Free Flight Exotic Bird Sanctuary located in Del Mar, California is a fun place to go to interact with exotic birds. The purpose of this non-profit is to provide a sanctuary for birds and allow them to interact with the public. Some of these birds have out-lived their owners while others have been removed from a less than desirable home environment. Some birds are not adoptable, while others can be adopted to a good home.
The birds are in an outdoor area with a koi pond. Some are on perches, some are in cages. Most can be held and fed. Some of the birds are not as friendly and are not allowed to be held. I was told that most all of the birds can talk to some extent. One says full sentences, one mimics two different rings of a telephone, and my favorite said “hello, pretty bird” and gave a hearty laugh. A couple of the birds were quite old. One was 71 years old.
The volunteers at the sanctuary were very knowledgeable about the birds and I learned some interesting facts about the birds. Not only were the volunteers knowledgeable, some of the other visitors were as well. One woman we talked with goes to Free Flight twice a week and was very familiar with the birds and what they could say.
Laguna Beach, California is a little slice of paradise. Not only are it’s beaches beautiful, but the art is not too shabby either. Laguna Beach is known for it’s art festivals. It’s also a nice place to take in the shops and art galleries that line the streets.
Of course, all that looking around is enough to work up an appetite. Stop for a bite to eat at an outdoor cafe or if a sweet is needed, there is ice cream and chocolates. One shop even carries one of my favorite things…frozen chocolate bananas. Oh my!
A must see for art lovers is the Laguna Art Museum. This cozy museum had wonderful exhibits on display while we were there. I thoroughly enjoyed the etchings by Mildred Bryant Brooks and the paintings by Thomas Hunt. One unique thing about this museum is that it displays art only by California artists or art representing the state of California. The museum shop also was most impressive in the selection of books available for purchase as well as jewelry and other items.
Another must see is the ‘Pirate Tower’ on Victoria Beach. The tower (privately owned) is located next to the bluffs and is a means for accessing the home above. Upon seeing the ‘Pirate Tower’, I imagined Rapunzel throwing her hair down to the beach below. This tower was just so incredibly cool to see in person.
Laguna Beach has much to see and do. It is a great town to visit for a day or longer. Don’t forget the camera and flip flops. If it’s summer, be sure to pack the swim suit as well. Bon Voyage!
The Timken Museum of Art located in San Diego California’s Balboa Park is an often overlooked gem. While the museum is small, it has much to offer. Perhaps best of all, it is free!
The museum houses a permanent collection and has one gallery dedicated to traveling exhibits. Right now, for instance, the fall exhibition is Masterpieces of Italian Drawings from The British Museum. This exhibition will be up through December 15, 2019. The museum does a wonderful job in creating new exhibits for the space. Often music will accompany an exhibit in the special exhibit. I must also say that the museum staff is always friendly and the guards are some of the most professional I have seen. They truly keep an eye on the guests making sure the art is safe.
Upon arrival guests are greeted by staff and walk past huge tapestries on the walls by Antoine Caron. There is a wonderful open space with comfortable seating. During the holidays, this space is transformed into a Holiday Installation displaying the Jewels of the Season, the ornate ornaments designed by San Diego artists Florence Hord and Elizabeth Schlappi. To the right and left are galleries with the museum collection. To the right is the traveling exhibition. A small gift shop is located at the entry/exit.
The museum offers tours and lectures. The lectures are held in a gallery space with chairs set up, a speaker, and screen. I have attended a couple of the lectures and they have been popular. Come early for a good seat. Sometimes tickets must be purchased for special lectures or music events but many lectures are free. The museum also offers trips to other museums such as the J. Paul Getty. All information can be found on the museum website.
The Timken Museum is open Tuesday – Saturday 10 am – 4:30 pm and Sunday 12 pm – 4:30 pm (Closed Monday). Can’t make it to the Timken in person? Take a virtual tour or view the collection on-line at http://www.timkenmuseum.org .
While visiting Balboa Park in San Diego, CA, do not forget to cross the foot bridge to The Inez Grant Parker Memorial Rose Garden. The foot bridge allows one to cross over Park Blvd and is located between the Natural History Museum and the nearby fountain. The rose garden is in bloom from March through December. April and May will find the garden in peak season. There are more than 130 varieties to entice rose lovers. This is a great garden to stroll and enjoy the many varieties of roses. Benches and a covered structure for shade also make this garden enjoyable for a leisurely outing. Be sure to bring a camera as the flowers make for beautiful pictures and a splendid backdrop to family portraits as well. The garden has won many awards over the years and is a lovely place to visit while at Balboa Park.
The Botanical Building in Balboa Park (San Diego, CA) was built for the 1915-16 Panama-California Exposition. Inside the building one can see collections of cycads, ferns, orchids, tropical plants and palms. Summer is a great time to visit the Botanical Building as many of the plants will be in full bloom. Outside the building is the beautiful Lily Pond. Koi fish and ducks can be seen swimming among the lily pads. There are usually a musician or two playing outside the building adding to the atmosphere and hoping for a few coins tossed their way. The site in front of the Lily Pond looking at the Botanical Building is one of the most photographed places in the park. One can see why as the splendor of one of the largest lath structures in the world is reflected into the water of the colorful Lily Pond.
The Spanish Village Art Center is located in Balboa Park in San Diego, California. It is an art collective where members can create and sell their work. Artists can become members in the collective and share studios at the center. The studios are like a little village, each having a welcoming colorful door. It is a good place to catch artists at work and also be able to purchase original art from local artists. Woodworking, painting, collage, sculpture, jewelry, pottery, glass, tile, greeting cards, enamel, gourds, etc… can be found at the Spanish Village Art Center. The different art guilds also hold sales in the center at different times throughout the year. This is a super place to go for original art and gifts for family and friends. They are open seven days a week from 11 am to 4 pm.
Somehow, when picturing Joshua Tree National Park, I always thought of one lone Joshua tree. After all, if there were a lot of trees the tree would be plural, right? Oh how wrong I was. Joshua Tree National Park has more than one tree and is a vast desert.
One thing that overtook me about Joshua Tree (roughly 45 miles from Palm Springs, California) was how large it was. It seemed the desert could go on forever. It is actually made up of two deserts coming together to form the park. Below 3000 feet makes up the Colorado Desert or Eastern part of the park. The higher elevation makes up the Mojave Desert where the Joshua trees can be seen.
When planning a trip to Joshua Tree, keep in mind the temperatures. We took our trip in December, which was a perfect time to go for pleasant hiking. Temperatures are in the 60’s Fahrenheit in December, dipping down cooler at night to somewhere in the 30’s. Spring is the most popular time of year at Joshua Tree due to the desert flowers in bloom. Summer would be the least desirable time to visit as it is a desert and the temperatures can get to over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, which is a bit warm to be hiking.
Joshua Tree has a lot of hiking trails and is a beautiful place to visit. At night the stars are plainly visible without any light pollution. If you want to see the stars at night pack a jacket, as it does get cold at night. There is nowhere to purchase food in the park, so pack a picnic and plenty of water. Be sure to pack a camera to capture this remarkable park. Happy Traveling!