Halls of History—Torrey Arms Apartments, and more Torrey stuff

Halls of History

I haven’t subscribed to a daily newspaper for four years, nor have I had television or cable in that same span. That left me wanting since my day usually started with the news, breakfast, and a shower. It took me a while to replace the news but the Internet and our local weekly paper, the San Diego Reader, have allowed me to carry on.

The San Diego Reader often has articles about local history as well as places and events to check out. Earlier this year they had an article on the history of San Diego State University. Turns out that the original campus still exists, so I went to wander around and take pictures. While I was wandering around, I discovered the Torrey Arms Apartments across from the old campus. Looks like this:

Torrey Arms Apartments, 4260 Campus Avenue, San Diego CA

The address, 4260 Campus Avenue, even tells us something about the history of the area. When I first came to San Diego in April 1993, this area and the beaches were where I hung out. I had always wondered why the street was Campus Avenue since there was no “campus” anywhere along the street, or at either end. It only took me 24 years….

From my research, I discovered that the Victorian main building was built in 1885 and is one of San Diego’s oldest buildings. The courtyard units seen at the sides in the picture were built in the 1930s.

There are 21 units in the building:

  • 11 studios, 300 square feet each
  • 7 units with 1 bedroom and 1 bathroom, 500 square feet each
  • 2 units with 2 bedrooms and 1 bathroom, 751 square feet each
  • 1 penthouse with 800 square feet but no indication of the number of bedrooms and bathrooms

John Torrey courtesy of WikipediaI found one source that stated the property once was owned by the renowned botanist Dr. John Torrey (picture at right). If that’s true, then we might have to define “property” because Dr. Torrey, born in New York City in 1796 and dying there in 1873, predates the construction of the main building by twelve years.

The same source stated that Dr. Torrey “discovered and named the Torrey Pine.” That’s not true. Someone’s using alternative facts. Plants and animals rarely, if ever, were named by the discoverer after himself/herself. In this case, the Torrey Pine was discovered on June 26, 1850, by Charles Parry, courtesy of WikipediaCharles Parry (1823-1890; picture at right), who came to San Diego in 1849 at the age of 26. Parry was a doctor, botanist, geologist, and surveyor. Parry named his new discovery after Dr. Torrey, one of his botany teachers at Columbia University.

Parry’s diaries, journals, and notes reside at the Iowa State University library as the Parry Collection.


Torrey Arms Apartments was for sale as recently as May 2016 for $4,260,000 but public records indicate that it still is owned by the people who bought it in October 2012.

Sources: The 1850 Discovery of the Torrey Pine, by James Lightner, 2014, and Wikipedia entries for John Torrey and Charles Parry.

Large Torrey Pine in Del Mar, California
Torrey Pine in Del Mar, California

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat


Lake Murray under threatening skies

How I Did It

Now that I have a fine fine fine super computer for all my digital photo editing needs, I’m testing it out like there’s no tomorrow.

One of the software programs that I have always wanted—but didn’t want to pay $99 for because the full-featured trial program never would operate on my old computer—is Photomatix. Photomatix takes pictures, preferably a set of bracketed pictures, and creates a high dynamic range (HDR) picture.

Today I downloaded the trial version. It worked. So I paid $99, got a registration key, and went to town. Following is my first HDR picture created from three bracketed pictures of -1, 0, and +1. I look forward to trying this with -3, 0, +3 and even -5, 0, +5.  Since Photomatix can use many many pictures, maybe even a bracketed set of -5, 4, -3, -2, -1, 0, +1, +2, +3, +4, +5. It will be interesting to see what I can create.

Lake Murray, La Mesa CA, under threatening skies.Lake Murray, La Mesa CA, under stormy skies

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Halls of History—The Hawthorne Historical Inn

Halls of History

Early last year when I was trying to find something to do with the rest of my life, I hired out to deliver people for Uber and packages for Amazon Prime Now. I knew that people and package delivery was not going to be my full-time adventure in my post-retirement life, but I did think that I would get to deliver people and packages to some interesting places that otherwise I would never visit. Whenever I found interesting places, I added them to my tablet’s electronic notepad with the intent of visiting them later.

One of those places was the Hawthorne Historical Inn at 2121 1st Avenue.

Hawthorne Historical Inn

The Hawthorne Historical Inn was built in 1900 as a Dutch Colonial hotel with 31 rooms. Currently it is an apartment building comprising 11,951 square feet with 29 studio and studio bedroom units renting for $800 to $1,400 a month, all utilities paid.

Hawthorne Historical Inn, San Diego, California

Apparently some of the rooms don’t have kitchens, not totally unexpected in an Inn but a little unusual in today’s world of apartments, even studio apartments. However, onsite amenities include a kitchen in addition to a game room and laundry facilities. I don’t know where the kitchen is, but imagine living on the third floor and making your way down to the first-floor kitchen three times a day for breakfast, lunch, and supper. Wonder if the kitchen is open for midnight snacks….

The Hawthorne Historical Inn is pet-friendly, with just a one-time fee of $100 for either a dog or a cat. One source says “no size or breed restriction” while another source says “small dogs” and yet another says “40 pound limit.”

If you don’t want to hassle with street parking, you can get assigned surface lot parking for just $50 a month. Trust me, $50 a month is cheap cheap cheap for assigned parking in downtown San Diego.

Hawthorne Historical Inn

Interesting “facts” about the Hawthorne Historical Inn:

  1. The 1993 movie “Mr. Jones” starring Richard Gere, Lena Olin, and Anne Bancroft, was filmed in the house next door, which you can see at the left of the palm tree in the picture immediately above. According to one source, Richard Gere shot several scenes while balanced precariously on the Hawthorne’s roof but I believe he actually was on the house next door. I’ll know for sure once I watch the movie.
  2. During World War II, the Inn was popular with Rosie the Riveters who built B-24 Liberators and PBY Catalinas in San Diego at the Consolidated Aircraft plant.
  3. According to legend, Muhammad Ali and Sammy Davis Jr. stayed in the hotel.
  4. Most recent sale was in April 2016 at $4,100,000.
  5. The Hawthorne Historic Inn was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.
  6. At least two people claim the Hawthorne Historical Inn is haunted. One guy, a photographer, posted online that he was taking night time pictures of the building and on picture revealed in one of the windows a partial face of a woman and an outline of the camera he was using.
    A woman replied to his posting: “I lived behind the building you are talking about for about a year. When I would sit in my kitchen in the morning drinking my coffee I could see the building clearly there was always a lady in her 30′s. I would say that would be in the window that was across from my window I could not see her clearly but I could see her I would think wow why is she always looking at me. when you walk by the building you always feel just creepy. well then I found out that no one was living there at the time it was being redone to get ready to rent out the apartments. The place is just really scary I always see for rent signs out side of it. its a beautiful place now that it has been finished but there must be a reason such a nice place cant keep tenants.”

Hawthorne Historical Inn, San Diego, California

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Out & About—AleSmith Brewing Company

Out & About

My local Costco quit carrying their Kirkland brand of craft beers a couple of years ago. Since craft beers are relatively expensive, and since I don’t like American beers, I pretty much gave up drinking beers, preferring margaritas since they are about the same price as a craft beer.

Recently I had the opportunity to tour a craft brewery with the Pacific Photographic Society. Pretty neat, and I did accept their tasting tray with 8 craft beer samples on it. Tasty.

AleSmith Brewing Company was founded in San Diego in 1995, making it San Diego’s third oldest craft brewery.  It was purchased by Peter Zien in July 2002; Zien is San Diego’s only Beer Judge Certified “Grand Master level 1” beer judge.

The original brewery was located at 9366 Cabot Drive. A larger brewery and tasting room of 25,000 square feet was built in 2015 at 9990 AleSmith Court, making it San Diego’s largest beer tasting room in San Diego County. Currently brewing capacity is about 25,000 barrels per year, but the new brewery, not yet complete in all respects, will increase that capacity by a factor of ten.

AleSmith and its brews have garnered many awards over the years:

  • Rated on RateBeer.com website as #1 Top Brewer in the World 2006 and again in 2013.
  • 2008 “Small Brewing Company and Small Brewing Company Brewer of the Year” at the Great American Beer Festival.
  • Nine medals in World Beer Cup competition, including five golds: Belgian Strong Ale (bronze, 1998); Winter YuleSmith (gold, 2004); Vintage AleSmith Old Numbskull (gold, 2008); AleSmith Decadence ’05 Old Ale (gold, 2008); AleSmith Wee Heavy (gold, 2010); AleSmith Decadence ’09 Weizenbock (bronze, 2010); AleSmith Decadence ’10 Old Ale (silver, 2012); AleSmith Old Numbskull (bronze, 2012); AleSmith Old Ale ’13 (gold,2014).
  • By 2013, the AleSmith team had acquired 16 GABF beer medals: Belgian-Style Strong Ale (silver, 1998); Stumblin’ Monk (bronze, 2000); Wee Heavy Scotch Ale (bronze, 2004); AleSmith IPA (bronze, 2005); Wee Heavy Scotch Ale (silver, 2005); Vintage Speedway Stout (silver, 2008); Old Numbskull Barley Wine (silver, 2008); Decadence ‘05 Old Ale (gold, 2008); Wee Heavy Scotch Ale (gold, 2008); AleSmith IPA (silver, 2011); Old Numbskull Barley Wine (silver, 2011); Decadence ’10 Old Ale (silver, 2011); Grand Cru (bronze, 2012); Decadence ’10 Old Ale (bronze, 2012); Old Numbskull Barley Wine (gold, 2013); Decadence ‘12 Quadruple (silver, 2013)

Following are some pictures of AleSmith Brewing Company at their new place. When WordPress is working right, many of the pictures can be enlarged by clicking on them.

AleSmith Brewing Company, San Diego, California

AleSmith Brewing Company, San Diego, California

AleSmith Brewing Company, San Diego, California

AleSmith Brewing Company, San Diego, California

AleSmith Brewing Company, San Diego, California

AleSmith Brewing Company, San Diego, California

AleSmith Brewing Company, San Diego, California

AleSmith Brewing Company, San Diego, California

AleSmith Brewing Company, San Diego, California

AleSmith Brewing Company, San Diego, California

AleSmith Brewing Company, San Diego, California

AleSmith Brewing Company, San Diego, California

AleSmith Brewing Company, San Diego, California

AleSmith Brewing Company, San Diego, California

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Fine fine fine super computer makes picture editing fun again

Out & About

I have a few billion pictures that are uncatalogued, mainly because I never had a good computer that made it fun to catalog them. That is not the case anymore. My fine fine fine new super computer, running Windows 10 Pro, makes it fun. Adobe’s products seem to be able to take advantage of Windows 10 Pro, too, not to mention all the cool stuff (like 32 GB of RAM) that is in my fine fine fine new super computer, so Bridge, Camera Raw, and Photoshop just zoom along like there’s no tomorrow.

I’m currently cataloging pictures of Imperial Beach which I took from 2010 to 2015. Following are a few for your viewing pleasure. The panoramas were created from multiple pictures stitched together using Photoshop’s Photomerge function.

An ocean bird paying homage to the Great Ocean where it gets its food:

Bird praying to the ocean

The Tijuana River is said to be one of the most polluted rivers in the world. Although it has several tributaries that originate in the United States, the main part of the river runs through Mexico for over a hundred miles before meandering into the United States for its final five miles. Mexico has few regulations regarding pollution relative to the United States, so it picks up a lot of really yukky stuff in Tijuana (pop. 1.6 million) and carries it into the United States, leaving the U.S. to do all it can to clean the water before it reaches the Pacific Ocean. Thanks to President Twitler’s destruction of the EPA, soon we will match Mexico in out disdain for clean rivers. Following is the Tijuana River where it meets the Pacific Ocean near Imperial Beach, looking rather beautiful on October 3, 2012. Click on the pictures for larger versions in separate windows or tabs.

Tijuana River near its mouth with the Pacific Ocean

Tijuana River meeting the Pacific Ocean

If you love wildlife, especially ocean and beach birds, the mouth of the Tijuana River is a great place to watch them.

Birds at the mouth of the Tijuana River

Imperial Beach, just south of the Tijuana River, is the most southwesterly city in the lower 48 states. It has one of the cleanest and widest beaches and one of the best piers, and it’s not a tourist trap like many of San Diego County’s beaches.

Imperial Beach's clean, wide beach and the Imperial Beach pier

A bird’s eye view of Imperial Beach surfers from the pier; the San Diego skyline barely visible at upper left is 10 miles in the distance:

Bird's eye view of Imperial Beach surfers and Imperial Beach

Another another shout out to Joey Thaidigsman, a sophomore computer science major at the University of California at Berkeley, who built my fine fine fine super computer, named THE BEAST.

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Out & About—The border fence & dead buildings

Out & About

I thought I would finish today with my driving tour of Old Highway 80 in the boondocks of east San Diego County.

Old Highway 80 takes you very close to the U.S. border with Mexico, and since San Diego County built its wall back in the 2000s, it’s already complete and ready for pictures.

United States-Mexico border fence east of San Diego

Border Patrol agents like to hide and watch you from afar through their binoculars. Several agents were hiding on the bluff with these structures….

Border Patrol lookout

….and descended upon me when I got too close to the border fence. I had parked my car just off the shoulder of the highway, got out, and climbed down under this 1931 bridge to get some pictures.

Old Highway 80 bridge built in 1931

I was between the bridge and the border fence, and that’s when the Border Patrol agents descended on me like vultures on road kill.

Once the Border Patrol agents were satisfied with my explanation for being out there in a brand new car with temporary license plates, the head honcho radioed his agents and told them, “Stand down. Local tourist.”

Once I left them and continued heading east, I discovered lots of dead buildings. I could find no history about the following dead building, but I thought it was quite beautiful in its death and thought I could make a nice piece of Photographic Art out of it.

Dead building near Jacumba Hot Springs, California

Dead building Photographic Art

Next stop is Jacumba Hot Springs where there are all sorts of dead buildings to explore, such as this dead building in front of the Jacumba Elementary School:

Dead building in front of Jacumba Elementary School

It’s a good thing there were no dead buildings in front of the elementary school I attended. I never would have been in school. Of course, the principal would have known exactly where I was after the first couple of truant days….

Also on the south side of the highway is a dead chimney from the long-gone Hotel Vaughn:

Dead chimney of the Hotel Vaughn in Jacumba Hot Springs, California

I found a picture postcard of the Hotel Vaughn that was sold on eBay back in 2013.

Hotel Vaughn, Jacumba Hot Springs, California

When you get into Jacumba, it almost seems like the whole town is full of dead buildings, the largest of which is the old Jacumba Hot Springs bath house:

Jacumba Hot Springs in Jacumba, California

Jacumba Hot Springs in Jacumba, California

Jacumba Hot Springs in Jacumba, California

The hot springs became a destination spot in the 1880s, and Jacumba became a happenin’ place, a premier destination, in the twenties and thirties because of the Jacumba Hot Springs bath house. It was even attracting Hollywood celebrities.

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Out & About—San Diego Harbor boat tour with Captain Randy Phillips

Out & About

When you come to San Diego, be sure to put “Harbor Cruise” on your list of things to do. There are quite a few harbor cruise boats full of tourists.

San Diego harbor cruise

Sure, you can take one of those. They are fun. I’m here to suggest even more fun. Take a smaller cruise, like one with Captain Randy and Randy Phillips Tours.

Captain Randy Phillips

Much more personable and enjoyable. Since Captain Randy was just a few feet away during the 2-hour boat tour, it was easy to ask questions…. And darned if he didn’t know all the answers!

That’s Captain Randy’s boat just to his left, so there’s no place to hide from the glorious San Diego Sun. If you’re not a sun bunny like me, take a hat, a long-sleeve shirt, sun screen…. whatever you need to have an enjoyable 2-hour harbor cruise.

Some of the sites you might see:

Seals and sea lions
Sea lion

Sea lion on buoy

Boats bigger than the one you’ll be on….
USS Carl Vinson

….up close and personal
(not available on the big boat tours)USS Midway Museum up close and personal

Sunrises or sunsets.
Captain Randy took my group out at 6:30 a.m.
Sunrise over the San Diego harbor

San Diego skyline at sunrise

If you go early in the morning,
you’ll have still waters with the sunrise.Still waters

Beautiful vistas of the San Diego skyline
(once the sun is up)San Diego skyline

San Diego skyline

The San Diego-Coronado Bay Bridge
San Diego-Coronado Bay Bridge

I even have a short video of us going under the bridge

Unusual ships that you have probably never seen
and probably will never see again.Hospital ship Mercy

Palmetto State

Naval vessel 23

Captain Randy will take you into Glorietta Bay
so you can see the Hotel del Coronado
and the Coronado Shores condominiumsHotel del Coronado

Coronado Shores condominiums, Coronado CA

Contact Captain Randy at Randy Phillips Tours, 858-531-3186. Tell him Russel Ray sent you his way.

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat