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Desert Garden in San Diego's Balboa Park

Friday Flower Fiesta from the Desert Garden in San Diego’s Balboa Park

Friday Flower Fiesta

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Today’s Friday Flower Fiesta comes to you from the Desert Garden at Balboa Park. On 2½ acres you can marvel at over 1,300 cactus and succulents from around the world. Peak bloom time is March to May, but you can usually find things blooming year round. This is, after all, San Diego where people, plants, and wildlife enjoy 11 months of rain-free skies.

Picture OneDesert Garden in San Diego's Balboa Park

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Picture DosDesert Garden in San Diego's Balboa Park

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Picture KolmeDesert Garden in San Diego's Balboa Park

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Picture NégyDesert Garden in San Diego's Balboa Park

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Picture QuinqueDesert Garden in San Diego's Balboa Park

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Picture AltıDesert Garden in San Diego's Balboa Park

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Picture SedamDesert Garden in San Diego's Balboa Park

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Picture OchtDesert Garden in San Diego's Balboa Park

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Picture DoqquzDesert Garden in San Diego's Balboa Park

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Picture DesetDesert Garden in San Diego's Balboa Park

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Picture SebelasDesert Garden in San Diego's Balboa Park

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Picture DeuddegDesert Garden in San Diego's Balboa Park

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Picture TrettenDesert Garden in San Diego's Balboa Park

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Picture δεκατέσσεραDesert Garden in San Diego's Balboa Park

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Picture LabinlimaDesert Garden in San Diego's Balboa Park

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I’m Zoey the Cool Cat,
and I approve this post.Zoey the Cool Cat, Olympic boxing champion

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Looking for real estate services in San Diego County?
I can highly recommend
James Frimmer, Realtor
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I can recommend Russel Ray — that’s me!Real Estate Solutions

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Polar bear at SeaWorld San Diego

A short visit to SeaWorld San Diego

SeaWorld

Some pictures and two flash videos from a recent visit to SeaWorld San Diego.

Polar bearPolar bear at SeaWorld San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Great Blue Heron (a visitor to SeaWorld like me!)Great blue heron at SeaWorld San Diego

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Emperor PenguinEmperor penguin at SeaWorld San Diego

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Sea TurtleSea turtle at SeaWorld San Diego

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Flamingos and Manta thrill rideFlamingos at SeaWorld San Diego

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Sea turtleSea turtle at SeaWorld San Diego

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Stonefish (can you find one of its eyes?)Stonefish at SeaWorld San Diego

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Turtle Reef without the turtles

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Flamingo lagoon and Manta thrill ride

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Rose #2

Friday Flower Fiesta — Inez Grant Parker Memorial Rose Garden

Friday Flower Fiesta

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Located at 2525 Park Boulevard, the Inez Grant Parker Memorial Rose Garden in Balboa Park is an All America Rose Selection Display Garden with over 2,500 roses representing 200 varieties on three acres.

Park your car in the southeast corner or the far east row of the San Diego Zoo parking lot. Those areas are well away from the Zoo entrance and are often available. Walk across the street and south towards the rose garden. The first thing you’ll see is a beautiful tree dressed all in pink.

Location of Inez Grant Parker Memorial Rose Garden in Balboa Park, San Diego

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Pink tree in Balboa Park, San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Pink tree in Balboa Park, San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Roses bloom from March through December, but April and May are the best months with roses at their peak beauty. Let me know which rose (or rose picture) you like best.

Inez Grant Parker Memorial Rose Garden in Balboa Park, San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Inez Grant Parker Memorial Rose Garden in Balboa Park, San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Rose #1

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Rose #2

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Rose #3

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Rose #4

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Rose #5

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Rose #6

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Rose #7

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Rose #8

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Rose #9

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Rose #10

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Rose #11

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Rose #12

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Rose #13

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Rose #14

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Looking for real estate services in San Diego County?
I can highly recommend
James Frimmer, Realtor
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I can recommend Russel Ray — that’s me!Real Estate Solutions

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Tall ship in San Diego

Make a splash on the SEAL!

Out & About

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Sometimes, in order to see the best of San Diego, you have to leave the driving to someone else.

The first time I remember hearing about driving was when our family was driving home to Brigham City, Utah, from Salt Lake City one snowy, dark, winter night. Dad was tired and mom offered to drive. After pulling over and switching seats, mom proceeded to take us on down the highway. I don’t remember how long it was, but mom was driving when we skidded on some ice and spun around, coming to a stop at the edge of the road, which happened to be a cliff with a long drop-off to the canyon below. Fortunately, the guardrail, while damaged, did its job. Dad said something about how things go bad when you leave the driving to someone else. He might have said something about women drivers, but I’m not going there……………….

I’m here to tell you, though, that you should make a Splash on the SEAL and leave the driving to someone else.

Make a Splash on the Seal

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

SEAL tours are unique in that they start on land, either at Seaport Village or the Star of India, drive around to Shelter Island and then into the water. Going into the water is a unique experience itself; it just doesn’t seem right. They will motor around San Diego Bay for a while and take you out to see Mother and Father Nature’s seals and the submarine base before driving up and out of the ocean and back to your starting point.

Make a Splash on the Seal

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The whole narrated trip takes about 90 minutes and costs only $36 for adults, $19 for children age 4-12, and free for children under age 4.

seaport village (1)-500If you buy your tickets online, there is a discount.

Reservations are required but you cannot make reservations online. You’ll have to go to Seaport Village or the Star of India to make your reservations. The Star of India stop is seasonal — “seasonal” usually means during tourist season, about Memorial Day through Labor Day — so I’d recommend making Seaport Village your point of origination. Besides, if your ride is more than 30 minutes in the future, there is megastuff to do at Seaport Village and Marina Park.

A walk around Marina Park or through Seaport Village provides you with beautiful views of the Bay, the Coronado Bridge, Coronado, and downtown San Diego, as well as shopping and dining.

Some of what I saw when I made a Splash on the SEAL:

Marina Park at Seaport Vilage

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Most of the kites are demonstration kites from the coolest kite store ever, located at Seaport Village just steps away from the flying kites. Except when the kite store is closed, there are always kites flying to keep the children (and your inner child) entertained.

Balanced rocks at Seaport Village in San Diego

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Marriott towers and Harbor Club towers

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Into the water we go!

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Pelicans on the SEAL tour in San Diego

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Seals and sea lions from the SEAL tour in San Diego

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Seals and sea lions seen on the SEAL tour

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

San Diego County has the free world’s largest concentration of military personnel, so it’s highly likely that you’ll see military helicopters, planes, and ships when you make a Splash on the SEAL. By the way, SEAL stands for “SE And Land” tour.

Navy ship in San Diego

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Helicopter shower

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USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70)

USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70)

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Submarine and tugboat

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I got that submarine picture with my 300 mm lens; the tours are only allowed to get within a certain distance of military vessels.

Atessa IV mega-yacht in San Diego

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Tall ship in San Diego

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San Diego

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Looking for real estate services in San Diego County?
I can highly recommend
James Frimmer, Realtor
Century 21 Award, DRE #01458572

If you’re looking for a home inspector,
I recommend Russel Ray — that’s me!Real Estate Solutions

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Balboa Park Railroad

A quick trip to Balboa Park in San Diego

Out & About

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Early yesterday morning I became aware that the historic and beautiful Botanic Building in Balboa Park was full of orchids, blooming orchids.

I guess you know that’s where I headed yesterday afternoon.

Orchids will be the flower of the week in this week’s Friday Flower Fiesta.

Balboa Park was crowded yesterday, as it usually is on sunny weekends, but especially so on holiday weekends.

Usually I can park in the San Diego Zoo’s parking lot and walk anywhere within the park easily and quickly.

Yesterday the Zoo lot was full and each aisle had four or five cars waiting in it for someone to leave so they could park.

Finally, I got out of the Zoo lot and parked outside the park, which made for a longer walk.

Here are some pictures of what I saw walking from my car to the Botanic Building:

Ficus trees can be found throughout Balboa Park with their ubiquitous surface roots:

Ficus tree roots

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

It’s bloom time throughout San Diego for the Foxtail Agave (Agave attenuata). These things have this huge, arching stalk with billions and billions and billions of flowers on it. In the picture below, you can see the dead flowers (brown), the blooming flowers (yellow), and the flower buds (green) on the stalk. Bees love these things, so be careful if you go near them.

Agave attenuata at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

In 1968, while living with my wise old grandmother in Kingsville, Texas, we went to visit her oldest living son (my dad was the oldest, but deceased) in Chatsworth, California, a Los Angeles suburb in the San Fernando Valley. That was my introduction to the Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia), and since that time I have been trying to get the perfect picture of a flower. This is close.

Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia)

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The problem with the Bird of Paradise flower is that it is so long-lasting that parts of it have died by the time other parts are just blooming.

No trip to Balboa Park is complete without at least a quick trip to the San Diego Zoo:

Flamingo at the San Diego Zoo

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Remember that the San Diego Zoo is also an internationally recognized botanic garden, so stop to enjoy the many plants and flowers, too.

Pansies at the San Diego Zoo

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Clivia at the San Diego Zoo

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In spite of all my stops and side trips, I made it to the Botanic Building, one of the most photographed buildings in San Diego and one of the largest lattice buildings in the world:

Botanic Building in Balboa Park

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At the two entrances to the Botanic Building, there are two very large Milkweed plants. Wildlife enthusiasts probably know the Milkweed as the plant of choice for Monarch butterflies, and regardless of the time of year, you can find either butterflies, caterpillars, or chrysalises on the plants. Yesterday I saw two caterpillars. The prettiest one:

Monarch butterfly caterpillar

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Lastly, the Balboa Park Railroad appears to be open for business again. It closes for the rainy season. During the offseason the Railroad acquired a couple of guardians:

Balboa Park Railroad

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Balboa Park Railroad in San Diego

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If you have some young children in your household, call them over now for a journey on the Balboa Park Railroad, located in front of the entrance to the San Diego Zoo:

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Did you see the animals riding in the cars with everyone? You have to look closely. There’s a panda, a giraffe, and a lion.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Looking for real estate services in San Diego County?
I can highly recommend
James Frimmer, Realtor
Century 21 Award, DRE #01458572

If you’re looking for a home inspector,
I recommend Russel Ray — that’s me!Real Estate Solutions

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Submarine and tugboat

San Diego and North Island Naval Air Station from Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery

Out & About

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If you have to stay on the ground while trying to get good views of San Diego, the best views are on the Point Loma peninsula.

Point Loma map

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The peninsula closes at 5:00 p.m. because most of the peninsula is made up of several military bases: Naval Base Point Loma, Naval Base San Diego, Military Sealift Command, NSC San Diego, and US Space and Naval Warfare Systems. Because of that, there are few stopping places along the peninsula.

At the tip of the peninsula is Cabrillo National Monument, offering by far the best views on a clear day. However, it costs money to get into the Monument. Not much, something like $5 per car. Nonetheless, money is money.

The best place to stop that doesn’t cost money is Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery. Keep in mind that it is on the peninsula so you won’t be able to get to it after 5:00 p.m., even during the summer months when daylight goes until 9:00 p.m.

I had heard today that they have about ten inches of snow out in the mountains but the report didn’t say how far down the snow came. If it gets down to about 2,500 feet, you can go to Point Loma and get pictures of San Diego that look like this, taken in January 2010.

San Diego and snow in the mountains

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I zipped out to Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery this afternoon to see if I could get some snow pictures. Nope. Apparently the snow level is up at the 5,000-foot mark or higher, which we can’t see here in San Diego, usually due to clouds. However, I did get three great pictures since it’s so clear today.

This first picture shows Shelter Island in the center, a peninsula notwithstanding its name. Shelter Island was the home to the America’s Cup back in 1988, 1992, and 1995.

Shelter Island and submarine base

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At the bottom of that picture is the submarine base, part of Naval Base San Diego. It’s not unusual to see submarines docked at the base, or heading in or out with assistance from Coast Guard tug boats, like this submarine and tugboat that I captured two summers ago:

Submarine and tugboat

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In the following picture, the big base taking up the bottom half is North Island (also not an island) Naval Air Station. This is where Air Force One lands when the President visits San Diego.

North Island Naval Station

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This final picture is of downtown San Diego behind some more of North Island Naval Air Station.

San Diego from Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery

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

Looking for real estate services in San Diego County?
I can highly recommend
James Frimmer, Realtor
Century 21 Award, DRE #01458572

If you’re looking for a home inspector,
I recommend Russel Ray — that’s me!Real Estate Solutions

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

San Diego's Mission Bay Park from the air

My mission, and I choose to accept it

Out & About

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A picture from the air of San Diego’s Mission Bay Park:

San Diego's Mission Bay Park from the air

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Consisting of 4,235 acres, Mission Bay Park is the largest aquatic park in the nation as well as the ninth largest city-owned park.

Mission Bay Park is where I spent my very first night in San Diego on May 18, 1992. I fell in love with San Diego and moved here permanently on April 27, 1993. Throughout the ensuing years, I thought I had walked every square inch of land in Mission Bay Park. However….

I took that picture on May 26, 2012, when Jim and I took a 20-minute flight over San Diego for our 18th anniversary. Today I noticed something odd in that picture. Smack dab (smack dab?) in the center of that picture is what looks like a gigantic swimming pool. I have no idea what that is. I have never noticed it before except in this picture, and even then it took nine months for me to notice it.

My mission, and I choose to accept it, is to go find that gigantic swimming pool. I actually suspect that it’s a big pond, but I’ll know more within a couple of days.

Meanwhile, you, too, can fly over San Diego even if, like me, you don’t have your own airplane, helicopter, or hot air balloon. Simply call San Diego Sky Tours!

San Diego Sky Tours

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San Diego Sky Tours offers several tours of 20-, 30-, or 60 minutes — Downtown Fly-Around, SoCal Classic, North County Medley, San Diego Flyover, and Sunset Escape. If one of those doesn’t fit your style, you can always create your own sky tour. Simply tell them where you want to go and, excepting any FAA restrictions, they can take you there!

Each sky tour plane has window seats for everyone. You also get headphones so you can ask questions of the pilot and listen to communications with flight controllers. A special experience over a special county!

If you live in San Diego and have never seen this beautiful county from the air, now’s the time for a San Diego Sky Tour. If you’re coming to San Diego for Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Tax Day, Spring Break, or vacation, skip all the ground traffic and see San Diego from the sky!

Call 619-757-6419 today to make your reservation! Ask for Ryan and tell him that you found out about San Diego Sky Tours from Russel Ray’s blog. If he gets enough reservations from my blog, maybe he’ll give me a free sky tour (yes, I do beg at times).

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Looking for real estate services in San Diego County?
I can highly recommend
James Frimmer, Realtor
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I recommend Russel Ray — that’s me!Real Estate Solutions

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Picture of the Moment

Symmetry

Picture of the Moment

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The cat show on Sunday was at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. Usually when I go to the Fairgrounds there are another 50,000 or so people there, making pictures of the Fairgrounds itself somewhat difficult, unless you enjoy pictures of crowd mobs. However, Sunday was a dreary day, dull gray clouds with intermittent rain, resulting in smaller crowds at the cat show and the home show in one of the other pavillions. That allowed me to take time to get some pictures that I’ve always wanted to get, such as these two which I combined into one and titled Symmetry:

Del Mar Fairgrounds in San Diego

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

Looking for real estate services in San Diego County?
I can highly recommend
James Frimmer, Realtor
Century 21 Award, DRE #01458572

If you’re looking for a home inspector,
I recommend Russel Ray — that’s me!Real Estate Solutions

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

North Chapel at Liberty Station in San Diego

North Chapel at Liberty Station in San Diego

Out & About

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Liberty Station in San Diego used to be a military recruiting and training center. When many military facilities were closed in the mid-1990s due to budget cuts, Liberty Station was one of them. Fortunately, San Diego recognized the tremendous history that existed at Liberty Station and saved a majority of it, renovating that which could be saved and used, and building a multiple use area out of the rest, including residences, stores, restaurants, and parks.

Liberty Station map

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One of the structures that was saved is the historic North Chapel (Building 208).

North Chapel at Liberty Station in San Diego

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North Chapel at Liberty Station in San Diego

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North Chapel at Liberty Station in San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

North Chapel at Liberty Station in San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

North Chapel was completed in 1942 and features leaded stained glass windows representing the 41 different training schools on site, and one window, directly above, representing the recruit.

The windows are designed to tell stories of the Old Testament and the New Testament. Some windows have an emblem of Moses’ Ten Commandants placed at the top of the window. These scenes are from the Old Testament. Other windows have a cross on the top and depict scenes from the New Testament. Each window has been carefully designed to match a story from the Bible to a job that an enlisted Navy sailor would assume on a ship. Here are the other windows:

North Chapel at Liberty Station in San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

North Chapel at Liberty Station in San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

North Chapel at Liberty Station in San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

North Chapel at Liberty Station in San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

North Chapel at Liberty Station in San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

North Chapel at Liberty Station in San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

North Chapel at Liberty Station in San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

North Chapel at Liberty Station in San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

North Chapel at Liberty Station in San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

North Chapel at Liberty Station in San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

North Chapel at Liberty Station in San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Of course, recruits at the Naval Training Center practiced many different religions, so different services were held at North Chapel, conducted appropriately by priests, rabbis, and ministers. The chapel also hosted many weddings for senior officers.

When the Naval Training Center was decommissioned in 1997, North Chapel, a Spanish Colonial Revival-style architecture, evolved into a special event venue and underwent a restoration in 2007. Restoration brought fresh white stucco paint to the exterior and re-roofing of the red tile building, as well as replacing and upgrading the electrical, plumbing, and heating systems. The historical light fixtures were preserved, and the wooden, hand-carved pews and pulpit were refurbished. The outdoor music system that provides bell rings for the chapel was also replaced, and the sanctuary’s original Roger’s pipe organ was modernized.

The stained glass windows by well-known artist Fred Wieland were restored and cleaned. Fred Wieland was a native of Germany, studied in New York City at the Art Student League, and was a member of the San Diego Museum of Art Artists Guild. Mr. Wieland arrived in San Diego in 1930 and is well known locally for designing and creating the stained glass windows of St. Joseph Roman Catholic Cathedral, St. Didacus Church, and the Veterans Museum and Memorial Center (the sister chapel to the North Chapel). Another church where Fred Wieland’s stained glass work may be found is located at Polk Avenue and Park Boulevard, the former Park Boulevard Methodist Episcopal Church.

Now privately owned, North Chapel is open to the public for rent and offers the flexibility of uses not available in similar settings, such as weddings, funerals, concerts, and plays. North Chapel is also open
for viewing on the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month from
11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

North Chapel at Liberty Station in San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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

Looking for real estate services in San Diego County?
I can highly recommend
James Frimmer, Realtor
Century 21 Award, DRE #01458572

If you’re looking for a home inspector,
I recommend Russel Ray — that’s me!Real Estate Solutions

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Action on the San Diego waterfront viewed from Coronado

Action on the Waterfront

Out & About

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If you come to San Diego and want some great pictures of the San Diego skyline, the place to go is Centennial Park across the San Diego Bay in Coronado:

Coronado map

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Action on the San Diego waterfront viewed from Coronado

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Action on the San Diego waterfront viewed from Coronado

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Action on the San Diego waterfront viewed from Coronado

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Action on the San Diego waterfront viewed from Coronado

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Action on the San Diego waterfront viewed from Coronado

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Action on the San Diego waterfront viewed from Coronado

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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

Looking for real estate services in San Diego County?
I can highly recommend
James Frimmer, Realtor
Century 21 Award, DRE #01458572

If you’re looking for a home inspector,
I recommend Russel Ray — that’s me!Real Estate Solutions

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos