San Diego

As far south and west as I’m going on this continent. I’m in San Diego for a good number of days, and my new best friend is the public transit system. We’re spending lots of time together!

The 921A bus had a great squeak that turned into a two-tone groove every time it slammed over small cracks in the road. Public transit drum and bass and squeak.

The Old Town of San Diego has been wonderfully preserved and made into a tourist attraction depicting life in the original settlement in the mid 1800’s. There are historical people walking around in costume doing historical things, and of course, there are lots of stores. In one store the ceiling was covered in wind chimes. The next two tracks are of me wandering around the store, making the chimes ring. The store was open to the air, and the wind helped a bit as well. The first is of wooden chimes.

This one is metal chimes.

A black smith was making tongs, and in the track she is hammering her piece of metal, brushing it with a steel brush, placing it back in the coals, then talking to other tourists to arrive to watch. In the second track she works the huge bellows at my request. (no photo of bellows- they are approx. 8 feel long, 6 feet wide and expand to 6 feet tall)

Here is a test for you!!! Are the bells ringing from the bell tower (in the picture above) in this track REAL or are they a RECORDING?? Listen, then click here to find out.

At the Railroad Museum, there were hundreds of feet of miniature train tracks and trains were toying their way over the fake hills and through the little towns. Real men frowning in striped conductors’ caps wandered around the sets pushing buttons and muttering to each other. All were older men, who had probably been playing with toy trains since they were boys and the trains were still steaming. One told me that some are fitted with authentic recordings of the trains’ actual whistles, and played them for me on their little speakers.

America excels at military museums. On the San Diego waterfront there are all sorts of vessels moored that have been turned into museums. Tall masted sailing ships, a riverboat, and even two submarines. Inside one of the sailing ships, which had a metal hull, and a submarine, there were tick-clicking sounds coming from the sides of the vessels. My best guess was the waves lapping against the hulls.

The wharfs are full of squeaking and creaking. In the track below, the huge floats are nudging up to the docks, and some of the wooden pilings have come loose and rock gently in the water.

The USS Midway is also a tourist museum, and it still blows it’s whistle on the hour.

On another floating museum, the Star of India, a group of school kids are ‘hired’ on as sailors and in the track below they are getting their orders from the Captain.

The ‘sailors’ try their hand at raising the sails.

I’m staying in the suburbs, and here is a clip from what the backyard sounded like. At first, the birds are chirping beautifully, then the neighbor starts drumming (double bass drum pedal – awesome, dude – I’m learning to speak Californian), then the plane goes overhead. Planes going overhead at extremely low altitudes were definitely the soundmark of San Diego; the airport is basically within the downtown and they were landing or taking off every 2 minutes or so.

Balboa Park is the pavilion of the 1915 Expo, and all the buildings have been transformed into museums, art galleries, little stores, gardens, and of course, the San Diego Zoo. I didn’t go to the zoo, but while in the botanical gardens, I saw the photo above and could hear the sea lions yelping in the zoo next door.

Balboa also has an outdoor organ that puts on weekly concerts, which I thought was quite a brilliant idea. The organ and pipes are hidden behind the large door in the photo above. While I was there, I heard an organist practicing Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor, and his interpretation is interesting. If you listen to the very end of this track, the final bass notes will make your speakers rattle off the desk. You can also hear traffic, trees, and voices – not something normally heard with an organ!