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Cosmos' Doggie Blog

Walking on four paws in a bi-pedal/opposable-thumbs world, I’ve learned to be quite resourceful. Necessity does become the mother of invention when dog food is sealed in tin cans and placed on top of the refrigerator. This is why I feel a special kinship with the dozens of DIY inventors who will make this weekend’s Maker Faire this fall’s signature Balboa Park Centennial event.

On Saturday and Sunday, October 3 and 4, from 10am to 6pm, I’ll have a chance to sniff out some of the most cutting-edge contraptions other resourceful folks who make full use of their opposable thumbs have devised in the comfort of their own garages, basements, and backyards (which, by the way, is where I do some of my best work).

Approximately 200 interactive exhibits will be on display that allow everyone in your pack to learn from playing, making, and doing. A number of booths will be set up in Balboa Park’s favorite gathering spot, the Plaza de Panama, with many others in the Pan American Plaza and Palisades area (by the big fountain).

Among the highlights will be my good friend Russell, the 17-foot-tall electrical giraffe; robots that walk, roll, and fly; 3-D printers that create insta-chew toys; yummy cupcake cars; and unique crafts that blend science and art.

Tickets to the Maker Faire include admission to 10 participating Balboa Park museums that will also feature Maker exhibits in and around their buildings. Lucky dogs in possession of an annual Balboa Park Explorer Pass already have the only ticket they need to both days of the Maker Faire. (Pro tip: if you were planning on buying tickets for two adults and at least two pups for both days of the Maker Faire, you are already half-way toward buying an annual Family Pass that will be valid through next September).

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Taste of Asia Festival 2015, Chinese dancersWhether you’ve been digging all the free entertainment for the Balboa Park Centennial this year or have yet to dig out of your hibernation hole and check it out, I’m happy to report there’s still more to come. The fall season is not missing a beat with three FREE music and dance programs in the coming week alone!

La Jolla Symphony & Chorus Presents “Sila: Breath of the World”
Sept. 27, 3pm

Take a once-in-a-lifetime stroll through the Japanese Friendship Garden as dozens of musicians and vocalists create a site-specific musical experience. But don’t stop to sniff the flowers too long, as each location in the garden offers a new perspective on the music being performed and how it relates to the garden’s visual scenery.

Taste of Asia/Moon Festival
Sept. 26, noon-5pm; Sept 27, noon-8:30pm

Bring your favorite four-legged friend (hint, hint) to the International Cottages for a two-day cultural extravaganza, featuring music, dance, costumes, crafts, and food (did I mention food?) of over a half-dozen Asian cultures. The event is so big, it will spill out into the Organ Pavilion on Sunday evening for a Chinese Moon Festival and fireworks display.

San Diego Civic Dance Arts Free Night of Dance Theatre
Oct. 2, 8pm

Watch professionally trained performers dance circles around the so-called “celebrity” dancers from this season’s Dancing with the Stars TV show. San Diego Civic Dance Arts will present selections from the Centennial-inspired and acclaimed Collage 2015 “Innovation” performance, complete with breathtaking costumes, imaginative set pieces, and gorgeous theatrical lighting, in the historic Casa del Prado Theater.

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Cosmos Blog, Ask Cosmos, YaterYater writes: Dear Cosmos, You’ve been so focused on digging up all the Centennial-related events for your blog, I didn’t want another Balboa Park celebration very near and dear to my heart to get over-sniffed. Would you mind telling your readers about the Spanish Village’s 80th anniversary party this weekend?

Cosmos: As a personal favor to this year’s first runner-up in the 2015 Top Dog Photo Contest, I am very happy to oblige!

I’ll be the first to admit, with so much going on every week to celebrate the 100-year anniversary of the Panama-California Exposition, it’s easy to forget many Balboa Park institutions are celebrating important anniversaries of their own. Like many other attractions in the Park, the Spanish Village Art Center was originally built for the 1935 California Pacific International Exposition. To mark the occasion, my pooch-friendly friends at Spanish Village are hosting a birthday bash on Saturday, September 19, from 12 noon to 7pm, featuring live music, free treats, art demos, prizes, and more!

Throughout the afternoon and evening, visitors can paw through participating artist studios, many of which will be serving refreshments. Raffle tickets will be handed out to anyone coughing up a few bones to make an art purchase on the patio or in the studios. There will also be a silent auction of art works donated by Spanish Village artists.

In the courtyard area, classical/flamenco guitarist James Clarkston will perform from 12pm to 3pm, and from 3pm to 7pm, the indie folk-rock band Cactus 5 takes over. Pups of all ages will enjoy the Steampunk Bugz activity, along with free ice cream by Niederfranks. Hot dogs (the edible kind, not yours truly) will be available for purchase.

There will also be artist demos by Art in Wood and the Sculptors Guild, which will be hosting a reception of their own that day in conjunction with a fundraiser for Surfrider, beginning at 5pm.

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I’ve seen many heat waves come and go in San Diego, but one thing I’ve never understood is why so many people, like Pavlov’s dog, automatically head to the beach as the mercury approaches triple digits. Maybe it’s my inability to completely shed my fur coat, but the last thing I want to do on a hot day is sit completely exposed on heat-absorbing and radiating sand underneath a scorching sun for hours with no shade trees in sight. Yes, taking a dip in the ocean water can cool my haunches for a bit, but by the tenth time I get splashed in the snout by an unleashed pup or get my paws tangled up in kelp or seaweed, I’m ready to throw in the towel.

For me Balboa Park offers the best of both worlds: a beautiful outdoor setting and plenty of shade, not to mention dozens of air-conditioned cultural attractions for my bipedal readers. Here are four of the best ways to beat the summer heat in Balboa Park:

Jean-Michel Cousteau Secret Ocean IMAX film, divers with shark1. Explore the Deep Blue Sea

You don’t need to get sand in uncomfortable places or saltwater in your mouth to explore the ocean. Three films currently showing in cool indoor theaters at two Balboa Park museums immerse audiences in scenic undersea adventures. Now showing on the Reuben H. Fleet’s IMAX dome are Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Secret Ocean and Humpback Whales; inside the San Diego Natural History Museum’s 3-D theater, catch the classic Ocean Oasis.

2. Bask in Fountain Spray

Conveniently located between the Reuben H. Fleet and Natural History Museum, the Bea Evenson Fountain is a popular gathering spot on a warm day. When turned on, the 50-60 foot water jet produces a fine cooling mist, and the shallow pool is perfect for dipping one’s paws.

3. Indoor Garden Paradise

For 100 years, the Botanical Building’s majestic wood lathe structure has served as Balboa Park’s primary public greenhouse. Surrounded by lush plants, exotic foliage and flowers, and soothing fountains, visitors are invited to sniff around and cool their heels on one of the shady benches for as long as they like (except on Thursdays, of course, when the Botanical Building is closed).

4. No Umbrella Required

If lugging your own giant umbrella across hot sand to find a comfortable spot to enjoy lunch and a cool beverage is not your idea of fun, try one of Balboa Park’s many outdoor cafés. Providing ample seating with umbrellas are Balboa Park’s only craft beer garden, Panama 66, which spills out on to the pooch-friendly Plaza de Panama, the Tea Pavilion, located next to the Japanese Friendship Garden, and the Village Grill for juicy hot dogs and hamburgers.

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With Labor Day falling so late this year when many schools are already back in session, families may feel like they are on a short leash for this three-day holiday weekend. Fortunately lower gas prices are making car trips the way to go for a quick Labor Day weekend getaway.

Pack leaders will be especially happy to hear that they still have time to catch this year’s biggest exhibitions in Balboa Park, including many that offer an interactive playground atmosphere.

Circus: Science Under the Big Top

Reuben H. Fleet Science Center, thru Sept. 7

This is your last chance to step right up and experience life as a circus acrobat, contortionist, juggler, or clown through a variety of interactive displays while learning the science of how humans and animals perform such incredible feats.



San Diego Air & Space Museum, thru Sept. 13

Your pooch will never have another chance to eat your kids’ math homework after they learn how much understanding algebra and geometry can improve their skateboarding, video game design, music-making, mountain biking, rock climbing, snowboarding, and robotics skills.


Coney Island: Visions of an American Dreamland

The San Diego Museum of Art, thru Oct. 13

The legendary playground is brought back to life through original paintings, drawings, posters, films, sound recordings, and artifacts, revealing how folks had fun before smart phone apps told them how to sniff around and interact with their environment.


Nighttime Zoo — Shake, Rattle, & Roar

The San Diego Zoo, thru Sept. 7

Watch my favorite animal friends move to a different beat as a variety of musical performances throughout the zoo get everyone’s claws and paws tapping.

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