Friday, April 22, 2016

Sunday in Balboa Park, San Diego

Balboa Park in San Diego is 1,200 acres (1.9 sq. miles/4.8 sq. km) of open space, green belts, museums, gardens, attractions, restaurants, theaters, and the San Diego Zoo (a personal favorite).  I could spend a whole day at the Zoo and not see any more of the Park.  Or, at the Museum of Art or the Natural History Museum or the Air and Space Museum or the Japanese Garden or the Botanical Garden - there is just so much to do!

Today, I'm heading over to the Spreckels Organ Pavilion for their weekly concert. The Spreckels, founders of a transportation and real estate empire in San Diego, donated one of the world's largest outdoor pipe organs to the City of San Diego in 1915 for the Panama-California Exposition to celebrate the completion of the Panama Canal (competing with the Panama-Pacific International Exposition held at the same time in San Francisco). The organ contains 4,725 pipes ranging in length from the size of a pencil to 32 feet and is housed in an ornate pavilion in Balboa Park.  The organ has been played in a free weekly concert Sunday afternoon at 2 since 1917.

But first, I have to brave the Sunday afternoon traffic heading into Balboa Park.  I ark outside the park and walk in past the Lawn Bowling Area, where the San Diego Lawn Bowling Club (organized in 1931) plays most days of the week (and also gives lessons). 

Lawn Bowling Area

After the Lawn Bowling Area, I walk along El Prado, across the Cabrillo Bridge and into the park.  I can see the Zoo in the distance, but, here, am immediately surrounded by museums:  Museum of Man, San Diego Museum of Art, Timkin Museum of Art, Mingei International Museum, and the San Diego Art Institute, Old Globe Theater, and Botanical Garden.  After passing several of the museums, I enter the Plaza de Panama, open and welcoming, surrounded by all these great things to do and see.

Plaza de Panama, surrounded by museums

From the Plaza, I can see the Spreckels Organ Pavilion, just one green area away.

Spreckels Organ Pavilion across the green belt

I walk over to the Pavilion and take a seat for the hour-long concert.  The organ produces a tremendous sound and what a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon!  The San Diego Civic Organist, Dr. Carol Williams, is not playing today and we have a Family Day Concert with guest organist Alison Luedecke, along with several of her young students.

Sitting in the Organ Pavilion for the concert

 Viewing the organ up close afterwards

Slight aircraft noise accompaniment
After the concert, I wander out of the park, admiring the gnarled old trees in the green areas.

 Gnarled trees

There is so much to do in Balboa Park that I could (and have in the past) spend days wandering.  But, today it's a quick trip for the organ concert, then back up to Carlsbad for the evening and, then, time for this long weekend to come to a close.  But, before moving on, I'll share one more picture from the park - a serpent sculpture playground just off the Plaza de Panama.

 Serpent sculpture for play

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