Astral Nomads

One man, one woman, one rabbit......traveling with the stars.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

An Official Astral Nomads Beach Day

Since we're staying beach-front at the Ocean Beach Hotel, it was nice to finally see some weather that allowed us to declare an "Official Astral Nomads Beach Day". It was 80F so all we did today was hang on the beach. Sweet. This is not New Jersey and there's no Gulf Stream so the Pacific stays pretty damn cold most of the year. Today the water temperature was 59F so I didn't even put my feet in the water. Still, it was nice to loll in the sand, watch the wet-suit clad surfers, and catch up on some reading.

Our hotel has this beautiful patio area which overlooks the ocean.

The beach is right across the street with the Ocean Beach Fishing
Pier right there. There are surfers out there all the time.

Relaxation time.
Hey white-boy, watcha doin' uptown?

Not a cloud in the sky today!

The waves weren't giant today but they were pretty clean.

The patio is full of plants and very tranquil.

The view of the beach through the patio.

The urban beach scene is full of characters. 

It was pretty crowded today but nothing like the New Jersey shore.


The Pacific Ocean has some crazy seaweed. This ball is gigantic.

None dare call it kelp.

Some guy left his lunch on the beach and these seagulls got right to work...

...with the leader ripping while two stood guard...

...until the bummer moment. Only soda and beer.

View of the hotel and patio from the beach.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Back to the Balboa

Well, the Astrals returned to Balboa Park today. We promised we would and, when the Astrals promise, the Astrals deliver. Balboa Park has to be one of the greatest public urban spaces in the United States. The vibe there is both tranquil and majestic. Add to that some sparkling sunny weather and a plethora of things in bloom and you've got yourself a little slice of heaven. I do believe that we will return at least one more time. Tomorrow is supposed to be near 80 so we've designated it as an official Astral Nomads beach day. 

I don't know what this is. I think it's some kind of succulent. I leave
Astral Wendy alone when she's shooting and usually don't see the
shots until she's done in the photo lab. (Otherwise known as iPhoto
on her MacBook Pro). I think it works out better that way.

They have all kinds of stuff in this park. This is a B-24 Liberator,
one of the workhorses of WWII which was actually manufactured in
San Diego and had a ball turrent gun mounted underneath
which was the inspiration for the great Randall Jarrell Poem:

The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner

From my mother's sleep I fell into the State,
And I hunched in its belly till my wet fur froze.
Six miles from earth, loosed from its dream of life,
I woke to black flak and the nightmare fighters.
When I died they washed me out of the turret with a hose. 

Skate-boarding is huge in Southern California for all ages.

I've seen more flowers in bloom in the last week than I have in the last year.

In addition to interesting architecture, the park also has some great spots
of natural beauty.

Most of the buildings have these over-the-top embellishments. I think they're 
made out of some kind of concrete because carving all this from marble would 
have taken a long time. I just got done reading The Devil in the White City
about the1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago and this place definitely 
resonates with my idea of what that must have been like. The Chicago White 
City no longer exists so I am glad that they were able to preserve this place.

Ok, there are some architectural follies hiding in among the majestic,
like these generous breasts stuck on a manly muscular torso. It's like
the love child of Marilyn Monroe and Rocky Balboa.

As a lotus flower is born in water, grows in water 

and rises out of water to stand above it unsoiled, 

so I, born in the world, raised in the world having 

overcome the world, live unsoiled by the world*

I didn't even notice this guy. Hey Astral Wendy, the zoo was last week!

We went to the Botanical House, which was pretty small and open-air
despite the antique iron grill work. I guess with this climate, no glass is
necessary. Only bummer: Venus Fly-Traps still dormant. There was
quite a bit that was in bloom though:

This is a reflecting pool outside the Botanical House.

Ah, weed-hopper, you have seen the Koi and the Koi is you.

I am not allowed to remove my sunglasses when I
wear this color shirt.

We also went to the Museum of Photography where, ironically yet necessarily, no photography is allowed. They were having an exhibition of 60s street photography, featuring the work of Robert Frank, among others. Definitely cool. Some great shots of the Black Panthers too. Free Huey!

Next up was the Model Railroad Museum, which had some rather extensive and detailed model railroad layouts, as well as collections of antique model trains from all eras. I am not sure what possesses grown men to build model railroads but, I have to admit, I really liked this museum.

The 8:03 will be in any moment now Astral Wendy. Please have your ticket ready.

When the model train passes through downtown, there has to be
a model carnival.

Yesterday's toys are today's fortune.

This little scene left us flabbergasted. A train trestle went over this massive
canyon where a long roped train of mountaineers was climbing the steep wall.
The few mountaineers who had reached the top were being confronted
by burly workmen holding "No Trepassing" signs. It raises so many questions:
Why are they climbing there? Who are these burly workmen? Why did 
someone even put this in the model? Is there a fascist element in the 
model railroad community? 

I'm sure glad this desert is fake.

This place definitely blew Roadside America away. They had some
very detailed scenes that were all to scale.

Why a duck?

On the way out, we happened upon the Rose Garden. 


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Scratching the Surface of Balboa Park

Balboa Park is a huge urban cultural park that was the site of the 1915 Panama-California Exposition. The Astrals barely scratched the surface today since there are a bizillion museums there. It's gonna take a couple of trips for us to totally scope the place out. Hey, we do what we can.

The first thing you notice is the cool historical type architecture...

...and the lush formal gardens...

...and the arcades that make you feel like you're in

Then, of course, your reverie is broken by a Kachinka procession
and you're back to reality in the Museum of Man. 

The Museum of Man is pretty cool but I think the real star is the 
building itself.

They were pretty big on Mayan stuff, which is always a pleasure. Looks
like just another day at the human sacrifice pavilion.

For some reason, we felt compelled to yell "Stele"!

A big part of the museum covered human evolution, which is why it's in
San Diego and not Petersburg, Kentucky. Here's Lucy, not quite the missing
link but pretty damn close. And pretty damn cute too.

Baby needs a new pair of shoe.

When I awoke, the Dire Wolf
Six hundred pounds of sin
Was grinnin at my window
All I said was "come on in"

Don't murder me
I beg of you don't murder me
don't murder me

The wolf came in, I got my cards
We sat down for a game
I cut my deck to the Queen of Spades
but the cards were all the same

Don't murder me
I beg of you don't murder me
don't murder me*

Proving, through science, that the Mountain
Gorilla is much larger than the Bush Baby.

They have a reproduction of the Globe Theater here too.

Da Kettle Classics bag done stained me hand!

We also took in the San Diego Museum of Art which was rather small, I thought, for a major metropolitan area art museum. Small both in the physical size of the gallery space and in terms of interesting pieces. The following few caught our eye for one reason or another. It's not like we're experts or anything.

Tanquam Agnus by Zurburan

This Tintoretto was the best work in the museum for me.

A little something from the School of Canova.

Then, of course, some things just make you ask 'why?'

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I'm going
with the camouflage on this one.

There's a lot more to see. We'll be back!

I think that might be Mr. Balboa himself.

*Dire Wolf, Grateful Dead