Western Trips

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Things to See and Do in La Jolla California

La Jolla coastline
The hilly, seaside neighborhood of La Jolla is an affluent community in San Diego, California. La Jolla occupies one of the most beautiful spots on the Pacific Coast. It is surrounded on three sides by ocean and beaches and offers unique recreational opportunities plus excellent photo opportunities.

 Located only about 15 minutes north of downtown San Diego, La Jolla is a unique community with some of the highest home prices in the U.S. La Jolla is well known for it's beaches, scenic cliffs, shopping, dining and world class golf. 

Torrey Pines Golf Course, on the north side of La Jolla, sits on the coastal cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean and is recognized as the premier municipal golf course owned and operated by a city. Torrey Pines is the location of several major golf tournaments.

La Jolla History

San Diego was the site of the first Spanish Mission built in 1769 in what was then called Alta California. During the years afterward, Spanish missions were established up the California coast as far north as Sonoma.

Street along shoreline
Archeologists have discovered artifacts that tell us that Indians lived in the area of La Jolla some 10,000 years ago.

The La Jolla Historical Society states that where exactly the name "La Jolla" originated from is a bit controversial. There could have been two different sources. What is known is that it could have come from the Spanish word La Joya (which means "the jewel") or possibly from the Indian term Woholle (meaning "hole in the mountains"). The Indian name is  certainly appropriate considering the caves and rock formations along La Jolla's shoreline. According to the Society, the name has appeared in all land grant and mission records since 1928 and in scattered documents at least back to 1870 when they appeared spelled "L-a-J-o-y-a".

Scenic and Relaxing La Jolla

If you're traveling to southern California, particularly down to San Diego, La Jolla is a must stop. It's not only a must stop but also a place where you'll surely want to enjoy for a few days. Many fun things to see and do in La Jolla.

One fun activity we found when first arriving was a stroll above and along the shoreline. Here you'll find a walking path that follows the rocky coastline where you'll likely see sea lions and several different kinds of birds. The view along the way is spectacular and you'll get a bit of exercise and fresh sea air at the same time.

There are countless activities and attractions in La Jolla and  we want to list a few of these...

Snorkeling...Scuba Diving...... Kayaking...Bicycling...Birch Aquarium...Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego ...Sightseeing...Beachcombing...Unique Dining and Shopping...Strolling along the Shoreline

Birds congregate on the rocks
Kayaking La Jolla

There are opportunities to Kayak La Jolla and the Seven Sea Caves.  There is a guided tour enjoyed by locals and tourists alike. California sea lions can frequently be seen sunning on the cliffs, swimming around in the water nearby the Caves, or barking at each other on the rocks. Kayaking can allow you to get up close for a view.

Dining in La Jolla

Throughout the La Jolla community you'll discover an amazing range of dining choices, from fine cuisine to quaint cafes, from internationally renowned restaurants to neighborhood favorites. Downtown La Jolla, located on the peninsula, has dozens of restaurants, many of which are upscale

Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego

This museum was first establishes in 1941 as the Art Center of La Jolla. Later it functioned as the La Jolla Art Museum. During the 1970's it's name was changed to the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego.

This museum has two locations, one in the La Jolla community and one in downtown San Diego. The museum, according to their website, is the region’s foremost forum devoted to the exploration and presentation of the art of our time, presenting works across all media created since 1950. The museum is located at 700 Prospect Street, La Jolla. Hours are 11 A – 5 P daily. Closed Wednesday.

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Coronado Island and the Historic Hotel del Coronado

Visit the Oldest Hotel in San Diego / Old Town

Street leading to shoreline
The Birch Aquarium at Scripps

Located on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, you'll be able to view more than 3,000 fish in over sixty habitats plus a museum on ocean & earth science. According to their website, Birch Aquarium at Scripps brings to life the exciting discoveries of world-renowned Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego. The Birch Aquarium also hosts daily animal feedings as well as educational, hands-on visitor activities. Open 9A-5P daily, the Birch Aquarium at Scripps is located at 2300 Expedition Way, La Jolla.

La Jolla is a terrific community to visit when in the San Diego, California area. There are many fun things to see and do in La Jolla. Plenty of great scenery, sunny weather, dining and shopping, an aquarium and museum plus unique recreational opportunities. 

(Article and photos copyright 2015 Western Trips)


Sunday, April 26, 2015

Visit San Diego's Popular Gaslamp Quarter

San Diego, California is a magnificent city to experience with a seemingly endless list of attractions to visit. One unique site located in downtown San Diego, very near to the Convention Center and Petco Park where the Padres play baseball, is the Gaslamp Quarter, often referred to as The Gaslamp.

gaslamp quarter san diego
Street in Gaslamp Quarter
The Gaslamp Quarter is the hub of dining, nightlife and entertainment in downtown San Diego. It's estimated that there are over 100 restaurants and nightclubs in the general area. In addition to that, the Gaslamp Quarter is home to ninety-four Victorian era buildings some constructed as early as 1873. The Gaslamp Quarter is a National Historic District.

San Diego's Old Town and New Town

There are many instances where a city's original location is in it's present day downtown area. San Diego's story is a bit different. Old Town San Diego and it's historic structures are located north of the downtown area where the Spaniards originally settled. Old Town is the site of the original town plaza and is now a state historic park. Old Town San Diego is located at the foot of Presideo Hill.

The idea of New Town San Diego took root after California became a state in 1850. Within a few decades of heavy promotion for this new business location, companies and businessmen began relocating there mostly because of it's proximity to the bay and shipping. By 1900, 5th Avenue between Market and Broadway, busy with electric street cars, towering arc lamps, and unique elegant architecture stood as the commercial hub of the new city.

san diego gaslamp district
One of the many Gaslamp Quarter restaurants
Historic Gaslamp Quarter Buildings

Many of the buildings in the Gaslamp Quarter have significant historical associations as well as distinctive architectural characteristics highlighting important years in San Diego's history. The best source for information regarding the historic significance of San Diego's Gaslamp Quarter is the Gaslamp Quarter Historical Foundation. In the general area of the Gaslamp are ninety buildings that are on the Register of Historic Places.

To give you an idea of the background of some of these structures, we've listed a few below.

The Keating Building

Built in 1890, the Keating Building was built in a Romanesque style by Mrs. Keating as a tribute to her late husband, George. The Keating Building has the city's oldest steam powered elevator. The building is located at Fifth and F Streets.

san diego historic buildings
Backesto Building
The Backesto Building

The Backesto Building was constructed in 1873. Klauber and Levi, a pioneer grocer and general-merchandise firm, occupied the ground floor from 1879 to 1886. In 1892 San Diego Hardware opened at the site, relocating in 1923 to a few blocks north on Fifth Avenue. The Backesto Building is located at Fifth and Market.

Louis Bank of Commerce Building

Constructed in 1887, this Baroque Revival architecture style building is easily recognized by it's twin rising towers. The Louis Bank of Commerce building was San Diego's first built of granite. The building is located at 835 5th Avenue.

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San Diego's Oldest Building in Old Town

Visit Beautiful Coronado Island and the Hotel del Coronado 

The Rare Collections at the San Diego Automobile Museum

balboa theater san diego california
Balboa Theater
The Balboa Theater

Built in 1924, the Balboa Theater was San Diego's first big downtown theater. The Balboa was built in the  era of palatial theaters. The theater opened at a time when motion pictures were gaining in popularity.

The theater was designed for vaudeville performances and films. In 1930 there was a renovation undertaken to accommodate movies with sound. Designed by architect William Wheeler, the dome of the Balboa Theater was in the same style as the Santa Fe Railroad Depot also downtown.

The historic buildings listed above are, of course, just a few of the many structures still standing. Much more information can be found from the Gaslamp Quarter Historical Foundation at www.gaslampfoundation.org

San Diego, California is a real vacationers paradise. Aside from the great weather and beaches, San Diego is home to the USS Midway which is now a museum on the bay on the western edge of downtown. The USS Midway served for nearly fifty years and is the perfect stop for the entire family. The world famous San Diego Zoo in Balboa Park is another must stop as are some of the historic buildings within Balboa Park.

Old Town, New Town, the Gaslamp Quarter, Coronado Island and everything in between makes San Diego, California a terrific vacation destination.

(Article and photos copyright 2015 Western Trips)

Monday, April 20, 2015

See the Helicopters of the USS Midway / San Diego, CA

The historic aircraft carrier USS Midway is permanently on display in San Diego Harbor, just to the west of the downtown area located alongside Navy Pier. Today, the USS Midway is a floating museum with an an enormous amount of exhibits in addition to the aircraft carrier itself.

ch-46 sea knight helicopter
CH-46 Sea Knight
The USS Midway was launched on September 10, 1945. At the time of it's launch it was the largest aircraft carrier ever built. The Midway-Class design was also one of the longest designs used. This historic vessel saw action in every major U.S. conflict over a period of nearly fifty years.

Among the exhibits aboard the USS Midway are finely restored aircraft from World War II to Operation Desert Storm. This floating living history museum makes a perfect trip stop for the entire family and if you choose can be a day long adventure. If you're visiting the San Diego area a visit to the USS Midway is one of your must stops.

Helicopters of the USS Midway

We want to highlight just a few of the USS Midway's aircraft exhibits. Among the aircraft on display on the USS Midway's deck are two interesting helicopters. One is the CH-46 Sea Knight and the other SH-60 Seahawk.

The CH-46 Sea Knight

The CH-46 Sea Knight was first procured in 1964 to meet the medium-lift requirements of the Marine Corps in Viet Nam with a program buy of 600 aircraft. The Sea Knight was built by Boeing Aircraft. This aircraft has served the Marine Corps in all combat and peacetime environments. However, normal airframe operational and attrition rates have taken the assets to the point where a medium lift replacement is required. The safety and capability upgrades are interim measures to allow continued safe and effective operation of the Sea Knight fleet until a suitable replacement is fielded.

navy helicopters
Sea Knight interior
The CH-46 was first introduced in 1964 as a dual rotor utility medium lift helicopter. Over 600 airframes were built, serving mainly with the USMC and USN, export versions were sold to Sweden, Japan and Canada, these variants differ in having larger balloon floats. Civilian versions have been operated by New York airways and PAN-A.

Some specifications for the CH-46 Sea Knight include a length of  44.82 ft. and a height of 16.70 ft. ea Knight's power plants are two General Electric T58-GE-16 turboshaft engines. The operational service ceiling is 9,498 ft. Maximum speed is 166 MPH with a range of 690 MPH.

The SH-60 Seahawk

Manufactured by Sikorsky Aircraft, The SH-60 Sea Hawk is the U.S. Navy version of the UH-60 Black Hawk and is the primarily medium utility helicopter in the Navy’s fleet. The Seahawk is a twin-engine helicopter. It's engines are specially adapted for naval use, with special treatment for use in environments with high salinity. It is used for anti-submarine warfare, search and rescue, drug interdiction, anti-ship warfare, cargo lift, and special operations.

sh-60 seahawk
The U.S. Navy uses the H-60 airframe under the model designations SH-60B, SH-60F, HH-60H, MH-60R, and MH-60S. This helicopter is able to deploy aboard any air-capable frigate, destroyer, cruiser, fast combat support ship, amphibious assault ship or aircraft carrier. The Seahawk is built to handle  anti-submarine warfare, search and rescue, drug interdiction, anti-ship warfare, cargo lift, and special operations.

Some of the SH-60's specifications include a length of 64 ft. 8 in, a height of 17 ft 2 in., and a rotor diameter of 53 ft. 8 in. Maximum speed is 168 MPH and range is 450 nautical miles. The helicopter's operational ceiling is rated at 12,000 ft. The Seahawk is powered by two General Electric T700-GE-700 or T700-GE-701C engines.

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Some of the Finest Western Aircraft Museums

Beechcraft 18 in the Western Antique Aeroplane and Automobile Museum

Among the aircraft on display on the USS Midway Museum are World War Two aircraft, Korean War aircraft, Vietnam War aircraft and Desert Storm aircraft.

uss midway aircraft

Touring the USS Midway is a great adventure and there are activities for people of all ages. Some of these include climbing aboard aircraft and visiting cockpits... walk through helicopters, ride three types of flight simulators, climb in bunks, sit in ejection seat theatre and listen to real pilot conversations during Desert Storm.

Admission includes a self-guided audio tour to over 60 locations from the engine room to control tower, narrated by Midway sailors who lived or worked in each.

References include... Naval Air Systems Command, USS Midway Museum, SanDiego.org

(Article and photos copyright Western Trips)