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Cosmos' Doggie Blog

Museum of Man, California Tower, Balboa Park, Museum Month 2013While any “Dog with a Blog” can scribe about their family’s daily hijinks, it takes a special breed (i.e., me) to keep visitors up to date on the latest and most worthwhile happenings in America’s greatest urban cultural park.

To that end, I give you Museum Month—that special time each year when families can make their own memories by visiting Balboa Park museums for half-price, rather than watching the fictional memories of sitcom families on their DVR.

That’s right! Half-price museum admission during the entire month of February!

What’s the catch? (Yes, there’s always a catch, but this one won’t cost you anything.) Simply visit any Macy’s Department Store in San Diego County to fetch a free Museum Month Pass (no store purchase required), which is valid for up to four family members.

Then present the Passes and your pack at the following participating Balboa Park museums for a reduced entry fee:

  • Japanese Friendship Garden
  • Marston House & Gardens
  • Mingei International Museum
  • Museum of Photographic Arts
  • Reuben H. Fleet Science Center
  • San Diego Air & Space Museum
  • San Diego Automotive Museum
  • San Diego History Center
  • San Diego Model Railroad Museum
  • San Diego Natural History Museum
  • The San Diego Museum of Art
  • Timken Museum of Art
  • Veterans Museum & Memorial Center

This means you have an entire month to frolic inside the Fleet, drool over tasty chocolate treats at the Natural History Museum, view original world-class art objects at the San Diego Museum of Art, and soar to new heights at the Air & Space Museum for fewer bones than the latest Disney flick at the multiplex would cost you.

Not to mention, there are 30 other museums around the county you can visit for half-price as well. Take that, Stan!

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This old girl has been around long enough to know that the third week of January is make-or-break time for new fitness regimens undertaken in the new year.

Florida Canyon trails, Balboa ParkBut my kids got sick, then I got sick, then I started having car troubles, then we had a week of bad weather, then I had to go on a business trip… are how the excuses usually begin to dog pile on one another about this time.

However, there’s really only one reason many people give up quickly on their fitness routines: boredom.

So what’s the solution? Look no further than your fury four-legged friends in the animal world who get all of their exercise through play! And what better place is there to play than Balboa Park!

While I’m not suggesting you have a friend repeatedly throw you a ball to chase down in one of Balboa Park’s grassy lawn areas (though I wouldn’t completely rule that out), I do suggest you explore the many recreational facilities available in the Park.

For example, how much more motivated would you be to continue in a walking or jogging regimen if, instead of circling around the same few neighborhood blocks, or *gasp* running on a treadmill while watching daytime TV, you could blaze a different trail through 1,200 acres of lush parkland every day? Or, instead of spinning nowhere fast in a sweaty gym, explore the same park trails on a real bicycle?

For those who’d rather cut a rug with a live partner instead of a DVD, there are plenty of dance classes available in Balboa Park as well, including types of dancing you won’t find in any gym: ballroom and folk.

If team and competitive sports get your juices flowing (and I don’t mean your salivary glands), I suggest checking out the Morley Field Sports Complex, Balboa Park Activity Center, and the Municipal Gymnasium for just about any ball-chasing activity you can imagine.

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Brownie writes: Dear Cosmos, I’ve been feeling a bit disconnected from my packmates of late. What’s the best way for us to reestablish our bonds?

Cosmos: I’ve been noticing more and more how our human companions have trouble doing any form of activity that doesn’t involve being leashed to a small electronic pad. Their interactions with local and distant packmates are now restricted to pressing a bunch of virtual buttons on said pad (which I now understand is NOT a chew toy—I’ll spare you the gory details).

While sometimes these pads facilitate bipeds in certain healthy activities they can do alone, like running along Balboa Park’s extensive trail system, they are a serious impediment to activities that require interactions with other mammals.

So I suggest they drop their pad’s leash in favor of their best friend’s leash to more fully participate in the following FREE park activities and to reconnect with their packmates:

Visit a Dog Park — An ideal way to expand your pack, especially if you are currently a pack of one (i.e., single). Never underestimate the degree to which headphones scream, “Don’t talk to me!”

Take a Guided Tour — Your best friend will love the new sights, sounds, and smells that you’ll be exposed to by park rangers and knowledgeable volunteers on the various tours available.

Visit the Spanish Village — This colorful courtyard is quite pooch friendly, allowing you to browse handcrafted artworks for sale and relax in a quaint community setting.

Explore the Gardens — While the rest of the world is green with envy this time of year, Balboa Park’s gardens are simply green. Why not rub it in by posting a few photos of your best bud in the Alcazar Garden on your Facebark page next time you’re leashed up to your pad?

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Cosmos Blog, Balboa Park, The Horse exhibition, San Diego Natural History MuseumI’m happy to report that the New Year not only rings in new chew toys for yours truly, but also, for my bipedal readers, new exhibitions at Balboa Park’s various museums. However, in order to make way for them, we must bark farewell to some old favorites (though, I still haven’t figured out what happens to my old chew toys).

As I blogged about last week, 2012 was a particularly doggone good year for exhibitions. How good? As good as an indestructible chew toy (assuming such a thing exists).

Raising our doggie dishes in a toast to “times gone by” (that’s what “auld lang syne” ruffly means — I looked it up), here’s a shortlist of closing exhibitions that shouldn’t be missed:

The Horse (closes Jan. 20) — While I still await a major exhibition on dogs to come to the park, it’s good to see another worthy four-legged mammal get its due in such a comprehensive manner at the Natural History Museum.

Soapbox! The Audience Speaks (closes Jan. 27) — “Speak! Good girl!” I often hear. But what would happen if humans were allowed to express themselves so freely, in a museum context no less, by selecting the objects they want to have on exhibit? Find out at the Museum of Photographic Arts.

Behold, America! (closes Feb 10) — More importantly, “Behold what happens when San Diego’s three most important art museums collaborate on a three-venue exhibition!” (two of them being the Timken Museum of Art and The San Diego Museum of art, of course).

True Blue (closes Feb. 17) — Though dogs have a reputation for colorblindness, thankfully we can still detect the color blue. That enables us to truly appreciate the kinds of objects made in indigo, turquoise, cobalt, and lapis lazuli now on view at the Mingei Museum.

Make sure you don’t miss the next round of exhibitions by keeping at least one eye on the Balboa Park Calendar.

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Since 2012 didn’t end in a bang—literally, I'm happy to now be in a position to reflect on Balboa Park's biggest tail-wagging moments of 2012.

Cosmos Blog, 2012 Year in Review, Behold America exhibition, Eastman JohnsonDoggone Good Exhibitions!

My bipedal correspondents tell me 2012 was an exhibition season like no other. For starters, the year opened with an epic Titanic exhibition at the Natural History Museum. The year also featured an exhibition at the San Diego History Center that gave my favorite food group its just due: Tuna! In addition, Ramp It Up at the Museum of Man provided a fresh perspective on the role of skateboarding in Native American culture.

If you missed any of those, don’t despair. You can still catch some of the year’s other alpha offerings, namely the fun-for-the-whole-pack How Things Fly exhibition at the Air & Space Museum; Behold, America! showcasing the best of what three local art museums have to offer, and the always tastefully tasteless Grossology: The (Impolite) Science of the Human Body at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center.

The Year in Photos

The year also witnessed the crowning of Balboa Park’s newest Top Dog, Jedi, in the annual Top Dog Photo Contest, proving once again how much better a photo of Balboa Park looks with a dog in it.

Not to be outdone, pups with cameras showed us how to see the Park through their eyes in the Focus on Balboa Park Photo Contest, which this year was opened up to shutterbugs who still remember when cameras required film (whatever that is).

Family Fun

The past 12 months were filled with more than the usual share of activities fit for the entire brood, anchored by two park-wide family day events: the annual Science Family Day in March and the Halloween Family Day.

There were also sold out showings of Disney’s Peter Pan at the San Diego Junior Theatre, a full slate of summer camps presented by first-class cultural organizations, and dozens of laugh-a-minute shows at the Marie Hitchcock Puppet Theatre.

Given that Balboa Park, like the rest of the planet, promises to be around for at least another year, there’s no reason not to expect more of the same in 2013.

Here’s to a Howling Happy New Year!

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