Friday, December 26, 2014

Touring Torrey Pines

We went to Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve which is just north of La Jolla Cove.
Coming from North County you have to take I-5 south to Gensee Avenue, and then north on Torrey Pines Rd. which is S21. In about half a mile you reach the Reserve and you find the cars parking in the free parking area. Of course there was not a spot empty, so we kept going north and passed Del Mar, then made a U-turn and came back south, and found a pay parking area in Del Mar so we parked there (2 hours for $3, not bad). Then we walked south to the Reserve and entered free (since we had no car to park), and climbed the hill there all the way to the top. The scene from the top is shown in the picture to the right. I used my RunKeeper app to track the path we took, and it showed we made a total of 3.4 miles, that took 1 hour and 12 minutes, average pace 21.09 minutes per mile, total calories burnt 480. The summary of the activity is shown in the second picture to the right.
Notice that the total climb was 494 ft. On the way back we took the Carmel Valley Rd, which took us to I-5 back home. The weather was nice and sunny but the humidity was kind of low (40%) although we were right at the ocean there. The humidity today is 35% in San Marcos, and the temperature this morning at 7 am in 47F which is cold according to San Diego standards. At this time of the year temperature of -15F is normal in other parts of the country, like Cedar Rapids,Iowa. No wonder many people drive from as far as Colorado to come here during the holidays and enjoy the weather of San Diego in the winter. When living here, there is no reason to go any other place, and that is exactly what we are doing, not going to any other place during the holidays.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Making of Sultan Ahmad Watercolor Painting

This article describes how I made this color painting of Sultan Ahmad's mosque, aka The Blue Mosque. I was always fascinated by this mosque. Its grand structure is just imposing, and its six minarets scrape the Istanbul sky like penetrating rockets and its bluish tint, domes and various details just blow me away. First I looked for a good picture of the magnificent building. I found several, and I picked these two to construct my painting. Obviously the pictures needed to be scaled to make a large enough drawing suitable for framing. So I decided to scale the drawing by 4.1:1 and I accomplished this by drawing squares on the original small picture and the corresponding larger squares in my drawing.
You can see the squares drawn with a pencil in the first picture. Next I started copying each square from the original picture to the drawing paper one by one. I used one of the pictures to do that and the other one helped me look at more details whenever I was in doubt because the second picture was kind of zoomed in and showed more detail. Once I made the drawing in pencil, then it was time to start defining the main features with a thin brush as seen in the next picture. At this point I also erased the pencil traces of the squares. Attention had to be paid for the minaret pointy shapes and the domes because these are the macro features of the imposing structure and are the most important.
Then I started to paint with a wider brush the main body of the building further defining the sides and corners that make up the complete picture. The third picture to the right shows that stage. Now the building is starting to take its shape but there was still a lot of detail that needed to be taken care of to get it to its final form as shown in the fourth and last picture to the right. I had to use different shades of colors to define shades and give that three dimensional look for each nook and cranny. Of course the most important task lies in the details which take the longest part of finishing the painting. One should not rush to finish, but take your time to work on the details because that is the difference between a nice painting and a mediocre one.
I also had to work out the sky and its shades and clouds, as well as the trees and green shrubs that make up the lower part of the picture. I had to use different shades of green for the plants, and different shades of blue, white and red for the sky. The result is as you see in the fourth picture to the right. I found a suitable frame earlier that was not that expensive and I framed the picture as you see. So it is not that difficult. It just requires interest and determination and plenty of patience, but in the end the outcome is rewarding and worth the effort when you see it hanging in your favorite place to look at and admire. Enjoy.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Life is a Beach

Sitting on the beach in Carlsbad in a warm August day soaking the sun and inhaling the fresh sea breeze coming from the ocean couldn't be better, and life is a beach. Watching the sunset is also a nice thing to do by the beach in Carlsbad. You see the sun turn into an orange disk that slowly disappears behind the horizon as if sinking into the sea, leaving behind a fiery red dusk band streaked with purple and cloud white lines that last for an hour or so before night falls and it becomes officially dark with only the moon and stars lighting the sky after that. This is when a bon fire creates a wonderful atmosphere if you have a group of people gathered around it chatting and roasting marshmallows or hotdogs. Watching the fire yellow and orange strands randomly dance creating their magical effect in the dark causes you to reflect and get absorbed in self meditation and you forget all your immediate concerns and delve into a much deeper and far away issues that you normally don't think about except in such atmosphere that takes you away on a magic carpet ride like Steppenwolf says. I know this is a bit dreamy but that is how I feel sitting on the beach in Carlsbad and that is why for me life is a beach.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Walking the Cove

The La Jolla Cove reminds me of Cleopatra's Bath in Marsa Matrouh, Egypt. It has similar rocks and rich organic life in its shores but La Jolla Cove has sea lions and seals scattered all over, and that you don't see in Marsa Matrouh. Walking along the cove is really nice, and the weather is usually cooler along that area than San Diego proper. They say the water also is cooler but I haven't tried it out. We saw kayakers and snorkelers along the beaches and also regular swimmers in spite of the cool water. A walk along the cove takes about one hour and the scenery is marvelous from anywhere you stand. Fresh breeze and clean air brushes your face and body giving you a refreshing feeling as you walk. We saw an artist selling his wonderful paintings of the seagulls and surrounding old buildings. The colors were vividly beautiful and if I had the money I would have loved to buy a few of them to hang them on the wall. I loved looking at them. I am sure you could haggle the price but I was not in the mood. I am sure there are lot of rich people living in that area who can afford paying the price without haggling. I saw nice convertibles and expensive cars all over. No wonder for the houses there are multi-million dollar homes for the rich and exclusive.

Monday, February 17, 2014

February Surfing

Surfing in San Diego area is for any time. In February the temperature is in the seventies (F) and sunny. The water temperature is about 60F. Not that bad. Equipped with a wetsuit one can always surf here without any problem. The waves were in the order of 2-3 ft today in Carlsbad. After surfing it was lunch time at Coyote's. Chipotle chicken tasted great, and the tortilla sauce was superb. After that walking a little in the Carlsbad Village was a nice constitutional after lunch. Finally it was time to go back home. The car was parked in State Ave next to the train station. Driving back home took about 20 minutes.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Up Mission Trails' Kwaay Paay Peak

I visited Mission Trails again, and this time I went to the Kumeyaay Campground area. There I found more trails to climb around. This one is Kwaay Paay peak in the climbers' loop area. Obviously these are all Indian names from the time when Father Junipero went on his mission to that area, thus the name Mission Trails. The climb was mild and relatively easy except near the top when the trail got steeper and rockier. The scene from above is nice as usual and quite rewarding. One thing that is plaguing me these days is this eczema that I developed in some areas of my skin. Welcome to the dry and harsh weather of San Diego. I would have thought the humidity here is not as bad, compared to Phoenix for example, but still it is bad enough, and coupled with my age eczema simply developed. Eczema has no cure, but is theoretically manageable although mine has not been managed to my satisfaction yet. They tell me I have to keep moisturizing my skin all the time especially after baths. I am doing what I can.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Peaking the P-Mountain

Today we climbed the P-Mountain, with the letter P on it obviously, which stands for Palomar College. You can see the letter P almost from anywhere in North county of San Diego east to it, including the highways. The climb took about 35 minutes all the way to the top, and was quite steep and rough, but the view from above was quite rewarding. You can see the ocean of Carlsbad quite nicely. One lesson learned is to not come down the same way I went up, because it is very hard coming down with such a steep descent. There is another path to take when returning down which is a little longer but much easier and more gradual, so this is something to take note of next time. The total time for the round trip was a little over an hour. The weather was nice and warm, albeit dry as the Santa Ana conditions are still with us causing skin irritation which reminds of me of Arizona weather. I wouldn't mind hiking there up again, especially that it is close to where we live, but there are much better hiking trails than this. We just wanted to try them all. I am sure there is more to discover.

Saturday, January 04, 2014

A Day in the Harbor

The harbor in Oceanside is not far from the famous pier. There people rent boat parking places for $400 a month. I saw different sizes of boats and yachts, and not to mention sailboats and kayaks. I also saw seals. In this picture I am oaring away in a kayak. It was a nice and sunny day, very mild and warm for January, but this is San Diego weather, just marvelous. I also tried a small sailboat. In the beginning it was fun as the mild wind pushed the boat nicely into the open area of the sea, but on my way back, and due to lack of wind in the parking corridor, I found myself stuck between parking boats and I could not get the sailboat to move in the direction I wanted it to move no matter what I did. Turning the rudder would have moved me in the direction of my choice, but without wind that did not work. Finally Amira came to the rescue with a kayak and pulled me out of that snag. So this is it for me as to my sailing experience. I'd rather use oars and push myself along with my muscles rather than be at the mercy of the wind. Like they say: "The wind does not always blow as the ship captain wishes".

Friday, January 03, 2014

Daring Mt. Woodson, Part 3

I climbed to the summit of Mt. Woodson for the second time, and this time I had my picture taken on the Potato Chip rock. The line was not bad this time. I had corrected many mistakes I committed before, like bringing food and more water this time. However, carrying the extra weight was the downside to it. I also brought with me extra shirts to change as I sweat, and one of them was a long sleeve. The weather was nice, but as usual it got colder as the sun started to descend. Overall, the experience this time was better than the last time, although one felt a little bored as the novelty element went away. It is said that you are not a San Diegan if you don't take a picture on top of the Potato Chip rock, so I guess I can consider myself from San Diego now, although I saw tourists from far parts of the world doing the same. You probably see such pictures on the internet as this is a popular place to take pictures, and one of the landmarks of San Diego wilderness.