Sunday, May 23, 2010

"Staycation" Walk: Kensington

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Today was Marie's birthday, so before a dinner out, we decided to stroll through the bucolic Kensington neighborhood. Only downside: streets were torn up for a major water project, and an utility undergrounding program. Nonetheless, the homes and gardens were beautiful.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

"Staycation" Walk: Bankers Hill

May 13, 2010

Jacarandas in bloom on Bankers Hill.

Eclectic residential architecture on Bankers Hill, including an Irving Gill restoration (beige house with an iron gate and Mission-style exterior lighting).

Self Realization Center (former campus of Bishop's School day camp site). Note elephant sculptures and lanterns in front.

Restored 1912 Spruce Street Pedestrian Bridge. Note: lush Spruce Canyon was carpeted in nasturtium flowers this mid-May day.

Apologies to readers: Due to cancer recurrence that affects the left arm, commentary is brief and may not be located exactly where it should be.

We are trying a second round of chemotherapy, to see if another partial remission occurs. Let's hope so.

"Staycation" Walk: Normal Heights

May 8, 2010

This is the first of a series of blogs about walkable neighborhoods in San Diego. Our first neighborhood was in the community of Normal Heights. This walk focused on the scenic north side of the community overlooking Mission Valley.

Our first destination was Cromwell Gardens, a six-acre estate located literally on the edge of Mission Valley. Note: this is a privately owned property available for viewing by invitation only.

The main house, built in 1927, was originally of English Country design, but has been remodeled extensively over the years. There is also a brick cottage, set within the rose garden.

The extensive gardens are a labor of love for the Parenti Estate, maintained under the expert care of the Friends of Cromwell Gardens.

One of the more unusual features is the bougainvillea tunnel, overlooking a side canyon. Note: bring a cane or walking stick to help navigate the steep trail.

Also note the beautiful flagstone waterfall.

Marie's service club, Altrusa International of San Diego, held a fundraiser there for the Wellsprings Faith and Hope Community School, located in Zambia. Here are some pictures of members and guests who attended the function.

After leaving Cromwell Gardens, we decided to stop by the Carmelite Monastery of San Diego, 5158 Hawley Boulevard. Click this link for a detailed description of their mission.

Although the chapel was closed to the public, we still enjoyed walking through their beautiful gardens. Note the exquisite architectural detailing of the chapel.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

"Staycation": Santa Fe #3751 "Cadillac of Steam" Departs San Diego

May 2, 2010 (Revised May 3, 2010)

We witnessed a real treat for steam locomotive enthusiasts this morning! The Central Coast Railway Club, a chapter of the National Railway Historical Society, and the Pacific Locomotive Association arranged for a special excursion train pulled by former Santa Fe #3751 between Los Angeles and San Diego. (Please see their notice about the trip).

When the locomotive is not in service, it is on exhibit on the grounds of the San Bernardino Railroad Historical Society in San Bernardino. Do visit their excellent Web site for a complete history of Santa Fe #3751. An interesting fact: #3751 was converted from coal to oil in 1936, about the time diesel engines were coming into use.

We learned about this event from The Los Angeles Times April 30 article by Scott Gold (see attachment at the end of the blog). We were unaware of any coverage about this special excursion train in the local media, prior to its arrival yesterday. However, the San Diego Union-Tribune had a fully-featured article about it in its May 3rd edition, after the fact. See the Photo Gallery link from the Sign On San Diego Web site. We noted in the comments following the U-T's online article that the North County Times had a brief piece about it May 2.

Doug was home when the southbound train sped by through Rose Canyon just below our house Saturday morning. The steam locomotive's loud clatter reverberated off the canyon walls in contrast to the low rumble typical of Amtrak diesel engines. We decided to see the train up close and personal today!

We drove downtown and found a parking place on Beech Street, one block north of the train. There was time to take a look at the locomotive and 10 passenger cars, some of which were vintage domed observation cars. We also noted there was a single Amtrak "helper" diesel engine located behind the tender (in case there was a problem).

After about a 20-minute delay, it was showtime! The lusty steam whistle and swinging bell announced the train's departure and we were able to get some decent shots as it pulled by. What a nostalgia trip!

Our friend Jack Brandais forwarded three YouTube videos that will give the reader a sense of the sights and sounds of an old fashioned steam locomotive (turn up your speakers):

#3751 in Oceanside, 2010

#3751 in Orange County, June 2008 (note: you can hear the diesel "helper" engine in some of the clips).

Car chasing #3751 (not dated, probably 2008)

Please also see The Los Angeles Times article below.