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Cosmos' Doggie Blog

cosmos-blog_morley-field-play-area-2While open grassy fields dotted with trees and shrubs are all I need in a playground, I understand that bipedal pups prefer a bit more variety. Luckily San Diego’s largest cultural and recreational playground features a number of areas that many Homeowners Associations like to call tot lots.

 

A while back I checked out the grand-daddy of all tot lots in Balboa Park, the Pepper Grove Discovery Playground. Located near the Park’s Central Mesa Area off of Park Boulevard, Pepper Grove teams with young critters during most weekends and school holidays. Fortunately, Balboa Park also offers a few other playground areas to help absorb some of the overflow.

 

For instance, the largest children’s play area on Balboa Park’s west side is situated near Sixth Ave. and Spruce Street. Recommended for ages 5 to 12, the playground includes two sets of swing sets, slides for all sizes, and colorful and sturdy things to climb.

 

Over on the east side of Balboa Park, Morley Field is home to one of the best kept secrets in children’s playground areas. That’s because this area’s play equipment is tucked behind the Bud Kearns Memorial Swimming Pool. Another lot for ages 5-12, this area presents a nice variety bars, swings, slides, and other climbable goodies.

 

Just a bone’s throw away from the Morley Field play area, Bird Park has its own little area for the toddler set (age 2-5). A tot lot in the truest sense, like all the others, it is surrounded with plenty of green grass for this pup to roll around in.

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While you may not be one of the lucky dogs who get Columbus Day as a paid holiday, now that beach season is over, there are plenty of reasons to reacquaint yourself with Balboa Park this weekend. Here are just six:

 

cosmos-blog_sdma_toulouse-lautrec_jane-avrilKids Free Month at the San Diego Zoo: The world’s greatest zoo extends free admission to all the young pups in your pack, who can discover 101 cool things during their visit thanks to a free downloadable activity guide.

 

Kids Free Month at the Air & Space Museum: Yet another reason to bring your brood (11 and under) to Balboa Park this month. Be sure they check out the new 3D/4D theater, the Aviation Action Hanger, and more.

 

Free Organ Concert: Civic Organist Emeritus Robert Plimpton hits the pipes this Sunday, October 10, as part of the free weekly concert series at the historic, and always pet-friendly, Spreckels Organ Pavilion.

 

International Cottages Lawn Program: In honor of Columbus Day, the House of Spain headlines this Sunday’s free Lawn Program, complete with Flamingo dancers and a huge pan of paella. (You know where I’ll be.)

 

Toulouse-Lautrec’s Paris: Time is running out to see the San Diego Museum of Art’s world-class collection of Toulouse-Lautrec posters, paintings, drawings, and prints before they go in for conservation.

 

Bon Temps Social Club Concert: Dance your sox off to festive Cajun/Zydeco music in a family-friendly environment as the BTSC presents the Fabulous Miguel Fontenot this Saturday, October 9, in the War Memorial Building.

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cosmos-blog_halloween-family-day-2010How anyone can miss an event that features costume contests for both kids and pooches is beyond my superior level of canine comprehension. You heard correctly—a costume contest for dogs! And that’s just one of many treats in store for families who check out Balboa Park’s 2nd Annual Halloween Family Day on Saturday, October 30.

 

Like most annual events, this puppy just keeps getting bigger and bigger, with more than 20 Balboa Park organizations participating this year. In fact a dozen park museums will even be offering FREE admission to children 17 and under when accompanied by a paying adult. Admission will also include any free hands-on activities, crafts, scary storytelling, spooky scavenger hunts, and other Halloween-themed treats that particular museum will be presenting.

 

Of course the highlight of my day will be the doggie costume contest at the Spanish Village Art Center. Even though I haven’t picked out my costume yet, I wanted to give everyone in my pack a heads up so they can start scouting theirs. The first, second, and third place winners will be awarded some nice doggie treats, while the best costume nets a $25 Spanish Village gift certificate.

 

For bipedal pups who also like to show off their wild side, the San Diego Natural History Museum is hosting a costume parade and prize for best wildlife costume—wildlife as in animals, so no Paris Hilton or Lindsay Lohan costumes, please.

 

Be sure to regularly check this blog space as well as the main Halloween Family Day page for details and updates on all the planned activities, prize giveaways, and other goodies throughout the Park on October 30.

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cosmos-blog_ask-cosmos_scoutScout writes: My family really enjoys exploring Balboa Park’s marked trail system, but wish they could get more data on the flora, fauna, architecture, and other points of interest along the way. Is there an app for that?

 

Cosmos: Even better than a bit of code for your mobile device, one of Balboa Park’s knowledgeable park rangers, Zana Kerr, offers a personal touch, taking folks on free guided tours of the trails the first Wednesday morning of the month.

 

cosmos-blog_wednesday-trail-toursThe Wednesday Trail Walks begin at 10am at the Gateway sign on 6th Ave. and Upas where all five trails converge. The trail selected for the day is based on the interests and ambitions of those who gather for the tour, as the trails vary in terms of distance, slope, and terrain. Unlike some computer programs, Zana can be flexible in how she tailors the tour, being sensitive to those with special physical needs.

 

The walking pace is slow to moderate, with plenty of pit stops in the shade so Zana can highlight interesting vegetation, landscape features, and historical facts, or just to let hikers catch up. But be forewarned, all but the first trail are several miles long, which means the entire tour can take up to one and a half to two hours, so be sure your family brings plenty of water for you and them. Fortunately, Zana also lets folks know when they reach the next restroom.

 

While this year’s focus is on the trails that start on Sixth Avenue, beginning in early 2011, Zana will take hikers to the East Mesa of Balboa Park and the new marked trails around Morley Field and Golden Hill Park. So set your phone on vibrate and let your legs do the walking and Zana do the talking.

Posted in Ask Cosmos, Sports and Recreation, Stuff to Do | add a comment

While I sure enjoyed seeing all the fine pictures of pups submitted for Balboa Park’s first annual Top Dog Photo Contest, it’s also great to see images of animals created by those who make a living, or at least active hobby, at it. And you can do just that through October 31 at the San Diego Natural History Museum, which is featuring 150 of the latest and greatest paintings and sculptures from the Society of Animal Artists.

 

cosmos-blog_art-and-the-animal_besseArt and the Animal is the 50th-anniversary exhibition of the Society of Animal Artists, which is regarded worldwide as the most prestigious artist organization dedicated to representing animals in art. And only the best of the best works produced by the society’s top dog members are selected for inclusion in this touring showcase.

 

Filling the Natural History Museum’s third and fourth floor atrium levels, Art and the Animal provides a fitting complement to the museum’s other exhibitions by combining richly detailed depictions of our fury, feathered, and scaly friends with the element of fine art—akin to the mammoth William Stout murals in the Fossil Mysteries exhibition.

 

From impressionistic to photorealistic, the exhibition presents a zoo’s zoo of hundreds of different wild and domestic animals—and a few insects—up close and in their natural habitats. And while the titles of the works often inject a pun or bit of humor, the large-scale bronze sculpture of “Sumo Wrestling Toads” shown in all their warty detail is sure to win top prize in the comic relief category.

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