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

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San Diego Historical Landmarks—#14C: Casa de Bandini

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 third one, San Diego Historical Landmark #14C, Casa de Bandini, was one of San Diego’s great Mexican restaurants when I came to San Diego in April 1993. It had been for about thirty years, but that all came to a crashing end around 2006 when the State of California did not renew the lease of the restaurant, now located about 30 miles north of San Diego, in Carlsbad. I have not been to it because I don’t frequent Carlsbad often enough or long enough to eat at a fine dining establishment. I do remember that they had the biggest margaritas in the world, the 32-oz “Bird Bath” margarita. Sadly, I lost all of my pre-2006 pictures in The Great Hard Drive Crash of August 2005.

Here is the Cosmopolitan Hotel in June 2012:

Cosmopolitan Hotel

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

And here it is a century ago, ca. 1913:

Cosmopolitan Hotel

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

In addition to being a historic structure, Casa de Bandini also has to be explored in terms of the Bandini family itself. First, let’s explore the history of Casa de Bandini.

Juan BandiniDon Juan Bandini (1800-1859; picture ►) built Casa de Bandini from 1827 to 1829, originally a one-story structure with a thatched roof (probably palm fronds!), seven rooms, an entrance way, enclosed courtyard, corral, and several sheds. The house included Spanish Colonial features usually found only in the California missions. Enhancements to the home were done in the 1840s, including pane-glass windows, a brick-lined patio with well, and a small bathhouse to encourage his daughters to visit more frequently.

Financial losses forced Bandini to sell his house in 1859, and he died in November 1859. Part of the building was converted at that time into a store.

In 1869, Albert Seeley, a stage master, acquired the building and converted it into a Greek Revival hotel, the Cosmopolitan. The first story was renovated, and a wood framed second story and balconies were added.

Albert Seeley sold the Cosmopolitan in 1888, and in the years that followed, it was used first as a rooming house and then converted for use as an olive packing factory.

Cosmopolitan HotelIn 1928, Cave J. Couts Jr., Don Juan Bandini’s grandson, bought the property and restored it as a memorial to his mother, Ysidora Bandini de Couts. Couts remodeled the residence in Steamboat Revival architecture style, and by 1930 it had been wired for electricity and plumbed gas. Couts renamed the building The Miramar Hotel and Restaurant.

James and Nora Cardwell bought the Bandini property in 1945. Their son, Frank, renovated the building in the 1950s into an upscale tourist motel. The Cardwells sold the property to the State of California in 1968, the same year Old Town became a state historic park.

Cosmopolitan Hotel

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Now let’s look at Don Juan Bandini and who he was. He was born into a revolutionary Italian family dating back to at least 1478 when an ancestor assassinated the brother of Lorenzo Medici, the ruler of Florence.

Juan had been born in 1800 in San Marcos de Arica, Peru. Juan’s father, a native of Spain and a lieutenant on the Spanish ship “Nymphia” at the Battle of Trafalgar, found his way in 1818 to Monterey, then the capital of Mexican California, to defend the city against pirates.

In 1831, Juan denounced his allegiance to Victoria, the Mexican governor of California, his pronunciamiento stating:

“Let the rights of the citizens be born anew; let liberty spring up from the ashes of oppression, and perish the despotism that has suffocated our security.”

With that, Bandini and fourteen other San Diegans seized the Presidio of San Diego and arrested the Mexican authorities. Governor Victoria tried to end the uprising (the “Revolt of 1831”), but when Victoria’s army and the Bandini-led rebels met near the Cahuenga Pass on December 6, 1831, Victoria was wounded and his forces defeated. Following the battle, Victoria resigned as governor and, on January 17, 1832, sailed back to Mexico.

Mission San Diego de AlcalaJuan Bandini was a significant influence behind the secularization of the California missions, eventually earning the title “Destroyer of the California Missions.”

Juan Bandini supported the Americans during the Mexican-American War. His three daughters are credited with making the first American flag that was raised in the Old Town Plaza on July 29, 1846.

Following the war, Juan entered the business world, but all he did there was bring his family to the brink of bankruptcy with his wild and crazy ventures. The fact that he and his wife were early socialites, often spending as much as $1,000 on galas and fiestas, didn’t help. Bandini is credited with introducing the waltz to California in 1820.

Juan and his first wife, Dolores, had two sons, Alejandro Felix, who died at the age of 14, and Jose Maria, and three daughters, Josefa, Arcadia, and Isidora. When Josefa married Pedro Carrillo, the Mexican governor, Pio Pico, gave the new bride the Peninsula de San Diego Rancho, which included Coronado and North Island, as his personal wedding present.

Pedro and Josefa had one son, Juan José, who had two sons, Leo and Jack, who became quite famous in modern America. One source says that Jack became a world famous engineer, the builder of Idlewild Airport in New York City, now known as JFK International Airport. However, I could find no other corroborating sources.

Leo CarrilloLeo Carrillo (1881-1961; picture ►) was a film star from 1929 to 1950. In 1950, he took the television role of Pancho in “The Cisco Kid,” arguably the role that made him most famous.

Right here in San Diego County is the Leo Carrillo Ranch, a fascinating place to visit and where I saw my first white peacock!

For more on the Leo Carrillo Ranch, see my post here: Where are the colors, mommy?

White peacock at Leo Carrillo Historic Ranch in Carlsbad, California

White peacock at Leo Carrillo Historic Ranch in Carlsbad, California

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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Music on Mondays (2-23-15)—THAT Lady Gaga last night was an impostor!

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

I never could sit still long enough to watch award shows, and since I haven’t had cable TV since September 2013, I could not have watched last night’s Oscars even if I had wanted to.

I did catch highlights on AOL and YouTube, and I must say that the Lady Gaga who sang all of that “Sound of Music” stuff last night was not the Lady Gaga that I’ve come to know and dislike. I’m going with IMPOSTOR! Nonetheless, whomever was up there singing, nailed it!

What’s more important to me here at Music on Mondays, though, is this:

On this day in 1978, there was a tie for Song of the Year at the Grammy Awards:

“You Light Up My Life” by Debby Boone

“Love Theme From ‘A Star Is Born’ (Evergreen)”
by Barbra Streisand

It is the only tie in the 57-year history of the Grammy Awards.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Bringing everything together with last night’s Oscar Awards, Barbra Streisand is the only person to be involved in a tie at the Grammys and a tie at the Oscars! In 1968, Streisand and Katherine Hepburn tied in the Oscar Best Actress category, Streisand for her performance in Funny Girl, and Hepburn for her performance in The Lion in Winter.

The Song of the Year at the 1968 Grammys was “Up, Up and Away” by The 5th Dimension:

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

According to the Billboard Hot 100, “You Light Up My Life” spent 25 weeks on the chart, 10 of those weeks at #1.

“Love Theme from ‘A Star is Born’ (Evergreen)” also spent 25 weeks on the chart, but only 3 weeks at #1.

Ten years earlier, “Up, Up and Away” peaked at #7, spending 12 weeks on the chart.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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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

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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

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Out & About—Hail Satan

Out & About

I recently commented to a photographer friend on Facebook that finding abandoned buildings in San Diego doesn’t happen often because real estate is so expensive here.

If anyone abandons buildings or—gasp!—land, some developer comes in, swoops it up, and redevelops it, creating a subdivision of cookie cutter homes, condos, a mall, or a parking lot.

So imagine my surprise yesterday when I passed a collection of abandoned homes and (obviously) agricultural buildings along a one-mile stretch of winding rural highway.

Pala CasinoI was on my way to an elementary school that is part of the San Antonio de Pala Mission on the Pala Indian Reservation. A huge Casino (picture ►) also resides on the reservation, so traffic on the rural highway was heavy and slow, speed limit 35 mph.

Abandoned buildings make great pictures, so I went back to explore, although I had to drive another mile before finding a safe place to do a U turn.

I only found one building with a NO TRESPASSING sign, so I skipped that building but explored all the others. I’ll have more about these abandoned homes and buildings—and an abandoned 100 acres of real estate as well!—in tomorrow’s post. It’s quite interesting.

Meanwhile, three pictures to whet your appetite:

Abandoned building

Abandoned home

Hail Satan

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Friday Flower Fiesta (2-20-15)—Orchids are blooming everywhere!

Friday Flower Fiesta

Sunday is National Margarita Day…………

Wait.

This is a Friday Flower Fiesta post……….

Nevermind.

Wait.

Don’t “nevermind.”

Instead, keep in mind that Sunday is National Margarita Day! Margaritas for everyone!

Now on to our Friday Flower Fiesta featuring orchids this week.

Why orchids?

Because if you go to the Botanical Building in Balboa Park right now, it is full of blooming orchids. It’s an orchid orgasm. Wait. Did I just say that?

Botanical Building in San Diego's Balboa Park

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Orchids at the Botanic Building in Balboa Park, San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Orchids at the Botanic Building in Balboa Park, San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Orchids at the Botanic Building in Balboa Park, San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Orchids at the Botanic Building in Balboa Park, San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Orchids at the Botanic Building in Balboa Park, San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Orchids at the Botanic Building in Balboa Park, San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Orchid

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Orchids at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Orchids at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Orchid from the 2014 San Diego County Fair

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Orchids at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Orchids

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Orchids at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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

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Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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