Archive for April, 2012

Flowers in Carlsbad

Friday, April 20th, 2012

Carlsbad Flower Fields

Yellow parasol in flowers

On the expanse of fields close to the Pacific and Lego Land flowers are blooming. And crowds are gathering. On a recent Sunday, there was absolutely no place to park. We found our way east and up into a business park which had a wonderful path along the rim of the hillside looking west and down on the flowers. They stretched around the hillside, horizontal rows of reds and yellows in a giant splash of color.

The Flower Fields is a registered trade mark of the current owner of this enterprise which offers wagon rides, artist gardens, photo opportunities, an orchid greenhouse, and a place for us city folks to wander around up close to flowers.  It is 50 acres of blooms, mainly ranunculus, in thirteen colors. Its history goes back 85 years and the original growing fields’ locations have changed several times.  Early on, Frank Frazee worked growing freesias and then in 1933 figured out how to cultivate ranunculus. The original palette of red and yellow single petal flowers changed over the years to the multiple petal flowers of thirteen different colors which we see today. The Flower Fields as a tourist attraction took shape in 1993 and about 125,000 visitors a year tour the grounds on a sweeping hillside in Carlsbad.

This year the field is open and in full bloom from March 1 to May 13, 2012. This current field sports a color pattern that is new this year. If you find a parking place, i.e. don’t come on a busy Sunday, you can take up close photos. Almost everyone does. Since I got no where near the entrance, I had to use a telephoto lens from above the field in order to get the large sweep of colors. I also cropped out a lot of roof tops and tourists to highlight the flowers.

View to Pacific

The Pacific was lost in the haze of the horizon but you can just make out the windmill which used to belong to Split Pea Soup Andersons’s Restaurant. Now it is a TGI Fridays. With a mall. With gift stores. With  Starbucks.

More reasons why parking is tough.

Cabrillo’s San Salvador, Replica in Progress

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

Building San Salvador, July 2011

Building San Salvador December 2011

Artist's model of San Salvador

Building the replica of Juan Cabrillo’s flagship, San Salvador, continues.


It was difficult to spot the construction from the highway  in July, 2011, since it wasn’t very imposing and was hidden beneath the trees at San Diego’s Spanish Landing. But as more and more crafted timbers are added, it pops out.

This replica will be a sea-going ship, not a model. It will join the Star of India, the Californian, and the Rose (aka HMS Surprise), in San Diego’s Maritime Museum’s fleet of sailing ships. It is a three masted galleon, scholar’s best guess about the kind of ship Cabrillo sailed. It’s a guess because there are no written records of the construction plans. It was built under Cabrillo’s direction in Guatemala. However, there are plans for this replica which are displayed at the Spanish Landing site.

Construction San Salvador April 2012

More frames are in place and we can see the ship emerging.  Notice the tiny potted tree on top.

April 2012 Construction of San Salvador

Cabrillo, with three ships, sailed to chart the coast of California and it’s riches for Spain. San Salvador was the largest–100 feet long– of the three. They sailed north from Guatemala in 1542 up the coast of Mexico and into what is now the port of San Diego.  They then sailed farther north to the Channel Islands where, unfortunately,  Cabrillo died of an injury on the island the Spaniards called Isla de la Posesion. The ships sailed farther north without him, maybe as far as Oregon. No log books from his voyage exist. Summary accounts were written after the crews returned to Mexico.

Cabrillo is a mystery man.  It’s unclear why he even added the name Cabrillo to his signature Juan Rodriquez. It’s unclear what kind of ship he had built for his voyage up the California coast. It’s unclear how he died. It’s unclear where he was buried.

But he looms large today in San Diego. The Cabrillo National Monument is busy all year long. Fortunately, both the displays at Spanish Landing and Cabrillo National Monument acknowledge the Kumeyaay Indians who lived here long before the Spanish claimed the land.

A blacksmith works at the construction site to make some of the metal pieces needed for construction. A very astute somebody put Goya’s The Forge on the sign in front of the area where he works.

Goya's The Forge

No credit is given to Goya, however. And no one on duty knew the picture was by a famous Spaniard.

A great touch, though.

San Savador's Blacksmith

I did a post in July 14, 2011, and another one January 6, 2012, on the replica.  Check there for earlier photos. Also, there is a real-time web cam in place now at Spanish Landing.

Take a look.