Category Archives: Out & About

Out & About—Abandoned!

Out & About San Diego

When I explored the East San Diego County boondocks for the first time, I was searching for history, not really thinking about why that certain history became part of history. I was following Highway 94 using a highway history tour book as a guide.

Highway 94 used to be a major east-west thoroughfare in San Diego County…. Until the mid-1960s when Interstate 8 was built. That caused vehicle traffic to abandon Highway 94. People who relied on that vehicle traffic had to move, leaving their former homes and businesses behind.

Chimney from a long-ago abandoned home

I never really thought about the connection between vehicle traffic, businesses, and even who cities until I drove part of historic Route 66 from Santa Monica, California, to Las Vegas, Nevada. Suddenly I understood. The price of progress. People enjoyed getting from here to there much faster on Interstate highways.

Former service station

Whole cities had been founded along railroad tracks, then along the first roadways, all to serve the people who traveled on the railroads and roadways. When the Interstate highway system came along, people no longer had a need to stop for a meal or sleep for the night. Driving from here to there could be accomplished easily in hours instead of days, weeks, or even months.

Abandoned home

Those who understood what was happening, or going to happen, quickly moved their homes and businesses near the Interstates, simply abandoning their former homes and businesses.

Abandoned home

Of the places I have visited, Jacumba and Barstow, both in California, seem to be the hardest hit. I can kind of understand Jacumba because it is out in the middle of nowhere. Barstow, however, is home to a huge railroad classification yard used by both BNSF and Union Pacific. Interstate 15 also runs smack dab through the middle of Barstow, so I’m not fully understanding what happened there unless people simply pass it by in their haste to get to Los Angeles or Las Vegas; Barstow is the midpoint.

Jacumba used to be Jacumba Hot Springs. It was a playground for the rich and famous from the Los Angeles movie, film, and recording industries, those who wanted to get away from the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles for the weekend. Here are two pictures of what once has a thriving Jacumba Hot Springs bath house:

Abandoned business in Jacumba, California

I wanted to explore the interior so badly, but Jacumba is a small town and there are No Trespassing signs posted, so I didn’t want someone to see me go inside and call law enforcement.

Sadly, I see the same thing happening now with our shopping malls. Few people want to get dressed, go outside, and drive to a mall to shop when they can simply join Amazon Prime Now and have virtually anything delivered today or tomorrow.

It’s getting worse because the brick-and-mortar stores are losing foot traffic, and with the loss of that foot traffic comes a loss of inventory, so even when one does go to the mall, it’s rare that they have the item that one is looking for. People go back home and get those items from Amazon Prime Now. Eventually those same people learn that it just isn’t worth the time to go to the mall.

Some malls and shopping districts have lost so many shoppers and the resulting revenue that they have implemented parking fees. Huh? All that does is encourage people even more to shop at home on the computer with a cat on their laps, a dog by their sides, and a margarita sitting on their desks.

I don’t have an answer, which is why I’m not a politician with all the answers. I did read recently that some abandoned malls have been renovated into office complexes. I liked that. I’m wondering if the likes of Amazon could, perhaps, turn some malls and buildings, or parts thereof, into warehouses for the products they carry. Then other parts of the malls or buildings could be personnel support centers for those bigger businesses.

Abandoned building in Jacumba, California

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Out & About—Walk Against Hate

Out & About San Diego

I spent five days in Utah and Wyoming a couple of weeks ago for the 150th anniversary of the completion of the first transcontinental railroad. Although people came from all over the world, the diversity of those people was very disappointing to me.

Out of the thousands and thousands and thousands of people whom I saw, I counted five black people, four Asian people, and thousands and thousands and thousands of old white men.

I suspect that, considering the role that blacks and Asians played in building out the railroads in this country a hundred years ago, none of them or their descendents wanted to take time off and spend money to help the progeny of white slave drivers celebrate.

Yesterday, here in San Diego, the Anti-Defamation League sponsored a Walk Against Hate. I saw more diversity in three hours than I did in five days in Utah and Wyoming last week! There were over 3,000 people registered to walk, as well as over 160 teams. Many of the teams were from elementary, middle, and high schools.

Anti-Defamation League's Walk Against Hate in San Diego on 5/19/19

Anti-Defamation League's Walk Against Hate in San Diego on 5/19/19

I haven’t been thrilled about what’s going on in the world right now due to the extreme amount of hatred that the current president has encouraged, but to see moms, dads, and children out celebrating diversity by walking against hate did give me some encouragement, and in some cases, caused a few raindrops to fall from my eyes.

Anti-Defamation League's Walk Against Hate in San Diego on 5/19/19

Anti-Defamation League's Walk Against Hate in San Diego on 5/19/19

No Hate

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Out & About—Historic trains in Ogden Utah

Out & About The World

Granddad, as well as my dad, worked for Missouri Pacific Railroad, granddad as a Road Foreman of Engines. Dad also was a Road Foreman of Engines but had just been promoted to Vice-President of Missouri Pacific Railroad when he killed himself. They found his body on January 18, 1961, in a railroad box car in a small, isolated railroad siding northeast of Palestine, Texas. They estimated that he had been dead for three days.

After dad’s death, mom moved us from Palestine to northern Utah, first Hyrum, then Wellsville, then Logan, and finally Brigham City. Brigham City is where I became a rail fan. Among other things, I used to skip school and hop the Union Pacific trains, riding in a box car down to Ogden and back. A cool 38-mile round trip. I’m the reason why you don’t see open doors on empty box cars anymore….

In May 1969, when I was 14 years old, I was living in Kingsville, Texas, with my paternal grandparents. They had adopted me 3½ years earlier. May 1969 was the 100th anniversary of the completion of the first transcontinental railroad. I wanted so badly to go back to Utah and help Union Pacific celebrate, but said grandparents would not take me. I was sad. Granted, it was 1,500 miles away, but nevertheless…. Still sad.

My stamp collecting helped me determine that historic events were celebrated every 50 years. I did the calculations and determined that I would be 64 in 2019 when the 150th anniversary rolled around. I had a chance to still be alive, so I put it on my calendar.

Fast forward to May 10, 2019. Guess where I was. Yep. Northern Utah participating in many celebrations of the 150th anniversary of the completion of the first transcontinental railroad. Two historic steam locomotives were due to be in Ogden, Utah, to help with the celebrations My #1 goal was to get a video of the two locomotives leaving Ogden to go back to the steam shops in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Here’s the video I got:

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Out & About—The top 10 most important trees in Balboa Park

Out & About The World

Now that I’m retired, I have more time to go exploring each day.

This past Sunday I took a walking tour of the ten most important trees in San Diego’s Balboa Park.

Number 8 on the list is one of the four Dragon trees (Dracaena draco) in the Desert Garden just across the street from the San Diego Zoo, the tallest one in the following picture.

Dragon tree (Dracaena draco)

These four were planted in 1914 for the Panama-California Exhibition of 1915-16. That tallest one is about 25 feet tall with a trunk diameter of 3½ feet. It has been named Frank Allen Jr. in honor of the man in charge of designing and installing the landscape for the 1915 Exposition.

Dragon trees are members of the asparagus family.  They are indigenous to the Canary Islands where the Guanche people used its sap in their mummification process.

Quite popular in Southern California landscapes in the 20th century, they rarely are planted today.

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Out & About—Poppies everywhere!

Out & About The World

So far in 2019 I have had 37¾ inches of rain at my front door. Other parts of Southern California also have been getting a lot of rain, and lots of rain in January & February mean lots of flowers in the mountains and deserts in March & April.

Yesterday I went to see the supper poppy bloom in Walker Canyon in Lake Elsinore, California. I love mass plantings, especially flowers, and the supper poppy bloom now ranks #1 on my list, ahead of the Texas bluebonnets in the Houston/Austin/College Station area and the tulips at the CN Tower in Toronto.The poppies are California poppies, the official flower of the State of California. Enjoy them in their native habitat!

There were People, Parking, People Parking, Poppies, Poppy Parking, Puppies, Puppy Packing, and Purple flowers (for contrast):

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Out & About—The Flower Fields open today!

Out & About San Diego

The Flower Fields in Carlsbad open today and remain open through May 12.

Their specialization is the giant ranunculus, which they grow on about fifty acres. There are another five acres of other flowers: roses, petunias, columbines, water lilies, geraniums, sweet peas, poinsettias, cacti & succulents, and more.

If you’re in the San Diego area during this time, I can highly recommend a visit to The Flower Fields.

The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, California

The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, California

The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, California

The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, California

The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, California

The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, California

The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, California

The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, California

The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, California

The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, California

The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, California

The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, California

The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, California

The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, California

There are lots of activities for the family, as well. They often have a maze for the children that is created out of tall walls of growing sweet peas plants, all in flower.

Instead of being forced to go through a gift show on your way out, you’re forced to go through what I believe is Armstrong Garden Centers’ biggest and best nursery.

If you don’t spend the whole day in The Flower Fields—I do!—there is a lot more to see and do just around the corner:

  • LegolandLegoland with its awesome SeaLife Aquarium
  • Museum of Making Music where budding musicians, as well as musicians in full flower (puns intended!), can play drums, guitars, and quite a few other instruments
  • Green Dragon Tavern & Museum with great New England cuisine and a Revolutionary War Museum.

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

Out & About—San Diego’s snow-capped mountains

Out & About San Diego

I arrived in San Diego on April 27, 1993. It was to be my last stop on my attempt to find a place to live outside of the Great Nation of Texas. I considered myself retired from all previous professions, so I spent my time visiting all the beaches between Mexico and Los Angeles. Gawd I was having a good time.

One day, while playing beach volleyball with some friends and new acquaintances, someone suggested going skiing. Well, we’re at the beach so what could be more logical than hopping in a boat and going skiing on the great Pacific Ocean. Ha! That’s not what the suggester had in mind. He wanted to go snow skiing. Uh, we’re in San Diego. There’s no snow anywhere for miles around.

I was only partially right. Snow and ski resorts were only 90 miles away. I had been snow skiing several times before so I was game. We headed to Big Bear, California, and spent the rest of the day snow skiing.

Several years later, I saw a picture of downtown San Diego with snow-capped mountains in the background. I thought it had been photoshopped until I saw it for myself a few years later.

I have been trying for 23 years to get my own picture of San Diego with snow-capped mountains in the background. Absent an airplane, helicopter, or hot-air balloon, the only place to get such pictures was Point Loma, about 40 miles due west of the mountains.

For me to get such a picture, not only would it have to snow down to about 1,800 feet above sea level, but it would have to be a beautifully clear day to see all that way through clouds, fog, and smog. Although it snows down to 1,800 feet every five years or so, clear days while the snow exists are few and far between.

When I woke the morning of February 22, 2019, I learned that it had snowed in Alpine, just 7 miles east of where I live, and right at 1,800 feet above sea level. I knew the higher-elevation mountains would be covered in snow, lots of snow.

I can see the mountains from my house, and they had lots of snow on them. It was a beautifully clear day at 7:00 a.m., so I immediately headed to Point Loma. The result of my trip is the three pictures below.

San Diego with snow-capped mountains in the background

San Diego with snow-capped mountains in the background

The first picture was taken from Cabrillo National Monument on Point Loma. The second picture was taken from Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, also on Point Loma. Here’s another picture which includes part of Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery:

Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, downtown San Diego, and snow-capped mountains

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