Monthly Archives: December 2012

Action on the San Diego waterfront viewed from Coronado

Action on the Waterfront

Out & About

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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

Viejas Outlet Center

Water, water everywhere

Out & About

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Possibly my favorite place to go shopping in all of San Diego County is the Viejas Outlet Center.

Viejas map

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The reason why I like it so much is because there are billions and billions and billions of flowing streams and water falls. Once one gets tired of shopping (ha!), one can simply sit, relax, and listen to the flowing water.

Viejas Outlet Center

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Viejas Outlet Center

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Viejas Outlet Center

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Viejas Outlet Center

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Viejas Outlet Center

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Viejas Outlet Center

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Viejas Outlet Center

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Viejas Outlet Center

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Viejas Outlet Center

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Viejas Outlet Center

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Viejas Outlet Center

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Viejas Outlet Center

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

Dead trees in San Diego National Wildlife Refuge

Dead can be beautiful

Picture of the Moment

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Long-time readers know that I have a Bachelor of Science in Forest Management from Texas A&M University. My minors (if Texas A&M recognized minors) would have been civil engineering and organic chemistry.

My intent when I enrolled at Texas A&M was to go into structural engineering, i.e., gaining as much from the forest as we could to build our homes and businesses. Research and development with a forestry company like Weyerhauser, Texas Pacific, Louisiana Pacific, or Georgia Pacific. Even though I have never used my degree, I still have a great appreciation for trees, even dead ones.

Dead trees in San Diego National Wildlife Refuge

I found that beauty in the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge where I have been hanging out on a regular basis.

For more about the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge see these posts:

I’m trading in my beach sandals for hiking boots

A lonely sycamore grove

It’s a staredown

San Diego National Wildlife Refuge

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

Non-Santa Claus-friendly chimney

If Santa didn’t make it to your place, you might have a non-Santa-Claus-friendly chimney

Snippets

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Look, folks.

Santa is a pretty amazing individual with all he does each year.

And Rudolph is a pretty amazing pilot since he is still navigating by the light of his red nose instead of a GPS.

However, in case you didn’t realize it, Santa is a pretty big individual.

Chargers helmetWith a little practice he could play on Sundays.

Heck, even without practice he could probably play for the Chargers………..

Santa only has about twelve hours to make it to millions and millions of homes with billions and billions of presents.

If he is going to be successful each year, YOU need to do your part!

And I’m not talking being naughty.

Yeah, sure, that can help Santa summarily dismiss you.

I’m talking about the good folks, though.

If you were good this past year and still didn’t get anything from Santa, maybe you have a non-Santa-Claus-friendly chimney like one of these:

Non-Santa Claus-friendly chimney

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Non-Santa Claus-friendly chimney

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Non-Santa Claus-friendly chimney

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Non-Santa Claus-friendly chimney

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Non-Santa Claus-friendly chimney

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Non-Santa Claus-friendly chimney

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Non-Santa Claus-friendly chimney

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Non-Santa Claus-friendly chimney

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Non-Santa Claus-friendly chimney

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Non-Santa Claus-friendly chimney

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Non-Santa Claus-friendly chimney

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Non-Santa Claus-friendly chimney

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Non-Santa Claus-friendly chimney

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Non-Santa Claus-friendly chimney

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Non-Santa Claus-friendly chimney

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Non-Santa Claus-friendly chimney

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Non-Santa Claus-friendly chimney

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Non-Santa Claus-friendly chimney

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Non-Santa Claus-friendly chimney

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Non-Santa Claus-friendly chimney

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

San Diego National Wildlife Refuge

I’m trading in my beach sandals for hiking boots

Out & About

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I discovered the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge a few months ago.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

San Diego National Wildlife Refuge map

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San Diego National Wildlife Refuge

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

San Diego National Wildlife Refuge map

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

It’s about 9,200 acres in southwest San Diego County and is rapidly becoming my favorite place in all of the County. I’m trading in my beach sandals for hiking boots.

There are dozens of trails throughout the Refuge, and although the trails look well used, the most people I have ever seen was about fifteen on a four-hour hike, and that was on a Saturday, too. During the weekdays, there are hikers, bikers, dog walkers, and horse riders early in the morning and late in the evening. Other than that, I seem to be the only one who can take off during the day to enjoy the Refuge.

I don’t have to fight with billions of people for my own little spot like I would at the beach, and I never come home all salty and sandy. The roar of the ocean is replaced with the call of the wild.

Here is my first blog post about the Refuge.

Following are some pictures in new areas of the Refuge that I have recently explored.

San Diego National Wildlife Refuge

San Diego National Wildlife Refuge

I found a pile of rocks which attracted my attention because it was about four feet high and wide, obviously taking someone a significant amount of effort to create:

Memorial in the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge

As you can see, there’s a rectangular piece of wood on the pile, informing us that the pile of rocks is a memorial, but a very odd memorial:

Memorial in the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge 2

Memorial in the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge 2

I don’t understand the memorial because I saw men, women, children, horses, and dogs enjoying the wonderful nature trek.

Horse rider plaque in the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge

Riding horses in the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge

I couldn’t find anything online about it. The best I can figure is that it was created when the land became part of the National Wildlife Refuge. An alternate possibility is that this specific piece of land is part of the horse ranch located directly above rather than part of the Wildlife Refuge. When the horse ranch bought the land, someone created the memorial, thinking that the land would no longer be available for the public to enjoy.

Birds are plentiful throughout the Refuge:

Western scrub-jay in San Diego National Wildlife Refuge

Bird in the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge

I don’t know what kind of bird that second one is but it was playing the old broken wing trick, trying to lure me away from whatever it wanted to protect, probably a nest. You can see that it pretty much is giving me a little attitude with that look.

If you let your eyes go a little fuzzy and use your imagination, you can see a ram’s head in the following rock. It looks a little freaky in person because its gaze seems to follow you as you meander along the trails in front of it.

Ramshead rock in the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge

The Sweetwater River which runs through the refuge:

Sweetwater River in the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge

I know, I know. Many of you are thinking “That’s not a river. That’s a creek.” Out here in dry San Diego, if it flows year-round, it’s a river!

If you enjoy different kinds of plants, there are many to be found, like these lichens growing on this rock:

Lichen-covered rock in the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge

Most of the refuge is open and sunny, but here and there are small groves of oaks, willows, and sycamores under which one can rest:

Trail in the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

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

Christmas wreath

Round and round and round we go

Snippets

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Wreaths are one of my favorite parts of the holiday season.

Christmas wreath

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Christmas wreath

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Christmas wreath

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Christmas wreath

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Christmas wreath

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Christmas wreath

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Christmas wreath

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Christmas wreath

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Christmas wreath

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Christmas wreath

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Christmas wreath

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Christmas wreath

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

It’s times like these when I’m happy that I have a 300mm telephoto lens. I sure wouldn’t want to be seen walking around the neighborhood taking pictures of everyone’s homes………lol

Which one is your favorite? And which one do you think hangs on my door?

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

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

Merry Christmas

If Santa didn’t bring you what you wanted………………..

Out & About

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Last night Jim and I drove around ooohing and aaahing at the lights.

The tallest lighted tree was a living one over on Coronado Island. It’s probably about fifty feet tall:

Merry Christmas

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Of course, we had to drive by the historic Hotel del Coronado:

Hotel del Coronado

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Hotel del Coronado

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The Hotel del Coronado was built in 1887. It is one of the oldest and largest all-wooden buildings in the United States and was the largest hotel in the world when it opened in 1888.

Room 3327 is haunted.

It has been featured on television and in movies — most notably Some Like It Hot starring Marilyn Monroe — has hosted every president since its construction, and is the most expensive piece of real estate in the United States, most recently selling for $384 million and currently valued at $590 million. The Freedom Tower in New York City might take the record once it is completed.

It is also on a United States postage stamp issued earlier this year:

Billy Wilder, Marilyn Monroe, and the Hotel del Coronado

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I just realized in doing a search of my blog that I have not done a post on the historic Hotel del Coronado. Well! That will have to change with the new year!

The following pictures are of ornaments found on public Christmas trees in the San Diego Area:

Merry Christmas

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Merry Christmas

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Merry Christmas

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

And remember, if Santa didn’t bring you what you wanted, perhaps you need to spend a little more time next year being nice. Especially you Republicans!

Merry Christmas to family and friends everywhere!

Merry Christmas

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

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

Christmas in Coronado

Picture of the Moment

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Jim and I don’t celebrate Christmas per sé, but on Christmas Eve we drive around ooohing and aaahing at the lights, and on Christmas Day we go to the Zoo, Safari Park, or SeaWorld.

We just got home from driving around, which always includes a drive over the bridge to Coronado where they put lights on all the tall evergreen trees in the median of Orange Avenue. Gotta go see it if you’re ever in town during the holidays.

The best lighted house we saw in Coronado this year was this one:

Merry Christmas from Coronado

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I had to take three pictures and have Photoshop merge them for me. Sure wish WordPress would bring back the ability to click on an image and get a larger version.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

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

October 2003 Southern California fires

All that’s left

Picture of the Moment

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Earlier today as I was reading blogs from around the world, I came across a blog post that had a picture of a guy chopping wood for the Christmas Eve fire. San Diego, and most of California, is considered a high fire hazard area, so the great majority of us do not chop wood for fires. Rather, our fireplaces use gas instead of wood.

In October 2003, there were 15 wildfires that burned out of control in San Diego County, the largest of which was the Cedar Fire (we even name our fires out here!). The Cedar Fire is the largest fire in California history, burning 280,278 acres, destroying 2,232 homes, and killing 15 people.

Following is a picture from space of the many fires in Southern California in October 2003. Most of the clouds you see in the picture are smoke clouds.

October 2003 Southern California fires

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Part of the Cedar Fire roared through Alpine and the Viejas Indian Reservation. Fortunately, firefighters were able to save the Viejas Casino & Outlet Center, but some of the homes on the Reservation were not saved. Here are the remains of one home on the Reservation, nine years after the fires roared through:

IMG_3963 framed

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The buildings at the center right of the picture are at the Viejas Casino & Outlet Center, a great place to go shopping, play some Las Vegas-style games, or eat a great buffet meal. It’s right along Interstate 8 in Alpine:

Viejas map

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Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I have lost three homes to wildfires, one in 1988, one in the October 2003 wildfires here in San Diego County, and another in the October 2007 wildfires, also here in San Diego County. Two of the homes were owned with some friends and used as getaway homes. The other one was my main home at the time.

The interesting thing is that I was born, raised, and lived along the Gulf Coast in Texas, Hurricane Coast, for 38 years. I survived many hurricanes, including Hurricane Beulah in 1967, Celia in 1970, Allen in 1980, Alicia in 1983, Bonnie in 1986, Gilbert in 1988, and Jerry in 1989. No one in my immediate family ever had a home damaged by wind or rain until 2005 when Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana. A sister, a niece, and a nephew in Chalmette, New Orleans, and Slidell, respectively, all lost their homes to the Katrina flood, and another sister in Slidell had four feet of water in her home but the home was salvageable. I’m the only one who has lost a home to fire, though.

So where would I rather live, Gulf Coast in Texas with hurricanes and tornados (not to mention summer heat, humidity, and bugs, and those darn Northers in the winter) or Pacific Coast in San Diego with earthquakes and wildfires? I’ll take San Diego any day of the week, although it’s weird to have an annual Fire Season. It’s also weird to have the whole world shaking in an earthquake, although big earthquakes are few and far between in any one area.

In 38 years in Texas, I went through 15 hurricanes or major tropical storms. In 18½ years in San Diego, I’ve been through two wildfires and a few billion earthquakes. Only four earthquakes were felt, most significantly the 7.2 earthquake that occurred on Easter Sunday 2010 just a hundred miles east of me. The shaking here in La Mesa went on for about twenty seconds, but I have everything earthquake proofed, so nothing fell out of cabinets, off of shelves, or off the walls.

And for the record, I do believe that animals know when Mother and Father Nature are going to have a spat. Zoey the Cool Cat was Zoey the Psycho Cat for about five minutes before the shaking began on Easter Sunday, and her psycho abilities also predicted a significant aftershock a month later.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

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

Birdhouse subdivision

I feel so inadequate

Picture of the Moment

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I have always had a birdhouse in my yard.

Keyword in that sentence is “a”.

Yesterday I found a tree that made me feel so inadequate:

Birdhouse subdivision

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Either WordPress or my Theme doesn’t give me the ability to click on an image to get a larger version like it used to, so I realize things are a little limited here, but how many birdhouses can you find on that one tree?

Perhaps more importantly, do birds like living in such close proximity to each other?

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

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