Category Archives: Out & About

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

Need a unique gift?
Anniversary? Birthday? Graduation? Marriage?
Choose Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos at Fine Art America.

Photographic Art logo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

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

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

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

Need a unique gift?
Anniversary? Birthday? Graduation? Marriage?
Choose Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos at Fine Art America.

Photographic Art logo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

Urban barn

Picture of the Moment

Now that the days are getting longer, there is time to go exploring after teaching chess at elementary schools in the afternoon, and that’s what I’ve been doing.

I got a surprise the other day when I went exploring in a 1% neighborhood and saw this:

Urban barn

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Usually, in order to see a real barn here in San Diego, one has to travel far out into the boondocks. This barn, however, was in a semi-rural neighborhood of large homes.

Barn location map

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Need a unique gift?
Anniversary? Birthday? Graduation? Marriage?
Choose Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos at Fine Art America.

Photographic Art logo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

He’s home!

Picture of the Moment

Someone was gone for 213 days, but he’s home now!

Welcome home

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Discovered yesterday as I was exploring on my way to a new elementary school to teach some rugrats how to play chess.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Need a unique gift?
Anniversary? Birthday? Graduation? Marriage?
Choose Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos at Fine Art America.

Photographic Art logo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

I’m rich! I’m rich!

Inspiration

It doesn’t take much for me to get inspired each day, usually a catnap here and there, a hot shower, the news report, and my Excel spreadsheet detailing my goals and tasks for each day.

Occasionally, though, my level of inspiration jumps a few notches, as it did two days ago when I got this email:

Newsflare

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Notice that payment is in Pounds. I thought Great Britain was part of the Eurozone and was using the Euro. Not so. I guess the citizens voted down membership in the Eurozone. Good for me, though. When I initially read the email, I thought the sales price was in Euros, which were trading at $1.14 to a U.S. dollar. When I went to my PayPal account, the amount was much more than what I thought it should be. That’s when I realized that payment was in Pounds Sterling, which were trading at $1.499 to a U.S. dollar. Yahooooo! More money for me!

Here is the video that sold:

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

A mere 13 seconds. However, the event itself started at 10:00 a.m. and ended at 5:00 p.m. Knowing that parking in the area would be bad, I arrived at 7:00 a.m., got a great parking spot, and proceeded to take pictures of the trains passing by every 30 minutes:

Amtrak Pacific Surfliner in Del Mar, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

So if I divide the sales price, $1,124.25, by 12 hours, I get an hourly rate of $93.69. Hmmm. Still not bad………..LOL

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

Have Bare Wall Syndrome? Need a unique gift? Choose Photographic Art!Photographic Art logo

Visit Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos at Fine Art America.

Out & About—Homes and 100 acres abandoned!

Out & About

I’m always on the lookout for anything abandoned. Even when I find something, though, it’s often not accessible, guarded by a high fence topped with barbed wire with NO TRESPASSING sign posted every five feet.

Last Thursday, on my way to a new (for me) elementary school to teach chess to 14 aspiring world champions, I came across not one, not two, not even three, but many abandoned homes, buildings, and what were obviously agricultural structures of some sort.

Pete Verboom Dairy Farms San Diego

Pete Verboom Dairy Farms San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I was traveling a winding rural highway where the speed limit was 35 mph. Since there is a huge casino at the end of the road in the city of my destination, traffic was heavy and slow. It took me another mile before I found a place to make a safe U turn and go back to do a little exploring.

I found an extensive article online, dated December 7, 2000, a date that is relevant to this whole story.

The two office buildings were for two dairy farms, Pete Verboom Dairy Farm No. 1 and Pete Verboom Dairy Farm No. 2. The homes were for his family and employees. The dairy farms were opened in 1966 and closed in 2000. The homes were built from 1966 to 1974, and there are 100 acres of land comprising the two dairy farms.

Pete Verboom Dairy Farms San Diego

Pete Verboom Dairy Farms San Diego

Pete Verboom Dairy Farms San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

But why are 14 buildings and 100 acres of land duly abandoned? Who has that kind of money, to just abandon valuable buildings and land in Southern California where real estate is so expensive?

It’s a long story, which I shall endeavour (the U is for my Canadian and Australian friends) to make short.

First, I guess we have to discuss the dairy industry, or any industry that involves animals and such which produce manure, flies, odors, etc. In the olden days of 1966, there wasn’t too much in this area. Now, with the Pala Casino and Resort, which opened on April 3, 2001, the area is quite popular. Note that if this huge casino and resort opened in April 2001, there’s a high probability that construction started in 2000, the year the dairy farms closed. There IS a connection.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

During the 34 years that the Verboom dairy farms were in operation, more than 100 dairies ceased operations in San Diego County. With the construction of the casino and resort, CalTrans obtained an easement through the dairy farms to straighten and expand the winding, two-lane rural highway from I-15 to the casino. The homes and buildings were built close to the road, so an easement to straighten and expand the road probably would have meant tearing down all of the buildings.

Pete and his wife, Lani, raised four children on the property. The children were interested in remaining in the dairy industry, but their location was not conducive to doing that, and San Diego County itself was not friendly to the dairy industry; the last dairy that opened in the County was in 1971.

Pete Verboom Dairy Farms San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Verboom closed the two dairy farms and bought five hundred acres in Orland, California, about one hundred miles north of Sacramento where agriculture and farming is a way of life. The dairy farm in Orland opened in 2001, and that’s where Verboom lives, with his children close by and working the dairy.

Least Bell's VireoVerboom’s dairy farms ran afoul of the San Luis Rey River Habitat Formation Committee, created to develop and preserve habitat for the endangered Least Bell’s Vireo (picture ►). The vireos live in willows along the river, and during drought years (common in Southern California), Verboom was prohibited from pumping extra water out of the ground lest the willows die back, which would also cause a dieback of the vireos.

Brown-headed CowbirdThe Brown-headed Cowbird (picture ►) also presented a problem. The name “cowbird” pretty much tells you that they like to be near cows where they eat lots of bugs and flies which are part and parcel of a dairy farm. Cowbirds, though, are thieves and invaders, laying their eggs in the same nest as the vireo. The cowbird chicks are bigger, so the vireo chicks die off from lack of food, as well as a problem called “blood parasitism.”

The Highway 76 corridor also played a major factor in closing the dairies. There are 19 Indian tribes located in San Diego County, more than any other county in the nation. Eight of them have casinos, and four of them are located along the Highway 76 corridor. I-15 is the main feeder to Highway 76 and those casinos. The dairy farms are on Highway 76 just a couple of miles from I-15.

Location of abandoned dairy farms

See location on Google Maps

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Traffic is a nightmare because the winding two-lane road has never been straightened or expanded. So much for planning, and possibly a good case study for traffic in other areas that are trying to building Indian gaming casinos and resorts. Plans don’t always come to fruition!

Pete Verboom Dairy Farms San Diego

Pete Verboom Dairy Farms San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Verboom was fortunate to sell the land before he moved. So if he sold it, why is it vacant and abandoned? Who would buy land in Southern California and just abandon it?

Ah, it gets more interesting, involving the Gregory Canyon Landfill.

Back in 1986, the County began looking for a North County site for a new landfill that would be able to accept one million tons of solid waste each year for thirty years. The Gregory Canyon site was not on the official 1986 list of possibilities; it was added in 1988. Without getting into the pros and cons of the Gregory Canyon site—and there are many!—suffice it to note that the Gregory Canyon Landfill still has not been built, although there still are plans to do so. And therein lies the reason why the property remains vacant and abandoned.

Pete Verboom Dairy Farms San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

According to the 2000 article that I used as the basis for this post, Gregory Canyon Ltd bought the dairy farms to provide a natural buffer around the landfill; by the time of the sale, the land already had been rezoned for open space. Gregory Canyon Ltd. paid $5,000 per acre for the land and threw in additional compensation for the facilities—the milking barns, houses, etc. Land in Orland cost only $2,500 per acre, providing Verboom with a nice profit and many fewer worries and headaches.

One final paragraph in the article reminded me that there is another abandoned property here, a former chicken ranch that I need to visit again. I used to live just a mile from it while it was operational. It closed in the early 2000s because of complaints of dust, flies, etc.—typical things one would expect to be connected to a chicken ranch—from many in the 1% neighborhoods surrounding the ranch (yes, at one time I really did live in a 1% neighborhood!).

Glenn County, where Orland is, has an ordinance stating that if you’re outside of the city limits of the cities in Glenn County, then the county, being an agricultural county, does not consider dust, flies, spraying, and other agricultural activities as being a nuisance. It’s part of business. Pro agriculture….

Pete Verboom Dairy Farms San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post