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.



January/February 2016

Desert and cacti go together. I am far from being a specialist on cacti but I like to see them. There are so many kinds. I only know a few.  How many types do you know ?           I recalled  buying a post card when we first visited Palm Desert. I found it and took a pic for you.

Desert plants.

While  visiting  THE LIVING DESERT,  I was especially happy to see the plants with a sign to tell us what it was and a short description. Most of the photos are taken with my smart phone as I ran out of battery for my camera! Sorry for the poor quality .

20160119_133003   Bunny Ears Cactus


20160119_133019  Chain Fruit Cholla

     20160119_133144 (2)

Another day, we  saw  some ocotillos , starting to bloom.  Ocotillo is not a true cactus but plant of the desert.



Here are some close-ups  of different cacti we saw. You want to look  but not touch!

DSC00969  DSC00979

DSC00403 (2)                   DSC00423

In Arizona, we saw the cactus called SAGUARO. It was interesting to learn how it is pronounced. It sounds like: SA-WO-RO !!!  Saguaros have a relatively long lifespan. They may grow their first side arm any time from 75–100 years of age, but some never grow one at all. A saguaro without arms is called a spear.  I will try to do another post about  this cactus. But for now here one photo taken along  the highway and another one   in Mesa .

20160205_092947                         DSC00092 (2)-1             

Cacti occur in a range of shapes and sizes. Most cacti live in habitats subject to at least some drought. Many live in extremely dry environments, even being found in the Atacama Desert , one of the driest places on earth. Cacti show many adaptations to conserve water. Almost all cacti are succulents , meaning they have thickened, fleshy parts adapted to store water. Unlike many other succulents, the stem is the only part of most cacti where this vital process takes place. Most species of cacti have lost true leaves, retaining only  spines,, which are highly modified leaves. As well as defending against  herbivores , spines help prevent water loss by reducing air flow close to the cactus and providing some shade.

Here is a collage with cacti we saw when we visited Sunnylands Center and Garden, in Rancho Mirage.

cactus. sunnylands.collage

Thanks for viewing my posts and thanks also if you are taking  time to write a comment.