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Month: July 2016

Review: Cabrillo National Monument’s Above the fireworks

Review: Cabrillo National Monument’s Above the fireworks

On July 4th, I attended Cabrillo National Monument’s “above the fireworks” event.  It was a rare chance to be in the park after dark, and tickets are limited due to parking capacity! We had an amazing time and I was able to get some great photos of the fireworks over San Diego. There are 4 simultaneous displays going off at once to music broadcast over the radio. We didn’t bring one, but our neighbors were kind enough to turn their volume up.

San Diego bay fireworks
July 4th fireworks over downtown San Diego
Lighthouse at Cabrillo NM at night
Cabrillo Lighthouse after dark
Sunset from Cabrillo NM, home of the rare Torrey Pine
Sunset from Cabrillo NM, home of the rare Torrey Pine

I would definitely recommend attending next year- here are a few tips:

  • Arrive early if you are determined to sit in a specific spot.  The area near the visitor’s center and Cabrillo statue fills up quickly.  The traffic getting in is the worst when it first opens.  We arrived about an hour after opening and traffic was easy getting in.  We found a great spot up near the lighthouse, along the path through the bushes.  You could also claim a spot against the fence just in front of the lighthouse if you don’t mind standing for 20 minutes (place your chairs back against the lighthouse until the show starts).  You won’t have anyone in front of you.  This would be a great spot for photographers, and likely where I will be the next time I attend.
  • Pack blankets and jackets.  It is windy at Cabrillo so it gets pretty chilly after dark, and you are mostly sitting around waiting for the show.
  • Pack a radio.  They sync the fireworks with a local radio station.
  • When the show is over, wait until they close the park to leave.  The folks at Cabrillo do a wonderful job of getting all the cars out of the park efficiently.  The problem lies in Point Loma – you will hit Shelter Island/Harbor Island traffic leaving, no matter what route you go.  There are also detours in place, so we couldn’t get on the 8 where I wanted and that cost us about 40 minutes of traffic.  It took about 3x as long to get home as it should have.  We thought we could beat the rush, but we were in the thick of it.  So bring a flashlight, and enjoy the night view after everyone leaves.

In the end, it is at least 4 hours total for about 20 minutes of fireworks.  But you can occupy the rest of the time enjoying something rare – the park after dark!

Flashback to 2008 – San Antonio Missions National Historic Park

Flashback to 2008 – San Antonio Missions National Historic Park

Flashback to 2008 – a trip to Houston to visit a friend turns into a 2 day whirlwind tour of San Antonio and Austin. First stop – the San Antonio Missions! There are FOUR Missions in San Antonio and it is absolutely possible to visit them all in a single day!

It was my first EVER trip to Texas, and I remember thinking how flat everything was compared to the east coast. Now living on the west coast, I think the east coast is flat too!  San Antonio is about 3+ hours from Houston and 4+ hours from Dallas.

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The bells at Mission Espada

Even in November, the weather was hot – a very welcome change from New England.  We arrived from the south and made our way towards the center of the city.

Our first stop was Mission (San Francisco de la) Espada, the southernmost mission. Founded in 1690, it was the first mission in Texas.  It relocated to its present location in 1731.  I remember wandering among the foundations and random doorways standing by themselves, and an aqueduct behind this façade.  The doors are all very short, btw.

Next up was Mission San Juan (Capistrano), founded in 1716 and moved to its present location in 1731.  The façade has been restored to a whitewashed stone since my visit.  The was a lot of open space at this mission, and little shade – a good tip for a hot summer day!

Mission San Juan, 2008. It has since been restored to a whitewashed stone façade.
Mission San Juan, 2008. It has since been restored to a whitewashed stone façade.

Next up was my favorite mission, Mission San José (y San Miguel de Aguayo), the home of the Rose Window.   Founded in 1720 and completed in 1782, it was the largest mission in the San Antonio area.  It has beautiful gardens and an active church.

Mission San Jose, my personal favorite, due to the exceptional gardens
Mission San Jose, my personal favorite, due to the exceptional gardens
The Rose Window
The Rose Window

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last but not least was Mission Concepción (Nuestra Señora de la Purísima Concepción de Acuña), founded in 1716, and moved to the current location in 1731.  The church was dedicated in 1755 after 15 years of construction, and is the oldest unrestored stone church in America.  There are beautiful frescos on the inside of the church.

Mission
Mission Concepción

Since my visit, the city of San Antonio has completed the Mission Riverwalk Hike & Bike trail – over 8 miles of protected trail along the river that runs from the Alamo to Mission Espada.  There are water fountains along the route and signs indicating where to exit for each Mission.  Check it out!

The Alamo, the most well know San Antonio Mission, is not park of the National Historic Park. It is, however, part of the San Antonio Missions UNESCO World Heritage Site.  This is a great trip for fall, winter or spring, when the weather is not unbearable.  Have a great trip!

Remember, the Alamo....is not part of the National Historic Park, but is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Remember, the Alamo….is not part of the National Historic Park, but is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.