San Diego (part 2)

January 2016.

Coronado. We crossed the bridge and we found the famous Hotel Del Coronado.   Victorian Hotel , built in 1887 with turrets and cupolas. One of America’s largest wooden buildings. Historical Landmark #  844. It is a beach resort.  The “island” ( it is actually a peninsula) is less than 2 miles  across San Diego. On our last visit in SD, we didn’t have time to explore this area.




Close by the hotel, we saw  this dragon tree. Native to Canary Islands. Used in the Marilyn Monroe movie Some like it hot (1958).


We  also took time to go inside in the lobby of the hotel . The light was not very good for photography  but I captured this chandelier that might be as old as the hotel  but I cannot guarantee this.


I were  happy with our visit and we  had enough time on that day  to go to the Cabrillo National Monument. It will be the story of  my next post.

Thanks for  reading.

Let’s go to San Diego (part 1)

San Diego is a city with  many interesting places to visit. As it was my second time in SD, this time we didn’t do Sea World and SD Zoo. But one thing I wanted to do again -as if I didn’t capture enough of it the first  time – was to go back to Balboa Park. There is something special about this park. Balboa Park is unique. Many museums and beautiful gardens. I think  the architecture was what called me back and here I will show you some of the buildings, Spanish-Renaissance style constructed for the 1915-16 Panama-California Exposition. Spending a few hours there was wonderful. It was a nice sunny Saturday with many people around although you don’t see many on my photos.





In one area of the park, we can see  International cottages from the Historic 1935 California Pacific International Exposition.



Here is some info found on the web:

“HPR consists of  33 national groups, many of which have their own small cottage in San Diego’s  Balboa Park. These cottages, furnished and staffed by group members, offer visitors a delightful window into each country’s culture, history and traditions. The cottages are open to the public every Sunday afternoon for four of the five hours between Noon and 5:00 PM. Refreshments are served and donations are welcomed to defray costs.”

Besides enjoying the architecture, we also walked in many gardens…DSC00425 …with great display of color as San Diego has a mild climate all year-long.

We enjoyed our day in the park. Two more fun shots of that day. Mosaic sculptures by world famous Franco-American artist Niki de Saint Phalle.  This woman was born in France  but lived many years in USA. From 1994, she lived in California until her death in 2002.  Poet and muse  is a colorful  artwork.



Nikigator is fun for the kids who likes to climb on it. I couldn’t wait longer to take a photo  of just the sculpture as this little boy  was happy to eat his pop-corn on it.
And then little girl wanted to have fun there also. What I discovered  about the artist is that I already saw some of her art work  in two European  cities ,  The first one in Paris: Stavinsky fountain near Centre Pompidou and another one  called L’ange protecteur in the hall of the main strain station in Zürich.

Thank for reading my travel story.

Mission San Luis Rey de Francia

After leaving the mission San Antonio de Pala, we drove to visit another mission. San Luis  Rey de Francia is located in Oceanside.

This Mission is called the « King of the Missions ». It was the 13th of the 21 Spanish Mission  we visited since I had been at San Juan Capistrano in 2013. This Mission became the 18th of the Spanish Mission. It was named for Louis IX, King of France.       By 1830, it had become the largest and most populous Mission in California. About 27,000 head of cattle and 26,000 sheep roamed its vast lands, which also contained groves of olive and oranges trees, vineyards and orchards.  They had many goats, pigs and horses. In the 1830s the Mexican government forces the missionaries to leave all 21 of the missions, and San Luis Rey de Francia was abandoned. In 1865, President Lincoln returned the mission to the Catholic Church but it stood empty until restoration work began in 1892.


The outside is quite impressive. The inside is really nice also. Every time I go inside one of those building, I try to imagine how life was in the late 1800. How lucky we are to have such places to visit.  A museum, a garden, a cemetery and a church. We try to see it all  but we cannot stay too long either. I share some photography taken during that visit.

San Luis(inside)

San Luis Rey de Francia

One thing interesting is that Walt Disney filmed the 1957  Zorro television series at this mission.

In the garden, the oldest pepper tree in California. it was planted  bt Fr. Antonio Peyri. The seeds were brought to San Luis Rey in 1830 by a sailor from Peru. This  is the tree you see in the photo below.


Pepper tree blooms profusely in panicles at the end of drooping branches and produce small yellow-white summer flowers which give way to clusters of rose-colored berries in the fall and winter. These berries do not produce commercial pepper  but it was used in treating a variety of  wounds and infections due to its antibacterial and antiseptic properties.

Pepper (mission San Luis)


Mission San Antonio de Pala

January 29, 2016

On our way to San Diego, we had planned to visit another Spanish Mission. Actually we had a bonus visit while I discovered on a map another Mission that is not part of the 21. I am talking about ASISTENCIA SAN ANTONIO DE PALA.  Located 23 miles east of San Luis Rey de Francia, this assistant mission was founded in 1810. The church was dedicated June 13, 1816 by Fray Antonio Peyri. This tiny mission still serves the Luiseno band of Palatingues ( the Indians for whom it was built).

First we visited the garden. Lots of plants, statues, benches…


Then, we went  inside of the church.  The walls are a replica of original murals by Indian artist Antonio Lugo.


SanAntonio de PALA

The bell tower at Pala is the only freestanding bell tower at any mission property in California. The Mission’s bell tower has been an important landmark and symbol for almost 200 years.  The current tower is an exact replica of the original, which was destroyed in 1916 by torrential rains. It stands 35 feet tall.  It was an inspiration from an older bell tower at Juarez, Mexico.


There is also a gift shop. The lady in charge was very nice. The place is not very well known  and there was only another couple  visiting while we were there. After this visit, we drove to see  the Mission San Luis Rey de Francia. This will be the story of my next post.

Thanks for reading.

Hiking in Palm Desert (part 3)

Hello readers !

We spent  many days in the  Greater Palm Springs area. We  were outside most of the day and staying active. We enjoyed hiking and at this time of the year (late January/ Mid-February), the weather was  perfect for this activity. We went  in San Rosa National monument. The park is called  Cahuilla Hills. The trails were in good condition. It was a climb with a reward for the view  when we got to the top after about one hour. It was interesting to look at the people ahead of us and how they could be visible if they were wearing  bright colors like this woman here with a reddish shirt. Can you see her ?

The trails go on a kind of switch back. They are large enough to meet.


As we went up, we could see a golf course and the city  of Palm Desert.


I will now show you some vegetation we saw during our hikes . I stopped to take photos every time I saw  something colorful. We saw desert lavender or you can say  “hyptis emoryi”. The gray leaves are covered with fine hairs and are soft to the touch.  Spikes of silvery-blue flowers develop anytime throughout the year, but we see more of them  during spring time. This plant grow on dry, rocky slopes along washes and in canyons.


And here are some other plants  seen.


It is possible to see road runner and desert cottontail but we didn’t see any there. Another day in another place we saw some.

Thanks for reading . More from my trip in California  very  soon.







Polo game in Indio, California.

January 2016

Here in another post about one outing we did while in Palm Desert. I discovered that there was polo  played  in Indio. On Sunday afternoon, two games are played. And for 10$  you get in with your car  and you can have you picnic while watching the games.  I never saw polo games before so I was quite interested to go. We got there and not long after we got a sheet explaining the game. Basically there are two teams with 4 players on each team. They are riding their pony  as they are trying to get a goal. Each time a goal is scored the teams change direction of play. It’s like hockey on horseback. The players use a solid bamboo cane with a hard wood head. It is called a mallet.The ball is solid plastic, a little larger than a baseball. It is a fast game.

Polo ponies run the equivalent of one to two miles during a seven-and-a-half-minute chukker, so they must be rested frequently.  At the high-goal level, players ideally will have a fresh horse every period although many will “double” on their best ponies. most ponies are former race horses. the field is 300 yard long and 160 yards wide.

A polo match is approximately one and one-half hours long and is divided into seven-minute time periods called chukkers. There are six chukkers in a high-goal match. Breaks between chukkers are three minutes long, with a 15-minute halftime.


Free flowing manes and tails are a danger in polo because they can become entangled with players’ mallets or with the reins as the rider tries to control his horse.  Manes, therefore, are shaved and the ponies’ tails are wrapped or braided to prevent the hazard.  Wrapping or braiding long ago supplanted the crueller practice of docking (amputating) the horse’s tail near the base so all that remained was a short stump.


It’s customary at polo matches to invite the public onto the field at halftime to tread in the divots kicked up by the horses.  The custom has a practical as well as a public-relations value: the field is repaired for the teams by the time they begin the second half of play. And as a reward for our “work”, we got a glass of champagne !


I must say it was fun to see this game live . In Indio,  they play from early January until the beginning of April.


Thanks for  reading and thanks for your comments/like.


Palm Desert (part 1)

January, 18-28, 2016.

Palm Desert is a nice area to be in January. The days are warm but not too much. The evenings are fresh. As soon as the sun sets, we want to be inside.  This is desert condition! Still, nothing makes me happier than getting up with the sun and being outside for most of the day. There are many activities to do in this area. The first one, after we have bought some food and done the laundry is to revisit THE LIVING DESERT ZOO AND GARDENS.  We have been there twice before but I was as excited to go as the first time.

“The Living Desert is a remarkable zoo and botanical garden representing the desert environments of North America and Africa. With over 1200 protected acres, 450 wild animals live animal shows, kids’ play park, tranquil gardens, model train exhibit, hiking trails, tram rides and more, visitors experience an oasis of family fun.”  If you want to know more about the living desert, here is the link:

Of course, it was a great opportunity for photography.  So much to enjoy! We stayed as long we could but could you believe it, I ran out of battery! I think I had forgotten to charge them properly the night before. So, I ended up using my smart phone but I really think the quality is not as good as the photos taken with my camera. We saw many animals such as camels, giraffes, zebras, antelopes, ankole cattles, warthogs, leopards, hyenas, addax, fennecs, meerkats, many birds also and some butterflies.DSC00658

Camels are interesting animals. Their long eyelashes and bushy eyebrows protect their eyes from sun and sand. They store fat in their hump.


The giraffes are great animal to see. The male giraffes are the tallest of four-legged animals. They may reach the height of 19 feet and weigh up to 1.5 tons. We arrived just in time to see the feeding . The color of the tongue is best described as black,blue or purple with a pink base/back. It is generally assumed that the front part has such dark coloration to protect it during frequent sun exposure while eating and prevent the tongue from getting sunburned.  It is 18-20 inch  /45-50 cm long!


Here are  more photos of other animals we saw that day.


The stripes of the zebras come in different patterns, unique to each individual.


The grey crowned crane has a breeding display involving dancing, bowing, and jumping.


Ibis  have long, down-curved bills, and usually feed as a group, probing mud for food items, usually  crustaceans. They are monogamous and highly territorial while nesting and feeding.

This is part one of at least 5 posts on Palm Desert. More to come later! Thanks for viewing my post and thanks also if you are  taking the time to write a  comment. It would be so nice if all my readers would say something. Anything like: Hello !  Thanks again!