Sunday, October 14, 2007

San Diego Part II: Balboa Park

The same day after our visit to the San Diego mission we made our way to another San Diego landmark: Balboa Park. I’ve heard of the place but didn’t know too much about it, so I was pleasantly surprised to find that this park was huge. Apparently, it's the largest urban cultural park in America. Since the park was so big I don’t think our brief visit did it justice, and we will probably visit again in the near future.

We went mainly to visit the Desert Garden – Rene loves succulents and desert plants. On our way to visit the garden we came across the Botanical Building and decided to visit that first. Have you seen this building? Apparently it is the most photographed structure in the entire park:

Inside the building were lots of shade-lovin’ plants, as I like to call them. There were a lot of orchids, which I love but always manage to kill. I think orchids need just the right combo of light and sun, and my condo provided too much of both – too dark indoors and too much sun/heat outdoors. I tried to keep my orchids healthy, even bought them plant food and made sure they were getting enough light during the day, but ultimately both of them died. One was named Charlotte and the other one was named Clementine (I like to name my plants). It was a sad plant experience for me, especially since it was my first foray into Responsible Plant Owner. I hope that one day I can get rid of this black thumb.

Outside the Botanical Building is a pond with water lilies. Lots of pictures are taken here for weddings and special occassions like quinceneras. That day we saw at least three professional shoots. Here are our amateur photos:

After the Botanical Building, Rene and I walked around and visited the Artist Alley. That weekend there was an art glass sale so we browsed the different artists' tables showing off their wares. There was also a live glass-making demonstration. Apparently making glass is a very labor-intensive process that involves using different types of ovens/kilns in order to make the glass malleable. It is also very expensive since the process uses up a lot of gas to heat up the oven/kiln, sometimes costing as much as $1200/month if used daily.

We explored the park further and found a ton of museums, most notably the natural history museum, modern art museum, and photography museum. This is the statue that stands next to the modern art museum entrance:

We visited the Museum of Photographic Art, which had two exhibits: Picturing Eden and Public Privacy. Picturing Eden was a photographic exhibit that explored the theme of paradise with 30+ artists and I found the work interesting. It's amazing how photographers can distort photographic images using scale, perspective, light, and color. Rene and I liked a few pieces. Public Privacy was a video installation that explored how people use their personal space within public spaces. The work was mounted on LCD screens; each screen had a location where the video was shot: public park, subway, newspaper stand, etc. The artist look videos of ordinary people using her cell phone. I am by no means an art expert but I didn't enjoy this exhibit as much as I enjoyed Picturing Eden. I see reality everyday so I tend to gravitate towards art showcasing the unique and extraordinary. If I wanted to see someone picking their nose in public I'd look to the left or right during rush hour traffic.

The Desert Botanical Garden was our last stop of the day. The plant collection was pretty extensive, and Rene and I saw plants that we had never seen before:

My favorite plant is the last photo in the series, the short tree with the huge trunk. I forgot what this tree was called but it was an interesting tree. The tree had a hollow middle big enough for a child to fit in (that's why I'm standing inside it) yet the leaves were green and healthy, and it looked as if the tree could live forever.

Our weekends aren't complete without visiting Ross or TJ Maxx, so guess what we did after Balboa Park? Visited both stores, that's what! For a mere $25 I came home with these beauties:

Not bad, eh? This day was a good day.

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