Balboa Park (Prado / Museum of Man / Museum of Photographic Art / Botanical Building/ Japanese Friendship Garden, Air and Space Museum, Automotive Museum, San Diego Zoo)
Balboa Park can't be experienced in a day or three. A number of museums, a great restaurant and of course the San Diego Zoo - which in itself is difficult to see in one day.
The free tram from one of the parking lots takes you to the main courtyard in front of the Museum of Art.
The buildings were built as part of the Panama California Exposition of 1915 (similar to the World's Fair). It has been maintained as a city park.
You can walk in the shade between buildings.
Museum of Man:
While we heard this was one of the better museums, it was rather small. There were some interesting artifacts (they were having a presentation on cannibalism), but the jewel for Stephanie and me was taking the tour of the tower.
Views from the top:
Jets flying into the San Diego Airport come in low over the city. You can see that here.
This is looking down the El Prado towards the main Plaza. The Prado restaurant and Museum of Photographic Arts is to the right back side of the plaza.
A Samurai suit:
This is a replica done by a mold of a Maya stone monument.
The courtyard separating a museum, the info center and the Prado - a really good restaurant in an outstanding location and view.
Al Fresco dining at Prado
The Botanical Building is the largest wood slat structure in the world.
This free exhibit can be enjoyed in less than an hour. It has some really interesting sights.
This is not a palm, but a giant fern.
Looking up can by dizzying.
A Fig tree:
This looked like a little fantasy creature sitting down.
Meat eating Pitcher Plant. I read the sign that says don't touch because of it's flesh dissolving fluids after I touched it.
Japanese Friendship Garden:
This is just a few steps from Prado. After paying a fee, you walk down into a small valley. It is well manicured, but there wasn't a lot of flora when we were there. A pleasant walk, but there was so much walking anyway, we didn't need to walk for the sake of walking. I would rate this low on the must see scale.
There were half a dozen large Bonsai. This one was really cool. It is like a miniature tall forest.
San Diego Zoo:
I only have a couple photos here - there was just too much. Here are two highlights.
We were watching the orangutans when out of a high perch this little fellow who had been hidden under his burlap sack, swung down and walked along the ground, dragging the sack behind him. When he stopped he wrapped it around himself and started eating some lettuce. We could have watched him all day.
But! the biggest attraction (one that required standing in line) was to see the momma panda Bai Yun born in 1991 in China. A worker allowed you a few moments to snap a photo or two and then politely asked people to move along so that others could enjoy. As we got into view she was sleeping with her back to us. Not much to see. The worker stated that she sleeps most of the day. Jus then, she raised up and looked toward us, while the cell phones and cameras were clicking, and lay face down in what the worker said was her favorite position.
There were several aviaries. This one with toucans and other tropicals. Another was on a high walkway where you are at the tree tops looking down.
At the end of the main walkway there is a fountain were most people stop. A guide told us to continue across the street where there is a small but fantastic "Desert Garden".
I dedicate this photo to Pat and Shelly who introduced us to the Boojum Tree!
"Look! It's a Boojum!"
Automotive and Space Museum:
These two museums are side by side and were my favorites. I just love the stylings of the old cars. I find them more artful than anything. There were some historically significant items in both museums.
While the Air and Space museum was larger than the car museum, it was as interesting, but not so visually appealing hence fear photos.
This however gave me goosebumps and was worth the price of admission.
The Apollo 9 Module "Gumdrop".
A window into the lunar module:
I saved this for last because of the number of photos. I enjoyed all of these and had to share.
One of Steve McQueen's Harlies
1950 Vincent Rapide:
1951 Vincent Black Shadow
Evel Knevel's 1976 Harley
Maybe the most impressive car for size, styling, and wow factor: a 1932 Cadillac 451
Chrysler Town and Country. Sandy owned a 1980 or so model :)
Frank Sinatra's 67' Austin Cab. Frank was known to drive this car around LA with one or more members of the Rat Pack inside.
Messerschmitt Kamin Roller:
Even though I loved the Caddy, this was my favorite for style - a 1938 Delahay Competition Roadster
1959 300SL - these are worth a fortune.
This car took the world by storm - 74' Lamborghini Countach
And we'll leave with this. A man named Louie Mattar spent a life time building this car that had every convenience imaginable. The most impressive was a running board and hydraulic system that allowed two men to walk out of the car and change one of the tires - while the car was moving! They had a video running with a demonstration of this feature.
Here are some of the details:
An iron and ironing board
Electric Stove and cupboards
A hookah and tape recorder
The spigots are for cocktails.