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Archive for CA – Along the Coast

Jade Buddha of Universal Peace in Escondido, CA

Jade Buddha receiving tributes

Jade Buddha receiving tributes

I haven’t visited many religious shrines in my time, so this wasn’t quite what I expected, but it was still fascinating. The Jade Buddha is making its second visit to Escondido, this time at the California Center for the Arts. As the news reports will tell you, it is 8 feet high and was carved in Thailand of a single piece of gem-quality jade. In the past year the Buddha toured 18 American cities and 3 Canadian cities, and is going home to Australia someday after it finishes touring the world.

I saw it on a gorgeous sunny afternoon and there were many Vietnamese there to worship and pray (but I didn’t get to see the monks in ceremony). It did seem a little weird to be photographing it instead of meditating. I have to say the people of European descent seemed much more reverent than most of the Asians, who seemed to be taking it in stride.

An unfortunate touch was that there were huge loudspeakers blaring some kind of devotional music, which was kind of grating. But this may well be part of the Buddhist shrine experience in the 21st century.

It is very strange to see that the Buddha seems to be smiling in many of my photos, although I swear I did not notice anything like this at the time. I do remember a Vietnamese toddler proudly counting to ten in English for his grandmother before his picture was taken in front of the statue, and she was very proud of him.

"Smiling" Jade Buddha

An accompanying shrine at the site

An accompanying shrine at the site

“The Flower Fields” in Carlsbad, CA – Part I

This is a photo of a golden ranunculus.

Gold Ranunculus

In San Diego’s north county region, there is a glorious spectacle that comes only once a year each Spring. The growing fields, a full fifty acres of Giant Tecolote Ranunculus,  start blooming in waves under warm southern California sunshine around the first of March like clockwork.

The Flower Fields, face the Pacific Ocean just east of Highway 5. Getting there is very easy from The Five and parking is free. The fields offer more than just show stopping Ranunculus; they have a miniature rose garden, an artist garden that changes every year, a Sweet Pea maze, tractor ride to the top of the field, a children’s playground featuring the darling play structures from the old Santa’s Village in Lake Arrowhead, the world famous Ecke poinsettia collection for history buffs and believe it or not, you can pan for gold on site.

This is a photo collage of some Sweet Pea flowers taken at The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, CA.

As an oil painter witnessing the fields, my first thoughts went to Holland and the images I have seen of their Tulips…and there is no comparison! There is no way Holland could ever capture such a dazzling display of color due to the structure of tulips which only has one flower per bulb (unless it has become irregular).  Tulips provide a pale green background for “spot color” which can become more dramatic depending on the viewing angle. Tulips displays often use harmonizing ground covers such as Pansy and Johnny-Jump-Ups to hide the dirt between bulbs. Ranunculus, in contrast, have multiple sprays of flowers per plant which accounts for the broad sweeping strokes of color on the hillsides.

This is a photo of yellow Tulips in Golden Gate Park, SF, CA.

Tulips in Golden Gate Park, SF, CA

From a distance, the flowers merge into horizontal stripes of fantastic length. Part of me was hesitant to visit The Flower Fields it seemed too touristy, contrived, paying to walk through someone’s flower business seemed overrated –and ten bucks to roam around dirt roads near The Five? ….yeah! Well, it was the best bang ever for ten bucks! Guess who will be buying a visitor pass in 2011 so I can return with family and friends multiple times it’s that incredible!

This is a photo of the ranunculus growing in rows at The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, CA.

Broad Strokes of Color at The Flower Fields.

I took over three hundred photos that day with my digital camera. I did not want to leave but I was a guest and had my daughter and mother-in-law with me this day and I was holding up lunch plans. There is no need to rush once you are inside The Flower Fields and I recommend that you come early when the light is good for photography. Of my photos, I can’t say I have one favorite, no, I have at least 20 to 30 favorites! Each time you think you have found a beautiful shot of the fields, you turn to the other side of the road between growing beds and discover something else equally beautiful.

This is a photo of cut ranunculus in a white bucket.

Fresh Cut Ranunculus

I felt ALIVE out there amongst the beauty of these flowers. The ocean breeze was delightful and fresh.

The workers appear to be from Mexico and are mindful of their work. They ignore the tourist and actually add to your photos in a way you probably never imagined…let’s go back to Holland for a moment. Remember all those beautiful 15th through 19th century oil paintings of people cultivating the land? For example, Piet van der Velden’s “Workers in the Fields With Tulips” shows two figures planting tulip bulbs in the empty fields. Workers have always been featured in oil paintings and photos. Here are my visions of a modern day painting of workers in a field:

This is a photo of workers in The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, CA.

Like an oil painting of days gone by: "Workers in The Flower Fields"

This is a photo of workers and a truck in The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, CA.

The Flower Field Workers

This is a photo of workers and tourists in The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, CA.

Workers and Tourists Mingle in The Flower Fields

The Santa’s Village playground equipment and structures adds more to the play area for children and makes for great photo opportunities.

This is a photo collage of some of the playground equipment from Santa's Village in Lake Arrowhead that was sold to The Flower Fields of Carlsbad, CA.

Santa's Village Playground - Photo Collage

Here is my daughter smelling a flower.

This is a photo of a little girl smelling a flower.


The dazzling array of colors from white, yellow, orange, red, pink, purple and chocolate brown is best seen in person.

Dazzling, Colorful Ranunculus at The Flower Fields

Make sure your camera battery is charged and put it on your calendar for March 1, 2011. The Flower Fields are not open very long –just as long as the flowers are blooming which may be anywhere from 45 days to 60 days.


Moonlight Beach looking south, Encinitas, CA, January 16, 2011

Moonlight Beach looking south, Encinitas CA Jan 16 2011

An image of peace from a California morning at the beach.

Port of San Pedro, Los Angeles, CA – Around The Cruise Ship Terminal

This is a photo of the Vincent Thomas Bridge in the Port of San Pedro, Los Angeles, CA.

Vincent Thomas Bridge - Port of San Pedro, Los Angeles, CA

Our friends Ralph and Marjorie are serious cruisers. They surpassed the 50-cruises mark long ago and are nearing their 75th. The vast majority of their cruises have left from San Pedro. Over the years, they have seen the port develop into an attractive area with a few noteworthy things to see, places to eat and enjoy Happy Hour among other things. This series will cover the highlights of our explorations. A word of warning: The Port of San Pedro is not a place you tell your friends they have to see…in fact, you might tell your friends to avoid it entirely but if you are cruising from that location, they will want some tips on how to make the most of their visit.

Up next…
Crown Plaza Hotel
Mishi’s Strudel Cafe
Port’s O Call – Happy Hour
Off The Vine – Wine and Cheese Shop
Red Trolley Line
Terranea Resort and Spa in Palos Verde
Sacred Grounds Coffee Cafe
Whale and Ale Pub
Catalina Island Ferry Terminal
Terminal “Walkabout” – Bellagio styled fountains and public art
Ante’s Restaurant – Serving Dalmatian food since 1943

Stay tuned for pictures and video!

Christmas in San Diego, CA – Little Italy by Day

This is a photo of India Street signage proclaiming "Little Italy".

Retro signage for the Little Italy neighborhood

The charm of a large city lies in its many neighborhoods that are formed by the cultural influences of a unique group of people. In Little Italy, San Diego, CA this little neighborhood was crafted over the years by fishermen and their families, restaurateurs, grocers and bakers from Italy. Of late, the addition of art, festivals and general tourism have brought a resurgence of energy, money and even more local color into this retro/modern area and brought about a charming revitalization.

Here’s the approach into Little Italy from India Street of all things! The signage has been the neighborhood landmark.

This is a photo of India Street as you drive towards Little Italy.

Little Italy on India Street

The corners are festooned with lovely ‘wooden’ soldiers playing a variety of musical instruments in wine barrels filled with red poinsettias.

This is a photo of a wooden soldier blowing a trumpet in a flower barrel.

The Trumpeter

Windows are dressed for Christmas and storefronts look inviting. The general atmosphere is warm and cheerful. Red “Buon Natale” flags are atop the lampposts and line the blue sky. White, sparkly snowflakes dance nearby.

This is a photo of the Christmas decor along India Street in the neighborhood of Little Italy.

Christmas Decor in Little Italy, San Diego

For a quick and amazing bite of pizza by the slice, visit Landini’s Pizzeria. Lightly browned thin crusts, divine red sauce, delicious toppings and heated to piping hot perfection before being served with Peroni draft beer to wash it all down!

This is a photo of Landini's Cafe

Dine here for delicious pizza by the slice!

This is a photo of a sandwich board advertizing pizza prices. Ha, ha!

A sandwich board that advertises everything but sandwiches! OK, I'll give you "Paninis" but it is a glorified sandwich!

The buildings in the area have been modernized and new, European-style, condo-mixed use buildings have popped up in recent years. Many are full, many still looking for buyers and lessors in the depressed housing market.

This is a photo of a modern building on India Street in the Little Italy neighborhood.

Modern Architecture in a Retro Neighborhood

This is a photo of a modern building in the Little Italy neighborhood.

"It's A Grind" coffee cafe on the right (unseen) and a lovely fountain in front creates terrific ambiance.

Walking down India Street in Little Italy is like walking in an outdoor museum. The utility boxes on the streets have been painted by local artists with Italian motifs. The buildings’ walls have large paintings adorning them and it becomes a visual treasure hunt looking around for other pieces.

This is a photo of a utility box painted with an Italian motif to hide its plain and ugly exterior.

This is a photo of a utility box painted with an Italian motif to hide its plain and ugly exterior.

Utility boxes wrapped in artwork

This is a photo of a large Italian themed image painted on a cafe building in Little Italy.

Exterior Wall Painting in Little Italy

This is a photo of a large Italian themed image painted on an office building in Little Italy.

Exterior Wall Painting in Little Italy

It’s a lovely place to spend a couple hours before hoping over to the airport which is just a couple minutes away by taxi. I do hope to return at nighttime to see the lights and mood of the people in cafes as they get into the Holiday spirit!

Christmas 2010: “Hotel Del Coronado”, Coronado Island, CA

This is a photo of Tina Benino sitting in a chair in the lobby of the Hotel Del Coronado. The hotel is decorated for Christmas and everything is merry and bright. Including the visitors!

The Incandescent Tina Benino Waiting for Santa

On a whim, my girlfriend Tina and I, who were hoping to see the December Nights in Balboa Park but got stuck in the worst traffic imaginable trying to get there, hung a u-turn and headed over to Coronado Island and were rewarded with a magical night of Christmas lights. From the dramatic and colorful display of living trees uniformly lit down the center divide on Orange Avenue to the roof line of the Hotel Del Coronado illuminated with miniature white lights, Coronado Island is worth a visit in December, after sunset.

As you draw near the Hotel Del Coronado, the pleasant sound of the ocean crashing onto the stretch of beach outside the hotel adds to the excitement. It’s almost winter here in San Diego, CA but the atmosphere is beach resort all the way. The mood is young, festive and lighthearted. Families split up and go their own ways; Children take to the ice rink while parents hang out at the bar within sight of the rink.

This is a photo of the famous Christmas tree in the lobby of the Hotel Del Coronado. It is at least twenty feet tall and heavily decorated with candy- and Christmas-themed ornaments and white lights.

Candy-themed Christmas tree in the Hotel Del Coronado lobby.

Rather than take photos without a tripod outside, I opted for using my Flip camcorder to take some brief clips of the sights and sounds as it is more forgiving without a tripod. The photos posted here are from my 2009 visit.

One of my favorite trees is the aqua colored tree in the passage way between the shops and restaurants. It has an underwater theme and I just love it!

This is a photo of a starfish Chrsitmas ornament in aqua blue and pearl colors.Behold! A star…fish…shining in a tree!
This is a photo of a fish Christmas ornament with glitter stripes.

A rare specimen of Glitter Fish

This is a photo of a gold sea horse Christmas ornament.

Giddy-up, horsey! Let's go to town!

This is a photo of a toddler reaching up to pull on Frosty the Snowman's big red pom-pom buttons. Frosty is a six foot tall stuffed toy.

Ooooooo! Belly button!

I hope you are enjoying the sights and sounds of the Holidays where ever you are in the world!