adobe or framed home could be built in San Diego at that time in a mere 2½ months.

A plaque on the grounds (lower right corner of picture above) states that Casa de Pedrorena was the final adobe built in Old Town, and one online source states that its thick adobe and mud-plastered, whitewashed walls were typical of Mexican adobes in the area. However, the shingled roof, as well as the mill-sawn, wood-columned front porch, reflected American building practices.

Other online sources state categorically that Casa de Pedrorena was “one of” the first frame houses in Old Town.” Several sources state that it was “the first frame house” built in Old Town. Here is a picture taken around 1920:

Casa de Pedrorena

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I looked closely at the building exterior but could not determine whether it was a wood-frame building or an adobe. I guess I’ll just leave it at that. As my wise old grandmother said, “It is what it is.”

Miguel Sr. came from one of the best families in Madrid, being educated there and at Oxford University. He served as a captain in the United States Cavalry during the Mexican-American War. He was in the forefront of the attack against Fort Stockton when it was finally captured.

El Jupiter cannon in the Junipero Serra Museum in San DiegoDuring the early part of the war, he had buried under his house (or the patio behind it, one source says) El Jupiter (picture ►), the old bronze cannon now on display at the Junipero Serra Museum (see my post here) in order to prevent its being used against the Americans.

Miguel Sr. was a member of the California Constitutional Convention which met in Monterey, California, in 1849. He was a member of the group headed by William Heath Davis which attempted to found New Town in 1850, an attempt that failed because of the lack of fresh water.

Miguel Jr. gave Casa de Pedrorena to his sister, Isabel de Altamirano, in January 1871, a gift that joined together two pioneer California families. Isabel and her husband, José Antonio Altamirano, raised their family in the home.

Although some sources call the home “Casa de Pedrorena y Altamirano,” Altamirano also owned the little frame house next door where the San Diego Union newspaper was first published in 1868. The newspaper building is more traditionally connected with Altamirano’s name rather than Casa de Pedrorena.

Casa de Pedrorena remained a family residence until 1907, although one source says “until the 1890s.” It was restored in 1996 by California State Parks and is said to be one of five historic 19th century adobes in Old Town State Historic Park. Currently it is a gem, jewelry, and rock shop, open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. There are two old railroad mining cars located on the property:

Railroad mining car at Casa de Pedrorena in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park

Railroad mining car at Casa de Pedrorena in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

For the introductory blog post
to San Diego’s historical landmarks,
click on San Diego’s Historical Landmarks.

For previous posts in the
San Diego Historical Landmarks series,
go here.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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