Aconiums and Pride of Madeira

I was biking over to the San Diego Crew Classic, but stopped to photograph this beautiful garden. I love the rich composition.

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Say Goodbye to the Pandas

Official Press Release San Diego Zoo:

“In honoring the terms of our conservation loan agreement with the People’s Republic of China, 27-year-old Bai Yun and her son, 6-year-old Xiao Liwu, will leave the San Diego Zoo later this month, and will be repatriated to their ancestral homeland. In the meantime, guests can still visit our panda residents at the Zoo and watch them on Panda Cam. We are now working with colleagues in China to determine and redefine the future of panda conservation and research. Details of our upcoming Panda Celebration will be shared as they are developed.”

In 1996, the World Famous San Diego Zoo entered into a multi-year agreement with China to begin a conservation and breeding program at the zoo. The agreement ends this month.

For the next three weeks the zoo and its visitors can say goodbye to the Giant Pandas before they return to China. It was an international event at this morning’s opening as people from around the world passed through the turnstiles to see the pandas one last time.

The zoo was able to breed six new pandas. When the program began, pandas were an endangered species. Their status has been upgraded to vulnerable. The research center in China has increased their captive population from 25 to 130. There are hopes that they can begin reintroducing the pandas into the wild.

To learn more about the Giant Panda please visit the San Diego Zoo.

Copyright © In Pics and Words

Belmont Park

History courtesy of Belmont Park

In the early 1900’s, a wealthy sugar magnate by the name of John D. Spreckels was hard at work driving the development of San Diego. A main focus of his development plan was the up and coming Mission Beach. In 1925, in an effort to stimulate real estate sales and to promote his electric railway, Mr. Spreckels built the Mission Beach Amusement Center, now known as Belmont Park. One of the amusement center’s star attractions was the Giant Dipper roller coaster. The 2,600 foot long coaster was created by the noted design team of Prior and Church and was built in less than 2 months by local suppliers and a crew of between 100-150 workers. The original cost to build the coaster was $150,000, including the two, 18 passenger trains.

Along with the coaster, the Natatorium, which later became known as The Plunge swimming pool, was constructed as a centerpiece of the park. The 60’ by 175’ pool was, at the time, the largest salt-water pool in the world holding 400,000 gallons of water. The building encapsulating the Natatorium was styled after the Spanish Renaissance style buildings that were erected in San Diego’s Balboa Park between 1915 and 1916 (in celebration of the opening of the Panama Canal at the Panama-California Exposition).

Follow the link above to learn more about the fascinating history of Belmont Park.

Fun Fact: The designers of the Giant Dipper also built a Giant Dipper at the Santa Cruz amusement park. It took 47 days to build, and opened in 1924. Both wooden coasters have been named a National Historic Landmark. — David P.

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One of the photos is distinctly different than the other two. Can you tell which one? Leave your answer in the comments below!

This blog has reached capacity. Content has been deleted to free up space for occasional photos. At this time, I choose not to pay for additional storage, or start another blog.

Copyright © In Pics and Words

Where the Sun Spends the Winter

My hometown … El Centro, California … county seat of Imperial County … incorporated in 1907 when local residents voted to secede from San Diego … and the last county to be formed in California.  My family came here from Hungary in 1903 to farm a 160-acre homestead in the northeastern sector.

The bulk of domestic winter produce is harvested in the Imperial Valley. El Centro is the center of a desert wasteland. Its lifeblood is water from the Colorado River which flooded in 1905 thus forming the Salton Sea — California’s largest inland body of water.

The Salton Sea is an important stopover for millions of migratory birds along the Pacific Flyway. The New River — one of North America’s most polluted waterways — flows across the border from Mexico into the sea. Every known pathogen, virus and bacteria has been detected in the New River. It’s an environmental catastrophe.

The city’s official slogan is … Where the Sun Spends the Winter. When the U.S. Navy Blue Angels were looking for a permanent home to conduct winter training the flight leader said, “Let’s go to El Centro”. They’ve been here ever since.

The Imperial Valley– though it is located in California — is part of the Greater Colorado desert.

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Set in Stone

Scroll down to read the incredible story behind this iconic stone house.

Front view
Rear view
Corner view (R)
Corner view (L)
Front stone path
Interior fireplace
Exterior wall

The Story

A powerful Pacific storm inundated the coast of San Diego in the 1920’s. Mission Beach was flooded and many of the cottages washed away.

The ocean surge eroded the beach — not even one grain of sand remained. There was nothing left but planks of wood, pebbles and stones from here to La Jolla.

One of the locals decided to rebuild. Every day he hitched up a wagon and went to La Jolla to collect stones. No one knows how many trips he made, how many stones he gathered or how he was able to lift them onto his wagon.

Over time the young man built the stone house pictured above, but that wasn’t the end of the story. You see, he was also a world-class surfer. To revitalize the community he sponsored the first-ever Mission Beach surfing contest.

His would not be the last stone house in Mission Beach. Residents learned that wood structures along the coast were no match for devastating storm surge.

Oh, you can probably guess who won the surfing contest. Many locals don’t know that part of the story, but the stone house remains as a testament of the industrious young man who brought Mission Beach back to life so many years ago.

In the words of Paul Harvey, “Now you know the rest of the story”.

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