Photography . . . Travel . . .

Sunday, October 31, 2010

A Few Shots From This Weekend

I managed to get in quite a bit of variety this weekend, although none of it was what I started out to do. The original plan for Saturday was a trip to Anza Borrego, but I decided against that and headed out to Escondido just before lunch. There were lots of fluffy clouds, and I thought it would be a great day to shoot the Queen Califia Magical Garden sculptures that are behind Kit Carson Park. Apparently they close the place during wet weather, and it had rained briefly earlier in the day. So much for that idea.

After a brief stop to try some shots of the grape vines at Orfila Vineyards, I headed over to the Wild Animal Park. The late afternoon light was great.

Click here for more from the San Diego Wild Animal Park on Saturday, October 30th.

On Sunday I went down to Old Town and just walked around for a few hours, with a stop at the Cosmopolitan Hotel for lunch. Here are a couple of shots from the new Mormon Battalion Musuem on Juan Street.

The Cosmopolitan Hotel, as seen from inside a covered wagon.

Old Town was all decorated up for both Halloween and Dia del los Muertos, which is Nov 1st. 

Click here for more from Old Town and vicinity on Sunday, October 31st.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

USS Midway Museum - San Diego Bay

The USS Midway was commissioned in 1945, and stayed in service until 1992. When it was built it was the largest ship in the world for 10 years. In 2004 it was opened as a museum, in San Diego on the Bay alongside Harbor Drive. (If some of these pictures look a bit distorted - it's not your monitor - I used my fisheye lens the whole time.) 

Looking down on the flight deck. They have a large display of aircraft on the deck.

In the air operations control room.

On the bridge.

In one of the control rooms. Looks like they've picked me up on their radar.

We wandered all over the ship.

Looking down into one of the ordnance storage areas. This ship has 18 decks.

Click here to see more images from the USS Midway.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Day Trip to Anza Borrego - Blair Valley - Oct 17, 2010

It was cool and grey in San Diego this past weekend, and sort of sunny and warm in the desert. I drove out to Anza Borrego to take a look around. It was still a little on the warm side, in the high 80's, but the Xterra has good air conditioning.  I started out by driving around the Buttes Pass area, out to the top of the Borrego Mountain Road drop-off, and then backtracked to Buttes Pass Road and in to Hawk Canyon to find a shady spot for lunch. 

After lunch I continued north on Buttes Pass out to San Felipe Wash, then turned east and eventually found my way out to Hwy 78 at the Ocotillo Wells OHV Area. I had hoped for some nice landscape photo ops, but the air was hazy and a bit humid at these lower elevations, so I changed plans and headed out to Blair Valley, off of County Road S-2. Blair Valley sits at a little over 2,000' elevation, and some of the trails there go up to just over 3,000'. The whole area is much more heavily covered in vegetation, and the air felt a lot crisper and drier (it was still warm though). The trails at Blair Valley are all passable in a high-clearance 2WD, just some soft sand in places.

It was very quiet out there. Once I turned off the engine there was just silence (and the occasional birds). In 15 miles of trails I saw one other vehicle, and one guy on a mountain bike (struggling in the soft sand). It was like I had the whole place to myself. You can just see the rain clouds that covered the western side of the mountains out to the coast just starting to spill over the top of the mountains in this next shot.

It's a little hard to see in this next picture, but that little white thing in the upper left corner that doesn't quite look like a cloud is the moon, rising over the dry lake bed.

There are 2 dry lake beds along the route, here's another view of the moon rise, this time from the other lake bed. From the looks of things, I would say that these were not all that dry this past year. 

The very late afternoon sun gave everything a nice warm glow, and backlit the cholla cactus quite nicely.

Heading home west towards the setting sun (about 10 minutes before sunset), you can see the clouds spilling over the top of the mountain. In few minutes visibility would go from several miles to almost nothing.

Click here to see more images from my day trip to Anza Borrego Desert State Park.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Mt. Washington Cog Railway - New Hampshire

One of the more interesting stops during our Fall of 2008 wander around New England (see previous post) was the Mt. Washington Cog Railway, which takes you to the top of Mt. Washington at an exciting 3.5 miles an hour (unless they need to shovel snow out of the way, then it goes a little slower).

Mt. Washington, at 6,288', is the highest point in New England. It is also known for having the worst weather in the continental U.S., and is thus home to a rather large weather research station. There is a toll-road you can drive to the top during good weather, but this looked like a lot more fun. 

Construction of the Cog Railway was completed in 1869, and it has been used ever since for its intended purpose of taking tourists to the top of Mt. Washington. The base station is at 2,700' elevation, and the 4 mile or so trip takes a little over an hour one-way. The single passenger car is pushed up the mountain by a coal-fired engine that burns over a ton of coal for each round trip. The steam boiler uses about 1,000 gal. of water, and the 750 gal. tank has to be refilled along the way. At one of the steeper points the grade is 37.14%, which means that the passengers seated in the front of the car are 14' higher up than the ones in the back.

When we got to the base station it was about 44F and lightly raining, which made for some great steam pictures.

We watched a few earlier trains go up and down while we waited for our train.

They told us at the bottom station that the day before there had been some brief bits of snow, the first of the season, and that we might get lucky and see some snow at the top. As we climbed it started getting foggier, and colder. Our seats were at the "front" of the car (the passenger car is pushed up the hill by the engine). We had a great view (well, sort of) through the open door.

After a while that fog turned to snow, and the crew had to walk in front of the train clearing the track. Here you can see the descending train waiting on a small siding for our ascending train to pass.

The excursion allows about 20 minutes at the summit. There is a gift shop, snack bar, and Park service offices and museum. Conditions at the summit were a bit different from those at the base station. The temp was 27F, wind was 29 MPH, and the peak wind speed over the previous 24-hour period had been clocked at 79 MPH. So . . . here is the picture from our Fall Colors trip to New England with the least amount of color. This could probably have been taken in black & white and except for the skin tones you wouldn't even notice. You can just see our train waiting in the background. Look closely and you can also see the effect of the wind. 

Quite a change for a native of Southern California.

Some Fall Color

It's that time of year, so I thought I would dig out a few shots from a trip that Heather and I took to New England in the Fall of 2008. We arrived in Boston late in the evening and got a room at the Airport Hilton. In the morning we picked up a rental car and took off for 2 weeks of driving the smallest backroads we could find in southern Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine and Massachusetts. Other than the airport hotel, we stayed in small inns in small towns the whole time.

We spent the first 2 nights in Grafton, Vermont. The weather was nice (in between bits of rain), and we mostly just walked around enjoying a climate and terrain very different from San Diego.

From Grafton we turned back east across the Connecticut River (crossing it into New Hampshire via the longest covered wooden bridge in the U.S.) then worked our way north along the river valley. We spent a night in Lyme, NH, then it was on to Littleton, NH, in the White Mountains.

One of the things we saw along the way was The Flume, at Franconia Notch State Park. I think that wooden walkway is about 100 years old. It's worn pretty smooth, and gets pretty slippery when it's wet. This is a fairly wide spot in the route.

We spent about 2 days wandering around the White Mountains area, including some short hikes and a trip to the top of Mount Washington on the Cog Railway. This was the first time I had really seen fall colors first hand. It was impressive.

With the late afternoon sun setting behind me, you can see my shadow on the right side of the frame.

From Littleton we headed east into central Maine, and spent a night in a small town called Wilton, and then continued out to the coast at Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park. We took a walk around Jordan Pond (after stopping for tea and popovers on the lawn at the Jordan Pond Restaurant - they've been serving them here for probably over 70-80 years), and drove around most of the island, including a stop for lobster at Thurston's.

From Bar Harbor we took the coast highway south back towards Boston, spending 2 nights in Freeport, Maine and our last 2 nights in Rockport, MA. Along the way we checked out several lighthouses and other scenic spots. The trip was Heather's idea, and all the time that I was making the arrangements I was wondering (often out loud) why we were going in peak season, and just how bad it was going to be. I was wrong, it was great. Even though it can be crowded, and the hotel rates are at their peak, I can strongly recommend a trip to New England during "leaf season". Just do what you can to avoid the large tour busses that can clog up the roads and sights.

Click here to see more images from our Fall of 2008 fly/drive road trip around New England.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Sunday Drive - Mission San Juan Capistrano

Heather and I went for a Sunday drive up to the Mission San Juan Capistrano with our friends Rae and Robert. It was a perfect day to wander around the Mission taking pictures.

Mission San Juan Capistrano was founded in 1776, sort of. Actually it was founded in 1775, but 2 weeks after the padres and soldiers arrived they got word of a revolt in San Diego and returned there. Fr. Serra showed up in 1776 and re-founded the Mission on November 1. Along the way a large stone church was constructed - it was destroyed by an earthquake in December of 1812. Here's a model of the Great Stone Church in front of the ruins. This model is sitting well inside the original perimeter walls.

I've always thought that this Mission has one of the best courtyard areas of any that I've seen. There is a large fountain in the center, full of flowers and koi. The courtyard is surrounded by a portico, and there are lots of benches where you can sit, relax, and enjoy the view.

If you look closely in the next image you can see a charcoal koi cruising by under the flowers.

Even though the main church is in ruins, there is still a small church in the Mission itself. 

After we left the Mission we walked around the town of San Juan Capistrano for a bit. On the other side of the railroad tracks Heather spotted a sign for a petting zoo that I had never noticed before. None of us were in any big hurry to try petting this guy.

Click here to see more images from our Sunday drive north to San Juan Capistrano.

You can also click here to see another gallery of images, this one from a Nov 1, 2009 visit to the Mission.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Old Town - San Diego DSLR Group Shoot October

The San Diego DSLR Photo Group met up for the monthly Group Shoot this morning, in Old Town San Diego. There was an Art Festival going on, and a group of old Fords was parked on one of the side streets.

We stopped in to the church for a bit.

We checked out the old school house, built in 1865. The restored building is about 85% original.

We went to Fred's Mexican Restaurant for lunch - I had the carnitas. It was pretty good.

Self-portrait at the "cantina" in the McCoy House Museum.

An old telegraph at the McCoy House Museum.

Click here to see more images from our group walk around Old Town this morning.

About Me

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San Diego, California, United States
About me . . . When I'm not working I like to be out exploring and photographing. I do this blog just for fun, and to be able to share these images with friends. I hope you enjoy viewing these images as much as I enjoyed creating them.

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All of the content and images on this site (c) Frank B. Baiamonte. If you would like to use any of these images please contact me via email at to discuss terms of usage. Note that images from the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park are not available for commercial usage. You can also see more on my Instagram page @frankbaiamonte.

Header image: Cibola National Wildlife Refuge, Cibola, Arizona. End image: Downtown San Diego, California skyline from Coronado Island. Profile picture: Craters of the Moon National Monument, Idaho, by Heather Baiamonte.