A Walk in the Park – Part I

img_5213 Balboa Park

January ushered in cooler than normal temperatures, overcast skies, rainy days, and a new President. Even though the rain was needed and welcomed, it was getting old and depressive. And the new presidency? Well, that didn’t help lift our spirits either. But I digress, as this is not a political blog. Suffice it to say, however, that the past 11 days has left me stressed and perplexed.

So, as the skies morph from gray into blue and a yellow orb sends out rays of warming comfort, Jeff and I decide to head south to San Diego for a change of scenery and mental health realignment.


Downtown San Diego, CA is about an hour away from Lake Elsinore. You can’t visit San Diego without stopping at Balboa Park with its over 1,000 acres of gardens, museums, international cultural associations, shops, restaurants, and recreational activities within minutes of downtown.

img_5317 drodd.com

As per our MO, Jeff and I drive through and around the park before picking a spot to start our exploration.

The Google Earth car drives by…

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The San Diego Zoo is here too.

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The homes surrounding the park aren’t too shabby either.

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We decide to park on Village Place by the Morton Bay Fig Tree across from theNAT, the San Diego Museum of Natural History.

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This tree is huge! Note the 2 small figures of adults standing to the upper left of the sign in the lower left portion of the photo above. According to the sign, the tree is over 90 years old. It is 80 feet high with a trunk girth of 42 feet and a canopy spanning some 145 feet. It is a native of eastern Australia and was planted here in 1915.

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We walk across the street to the Spanish Art Village. The shops in this colorful square double as artists’ studios.

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We wander into a sculpture garden.

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And then, like Goldilocks, I discover…

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Balboa Park History

A fore-sighted group of citizens convinced the city of San Diego to set aside 1,400 acres of land from pueblo lots as a public park in 1868. Known as “City Park”, this preserved site consisted of hilltops, canyons, and steep gulches.

In 1892 Kate O. Sessions asked the city to lease her 30 acres of the park to grow plants. In return for this favor, she promised to plant 100 trees per year throughout the park. (sandiego.gov)

img_5318 sandiegohistory.org

Her ingenuity transformed dirt and brushwood into tree-shaded lawns, flower gardens, and nature paths. In 1902, with the hiring of Samuel Parsons, a landscape architect, the park began evolving into what it looks like today. (sandiego.gov)

img_5320 sandiegohistory.org

One of the few existing copies of the original 1905 plan for Balboa Park by Samuel Parsons. Courtesy of Nan Sterman

One of the few existing copies of the original 1905 plan for Balboa Park by Samuel Parsons. Courtesy of Nan Sterman at agrowingpassion.com

Check out Celebrating Balboa Park – Part II: Planning a Park on Nan Sterman’s website, agrowingpassion.com for more history, facts, and details.

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