Sunday, April 26, 2009

Afield in San Diego: Vallecito Stagecoach Station, Mud in Our Eyes

In a few days I'm heading for Morocco for some deserts and history, so I thought I'd write about some prequel history and desert action right here in San Diego from a couple weekends ago.

My 14 yr old granddaughter, Hayley - Jennifer's sister - and I headed out to the old Vallecito stagecoach station to throw some mud - that is, repair the adobe structure by smearing on a layer of mud. Great fun if you're six years old and you're not in the sun-beating-down desert.

To set the "stage" so to speak, we drove the 80 miles east from the coast so we could approach the work site from the Great Southern Overland Stagecoach route, the same route the stagecoach travelers would have traveled from Missouri. The only other option for them was the northern route over what became known as Donner Pass. Either way had to have been a grueling trip. We drove through the Coyote and Jacumba Mountains, past the Well of Eight Echos and Corrizo Badlands and some of the most spectacular scenery in San Diego - that most tourists don't see. We were in a bit of a hurry to start working before the temperatures rose, but I had to take at least one cactus shot, and made a note to come back this way more leisurely.

The station was run by the Lassater family who settled here in the 1850's; they provided respite and meals to the passengers of the Butterfield Overland Stage coaches, which passed through twice weekly. By the late 1880s, the train route had come through from the east and stagecoaches were lost to history. Even before the stagecoach, though, the route was used by Mexicans running cattle to the north.

Our project was organized by Save Our Heritage Organization (SOHO). We got a short lesson on how to apply adobe mud and then we were on our own.

We began by making our mud. Let me say here, this endeavor is not as easy as it sounds. The mud has to be the right consistency...

the wall needs to be prepped by removing loose dirt and wetting the wall just the right amount for the new mud to adhere.

Then on with the mud, any way you can get it to go. We tried throwing, smearing, patting, talking to it...

and somehow we got a pretty nice wall done.

One 14 year old, pretty proud of herself after a hard day's work.

I took the requisite door photo,

and we were both happy campers heading home, with thoughts of how isolated life was for this family and how welcome must have been those stagecoach travelers.

Click here for a photo of the stagecoach station in 1904, likely much the same as it looked in the 1850's.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Afield in San Diego: Flower Fields of Carlsbad

First, before I go on with another walkabout account, I must give credit for the "Afoot" and "Afield" phrases to Jerry Schad whose book "Afoot and Afield in San Diego" is the hiker's Bible for walking San Diego's trails.

This weekend, Jennifer and I headed up the coast to The Flower Fields in Carlsbad on our way to the Strawberry Festival. Can you imagine a town whose specialties are flowers and strawberries, and on the ocean to boot!

The spring flower fields are a ritual rite of spring for San Diegans, whether to the desert at Borrego Springs or the ranunculae of Carlsbad. This was Jennifer's first trip, camera in hand, of course. It's great to have a buddy that can talk depth of field, composition, and photography as social commentary, even when she's admonishing her Ouma to stop crossing the yellow tape into the field.

Jennifer brought the same focus, discipline, and unique perspective to the fields that we saw in the Meditation Gardens.

A few of Jennifer's photos:

Jennifer calls this her crime scene photo...

A bed so soft...

Her social commentary...

Her Obama shot...One will rise above the rest.

I took a couple I liked...

...but I was more intrigued by the "flowers" walking around, the Red Hat Ladies.

About now, Jennifer began to talk about my being obsessional. "Stop stalking them, Ouma!" She began muttering about "the attack of the Red Hats" - isn't that Killer Tomatoes?

There must have been a couple hundred of them.

They came with canes and walkers.

This pair looked generational.

About the time Jennifer was groaning and rolling her eyes - "do we have to walk through those old ladies again?"- I figured it was time to head up to the Strawberry Festival.

Here for more Flower Field photos.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

On Foot in San Diego: Union Station

This weekend I decided to check out the old Santa Fe Depot, now called the Union Station, at the recommendation of JoAnne, our medical records librarian. No surprise, I did have my buddy, Jennifer, along for this excursion. I have been trying to imprint the railroad history of San Diego on my brain as the railroad played an important role in the settling and development of the city in the late part of the 1800's and early 1900's. I will let the reader check out those details here.

The morning did not get off to a good start when we found I had forgotten to replace the batteries in Jennifer's camera after recharging. OK, I offered to let her share my SLR if she saw a good shot. Nor did it help that paramedics were working on a young man slumped over at the entrance.

"Did he have a heart attack?", Jennifer wanted to know. No, I told her, more likely drugs.

The interior of the station was beautiful in its grace and simplicity, but it's no Grand Central Station and Jennifer was clearly disappointed. One has to be along in years to appreciate the Mission Revival style, arches, and redwood beams in the ceiling.

On the way around front I found a door I liked. I must say I like these curved arches. Jennifer was thinking out loud, "Not another door".

The original depot, built in 1887 to accommodate the real estate bubble speculating that San Diego would be the terminus of the Atchison,Topeka, and Santa Fe, was Victorian style, red with green trim, complete with a clock tower. With the completion of the Panama Canal and hopes that San Diego would become a thriving port for ships, the Victorian depot was torn down and replaced in 1915 with the Mission Revival style depot in keeping with the architecture of the Panama-California Exposition at Balboa Park.

"Next week could we go to the Wild Animal Park to take pictures?" Jennifer asked. That question was not a surprise.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

That Joan!

So Joan's been teaching folks at the Lowcountry Senior Center how to blog, and included our blog in the list of lowcountry blogs for them to check out. I truly feel honored - thanks, Joan!!!

Also, she's been invited to go to Kenya in May to check out the new water system that's being installed as a result of our hospital system's fundraising (and walking). Congrats, Joan!

That Joan is truly the busiest woman I have ever met - and I mean that in a good way. 8D

(Note to Kathie - in the bottom pic of the post in the last link, the middle "person" in orange shirt is LaLa; the woman in the red jacket is Jessie. Can you see the tip of Kelly's head a ways to the right of her - with sunglasses on? I was somewhere ahead with James Patrick.)