Thursday, April 28, 2022

Hotel La Casa del Zorro offers desert pampering, scenery and fine food

The soothing environment of La Casa del Zorro is designed with comfort and relaxation in mind, but
there is plenty to do if you're an "active type." Something for everyone, since its 1937 opening. 
Below, sunset from La Casa del Zorro's pool area is a gorgeous sight

.
ELEGANCE, AMBIANCE, NATURE MAKE  A STUNNING, RELAXING RETREAT

STORY By CHRISTENE MEYERS

PHOTOS By BRUCE KELLER

STEP INTO a world of pampering perfection with artful touches at every sun-soaked turn. 

From left, Bruce Keller, Christene "Cookie"
Meyers, with UK pals, Sue and John Speight
.

This is your world for a few treasured days at La Casa del Zorro, a true find if you're looking for a place to unplug, enjoy and indulge your senses. The light is lovely in this jewel of southern Coachella Valley.  Each sun dappled corner of this well managed place welcomes you to picturesque surroundings.  
You feel healthier the moment you enter the cozy yet elegant reception area where veteran host Mona or one of her able colleagues checks you in. The whole tasteful place is right out of a desert painting.

Carefully planted cacti, palms and desert perennials grace walkways framed by subtle Spanish colonial architecture. Nature-inspired touches greet the visitor -- weathered stone, polished wood, showy seasonal perennials. 

THE  "ZORRO" is a perfect place to hike, relax with a favorite 
Yoga instructor Paul, a native
of Holland, at the gazebo
where yoga is offered.
book and beverage at the lap pool, or choose from a life-size chess game, horseshoes, bocci ball, croquet, ping pong, yoga,  pickleball, tennis or shuffleboard. The spa has a fine reputation for its pampering. We brought our portable Scrabble game, but didn't have time, choosing a complimentary bike ride instead.
Live music is often offered at
dinner, here Cookie admires!
 
As the day dwindles, an elegantly served meal awaits at Fox Bistro, often with live music. Earlier, you've enjoyed complimentary breakfast.  Admire celestial wonders from a star-gazing theater or relax by the kiva fire pit. A DVD player and complimentary movies are yours, too, if you're not yet lulled to the arms of Morpheus by the calming ambiance of this unique and restful place.

I BEGAN my day twice with a rejuvenating complimentary yoga meditation class. 
The resort's instructor is an amiable Dutchman, Paul, who has studied and taught this restorative mind-and-body art for many years. Lucky California to be the recipient of his talent, since leaving his native Amsterdam to settle near Borrego Springs with his business-career wife. He was the "frosting on the cake" -- a wonderful, calming treat during a perfect three days, one of many surprises and delights.

Walking trails lead the way to tennis courts, a
yoga pavilion, individual cabanas, desert plants.

 We visited with friends from England.  They, too, found the resort a pleasure and spent several hours basking in their private poolside cabana, treasuring each sunny moment -- a treat after a soggy, chilly winter in their native Yorkshire.
 IF YOGA is not your thing, a game of tennis might be the ticket.  Or simply stroll well marked nature trails.  Enjoy a few hours with a good book by the immaculate pool -- or share a cool beverage poolside in your own cabana, using your complimentary drink coupon, a lovely touch.

With a history dating back to 1937, the hotel
has survived change and is flourishing.
You're living a life of ease, comfort and relaxation. So enjoy it.  Back inside your room, stretch out to admire desert inspired paintings and sculpture. Each guest room and casita is individually adorned with artwork and antiques.  

Artful appointments are part
of the charm -- each room
has unique pieces
.

The place is beloved for its understated elegance, superior service and artful  decor. 

Bruce Keller and Cookie Meyers take to the
desert on desert paths near the resort.
It's a serene, get-away in the Anza Borrego desert is just a mile from the small friendly town of Borrego Springs. But it is light years away from the rest of the world as the only five-star resort in the area.

Happily, the resort has survived several names and physical incarnations. A few years ago, the Zorro was lovingly restored by a dynamic investor-developer-hotelier trio.  Jack McGrory, Casey Brown and Jack Giacomini blended contemporary convenience and amenities with classic desert architecture with a pleasing nod to nostalgia.

A world-class golf course, perfectly manicured,
is steps away at La Casa del Zorro.
   THE ZORRO opened in 1937  as a small desert lodge, evolving into today's world class resort. Through the years, Hollywood discovered it, and San Diego social and business icons hob-nobbed, golfed, sunbathed, swam, drank and dined here.  

Another view of the changing
light, a constant pleasure.
 




Ricardo Breceda's sculpture
is nearby, another treat.


Presidents Nixon and George H.W. Bush, actor Marlon Brando and others came, seeking the solitude and serenity that mark a visit. Noted sculptor Ricardo Breceda maintains a shop on the property and his whimsical metal creatures grace the grounds and surrounding properties.  One of his friendly T-Rex creations greets guests! And a world-class public golf course is minutes away. Rams Hill is one of the most beautiful in the world, a spectacular $22 million Fazio desert course. And famed sculptor, Ricardo Breceda, has positioned dozens of his whimsical art pieces in the desert surrounding the resort. This is worth a few hours on its own, a lovely complement to the resort's artwork.

  

"Keller and Cookie" learned about the deadly effects of
tsunamis, in a recent visit to Hilo's Pacific Tsunami Museum.
UP NEXT: It's nearing hurricane season as we visit a museum dedicated to one of the fiercest forces of nature, the tsunami. One of the only museums devoted entirely to this horrifying act of nature is in Hilo, Hawaii, and gives a fascinating overview of the deadly waves and damage they've done. We learned about the origins and causes of tsunami waves. Earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and explosions  all have the potential to generate a tsunami. We found the museum riveting and hope you will, too. Meanwhile, remember to explore, learn and live and catch us weekly for a fresh spin on travel, nature, family, the arts and more: www.whereiscookie.com


Hawaii's Lyman Museum highlights wildlife, sea life, Polynesian travel, rich island history

Hawaii's fascinating history is told in striking exhibits and displays at Lyman Museum in Hilo.



























HILO MUSEUM OFFERS WORLD CLASS STUDY OF SETTLING OF HAWAII, CRAFTS, ART, CULTURE AND A HISTORIC HOME BUILT BY MISSIONARY TEACHERS

Murals, paintings and expertly written commentary tell
the fascinating story of the settlement of Hawaii.

STORY By CHRISTENE MEYERS
PHOTOS By BRUCE KELLER


New England born Lymans brought their "Cape
Cod" style architecture to build in Hawaii.
IF YOU THINK of Hawaii  -- and only seashells, hula and palm trees come to mind -- you'll be pleasantly surprised when you visit the Lyman Museum and Mission House.
Located in Hilo, on "the Big Island" of Hawaii, this treasure is Smithsonian-affiliated and the islands' only museum of natural and cultural history.
Its large collection of intriguing artifacts is displayed throughout more than 20,000 square feet of open, airy and well designed galleries.  Expertly curated and sometimes surprising exhibits range from a beautifully illustrated history of the islands' settlement to a tour of the home next door, built by New England missionaries and teachers, David and Sarah Lyman in 1839.
The much visited museum began with the home,  the Lyman Mission House, built near its present location and moved in 1931, nearly 100 years later. The museum was established by Lyman descendants and both buildings are carefully tended by docents who also give lively tours.
THE NICELY restored Mission House is home to both furniture owned and built by the Lymans and other period pieces acquired by the museum which achieved status with both the State and National Registers of Historic Places. We admired lovely hand-crafted furniture, tools, household items, and artifacts used by the Lymans and other early missionary families.
The Lyman house is on the State and National Registers of
Historic Places and an important artifact of the Museum.
The much larger Lyman Museum building, next door to the Mission House, was constructed in 1971.  We admired its superb collection of artifacts and natural history exhibits -- displayed in an impressively large and open space. A handsome gift shop offers handmade Hawaiian souvenirs -- classy, not airport kitsch.

VISITORS TOURING the two facilities can see the old Mission House and life as it was 150 years ago, then go next door to inspect immersive exhibits on a range of Hawaiian natural history and culture. Through our Lyman Mission House guide, Jan, we enjoyed a glimpse into the life of the Lymans Lyman, who sailed 5,000 miles from New England in 1832 to build the island's oldest standing wood structure.
Exquisite feather work is on show.
Jan conveyed the courage of the couple -- rounding "The Horn" in a six-month voyage, before the Panama Canal, to craft a house without electricity or running water.
WE SPENT a good share of our afternoon visit in the museum's newly renovated Heritage Gallery which studies  Polynesian settlement and the life of these early Hawaiian people. We studied nicely displayed tools and implements crafted from native materials so these inventive people could farm, fish, build canoes and structures, grow crops, prepare and serve food, fashion weapons and adornments, and create clothing, coverings, and containers.
THE SHELLS, rocks and feather work are stunning. So is an artistic exhibit on Hawaii's famous waterfowl. 
The museum involves the community in learning, enrichment projects and guest artists, offering a range of educational programs from special lectures and talks to hands-on workshops on Hawaiian skills and crafts.  A favorite exhibit of locals is "Lei Hulu" featuring traditional Hawaiian feather work, exquisitely done.  Regional exhibits also draw attention. “Sasana: The Burma Portfolio,” features images of the Burmese people and their land, showcased the work of a noted Hawaii-based photographer.
Bruce Keller looks to the horizon in front of a colorful
mural at Lyman Museum, which offers a fascinating
immersion in the complex culture of Hawaii
 
THE GALLERY spends time on their spiritual beliefs and social relationships and diplomatically studies the influences of "Agents of Change," a variety of early European explorers, whalers, traders, missionaries and people from the mainland.  All helped shape the  islands' government, land use, economy and education.

Tools are nicely displayed with commentary
on their use and how they were made.
WE ENJOY this aspect of our frequent Hawaii visits. It's an appealing "melting pot," a multi-cultural mecca.  The museum notes these important contributors: Japanese, Chinese, Filipino, Portuguese and Korean immigrants who worked the sugar plantations, contributed to an evolving language and brought new foods and music. That exotic blend shaped what Hawaiian people consider “local."
 HAWAII'S POLITICAL development is also carefully analyzed. The Monarchy's early 
The museum's many and varied exhibits include this lovely
three-dimensional display on Hawaii's waterbirds.
class-based society is explained, leading up to Hawaii's statehood in 1959.  We learned how David Kalākaua, Hawaii's last and "Merrie Monarch” -- revived hula. He loved this graceful traditional Hawaiian dance, and helped revitalize it and other waning art traditions, ushering in a "cultural renaissance" in Hawaii.
THE MUSEUM and next-door home are popular with schools and students are welcome. Our guide, Jan, noted that this is appropriate since high school boys crafted some of the furniture in the home. A highlight of the gallery is the "Kīpuka," an interactive learning space where students enjoy hands-on activities: Hawaiian kapa and tattoo design, mat plaiting, storytelling through hula, chant, petroglyphs, and oral legends. They take home their artwork -- learning  traditional techniques and an appreciation for the rich culture inspiring the artforms.
Admissions are surprisingly low -- only a few dollars, with locals getting a price break. 

www.lymanmuseum.org

The seductive charms of La Casa del Zorro await you,
a desert hotel offering a peaceful get-away with all
the amenities of a resort or big-city property. 
UP NEXT:
A retreat in the desert -- both elegant and relaxed -- awaits at La Casa del Zorro in Borrego, Springs, a beautiful hotel with all the amenities of a big city resort yet the quiet and calming surroundings of one of the world's most picturesque deserts. "La Casa" offers private casitas and a handsomely decorated hotel, bird life, walking trails, a spa, yoga classes, tennis and a fine restaurant and bar with specialties of the house and something for every taste. Then as we approach hurricane season in Hawaii, we visit a fascinating Tsunami Museum. Meanwhile, remember to explore, learn and live and catch us weekly for a fresh spin on travel, nature, family and the arts: www.whereiscookie.com
 
























UP NEXT: La Casa del Zorro is a stately yet relaxed hotel in the desert near Borrego Springs, Calif.  

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Natural History Museum is treasure trove in San Diego's Balboa Park

A patron pauses outside the San Diego Natural History Museum, where fans of nature and the natural world are treated
to a variety of exhibits which inspire to visit and appreciate nature and the diversity of the San Diego region.

 

A long extinct shark, whose teeth were found near
Oceanside, Calif., greets visitors in artful replica.

ARTFUL EXHIBITION SPACE IS A HIGHLIGHT OF A VISIT TO SAN DIEGO'S BEAUTIFUL BALBOA PARK



STORY By CHRISTENE MEYERS
PHOTOS By BRUCE KELLER

THE SAN DIEGO Natural History Museum makes for a great family outing.
A magnificent dinosaur skeleton, bears, elephants and
more await inspection, framed by colorful murals.
Affectionately nicknamed "The Nat," it's also perfect for visitors looking to get a feel for our region, for  
couples seeking an educational yet fun outing, or for a single person who wants a beautifully curated stroll for a look at life as it continues to evolve and change in southern California and the Baja California peninsula.
First, there's a remarkable Moreton Bay Fig Tree gracing the lawn in front of the museum -- planted in 1915 for the city's famous Panama-California Exhibition. Inside, visitors tilt heads upward to gaze at a realistic looking replica of an extinct megalodon shark, inspired by teeth collected from Miocene sandstones in Oceanside, California, and near Ensenada, Baja California.
Minerals are "hidden"
throughout the museum.




WE WATCHED people posing for animated selfies in the atrium there, and knew we were in for a treat by the pleased comments of visitors coming and going.
Evolution and diversity are what this well established museum is about.
Founded in 1874, the San Diego Society of Natural History is the oldest scientific institution in southern California, and the third oldest west of the Mississippi.
The name was tweaked as the building and ambitions grew and the Society grew from a small group of natural history lovers and collectors to a large museum with 8 million specimens, spectacular outreach programs, and award-winning exhibitions.
So for nearly a century and a half, the organization has delighted and educated hundreds of thousands of us.
Bruce Keller, left, with Sue and John Speight,
and Christene "Cookie" Meyers, in Balboa Park.
WE TOOK GUESTS,  a pair of history buffs from York, England.  They're natural history museum aficionados, having visited some of the great ones around the world: Vienna, Cambridge, London, Dublin, Geneva. Our San Diego treasure, they noted, is no slouch, compared to the others these world travelers have seen.
For 150 years, the organization has studied, protected, and introduced people to nature's wonders. Its museum  doesn't disappoint. Exhibits span five levels with a sparkling and clever "hidden gems" display starting in a small corner of the basement, then appearing on a corner of each floor, thus the "hidden" moniker. On up to the ground entrance floor, or Level 1, as it's called, for several learning labs about various topics including your own back yard. A wonderful movie theater shows three revolving films. We picked "Dinosaurs of Antarctica" -- thoroughly entertaining.   We followed this fascinating creature from Permian through Jurassic periods -- emerging from his south polar landscapes hundreds of millions of years ago.
The museum's open, airy expanse offers a pleasant
perspective and draws the eye upwards and around.
WATCHING AN engaging film with friends about our own planet and the creatures who struggled for survival gave us fodder for dinner conversation later in the day, as we pondered the emergence of giant mammals, fierce carnivores, gentle vegetarian giants and the scientists who work to understand the effect of the ice continent's transformation on us.
Two other films rotate -- and both won praise from viewers and fellow museum enthusiasts we met.
A grade-school teacher with her charges said "The Story of Earth" had her class spellbound. "It takes the planet from dying stars, through collisions in space into the world we know today -- with life forms unknown elsewhere in the universe."  All with beautiful special effects, she said, and dialogue that kept easily distracted kids entertained.
"Ocean Oasis" is the third film, which takes viewers on a journey through two seemingly opposite worlds -- Mexico's Sea of Cortes and the great Baja California desert.
A beautiful fig tree graces the lawn in front of the museum.
The stately tree is one of the oldest in California.
OTHER EXHIBITS include "The Living Lab," a display popular with curious youngsters and others of us who love critters.  We viewed lizards, snakes, scorpions and more; "Coast to Cactus" shows the diversity of this corner of California where a person can surf in the ocean, hike in the desert and ski on a hilltop in the same day. 
There's a wonderful dinosaur skeleton replica -- cast from bones found in Utah; 200 (count 'em!) skulls of every kind, a lovely California flowers photo display, fossils and "Cool Stuff From Storage," which shows off intriguing items from the archives. An  exhibit on Baja is coming soon.
A fascinating exhibit on amazing discoveries
by ordinary people caught Cookie's attention.
The museum is respected for its outings and video offerings: A "Virtual Live Lesson: Earth Wants You" is Friday, April 22, at 10 a.m. "Nature Hike: Pacific Crest Trail - Eagle Rock," is Sunday, April 24, at 9 a.m.; "Nat Talk: Picture a Scientist," is Thursday, April 28, at 6:30 p.m.; "City Nature Challenge" is Friday, April 29, at 3:41 p.m.; "Nature Hike: Oakoasis Preserve, Oak Grove Trail," is May 7 (check the museum for time.)
    The popular "Nat Talks"  feature museum staff and other experts speaking on the latest in scientific research, history, conservation, and the natural world.
    The museum's website is a good place to confirm times and get a wealth of information about changing exhibits and outings. Remember that residents can visit Balboa Park museums free on rotating days throughout the month. 
    sdnat.org
 
Bruce Keller admires a mural at Hilo, Hawaii's famed
Lyman Museum and Mission House, which takes
visitors on a colorful, engaging tour of the islands' history.
UP NEXT
: While we're visiting world class museums, check out this one -- even if only by "armchair travel." In Hilo, Hawaii, the Lyman Museum and Mission House takes visitors into the natural and cultural history of the Hawaiian Islands with over 20,000 square feet of stunning galleries. Affiliated with the Smithsonian, the two-part museum includes fascinating exhibits and a 19th Century Mission House. Volcanoes, wildlife, sea life, nature habitats and more await. Meanwhile remember to explore, learn and live and catch us weekly for a fresh spin on the arts: www.whereiscookie.com


Thursday, April 14, 2022

Midway marvels: historic wartime vessel engages visitors in San Diego

Interested visitors come and go on the top deck of the USS Midway.



Actor Tom Cruise in "Top Gun." Press promotion
shots were made aboard USS Enterprise, not
Midway as many people think. Cruise posed for
 photos on San Diego's waterfront where Midway
now resides and is a popular tourist attraction. 

STUNNING MIDWAY MUSEUM TELLS TALES OF WAR, HEROISM, HONOR,  VICTORY AT SEA


STORY By CHRISTENE MEYERS

PHOTOS By BRUCE KELLER



THE USS MIDWAY MUSEUM in San Diego is a unique testimony to the power of military might, brilliant design and the dedication of hundreds of people devoted to the concept of service to country. Midway Museum is both an enormous floating ship and a fascinating museum. The famous aircraft carrier -- named for the Battle of Midway -- is a carefully curated collection of more than 60 exhibits. Hospital, cafeteria, quarters, rooms where battle strategy was discussed.... you'll even have an opportunity to "chat" with the captain in an "animatronics" exhibit, in one of the museum's many interesting chambers.


Bruce Keller in the cockpit of a Midway plane.
 This one allows visitors to sit inside.

Bruce Keller, aka "Keller" and Christene "Cookie"
Meyers enjoy a day on the top deck of Midway.










We climbed aboard recently in my husband's hometown, with guests from Britain. We four had a wonderful time on this historic, fascinating "fighting machine" as we explored exhibits, walked through cabins and viewed 29 carefully restored aircraft.

THE FAMOUS Battle of Midway -- in June of 1942 of World War II -- turned the tide of war between the United States and Japan. Although Midway was
built in a record 17 months, she missed World War II by a week, commissioned on Sept. 10, 1945. So while she was not in the battle for which she is named, she played a crucial part in other actions, particularly Operation Desert Storm.

Jazzercise dancers exercise in celebration in a fundraiser
to fight breast cancer on Midway. The ship is beloved by its port.

HERE'S WHAT we learned of that:
On Jan. 17, 1991, aircraft from Carrier Air Wing 5 launched from the flight deck of Midway in a combat air campaign against Iraq, preparing the battlefield for a coalition of nations’ counter-invasion and the liberation of Kuwait. This was in response to the surprise attack and seizure of the small, oil-rich kingdom by Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s military.  
Midway's career was officially nearing the end. The rapid collapse of communism after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 rendered the Cold War moot, and the Midway -- after nearly 50 years of service -- was slated for decommissioning. But the aging carrier didn't fade away. On Oct. 2, she cast off from Yokosuka, Japan, bound for the Persian Gulf.
She arrived Nov. 1 to relieve the USS Independence to watch over oil fields. With military action likely, the Midway was joined by USS Ranger and USS Theodore Roosevelt battlegroups. Despite her age, the Midway remained the flagship for the rest of the Gulf conflict. She was decommissioned in San Diego and remained in storage in Bremerton, Washington until 2003 when she was donated to the San Diego Aircraft Carrier Museum organization. It opened as the USS Midway Museum in June 2004. Bravo, Midway.

The Midway from the sea strikes a handsome pose.
MANY GROUPS and organizations  visit Midway. Music groups are regularly scheduled to play on her top deck; a community band serenaded us with patriotic tunes and Sousa marches the day we visited. Movies are shown from time to time, including the film "Midway" and of course, "Top Gun," starring Tom Cruise. My Jazzercise group celebrated the 50th birthday of Jazzercise aboard Midway, with a thousand of us dancing to celebrate  the ship and our exercise program's fight for a cancer cure.
"The Kiss" can be seen from San
Diego's embarcadero near Midway. 
Yorkshire visitors Sue and
John Speight enjoyed a day
on San Diego's waterfront
and especially their Midway
and Star of India visits.
HIGHLIGHTS of our recent visit: a walking tour through the officers' quarters, and a contrasting look at the much smaller and more cramped enlisted men's bunks.  Our friends -- who also visited nearby Star of India with us --  took the elevator down to the galley and infirmary area and pronounced it fascinating. "We were impressed with the realistic food display and layout of the galley," said Sue Speight. Added husband John, "It's amazing how they churned out hundreds of meals for the sailors in such limited space." The two found the compact infirmary "incredibly well equipped to be able to deal with all the ailments and emergencies they encountered."
One of San Diego's most famous artworks -- "The Kiss" statue -- is very near Midway and worth a short walk to view. It's inspired by the famous WWII photo shot in Times Square of a sailor and nurse hugging in jubilation at war's end.  
More information: www.midway.org; sdmaritime.org
 

Plan to take visitors or family for an educational yet fun
outing at the San Diego Natural History Museum, a whale
of a time is guaranteed. (Here, a
 replica of an extinct  
megalodon shark which once lived here, awaits your view.)  
UP NEXT:
The San Diego Natural History Museum in the captivating city's beautiful Balboa Park, is an educational yet fun place, a wonderful family outing.  It was founded in 1874 as the San Diego Society of Natural History and is the second oldest scientific institution west of the Mississippi, the oldest in Southern California. From the life of native peoples, to vegetation, minerals and, dinosaurs, visitors will find it an interesting place to spend a few hours. Remember to explore, learn and live and catch us weekly for a fresh spin on nature, travel, the arts and more: www.whereiscookie.com

sdnat.org




Thursday, April 7, 2022

San Diego Maritime Museum offers ships, history, views, harbor tour

 

Ahoy, maties! A re-enactor tells tales of a sailor's life, impersonating explorer Juan Cabrillo, aboard San Salvador at Maritime Museum of San Diego. 

GO DOWN TO THE SEA IN SHIPS AT A WORLD CLASS CALIFORNIA MUSEUM

STORY By CHRISTENE MEYERS
Christene "Cookie" Meyers and her brother Rick Cosgriffe
aboard Pilot, which takes visitors on a fun harbor tour.

PHOTOS By BRUCE KELLER

IF  YOU WANT a taste of the sea, with the vessels which explored the world, you won't find a better place to indulge your sailor side than the San Diego Maritime Museum.
The collection of boats, on San Diego's waterfront, is a treasure trove of all things nautical.
The museum's enthusiastic volunteer force has spent thousands of hours developing a rare collection of vessels. So expansive and well curated is its collection that the facility enjoys a worldwide reputation. 
Named one of the worldwide top three maritime museums, this one needs to be on your bucket list!
Bruce Keller, lifelong sailor, and his
first mate, Christene "Cookie" Meyers,
delight in coming aboard Star of India.
Moored along the waterfront on the Embarcadero, it is one of the delights of the city. The museum sports more than a dozen boats and ships and a nicely researched and well curated array of nautical paraphernalia in a traditional indoor museum. Then outdoors, there's action and entertainment as "pirates" stroll and repairmen do their endless work.
San Diego's fine staff and volunteers are constantly restoring, maintaining and operating these historic vessels to insure that generations to come learn and enjoy.
WE'VE MADE two visits in the last month -- showing off the wonders to family from Montana and friends
from England.
Both sets of visitors were impressed with the beautifully maintained collection of historic ships, including the world’s oldest active ship, the majestic Star of India. Venturing onto some of these ships and exhibits is part of the admission, and tactually stepping inside the vessels is the best way to actually understand the important role ships played in the settling of the world -- not just California.
A handsome view of San Diego awaits in the 45-minute
tour aboard Pilot, built in 1914, after exploring the museum.


We always head first for Star of India, built in 1863. This stately ship -- aptly named -- is the oldest active merchant sailing ship in the world. The museum takes her out on fundraisers from time to time, and we enjoyed a sail on her many years ago -- fingers crossed for an encore as plans are announced.
We took our British friends aboard the Star, with its beautiful wooden decks and English-related stories from her sailing days of yore. Star of India began life during the Civil War, in November of 1863. and her first voyages took her to India where she helped supply to England badly needed jute -- cotton being unavailable from the U.S. because of the war.

 All aboard! The ferry Berkeley has many lovely
appointments, including stained glass windows, a
beautiful bar, and nicely done displays of marine history.
THE FERRY Berkeley is another treat, the first ship you'll enter after you leave the ticket booth. It's full of lore from those who spent time aboard this beautifully restored ferry, brought from the Bay Area.
Among Berkeley's surprises: a vintage upright piano, lovingly cared for and donated by a local family. 
A painter works on a wall
inside the 1898 ferry, Berkeley,
which was moved from
the Bay Area.

We enjoyed a chocolate festival aboard the gorgeous ferryboat Berkeley on one visit.  Another time, we toured the Dolphin submarine (interesting for its design but too claustrophobic for this reporter), watched repairmen working on the tall ship Star of India, and the HMS Surprise, replica of a sturdy British frigate. She has starred in several films, including one of the "Pirates of the Caribbean" series and "Master and Commander." 
 DON'T FORGET the Californian, available for an actual sailing.  Built in 1984, she is crafted in the style of the famous cutters which patrolled California's coast during the 1849 era gold rush. Going aboard her is a real sailing adventure, an additional ticket. My sailor beau, child of the sea since birth, encouraged our Californian's sail, a four-hour journey aboard the ship he's admired since it was built. I was thoroughly entertained -- as close as I'll get to "going down to the sea in ships."
Fortunately, we went "down" in the best sense of the word: out into the Pacific and safely back.
 Cookie found the submarine
claustrophobic
. Others love it.
FOR THIS reporter-sailor -- with hundreds of hours on small sailing vessels and more than 125 journeys aboard cruise ships -- a visit to San Diego's Maritime Museum feels like the real sailing deal. We highly endorse a
Bruce Keller loves to talk about sailing, and major films
shot at his hometown San Diego's fine Maritime Museum
.
day of touring this gem.  
 





BESIDES THE schooner Californian and historic Pride of India, this world class museum offers other vessels to climb aboard or sail at specific times.
 
The San Salvador is a replica of a 1542 Spanish Galleon like the
first European vessel to reach America's west coast. 

The Californian goes out on weekly, delightful sails which we've enjoyed and will be writing about again. She's a gorgeous, 145-foot long vessel and the state's official tall ship, a must-do sail for 
anyone grounded, like my partner, in maritime history and life on the water.   
Although built fairly recently, in 1984, she is designed in the style of the famous cutters which patrolled California's coast during the 1849 era gold rush. 
 If you have a sailor in the family, a pair of tickets to the museum, or a Saturday sail on the Californian would be a  wonderful gift.
More information:
www.sdmaritime.org; midway.org 


Bruce Keller and Christene "Cookie" Meyers explore
aircraft on the USS Midway Museum downtown San Diego.



UP NEXT: While we're in the neighborhood, the USS Midway Museum is right down the waterfront of San Diego. The enormous, historical naval aircraft carrier museum is also in downtown San Diego, at Navy Pier. The aircraft carrier has a proud history -- in the Gulf War and other conflicts --  and is worth a day's visit. way museum consists of the aircraft carrier Midway. The ship houses an extensive collection of aircraft, many of which were built in Southern California. It also has informative and fascinating tours, narrations, exhibits and an impressive outreach and education program which extends into the community and schools. Remember to explore, learn and live and catch us weekly for a fresh spin on travel, theater, nature, family and more: www.whereiscookie.com