Astral Nomads

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

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. 



  1. It was almost visual overload...tomorrow there will be nothing but beach!

  2. Gerry and Wendy,Love your observations of San Diego and your visit to Balboa Park. We truly understand your fatigue of living on the road. By May you will have been traveling for what, 7-8 months? When we van traveled in the '70 we lived in a van for 4 months in a series of trips and were really tired of it, and we were in our 20's.You are really troupers going for as long as you have. Hope you go into N.Cal before you turn your compass east.It is very different from anything you have yet seen. Sierra Ken

  3. @Ken: Yeah, our original plan was for a year but the desert took us down. Ha! We'll see. Not sure what we're doing after SD. We're going to Coachella and after that might head north before making that big right turn.