1922 Mack Water Truck outside Automotive Museum.

1922 Mack Water Truck on display outside the San Diego Automotive Museum in Balboa Park.
1922 Mack Water Truck on display outside the San Diego Automotive Museum in Balboa Park.

For many years, a very cool old water truck has been parked in an outdoor alcove near the entrance to the San Diego Automotive Museum, which is one of the outstanding museums in Balboa Park. I frequently walk past the shiny red water truck and wonder about its history–the stories it might tell.

The 1922 Mack Water Truck was donated in 1997 to the museum by Bruce and Mary Hazard. R.E. Hazard, the father of Bruce, began the prosperous local construction company almost a hundred years ago. I’ve tried to find information about this particular truck, but without success. All I know is that several years ago the time-weathered water truck was restored into a glorious shiny condition by a host of volunteers.

On the opposite side of the Automotive Museum’s front entrance a second outdoor alcove awaits, empty. Wouldn’t it be cool if another historic vehicle were to be placed there for everyone passing by to enjoy?

The vintage 1922 Mack Water Truck was donated to the Automotive Museum by Bruce and Mary Hazard in 1997. Hazard Construction Company dates from the early 1920's.
The vintage 1922 Mack Water Truck was donated to the Automotive Museum by Bruce and Mary Hazard in 1997. Hazard Construction Company dates from the early 1920’s.
Photo of the sturdy but rather simple 1922 Mack Water Truck.
Photo of the sturdy but rather simple 1922 Mack Water Truck.
Hard rubber tires are driven by a chain. A ride through a construction site must have been rather bumpy!
Hard rubber tires are driven by a chain. A ride through a construction site must have been rather bumpy!
The 1922 Mack Water Truck can be seen near the entrance to the fascinating San Diego Automotive Museum, one of the best museums of its kind.
The 1922 Mack Water Truck can be seen near the entrance to the fascinating San Diego Automotive Museum, one of the best museums of its kind.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk! You can enjoy even more Cool San Diego Sights by following me on Facebook or Twitter!

A quick peek: Art and history inside Casa de Balboa.

Tables, banners and art inside the comfortably air-conditioned Casa de Balboa. The Casa 1915 Mexican Grill hasn't opened yet at this early hour. It serves hungry visitors to the building's three museums.
Tables, museum banners and painted artwork inside the Casa de Balboa. The Casa 1915 Mexican Grill hasn’t opened yet at this early hour. It serves hungry visitors to the building’s three museums.

Here are a few photos of what you might see should you step inside Balboa Park’s Casa de Balboa. The Casa de Balboa is located on the south side of El Prado, between the House of Hospitality and Zoro Garden. The ornate building, which has undergone numerous name changes and even a complete reconstruction during the past century, today is the home of three excellent museums: the San Diego History Center, the Museum of Photographic Arts, and the San Diego Model Railroad Museum.

On a hot day the Casa de Balboa is a good spot to cool off and perhaps grab a bite to eat. One can also see a number of interesting things inside the building, including beautiful artwork and fascinating bits of history.

I begin with these two fantastic paintings . . .

Point Loma, Charles Reiffel, oil on canvas, 1937. San Diego History Center. Painted for the City Curriculum Project, Works Progress Administration, the mural originally hung in Memorial Junior High School.
Point Loma, Charles Reiffel, oil on canvas, 1937. San Diego History Center. Painted for the City Curriculum Project, Works Progress Administration, the mural originally hung in Memorial Junior High School.
Farm Landscape, Charles Reiffel, oil on canvas, 1937. San Diego History Center. Painted for the City Curriculum Project, Works Progress Administration, the mural originally hung in Memorial Junior High School.
Farm Landscape, Charles Reiffel, oil on canvas, 1937. San Diego History Center. Painted for the City Curriculum Project, Works Progress Administration, the mural originally hung in Memorial Junior High School.
A peek into MOPA, the Museum of Photographic Arts, which is located inside Balboa Park's Casa de Balboa.
A peek into MOPA, the Museum of Photographic Arts, which is located inside Balboa Park’s Casa de Balboa.
Another peek. The San Diego History Center, inside Balboa Park's Casa de Balboa, is where photos, documents and other recordings of our city's past are carefully preserved for posterity.
Another quick peek. The San Diego History Center, inside Balboa Park’s Casa de Balboa, is where photos, documents and other recordings of our city’s past are carefully preserved for posterity.  One current exhibit celebrates the San Diego Zoo.
These stairs lead down to a place that kids love, the San Diego Model Railroad Museum. A working railway semaphore signal rises from the lower level.
These stairs lead down to a place that kids absolutely love, the San Diego Model Railroad Museum. A working railway semaphore signal rises from the lower level.
It's almost 10 o'clock, when the museums open. Cafe 1915 Mexican Grill employee carries a sign to be placed outside the Casa de Balboa, along El Prado where people walk.
It’s almost 10 o’clock, when the museums open. Cafe 1915 Mexican Grill employee carries a sign to be placed outside the Casa de Balboa, along El Prado where people walk.
Video on a wall inside Balboa Park’s Casa de Balboa shows old photographs from the Panama-California Exposition Digital Archive. More material is sought from the public
Video on a wall inside Balboa Park’s Casa de Balboa shows old photographs from the Panama-California Exposition Digital Archive. More material is sought from the public.
Our 1915-1916 Panama-California Exposition forever changed Balboa Park and helped put San Diego on the map. We invite you to contribute to this digital archive at pancalarchive.org
Our 1915-1916 Panama-California Exposition forever changed Balboa Park and helped put San Diego on the map. We invite you to contribute to this digital archive at pancalarchive.org  (To read this, click the image and it will enlarge.)
Art inside the Casa de Balboa. An identical image of Junipero Serra can be seen outdoors in the facade of the Casa del Prado. This might be a duplicate, or perhaps it was used in the latter's creation.
Art inside the Casa de Balboa. An identical image of Junipero Serra can be seen outdoors in the facade of the Casa del Prado.
Preserved bit of history features an image of a friar at Mission San Diego, which was established in 1769.
Preserved bit of history features an image of a friar at Mission San Diego, which was established in 1769.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk! You can enjoy even more Cool San Diego Sights by following me on Facebook or Twitter!

Art of the Open Air in beautiful Balboa Park.

A monumental sculpture with two determined faces. Border Crossing/Cruzando El Rio Bravo, 1989, Luis Jiménez.
A monumental sculpture with two determined faces. Border Crossing/Cruzando El Rio Bravo, 1989, Luis Jiménez.

I urge anyone in San Diego to visit the Art of the Open Air exhibit now running in Balboa Park. Fifteen monumental sculptures by important artists are currently on display in the Plaza de Panama and inside the May S. Marcy Sculpture Garden. These works belong to the San Diego Museum of Art.

In case you can’t see them in person, here are some photos of the sculptures that are arranged around the Plaza de Panama. Nearby signs provide information about both the artwork and the artists.

Sculpture walk map. Fifteen works by important artists are featured in the San Diego Museum of Art's new exhibit Art of the Open Air.
Sculpture walk map. Fifteen works by important artists are featured in the San Diego Museum of Art’s new exhibit Art of the Open Air.
One of eight signs in the Plaza de Panama, explaining the fascinating outdoor exhibit, which will run in Balboa Park through February 13, 2018.
One of eight signs in the Plaza de Panama, explaining the fascinating outdoor exhibit, which will run in Balboa Park through February 13, 2018.
Seven of the fifteen outdoor sculptures are located in Balboa Park's historic Plaza de Panama. Nearby signs explain the diverse artwork and artists.
Seven of the fifteen outdoor sculptures are located in Balboa Park’s historic Plaza de Panama. Nearby signs explain the diverse artwork and artists.
Visitors to Balboa Park in San Diego check out a large sculpture depicting migrants crossing the Rio Grande.
Visitors to Balboa Park in San Diego check out a large sculpture depicting migrants crossing the Rio Grande.
Artist Luis Jiménez focused on the American Southwest, using vivid colors and materials from popular culture. His work often questioned cultural stereotypes.
Artist Luis Jiménez focused on the American Southwest, using vivid colors and materials from popular culture. His work often questioned cultural stereotypes.
The Watchers, 1960, Lynn Chadwick. Geometric, featureless sculptures that convey human anxiety and distrust.
The Watchers, 1960, Lynn Chadwick. Geometric, featureless sculptures that convey human anxiety and distrust.
Lynn Chadwick, a post-World War II British sculptor, believed that art should be a manifestation of some vital force from the dark.
Lynn Chadwick, a post-World War II British sculptor, believed that art should be a manifestation of some vital force from the dark.
The Prodigal Son, 1905, Auguste Rodin. A sculpture from The Gates of Hell, inspired by Dante's Inferno.
The Prodigal Son, 1905, Auguste Rodin. A sculpture from The Gates of Hell, inspired by Dante’s Inferno.
Auguste Rodin was a French sculptor inspired by Michelangelo and linked to the Impressionists. He believed sculpture should produce the impression of movement.
Auguste Rodin was a French sculptor inspired by Michelangelo and linked to the Impressionists. He believed sculpture should produce the impression of movement.
Mother and Daughter Seated, 1971, Francisco Zúñiga. Archetype of a mother-daughter pair, rendered both physically and psychologically.
Mother and Daughter Seated, 1971, Francisco Zúñiga. Archetype of a mother-daughter pair, rendered both physically and psychologically.
Francisco Zúñiga created unique artwork that is defined by a fundamental humanism.
Francisco Zúñiga created unique artwork that is defined by a fundamental humanism.
Big Open Skull, 1966-73, Jack Zajac. A monumental bronze sculpture that creates a sense of timelessness.
Big Open Skull, 1966-73, Jack Zajac. A monumental bronze sculpture that creates a sense of timelessness.
Jack Zajac is an American artist who once worked at a steel mill. He is now Sculptor Emeritus at University of California, Santa Cruz.
Jack Zajac is an American artist who once worked at a steel mill. He is now Sculptor Emeritus at University of California, Santa Cruz.
Solar Bird, 1966, Joan Miró. One of the artist's recurring motifs, the bird symbolizes flight and escape, liberty and spirituality.
Solar Bird, 1966, Joan Miró. One of the artist’s recurring motifs, the bird symbolizes flight and escape, liberty and spirituality.
Joan Miró is a famous Spanish artist best known for his Surrealist paintings.
Joan Miró is a famous Spanish artist best known for his Surrealist paintings.
Odyssey III, 1973, Tony Rosenthal. Circular planes made of aluminum are forward-looking, anticipating an adventurous journey.
Odyssey III, 1973, Tony Rosenthal. Circular planes made of aluminum are forward-looking, anticipating an adventurous journey.
Tony Rosenthal is an American artist who created clean lines, pure forms. His sculptures fit the open-air environment of Southern California.
Tony Rosenthal was an American artist who created clean lines, pure forms. His sculptures fit the open-air environment of Southern California.
Fantastic works of art await visitors to Balboa Park in San Diego.
Fantastic works of art await visitors to Balboa Park in San Diego.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk! You can enjoy even more Cool San Diego Sights by following me on Facebook or Twitter!

Do you like to read original, thought-provoking fiction? Please click Short Stories by Richard.

Free exhibit of contemporary Chinese art in Balboa Park.

Gallery 15 at the San Diego Museum of Art is free to the public.
Gallery 15 at the San Diego Museum of Art is free to the public.

Through April 25, 2016, you have a chance to see some fantastic contemporary Chinese art in beautiful Balboa Park. And this small exhibition is free!

You’ll see six contemporary Chinese paintings by the acclaimed Beijing-based artist Pan Gongkai. President of the China Central Academy of Fine Arts, Pan fuses Western influence with the Chinese brush-and-ink tradition.

One work, over 45 feet long, titled Noble Virtues, is a feast for the eyes. It depicts the “four gentlemen”. These are the plum blossom, orchid, bamboo and chrysanthemum, plants that represent the four seasons. You have to see this artwork in person to fully appreciate the symbolism and the bold, dynamic beauty.

The other work, on the opposite wall, is called Lotus Pond. This series of five paintings reveals aspects of human life.  The lotus represents the soul’s resilience and purity.

Where can you find this art? Next time you’re in Balboa Park, walk through Panama 66 in the San Diego Museum of Art’s May S. Marcy Sculpture Court, and look for the sign to the restrooms. That door leads into Gallery 15, an area of the museum that is free to the public!

Free exhibition. Pan Gongkai. New Paintings for the San Diego Museum of Art.
Free exhibition. Pan Gongkai. New Paintings for the San Diego Museum of Art.
The Beijing-based artist Pan Gongkai is deeply invested in the study and practice of traditional Chinese art. The artists has used spontaneous and expressive brushwork that borders on abstraction.
The Beijing-based artist Pan Gongkai is deeply invested in the study and practice of traditional Chinese art. The artist has used spontaneous and expressive brushwork that borders on abstraction. (Click to enlarge.)
One painting in the series Lotus Pond, 2015, by contemporary Chinese artist Pan Gongkai.
One painting in the series Lotus Pond, 2015, by contemporary Chinese artist Pan Gongkai.
One painting in the series Lotus Pond, 2015, by contemporary Chinese artist Pan Gongkai.
One painting in the series Lotus Pond, 2015, by contemporary Chinese artist Pan Gongkai.
One painting in the series Lotus Pond, 2015, by contemporary Chinese artist Pan Gongkai.
One painting in the series Lotus Pond, 2015, by contemporary Chinese artist Pan Gongkai.
Poems on Four Nobles. Plum, Orchid, Bamboo in Rain, and Chrysanthemum.
Poems on Four Nobles. Plum, Orchid, Bamboo in Rain, and Chrysanthemum. (Click to enlarge.)
Section of the painting Noble Virtues, 2015, by contemporary Chinese artist Pan Gongkai.
Section of the painting Noble Virtues, 2015, by contemporary Chinese artist Pan Gongkai.
Section of the painting Noble Virtues, 2015, by contemporary Chinese artist Pan Gongkai.
Section of the painting Noble Virtues, 2015, by contemporary Chinese artist Pan Gongkai.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk! You can see more Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Do you like to read short pieces of thought-provoking fiction? Please visit Short Stories by Richard.

Famous animal celebrities at the San Diego Zoo!

Balboa Park visitors walk down main hallway of Casa de Balboa, past posters featuring some animal celebrities of the world-famous San Diego Zoo!
Balboa Park visitors walk down main hallway of Casa de Balboa, past posters featuring some animal celebrities of the world-famous San Diego Zoo!

There’s a fun new exhibit at the San Diego History Center in Balboa Park. It’s called The Lore Behind the ROAR! 100 Years of the San Diego Zoo. Like beautiful Balboa Park itself, the world-famous San Diego Zoo originated in 1915. Last year was its centennial!

Along the main hallway inside the Casa de Balboa, near the entrance to the San Diego History Center, visitors can enjoy a series of posters that feature some of the zoo’s beloved animal celebrities. Here they are!

Banner on Casa de Balboa near entrance to San Diego History Center. The Lore Behind the ROAR! 100 Years of the San Diego Zoo.
Banner on Casa de Balboa, home of several museums including the San Diego History Center. The Lore Behind the ROAR! 100 Years of the San Diego Zoo.
Carol the Asian elephant appeared with San Diego Zoo goodwill ambassador Joan Embery on The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson. Carol was also an illustrious painter!
Carol the Asian elephant.  She appeared with San Diego Zoo goodwill ambassador Joan Embery on The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson. Carol was also an illustrious painter!
Hua Mei is a superstar giant panda born at the San Diego Zoo in 1999. Her name means China USA. She now lives in China.
Hua Mei is a superstar giant panda born at the San Diego Zoo in 1999. Her name means “China USA”. She now lives in China.
Diego the Galapagos tortoise, now 130 years old, half a century ago was one of very few surviving males of the critically endangered species. Over many years, he's had roughly 1,700 offspring!
Diego the Galapagos tortoise, now 130 years old, half a century ago was one of very few surviving males of the critically endangered species. Over the ensuing years, he’s produced roughly 1,700 offspring!
Arusha and Anna were a cheetah and dog pair at the San Diego Zoo. They were the best of friends.
Arusha and Anna were a cheetah and dog pair at the San Diego Zoo. They were the best of friends.
Taku was the first polar bear born at the world-famous San Diego Zoo, back in 1942.
Taku was the first polar bear born at the world-famous San Diego Zoo, back in 1942.
Alvila was first western lowland gorilla born at the San Diego Zoo, in 1965. This animal celebrity has been a favorite through the years.
Alvila was the first western lowland gorilla born at the San Diego Zoo, in 1965. This animal celebrity has been a big favorite through the years.
King Tut, a salmon-crested cockatoo, was the San Diego Zoo’s official greeter for forty years! He also appeared on television and in theatrical productions!
King Tut, a salmon-crested cockatoo, was the San Diego Zoo’s official greeter for forty years! He also appeared on television and in theatrical productions!
Puddles the river hippopotamus was a crowd favorite at the San Diego Zoo in the 1930s and 1940s.
Puddles the river hippopotamus was a crowd favorite at the San Diego Zoo in the 1930s and 1940s.

You can enjoy more Cool San Diego Sights by following on Facebook or Twitter!

Beautiful gems, minerals and jewelry in Balboa Park!

Beautiful geodes, crystals, gems, minerals, agates, fossils and jewelry can be found in a very cool place in Balboa Park.
Beautiful geodes, crystals, gems, minerals, agates, fossils and jewelry can be found in a very cool place in Balboa Park.

Okay, I admit it. Possibly my very favorite place in Balboa Park is filled with rocks. Really beautiful rocks! And gems and fossils and jewelry and carvings . . .

Yes, I’m talking about the San Diego Mineral and Gem Society Museum, which is located at the north end of Spanish Village. Anyone who “digs” the beautiful natural productions of Mother Earth needs to drop on by. It’s free! And those who want to learn about the lapidary arts should seriously look into joining the society or taking classes. They’ve got a well-equipped lapidary workshop in one room where members facet and carve and polish . . . turning gems, metal and minerals into treasures fit for royalty.

An open door beckons near Balboa Park's Spanish Village. San Diego Mineral and Gem Society and Village Silversmith's Welcome You!
An open door beckons near Balboa Park’s Spanish Village. San Diego Mineral and Gem Society and Village Silversmith’s Welcome You!
Lots of handmade jewelry and polished or faceted gems and semi-precious stones can be found in the glass counter display. There's also lots of literature for rockhounds.
Lots of handmade jewelry, gems and semi-precious stones can be found in the glass counter display. There’s also lots of literature for rockhounds.
Any hobbyists interested in collecting rocks and minerals, or learning lapidary skills should swing on by.
Any hobbyists interested in collecting rocks and minerals, or learning lapidary skills should swing on by.
Balboa Park visitors examine some exquisite handcrafted jewelry for sale.
Balboa Park visitors examine some exquisite handcrafted jewelry for sale.
Throughout the amazing San Diego Mineral and Gem Societies' Museum you can see all sorts of beautiful geological specimens.
Throughout the amazing San Diego Mineral and Gem Societies’ Museum you can see all sorts of beautiful geological specimens.
Pieces in this diorama are made of carved Serpentine.
Pieces in this diorama are made of carved Serpentine.
Carefully made Quartz spheres dazzle with natural color. With a little added light they glow, appearing like magic crystal balls!
Carefully made Quartz spheres dazzle with natural color. With a little added light they glow, appearing like magic crystal balls!
A natural history-themed diorama made of agates and crystals. It was created in the late 19th century, and is a unique artifact in this cool museum.
A natural history-themed diorama made of agates and crystals. It was created in the late 19th century, and is a unique artifact in this cool museum.
Sign provides some info about the above Natural History Diorama. It was built by Mr. Fred W. Woodend I while he was operating a curio and mineral shop in Denver, Colorado.
Sign provides some info about the above Natural History Diorama. It was built by Mr. Fred W. Woodend I while he was operating a curio and mineral shop in Denver, Colorado.
This big display case against one wall has lots of colorful minerals, including Calcite, Hematite, Halite and Wulfenite.
This big display case against one wall has lots of colorful minerals, including Calcite, Hematite, Halite and Wulfenite.
Primitive Fossil Bird, Confuciusornis sanctus, Early Cretaceous, 120-125 million years old! These early birds retain many primitive dinosaurian features.
Primitive Fossil Bird, Confuciusornis sanctus, Early Cretaceous, 120-125 million years old! These early birds retain many primitive dinosaurian features.
Among a bunch of fossils is a fossilized pine cone!
Among a bunch of fossils is a fossilized pine cone!
A variety of cool sights on display, including a slab of petrified wood.
A variety of beautiful things on display, including a slab of petrified wood.
It's impossible for visitors to miss this portion of a fossilized skull. It's from a Right or Bowhead Whale, which lived in the Pliocene Epoch 1 to 11 million years ago!
It’s impossible for visitors to miss this portion of a fossilized skull. It’s from a Right or Bowhead Whale, which lived in the Pliocene Epoch 1 to 11 million years ago!
Amazing work by Johnny Johnson, a long time member of the San Diego Mineral and Gem Society, and member of the Gem Carvers Guild of America.
Amazing work by Johnny Johnson, a long time member of the San Diego Mineral and Gem Society, and member of the Gem Carvers Guild of America.
Examples of fantastic stone carving by society members.
Examples of fantastic stone carving by society members.
Chasing and Repousse on copper, a skill learned in advanced silversmithing classes.
Chasing and Repousse on copper, a skill learned in advanced silversmithing classes.
More small treasures in the museum upon which you can feast your eyes.
More small treasures in the museum upon which you can feast your eyes.
The San Diego Mineral and Gem Society has classes where you can learn cabochon cutting, faceting, silver fabrication, casting, enameling, bead stringing, rock carving, and sphere making.
The San Diego Mineral and Gem Society has classes where you can learn cabochon cutting, faceting, silver fabrication, casting, enameling, bead stringing, rock carving, and sphere making.

Join me for more Cool San Diego Sights on Facebook and Twitter!

Do you enjoy beautiful things? Visit my photography blog which I call A Small World Full of Beauty.