Solo Adventures in San Diego (Part Four)

Here is part four of my solo adventures in San Diego.  This was my last day in San Diego and it was the most beautiful.  Before visiting any more museums, I wandered around Balboa Park taking photos of the lovely buildings.  After that, I headed to the Timken Museum of Art.

Day Five

The Timken Museum of Art is similar to the San Diego Museum of Art, except it is smaller and more importantly, free.  It houses European artwork, 19th century American art and artwork from Russian icons.  Also on display is San Diego’s only painting by Rembrandt.  This museum, also know as the “jewel box,” came about thanks to the Timken family and the Putnam sisters, who purchased many of the pieces on display there.  One of the exhibits on display when I visited was “El Lissitzky: Futurist Portfolios,” which featured geometric artwork by a Russian artist.  Unfortunately I was not allowed to take photos at this museum, so you will have to see this one in person.

Continue reading

Solo Adventures in San Diego (Part Three)

Here is part three of my solo adventures in San Diego.  I started off the day by going to a museum just a few blocks from the convention center and then heading over to Balboa Park to visit more of the museums there.

Day Four

My first stop of the day was at the San Diego Chinese Historical Museum.  This museum promotes the history and culture of the original Chinese immigrants.  San Diego’s downtown used to be a Chinatown.  The building that now houses the museum was once the church and school for the local Chinese community.  In the 1990s, this building was slated for demolition but the San Diego Chinese Historical Society was able to save it.  In 1996, it became the museum it is today.  It has expanded throughout the years and now includes two other facilities and a garden behind the original museum.

Continue reading

Solo Adventures in San Diego (Part Two)

Here is part two of my solo adventures in San Diego.  Instead of going to see more museums at Balboa Park, I decided to head over to San Diego Zoo.

Day Three

I hadn’t been to a zoo since I was a teenager in Japan, so I was kind of excited to see the famous San Diego Zoo.  My main goal was to see the Giant Pandas.  This zoo is huge and I walked the entirety of it probably several times but it was worth it.  The day started out with peacocks, flamingos and ducks.  I also got to take a ride on the guided bus tour, allowing me to see where everything was before I started walking around.  I also rode the Skyfari (cable cars that cut across the park) a few times to save my feet.  The view from there is amazing and totally worth the sometimes long wait.  You can see the entire zoo and beyond into Balboa Park.

Continue reading

Solo Adventures in San Diego (Part One)

Back in July of 2014, I got to spend a week in San Diego.  A fellow Long Beach student got a free week long pass to attend the ESRI User Conference (UC).  ESRI UC is held every summer, typically in June or July and at the San Diego Convention Center. This is the biggest conference for Geographic Information Systems (GIS) professionals hosting numerous presentations and vendor displays, all discussing the latest and greatest in GIS.  While I was not able to attend the conference because I didn’t have a pass, I was able to explore San Diego.  I did get to see some of the conference later, thanks to the Family Night event they had.

Day One

My first day in San Diego was mostly spent in the hotel room.  I was rather tired from the journey there.  The drive was about two hours, but since I had to wake up early that day and I’m an anti-morning person, I really had no energy to go out.  The next day though I was ready to take San Diego by storm.

Day Two

On Tuesday, I grabbed my stuff and headed for Balboa Park.  This park is filled with museums!  You could probably spend an entire week just visiting all the museums located within this one place.  Before leaving for this trip, I had spent a few days researching where I wanted to go and more importantly, how to get there.

Continue reading

Whale of a Day Fair: Exploring Rancho Palos Verdes

An interesting little event I attended in April of 2015 was the Whale of a Day Fair at the city of Rancho Palos Verdes.  This event takes place at Los Serenos de Point Vicente where there is an amazing view of the Pacific Ocean and a lighthouse.  The event is co-sponsored by the city and the docents of Los Serenos.  Whale of a Day celebrates the migration of the Pacific Gray Whale from its summer feeding grounds in the Bering and Chuchki Seas in Alaska to the winter breeding and calving grounds in Baja California.  You can view the migration from December to April along the Californian South Bay coastline.

The event is free and open to the public and features activities for kids, exhibits, food and craft vendors and a raffle.  The main location is the Point Vicente Interpretive Center which has aquatic displays and history on the Rancho Palos Verdes area.  The lighthouse is open for tours that day as well but the line gets long quickly.  I was unable to get in for one of the tours.  But there were many other things to see.

The coast guard was present along with a few of their boats and helicopters.  You could even get inside of them if you wanted to see more.  One of my favorite exhibits there was the one featuring birds of prey.  And yes the birds were real!  They also have a beautiful long trail right along the edge of the cliff with a perfect view of the ocean.  I was only disappointed that I couldn’t walk the whole trail and take more photos.  A final stop was at the City Hall, which also provided free parking for the event.  I got to walk along the areas behind City Hall and see some prickly pear cactus and California sunflowers.  Most were all dried up because of the drought, but I managed to find one alive and thriving.

If you live in the area, I highly encourage you to visit during the fair.  It was a lot of fun and a beautiful place to spend an afternoon.

Cultural Nights 2015-16

Ok, so I kind of lied in my last Cultural Nights post, “Cultural Nights 2015“.  The three mentioned were not the only ones the Geography Student Association (GSA) attended in 2015.  I forgot about two more that occurred later that year.  So here are three more Cultural Nights, two from 2015 and one from 2016.

In September 2015, the GSA went to Los Compadres, a Mexican restaurant located in Long Beach.  This restaurant is a favorite in Long Beach and fills up quickly during the dinner hour. The wait can be over an hour and it’s almost impossible to find parking.  Many times people have to park in nearby residential areas and then walk back to the restaurant.  You know that is a sign that the food is good.  Los Compadres serves traditional Mexican food as well as specialty margaritas in flavors like lime, mango and strawberry.  The lollipops they hand out at the end of the meal are also said to be amazing with unique flavors.

These days Mexican food can be found almost everywhere in America but the history of its spread throughout the country is long and complex and of course directly tied to the immigration of Mexicans into America.  Because of the length and complexity of Mexican food history, I can’t explain it all here but you can read more about it in this NPR article, “The California Taco Trail: ‘How Mexican Food Conquered America”.   I also highly recommend the book “Planet Taco: A Global History of Mexican Food” to learn about its spread all around the world.

Continue reading

Walking Along the Malibu Beach (With Video)

The final field methods class took us to the beach.  Not just any beach, but Carbon Beach in Malibu.  But boy was it a loooooooooong drive there.  Because of the never-ending traffic and the one way streets, it took my group about 4 hours one way to get to Malibu.  After such a long ride it was pure joy to finally get out of the car.  I wasn’t looking forward to the ride back so instead I focused on the assignment.

So why Carbon Beach instead of the many other beaches available to us (and much closer)?  Carbon Beach presents a unique landscape in terms of the battle between private and public space.  Because of the desirability of the area and its many wealthy occupants, they fight to keep the public from accessing the beaches, despite the fact that the majority of the area is in fact public property.  Many residents put up fake signs saying that people cannot park along the street and hide public access points so that people cannot find a way down to the beach from the road.  This can create a very hostile environment between the public and the residents.

For our assignment, we observed the landscape, seeing ways in which this battle is visible, while also examining how the landscape made us feel.  Unlike previous trips, for this one we had to record ourselves and interview each other on how we felt about what we saw as we walked along the beach.  Of course we all agreed the beach and ocean view was beautiful.  The string of houses and restaurants between the beach and the road though produced mixed feelings for us.  Some homes looked Bohemian and very beaten up by the sea wind.  Others looked like typical wealthy residents.  The newest looking building appeared to be a restaurant.  Mixed in were also empty lots, which seemed very out of place among such a landscape.

Continue reading