Sunday, March 01, 2015

San Diego in the Rain

Balboa Park Botanical Building
Sunny California, right? Well, they've been in a drought for years, so we couldn't complain much just because it's going to rain for two day. This is the 100th anniversary of Balboa Park's Panama-California Exposition in 1915, and you can find museums, art galleries, the world renowned San Diego Zoo, and countless recreational opportunities just a short drive from downtown. We decided museums were a great way to get out of the rain while on vacation.
Museum of Man bell tower
The Balboa reflects much of San Diego's history.  Most of the buildings are incredibly ornate, as you can see from this photo of the bell tower. The Committee of 100 has worked to preserve the building which were originally built only for temporary use. Huge crowds were drawn to the Exposition's combination of education and balley-hoo, overwhelming the small population of the city. When WWI started, the military moved in. Another exposition in 1935 gave way to the military again when WWII began. The US military still employs 1 of  4 workers in San Diego. Tomorrow we may visit the USS Midway aircraft carrier, which is now retired.
Spreckels Organ Concert
 Even in the rain, the Sunday organ concert played on, sheltered under an overhang. I wondered how they protected the organ from the elements when not being used. As we left at the end of the day, there appeared to be a "garage door" pulled down in front of it. The rain wasn't a problem at all for us, between umbrellas, covered walkways, and all the museums. The Nat (Natural History Museum) is outstanding - we watched a 3D movie on dinosaurs in Alaska. Really cool! By the way, they have a terrific Model Railway Museum here too. Talk about your boys and their toys! My grandson would have loved it!
Orchid in Botanical Building
If you lived here, you could to a different museum every week, and still not see all the exhibits and programs. They've been working on the landscaping for 100 years, and some of the trees are huge.  The gardens seemed to be between seasons, and not up to their peak, I'm sure. I love the faces in these orchids!
California Towhee
After we arrived yesterday (the airport is sandwiched between downtown and the harbor), we went to the site of the San Diego Audubon Birding Festival, which is the reason we are here to begin with, just to be sure we could find it, right? Anyway, I failed to bring camera or binoculars on that short trip, and we saw 28 species, including life birds, in about an hour and a half at the Mission Bay Marina and along the San Diego River!!! I've learned my lesson and took the camera today, so we also got a little rainy weather birding in, including this little California Towhee, another lifer! Look at the rufous color under his tail. See, I've been studying the Western field guide book to be prepared for what we might come across. I plan to return to the San Diego River at Mission Bay to see if I can get photos of the birds we saw, including hundreds of American Wigeons and Brant Geese.
Great Horned Owl
At 5 o'clock, things closed down and we started back to the parking lot, when I heard Whoo Whoo from two different spots in the eucalyptus trees. Dick, I hear owls! and we scanned for a big blob among the trees. Ah, there she is...

... along with about 30 raucous crows harassing the heck out of her! She must have flown away a second time, because they all took off after her, but I couldn't find her again. What a great way to end a rainy Sunday in San Diego!

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