Category Archives: Out & About

Let the rain come

Out & About

It’s supposed to rain in San Diego this week.

No.

No, no, no, no, no, no, no.

How many times to I have to tell Mother & Father Nature that it doesn’t rain in San Diego in April?

No.

Just no.

When it does rain, though, people like me have to get out and about to experience it.

Here’s a 45-second video of some of my exploits last time it rained:

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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That much I could have guessed

My wise old grandmother

My wise old grandmother was a Master Gardener before there was such a thing. She is the one who developed my love of gardening, To be fair, though, she also is the reason why I have never had a grass lawn, have a great dislike for oleanders and roses unless they are on someone else’s property, and love cactus and succulents, especially if they are on my property.

She used to fertilize her grass like there was no tomorrow. Who am I lying to? No she didn’t. I—me! the one and only!—used to fertilize her grass like there was no tomorrow…. under her direction, of course. I was the one who had the privilege of mowing the lawn twice a week, pruning the oleanders after a norther came through and froze them, pruning the roses so they would bloom more (and have more thorns!).

Air conditioning compressorOne day I asked her if I could have a garden. She said yes and took me to the worst part of the property, where the heated wind from the air conditioning compressor (picture ►) killed everything during the summer months, and told me to make something out of it. I was so depressed. Instead of getting a beautiful garden to call my own, I had a patch of hard, dry, brown soil kept that way by a huge, ugly compressor.

I was able to block the compressor, and it’s heated windstorm, by building a rock wall around it. Then I planted cactus and succulents amongst the rocks, creating a rock garden.

I was reminded of my little cactus and succulent rock garden recently when I was traipsing around La Jolla, a San Diego enclave of the rich and famous. I came across this:

Succulent wall panorama la jolla

(click on image for a larger, more detailed view)

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

That, of course, is much more elaborate than the little rock wall I built, and theirs is designed to hide the ugly stairs leading from the street up to the house. The landscapers were still building it, and I jokingly commented, “Wow! Nice! I wonder how much that cost.” To which the landscaper replied, “It’s expensive.” That much I could have guessed….

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Where can I get some footprints like this?

Out & About

Yesterday I visited the Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve. I had known about it for a couple of decades but had never been there because it is massive, and not exactly close to where I live.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

However, I teach chess at several elementary schools in North County, so yesterday, instead of fighting rush hour traffic to come home, I decided to take a hike, literally.

After parking, I studied the map and saw that there was a waterfall. Off I went. Three miles out and three miles back. I am sore, sore, sore.

I’ll have more about Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve in a future post. Today I wanted to share just three pictures.

Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve in San Diego, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

My wise old grandmotherWhen I was young and living with my wise old grandmother (picture ►), she would take me to Padre Island National Seashore. Before she let me out to run around on the beach and in the dunes, she would tell me, “Don’t pick any flowers. Don’t take anything. Leave only footprints.” I thought of her yesterday when I came upon a set of footprints that had me smiling. Looked like this:

Leave only footprints

After finding those footprints, I looked at my own. I was embarrassed. I need some new shoes with a cool footprint!

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Then there was this bird, either a crow or raven:

img_1570 crow stamp

I took that picture just a couple of hundred feet after setting off on the main trail. I know crows and ravens are very smart birds, and this one followed me three miles in and three miles back, flying from dead tree to dead tree, squawking at me to let me know that it was still with me but in a different tree. It stayed with me during my four-hour hike through the Preserve. Maybe it knew I was a newbie and wanted to make sure that I didn’t get lost. Since I got back to my car well after sunset, I was thankful that I had a little one looking after me.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Ismael “Sonny” Nevarez, a Realtor in Highland, California, owns a condominium at La Mesa Racquet & Swim Club in La Mesa, California. He is a Slum Lord in every sense of the phrase. Contact me if you’d like further information.

From here to infinity

Picture of the Moment

One of my favorite types of architecture is what I call “infinity architecture.”

Here’s an example that I recently came across on the campus of the University of San Diego:

Infinity architecture at the University of San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

As you can see, “infinity architecture” is when a specific item is repeated within the picture, getting smaller and smaller, to infinity, the deeper you go into the picture.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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The Clothesline Project

Did you know?

My wise old grandmother taught me not to air my dirty clothes in public. So imagine my surprise when I’m walking around the campus of the University of San Diego, a Catholic university, and see two clotheslines full of laundry in front of the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice. Here’s one of them:

The Clothesline Project

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The Clothesline ProjectI noticed writing on the shirts so I went over to have a closer look and discovered that it was “The Clothesline Project,” a program started in Massachusetts in 1990 to address the issue of violence against women.

According to sources, “The Clothesline Project is a vehicle for women affected by violence and those that love them to express their emotions by decorating a shirt.”

“The shirts on the clotheslines give testimony to the problem of violence against women and serve as a call to put an end to the silence around sexual assault.”

The Clothesline Project

The Clothesline Project

The Clothesline Project

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Preventing spies from secretly entering the United States….

Did you know?

Yesterday I did a home inspection in San Ysidro. It’s pretty close to the most southwestern point in the continental United States:

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The most southwestern point, though, is not a city. It’s a park, the Border Field State Park:

Border Field State Park in San Diego County, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

See that doohickey behind the sign, though, the one with the circular thingy on the top?

What do you suppose that is?

I thought it was a fence, but when I examined it closer, turns out it’s not a fence at all.

It’s an “Ocean Outfall Anti-Intrusion Structure”:

img_1342 ocean outfall anti-intrusion structure

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I’m pretty sure that whatever was within the fenced area was the ocean outfall anti-intrusion structure. But just WHAT IS an ocean outfall anti-intrusion structure? A-ha! (not the group). I’m glad you asked.

Margaritas at On The Border in El Cajon, CaliforniaAn ocean outfall is a sewer pipe that terminates in the ocean. (Yuk! I’m never going in the ocean again!)

I do know that the ocean outfall sewer pipe was built in 1998 and cost a whopping $131 million. (That would cover the cost of 32,750,000 happy hour margaritas at On The Border! ►)

Actually, the outfall is sewage that has been treated at the South Bay International Wastewater Treatment Plant.

In other words, the United States built a wastewater treatment plant to treat raw sewage flowing from Tijuana (that’s in Mexico!) into the United States via the Tijuana River.

The Tijuana River is 120 miles long, but only 115 miles is in Mexico. The final five miles are in San Diego County, running through the Tijuana River Estuary and Border Field State Park.

I found a map that shows exactly what is going on here:

Ocean outfall map

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Tijuana used to dump a great majority of their raw sewage into the Tijuana River, but the map above shows the San Antonio de los Buenos Treatment Plant, the Tijuana Wastewater Canal, and Pump Station No. 1 with an arrow pointing to the International Wastewater Treatment Plant in the United States. So now, instead of dumping all that sewage into the river, it gets treated and pumped to the United States for further treatment, after which it is dumped into the Pacific Ocean four miles offshore. Oh, the complicated things we do to get rid of our poop….

Here’s what the Tijuana River used to look like at the time I arrived in San Diego in April 1993:

Tijuana River

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

That was on the Mexico side of the border, but you can imagine the crap (pun intended) that was flowing in the river to the United States side.

And warning signs were everywhere on the beaches near the mouth of the Tijuana River:

Pollution warning sign

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Okay, so we know what an ocean outfall is, but what about the anti-intrusion structure part of it? What’s going through my mind is spies in their diving suits four miles out there in the Pacific Ocean finding the termination point of the ocean outfall pipe and swimming four miles through the pipe to eventually wind up on land…. AND IN THE UNITED STATES! How terrible would that be, to have sewage-covered spies arriving secretly in the United States! The anti-intrusion structure prevents those dastardly spies from getting into the United States! Oh, my mind is just full of visuals from B-grade spy movies of the ’60s….

A second thought is that there is some sort of one-way valve behind the fence that prevents ocean water from intruding through the pipe and into the wastewater treatment plant. The fence prevents someone from tampering with the valve. Hmmm. That actually seems plausible….

But I like my spy movie better….

Sadly, Google and Wikipedia are providing absolutely no help here, so I’m going with spies….

Spy

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Ocean Beach mural

Picture of the Moment

San Diego has more murals than any place I’ve ever been, and Ocean Beach is, by far, the most mural-friendly neighborhood of San Diego.

It’s a neighborhood that seems stuck, happily, in the late 1960s, so if you need to relive that time of your life, just come to San Diego, call me to be your docent for the day, and we’ll have some fun.

Here is one mural that I found recently:

IMG_0187 ocean beach mural

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Newport Avenue Optometry occupies the building while that specific parking lot is for customers of USA Gasoline.

I guess if one can’t read the TOW AWAY sign, one can always walk right in to Newport Avenue Optometry and have the problem taken care of….

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Ocean Beach

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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