Tuesday, May 7, 2002

San Francisco to Sydney - Day 24

Day 24 : Balboa Park, San Diego

Look at that. Before you know it, it's Day 24 and tomorrow you're due to fly to the last place on your itinerary.

San Diego's Zoo (sorry, World-Famous Zoo) sits inside Balboa Park, a park which is home to more than twenty, diverse museums. Included are Natural History, Aerospace, Automotive, Sports, Art and Photographic museums, far too many to visit in a single day. Instead, today, we visited two : the Museum of Photographic Art and the Sports Museum (The San Diego Hall of Champions).

Amusingly, the Museum of Photographic Art prohibited the taking of photographs, so I'm unable to show you anything from inside the museum. According to the museum's brochure, the exhibits change on a regular basis. What we saw today was an ecclectic bunch of photos, spanning the pure scenery, portraiture and on-the-streets styles.

Spreckles Organ Pavillion I can, though, show you a photo of the Spreckles Organ Pavillion, built with the proceeds of a donation from the sugar-baron Spreckles. His name crops up a lot around here; at one stage, due to his enormous wealth, he owned or had a significant stake in most of San Diego's key industries.

Behind the shuttered door in the middle of the photo lies a large organ which is still used, every Sunday, for recitals. It must make for quite a sight.

From the Pavillion we proceeded to the San Diego Hall of Champions, a three-level sports museum dedicated to famous sporting San Diegans. Few of the names were familiar to Debbie and I, though there were some notable exceptions in Dennis Conner, Gail Devers, Craig Stadler and a few others. As patriotic Aussies, Debbie and I thought that it was interesting that Dennis Conner's bio excluded the salient fact that he was the first American in 132 years to skipper a losing America's Cup entry. But I guess you'd leave that off a CV too.

Lego Ballpark Also inside the museum was a model ballpark, constructed of Lego and depicted at right. It took 13 years to build and shows an admirable attention to detail, including, for example, section numbering and home-run distances to each fence. All it needs for total authenticity is the smell of hotdogs and beer, and a few tobacco stains in the dugouts.

Bronze Soccer Sculpture

On the lowest floor of the museum, a set of bronze sculptures by A. Thomas Schomberg are on display. These depict a variety of sports including basketball, horse-racing, pole vaulting, baseball, ice hockey and tennis. The photo at left is the sculpture depicting soccer and shows an outstretched goalkeeper fending away a shot. Every sculpture is exceptional in its detail and it's quite a sight to see them all in one room.

After the sports museum, we caught a Downtown San Diego bus back into town, alighting at the corner of 4th and Broadway. San Diego's town planner was clearly inspired when he or she struck upon the idea of naming the downtown streets that run East-West alphabetically from A to L, and numerically from 1st to 25th for the streets that run North-South. Broadway is the only exception; it replaces what would otherwise have been D street.

So, for example, to get from the corner of 2nd and B streets to the corner of 6th and G streets you know, without consulting a map, that it's 4 blocks East and 5 blocks South. Even someone with my sense of direction could learn to cope with that.

Night View from Gaslamp Plaza Roof Tonight's final photo is from the roof of the building in which we're staying in San Diego. The street you can see is 5th Street, which runs alongside our hotel, and the building in the middle distance is the San Diego Conference Center. The roof also has a jacuzzi (which we haven't used) and is the place from which breakfast is served every morning (which we haven't got to).

We've an early start tomorrow, and we've an unusual form of transportation (at least as far as the journey so far) : a plane. I wonder how many ex-cons fly?

Originally posted by TC

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