Friday, October 18, 2013
The Park's The Thing
When I was young, a pre-teen, my mother would give me .50 cents so I could take the bus to Balboa park and come back home (the bus being .25 cents each way). It took about an hour to get to Balboa park - I'd either take the 4 or the 11 to downtown San Diego, then transfer to the 7 to get to Balboa park.
The transfer station was Horton plaza, before it was fixed up and regularly patrolled. The place then was infested with drug dealers, pimps and of course, whores. They fed on the young sailors that frequented the area.
When I got there, I would spend hour after hour wandering through Balboa park. In those days, if you were 14 or under you got in free to most museums and the zoo.
The Natural History museum was a big favorite, as was the Aerospace museum. I must have irritated the crap out of the guards and docents at both of those museums, because as a kid all I wanted to do was crawl all over the wonderful exhibits - to hell with the red velvet ropes!
At this point in my life I now realize I was a headache for the poor people who worked at those museums and were assigned to keeping an eye on me. I would like to take a few seconds right now to apologize - sorry..
Back to the story at hand, which is Balboa Park and all the great activities that were on offer there when I was a kid.
The world famous San Diego Zoo is the major attraction, but there is so much more than the zoo. There are 15 or 16 major museums, just as many gardens, and the Spanish art village, which is a plaza surrounded by the studios of working artists.
I could easily spend an entire day roaming the halls of the museums or walking through the botanical gardens. About the only thing I never did in Balboa Park was use the sports facilities - there is a great 18-hole golf course there, but I didn't take up golf until I was in my thirties.
It may seem odd, but In every city I have ever visited I have looked for an equivalent to Balboa Park. The closest I've ever come is Central Park in New York, and maybe the Mall in Cleveland (though there are not as many museums on the Mall).
I've been told that Chicago's Lincoln Park is similar to Balboa Park, with a zoo and museums, but I have yet to pay a visit so I have no first-hand knowledge.
A trip to Chicago is on the agenda for next year however, so possibly I'll be writing a little report on what I encounter there in a few months.
There are plenty of parks in and around Denver, but nothing even close to Balboa Park. The Denver Art Museum (and several other museums) are located downtown, while the Denver Zoo and the Denver Museum of Nature and Science are in City Park, east of downtown.
Balboa Park even has a replica of the Old Globe theater (it's actually a replica of a replica, as the original replica was burned down by an arsonist in the '70's). Several field trips were made to the Old Globe theater when I was a grade school student - definitely a highlight of my school years.
Man, now I'm getting all heartsick/nostalgic for Balboa Park. Might have to take another short trip to S.D. soon - chances are it won't be snowing there like it is here today.