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Cosmos' Doggie Blog

Twilight in the Park 2011 Spreckels Organ Pavilion Balboa ParkIn case you missed it, summer is officially here—it kicked off last night with the first of 30 free outdoor Twilight in the Park concerts. There is truly no better way to unwind from the rat race than by bringing your favorite pooch and other pack-mates for a howling good time.

Twilight in the Park concerts fill the Spreckels Organ Pavilion with good vibes every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday evenings (through August 25) from 6:15 to 7:15pm. Among the diverse performers, some of San Diego’s favorite party bands will hit the stage for lively sing-along opportunities of rock, country, Motown, R&B, and oldies hits from the past half century.

In fact, the next few weeks alone will bring the Beach Boys-inspired three-part harmonies of the CoolRays on June 23; the Elvis tribute band (complete with impersonator) Graceland on June 28; San Diego’s original oldies show band, The Legends, on July 5; and more 50s and 60s dance tunes from Cool Fever on July 13.

Twilight in the Park concerts are also an ideal time to sample a wide range of other music genres, including Dixieland jazz (July 7 and 14), military band music (July 29), Klezmer (July 12), and Cajun and Zydeco (July 26), to name a few coming up in the next month. (Now would be a good time to browse the full schedule and mark your calendar.)

While concessions aren’t a big part of this event, there’s ample space in the Organ Pavilion to spread out for a picnic or nosh on some take-out—just be sure to bring plenty for everyone in your pack as well as your favorite four-legged blogger.

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The Pig Rig is coming! The Pig Rig is coming!

We are interrupting our usual discussions of Balboa Park’s plethora of summer activities to tell you that the Cohen Restaurant Group’s Chop Soo-ey food truck is making not just one, but two visits this coming week to the Park. And if you can’t tell, I’m in hog heaven over it.

First the dates, times, and locations:

June 17, 11am–2pm, Japanese Friendship Garden (back entrance)

Follow your snout along the south fence between the Japanese Friendship Garden and the Organ Pavilion to the back entrance.

June 22, 11am–2pm, Museum of Man

As you cross the Cabrillo Bridge, but before going through the archway, the truck will be located in the alley on the left between the museum and the administration building.

And now the all-important menu options created by Chef Deborah Scott:

· Skirts on Fire Salad

· Blackened Fish Tacos with Cilantro Lime Slaw

· Grilled El Pignini Sandwich (pulled pork, ham, swiss, & chow chow)

· Key Lime Tartletts

· Pecan Coconut Cookie Sandwich

· Assorted Izzy sodas

But you won’t want to just eat like a pig and run, as there will be prizes and fun activities as well—not to mention special guest visits from the Museum Marathon girls (Maren and Heather).

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Now that a wetter-than-normal spring has sprouted lusher-than-normal landscaping and gardens in Balboa Park, this is a perfect time to explore the Park’s vast grounds with your best four-legged friend and a knowledgeable tour guide. Covering over 1,200 acres of parkland, these informative tours kick off in front of the Visitors Center.

Offshoot Tours — Ideal for weekend warriors who can’t make any of the weekday tours, Offshoot Tours put your weekend on track each Saturday morning at 10am with a leisurely stroll through the Park’s Central Mesa area.

Each week a different expert highlights a unique aspect of the Park, beginning with the Park’s history on the first Saturday, the diverse specimens of palm trees on the second Saturday, all other tree types on the third (my favorite), desert flora on the fourth, and a selection of one of the above on the occasional fifth Saturday.

Ranger-led Tours— Aside from yours truly, no one else has better tracking skills in the Park than the rangers. And at 1:00pm on both Tuesday (museum free day!) and Sunday, they put their best foot forward on a walking tour of the Park’s history and its botanical and architectural treats.

Wednesday Trail Walks — More ambitious hikers will want to hit the trails on the second Wednesday of the month when a Park Ranger leads a trek along one of the many marked routes through the canyons and mesas. Though the pace is easy, the trail length and terrain may be a bit rough for some bipeds, so it’s best to call ahead to the Visitors Center (619 239-0512) to find out which trail will be featured. The walks begin at the designated trailhead sign at 10am.

Architectural Heritage Tours — Learn what they would say “if these walls could talk” with the help of a knowledgeable architectural historian on the first Wednesday of the month at 9:30am. In addition to discussing the long history of many of the main park buildings, the Architectural Heritage Tours also highlight what’s inside of them.

Don’t like to be tied to someone else’s schedule? Then the handheld audio tour wand, available for rental in the Visitors Center, is just your ticket. These entertaining tours, voiced by a team of park experts, also comes in a kid- (and pet-)friendly version.


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Hot diggity dog! The Blue Star Museum Initiative is at it again—coordinating with hundreds of museums nationwide to offer free admission to active duty military and their spouses and children this summer.

That means here in San Diego County, over two dozen museums, including nine in Balboa Park, are granting free admission now through Labor Day (September 5). The list of Balboa Park museums includes

-Japanese Friendship Garden

-Mingei International Museum

-Museum of Photographic Arts

-San Diego Hall of Champions

-San Diego History Center

-San Diego Museum of Man

-San Diego Museum of Art

-Timken Museum of Art

-Veterans Museum and Memorial Center

A collaboration between the National Endowment for the Arts and Blue Star Families, a military support organization, the Blue Star Museum Initiative provides military families a great way to connect with one another during deployments and leave time at some of this country’s top cultural attractions.

And since summertime is “exhibition season,” this is also a great time to catch some of this year’s biggest shows, including: From El Greco to Dalí at the San Diego Museum of Art, Face to Face: Works from the Bank of America Collection at the Museum of Photographic Arts, and Modern Day Mummy: The Art & Science of Mummification at the Museum of Man … to name a few.

And if you plan to travel this summer, be sure to check out the Blue Star Museum website for a complete listing of all the participating museums in each state.

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While there is certainly plenty to do in Balboa Park on any given Memorial Day weekend, the House of Pacific Relations International Cottages is making 2011’s one for the history books. Literally.

That’s because not just one, but two howling good dog-friendly celebrations are planned for this weekend. The first (the history book part) celebrates the Cottages’ 75th Anniversary on Saturday, May 28.

A colorful Parade of Nations from the Lily Pond to the Organ Pavilion, led by the U.S. Marine 3rd Air Wing Band, gets the party going at 9:30am. For those of us too dog-tired to get around that early, there will be a continuous stream of ethnic entertainment, exhibits, and (most importantly) food from 10am to 5pm that day.

The 48-hour fiesta continues into Sunday, May 29, with the same tasty ingredients when the International Cottages present the 31st annual Ethnic Food Fair. Among this year’s delicacies are empanada from Columbia, chicken curry from India, Norwegian waffles, Pierogi from Poland, Spanish paella, Baklava from Turkey, and root beer floats … to name just a few.

Though the emphasis of the Ethnic Food Fair is understandably on food (I have no problem with that), the day-long event (from 10:30am-5pm) keeps gourmets in attendance entertained with a vast selection of world dance and music from the 32 participating countries.

Fortunately, a full menu of both food and performances is available on Balboa Park’s website for those of us who prefer to plan our feeding schedule ahead of time.

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