Tag Archives: california

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

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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

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

Out & About—Ramona Grasslands County Preserve

Out & About

The first place I went when I rented a Tamron 150-600mm lens was Ramona Grasslands County Preserve. The Grasslands are located in the Santa Maria Valley between the coastal mesas and the mountains of the Peninsular Ranges in west-central San Diego County.  The Preserve consists of 3,521 acres with a 480-acre western portion having a four-mile loop trail.

The Ramona Grasslands Preserve includes a significant section of the remaining undeveloped portion of the Santa Maria Creek watershed, which supports a variety of habitat types, including native and non-native grasslands, coastal sage scrub, chaparral, oak woodlands, Santa Maria Creek, adjacent riparian area, and a diversity of unique vernal pools, vernal swales, and alkali playas.

Many rare animals make their homes in the Grasslands, including Stephens’ kangaroo rat, fairy shrimp, purple stipa, blue-eyed grass, and woolly blue curls. There is no lack of raptors in the skies, and a nesting pair of American Bald Eagles have been in the Grasslands in the recent few years.

In this post, however, I present only some panoramas of the Grasslands. I’ll have wildlife pictures in a future post, although there is a rabbit in one of these pictures. See if you can find it.

These panoramas used anywhere from 2 to 24 pictures taken from the loop trail and then stitched together using Photoshop’s Photomerge function.

Ramona Grasslands County Preserve, Ramona CA

Ramona Grasslands County Preserve, Ramona CA

Ramona Grasslands County Preserve, Ramona CA

Ramona Grasslands County Preserve, Ramona CA

Ramona Grasslands County Preserve, Ramona CA

Ramona Grasslands County Preserve, Ramona CA

Ramona Grasslands County Preserve, Ramona CA

Ramona Grasslands County Preserve, Ramona CA

The Witch Fire (yes, we name our fires in California, kind of like people in the East name their hurricanes) of 2007 roared through the Grasslands and consumed virtually every blade of grass. Many of the trees also did not make it through the fire, but even the dead trees make beautiful pictures. Mother & Father Nature know what they are doing.

Ramona Grasslands County Preserve, Ramona CA

Ramona Grasslands County Preserve, Ramona CA

Ramona Grasslands County Preserve, Ramona CA

Ramona Grasslands County Preserve, Ramona CA

Ramona Grasslands County Preserve, Ramona CA

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

The Channeled Applesnail has invaded!

Picture of the Moment

With a 150-600mm zoom lens I can go into the lake without going into the lake, so this morning I went into Lake Murray to get some pictures of the Channeled Applesnail (who names these things?) laying eggs.

Channeled Apple Snail laying eggs at Lake Murray, San Diego, California

The Channeled Applesnail (Pomacea canaliculata) is a resident of the “Top 100 World’s Worst Invasive Alien Species.” Originally from South America, this snail can get up to six inches in size. Mama mia! Are we sure they are from South America and not Mars?

Experts believe that it arrived in the United States via the aquarium trade, and when it got too big for aquariums, it was released into the wild, a practice known as “aquarium dumping.” Established populations exist in Lake Wawasee in Kosciusko County, Indiana; Langan Park and Three Mile Creek in Mobile, Alabama; a pond bordering the Mobile-Tensaw River Delta in Baldwin County, Alabama; Little Wekiva River, Orlando, Florida; a lake near Jacksonville, Florida; Miramar Reservoir in San Diego County, California; and a pond near Yuma, Arizona. I can state with definitive certainty that it also exists in Lake Murray in San Diego County, which is where I got these pictures this morning.

Channeled Apple Snail laying eggs at Lake Murray, San Diego, California

Channeled Apple Snail eggs at Lake Murray, San Diego, California

Channeled Apple Snail eggs at Lake Murray, San Diego, California

Channeled Apple Snail eggs at Lake Murray, San Diego, California

Channeled Apple Snail eggs at Lake Murray, San Diego, California

Channeled Apple Snail eggs at Lake Murray, San Diego, California

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

I’m putting you on Facebook!

Picture of the Moment

A couple of days ago I found the Bennington Memorial Oak Grove. The place was full of squirrels. Well, duh. Oaks. Acorns. Squirrels.

One squirrel sat there and stared at me for the longest time as I was taking pictures of other things. Finally, I focused the camera on the little one, said out loud, “I’m putting you on Facebook!” and pushed the shutter button.

Here’s the result:

Squirrel butt

Obviously the little one did not want to be on Facebook. Probably knew that Twitler has sold his privacy rights to big corporations and didn’t want them to know where his acorns are stashed….

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat