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Cosmos' Doggie Blog

It’s another Valentine’s Day weekend in Balboa Park and that can mean only one thing...

Sniffing through lush gardens on a romantic stroll with your sweetheart? you ask. —Nope.

Chowing down on brie and gluten-free bruschetta while picnicking on a bench shaded by a historic building? —Uh-uh.

Stealing a smooch in front of a beautiful work of art? —No again.

Give up? This Valentine’s Day is all about Bark in the Park. And with the annual charity event in Spreckels Organ Pavilion falling on February 14 (2–3pm), there will simply be no better time to prove your feelings go beyond puppy love.

Bark in the Park gives people who truly “must love dogs” the chance to show their pet pride by participating in a pooch parade across the Organ Pavilion stage, sing along to paw-tapping pup-friendly tunes played by San Diego Civic Organist Dr. Carol Williams, make a “love donation” to the San Diego Humane Society, and even extend your pack’s circle of love by taking home an adoptable pet.

If your relationship hasn’t celebrated its 10-year anniversary yet, then it hasn’t stood the test of time as well as Bark in the Park has. For the past decade, Bark and the Park has brought out the best in people and their pets through music, fun with furry friends, and laughter.

Bark in the Park is always free to the public, and leashed pets are welcome and encouraged to attend.

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If there’s one thing I tell my bipedal readers is better than Macy’s Museum Month, it’s a leap year Museum Month. That’s because area residents and their packs have one full extra day to squeeze in all 40 San Diego County museums that are offering half-price admission during the month of February.

Saving a few bones is nothing to bark at, and the Museum Month Pass available at any area Macy’s Department Store (no purchase necessary) is the golden ticket to discounted admission for up to four pack members at dozens of San Diego County’s finest cultural attractions.

Reuben H. Fleet Science Center, exterior, Museum Month 2016If you feel like you’ve bitten off more than you can chew even with the extra day, I recommend taking puppy steps by starting with the 13 participating museums in Balboa Park:

With the 2015 Balboa Park Centennial celebrations coming to a close, a number of Balboa Park museums are installing new exhibitions for 2016. The Mingei International Museum, Reuben H. Fleet Science Center, Museum of Photographic Arts, The San Diego Museum of Art, and San Diego Automotive Museum, to name a few, already have (or will have by the end of the month) fresh displays in their galleries.

So don’t let another leap day go by without fetching a Museum Month Pass!

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Beneful Prize Check awarded to Balboa Park, Nate's Point Dog Park, photo by Richard BentonI didn’t think it was pawsible, but one of Balboa Park’s dog parks just got even better. On Tuesday morning, a pack of over 30 volunteers planted 18 new trees at the south end of Nate’s Point Dog Park. The enhancement was part of a $20,000 prize awarded Nate’s Point for being one of 12 dog parks singled out for Beneful’s Dream Dog Park Project.

Working side by side with the Balboa Park Conservancy, who coordinated the event, and San Diego Park and Rec staff, a team from Beneful joined the volunteers in getting their hands dirty to help plant the trees. For their labors, all volunteers and doggie bloggers in attendance took home a swag bag packed with pooch treats and toys, courtesy of Beneful.

Tree Planting Balboa Park, Nate's Point Dog Park, photo by Richard BentonThe new trees were selected by Park and Rec and included jacarandas, tipuana tipus, and mahoganies, which when fully grown will not only offer ample sniffing opportunities, but plenty of shade. While the jacarandas and tipus were purchased with the funds provided by the Beneful prize, the mahoganies were grown in Balboa Park’s nursery from seeds provided by the San Diego Zoo.

The prize also provided for the purchase of a water-wise “bubbler” irrigation system that will automatically fill each tree’s water well on a regular feeding schedule. Temporary fencing will understandably be placed around the saplings until they are mature enough to handle the regular Nate’s Point crowd.

Thankfully, the tree planting did not exhaust the entire $20,000 prize money, so expect additional enhancements to crop up in the months to come.

Photos by Richard Benton.

Posted in Fun Botanical Stuff | add a comment

Cosmos Blog, Ask Cosmos, BJ and DieselBJ and Diesel write: Our family’s 2016 New Year’s resolution was to sniff out one new activity each week of the year. However, having both been around since the turn of the century, we feel like we’ve already done everything there is to do in Balboa Park. We double dog dare you to think of something we could have possibly missed.

Cosmos: Since I, in all honesty, have yet to do everything there is to do in Balboa Park, I should have no problem digging up five things your pack has yet to experience. When scouting out new areas in Balboa Park, I’ve discovered it’s important to not be a fraidy cat and look behind and underneath places you are already familiar with. What may appear to be an off-limits area for park maintenance vehicles and staff could very well be an awesome new discovery (though please don’t go into areas that in fact say “off limits”).

Here are a few examples:

Balboa Park Old Cactus Garden blooming succulentsOld Cactus Garden — Because the Desert Garden is so prominently situated on Park Boulevard across from the Zoo’s carousel, it’s easy to oversniff Balboa Park’s original cactus garden nestled behind the Balboa Park Club, off of Pan American Plaza. Originally designed by Kate Sessions for the 1935 Exposition, the garden’s dense succulents will be in full bloom in the coming months.

Gold Gulch Trail — Even intrepid tracking dogs can miss this “road less traveled” that starts toward the back of the Zoro Garden. Winding past the Japanese Friendship Garden’s cherry tree grove, it leads all the way down(under) to the Australian Garden, which may be the least photographed garden in all of Balboa Park in spite of its many beautiful trees.

Garden Court — If you were to ask anyone, other than a Park Ranger, “Where is the Garden Court?” you would likely get a blank stare. Why? Because most people don’t even realize there’s anything for visitors to explore behind the Balboa Park Administration Building, let alone a manicured garden with fountains, gazebos, and colonnades.

Bridle Path — You’ve probably walked right past the access trail to the Bridle Path during one of your many visits to Nate’s Point Dog Park but weren’t sure if any old mutt was allowed to venture under the Cabrillo Bridge. The Bridle Path runs along the 163 highway from the Pine Grove Picnic Area to the Marston House, offering a scenic alternative path along the Park’s west side.

Grape Street Dog Park — Speaking of dog parks, unless you live in the South Park/Golden Hill neighborhoods, there’s a very good chance you’ve completely missed this little slice of heaven on earth. The Grape Street Dog Park not only boasts excellent views of the downtown skyline, and even more areas awaiting discovery thanks to a couple of trails branching out from the off-leash area, but there’s plenty of free parking!

Posted in Ask Cosmos | add a comment

One of the best things about being a dog is being part of a pack that accepts all canines regardless of breed or breeding. My human companions are lucky dogs in their own way — they are part of a global pack. And thanks to international travel, social media, mobile apps, and a cluster of world-class cultural attractions in Balboa Park, they are interconnected in ways pooches can only dream of.

But sometimes it takes a gentle reminder for bipeds to fully appreciate the inherent advantages of being part of such a diverse species. Fortunately, three unique activities in Balboa Park this weekend will offer an ideal opportunity for bipeds to reconnect with their global tribe in honor of the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

27th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration

The leader of the pack when it comes to free Martin Luther King. Jr. Day events in San Diego is at Balboa Park’s own World Beat Center. Musicians from around the world will promote harmony and unity through the diverse sounds of reggae, West African drumming, hip hop, and Native American performances for the whole family. The festivities kick off at 12 noon on Monday, January 18. And yes, there will be an equally diverse selection of food.

Jerusalem IMAX Film

Set on the other side of the planet, this visually stunning IMAX film at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center is an immersive exploration of how three different religious groups share one of the most famous and visited holy sites in the world. The film follows the stories of a Jewish, Christian, and Muslim family that each call Jerusalem home and digs deep underground to uncover the city’s oldest mysteries.

Family Sunday at the Mingei

Pups of all ages can experience a wide range of world cultures through hands-on art projects, interactive treasure hunts, and guided tours at the Mingei International Museum on Sunday, January 17, 12 noon–5pm. A special kite-making activity will highlight the newly opened Japanese toys display in the Toys and Dolls Gallery. Families can also connect with 50 diverse cultural traditions through the Craft Icons of the 50 States exhibition. Admission is only $5 for the entire pack.

Posted in Stuff to Do | add a comment
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