Downtown Vista: The Art

Before I share Vista's amazing art I have to mention OZs. All across America, designated Opportunity Zones have become a critical tool in the future development and revitalization of cities. These zones give both individuals and corporations the chance to re-invest existing capital gains into Qualified Opportunity Zone Funds in order to receive tax breaks for helping fund investment in impoverished areas. According to the The Rockefeller Foundation, OZs “have the potential to become the largest community development program in our nation’s history.”

One of Southern California’s Opportunity Zones is located within Downtown Vista - home to a vibrant and diverse community of people and businesses. Downtown, which the City has been revitalizing, includes a rich arts history and has been transformed into a walkable community filled with retail, restaurants, breweries, and businesses, including a creative co-working space.  Vista is one of about 30 designated OZs in San Diego County and 8,700 across the US. California has the most designated OZs with 879.
With that said, let's talk ART. WOW. The outdoor art is identified by categories: Kites over Vista, Murals, Sculptures and Vista in Bloom. A large number of pieces were created by the husband and wife team known as Randall Art Ranch. For the art that isn't theirs, I will acknowledge the talent.
Dark Ship by Norberto Estrada
We didn't just gaze upward, even the sidewalk held artistic treasures. Fun.
Bloom in Time by Thomas & Sylvia King
Alley Art Woman
Time Machine was one of my favorites. Its complexity was so impressive and it includes a time capsule in which individuals placed items during the Alley Art Festival in 2017.
I am not sure who created this homage to Vista's Annual Strawberry Festival but I liked it. 
Love Locks is my absolute favorite (yes, one can have a favorite).

What I love about this piece is the fact that it is ever changing based on the locks that are added to it. Oh boy, what wonderful locks. I could do an entire post, just on the various locks.

From Randall Art Ranch's website, "We are a husband and wife team of Visionary Artists. ...We work at not listening to others traditions , but listen to that small, soft voice within ourselves to get our inspiration. We believe that there is great power in not knowing what will or will not work when exploring the creative process. We work to adhere to the importance of not being immersed in rule based systems which tend to cloud one's vision and stifle one's imagination. We strive to make our artwork reflect who we are and what we want to say. We want our work to be as unique and individual as we are."
And this was probably my favorite mural. Lilac Cat by Sarah Prinks & friends is huge and colorful and so fun. I couldn't even fit the namesake cat in the photo! 
My Vista connection, Karen, told me about this special tree, and as we explored, we discovered it.
"A Wishing Tree has sprung up in downtown Vista as place for the community to hang their wishes, intentions, and hopes for the future."
The wishes were poignant, emotional and right on.
This one Steve found and it made us laugh. The wish is that "2021 is not a dumpster fire"! [Dumpster fire (noun) a chaotic or disastrously mishandled situation]
Even Mother Nature shared some of her artistic talents.
Kim Maria Cruz's mural, Long Live Vista! - ¡Viva Vista! was a perfect conclusion to our artwork tour. We barely touched the surface of all this town has to offer. It truly is an Opportunity Zone we plan to visit again soon.

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Exploring Vista in Two Parts: 1. History

Just 24.6 miles from our house is the quaint town of Vista, California. We have been there several times and were told to come for the art. That will come in Part 2. I feel a history lesson must come first.

I absolutely love historic roads, through historic towns. It wasn’t that long ago you could hop on U.S. Highway 395 (commissioned in 1926) where it met U.S. 101 (near what is today the University of San Diego) and drive all the way to Canada without changing roads. That ended in 1963 when construction began on Interstate 15. But the stretches that remain are roads to wonders.
Like many areas in Southern California, this was the ancestral land of Native Americans. In the 1500s, the Spanish arrived but it wasn't until 1798, when San Luis Rey Mission was established, that the area changed completely. What is now Vista was used mostly for grazing land.

The age of the Missions lasted until the independence of Mexico from Spain, the secularization of the Missions and the subsequent granting of land ownership by the Mexican Government to a variety of residents, starting about 1835. This became the time of the Ranchos. Eventually the ranchos sold and were developed into the progress we see today.
Much of Vista's history is told in the art of its murals. This one made us ask, "Who is the Delphy family?" The first very successful agricultural enterprise was the Buena Vista Winery, founded by the Delpys in 187. The winery lasted until 1920, when it was a victim of Prohibition. The land was then used for avocados, citrus and other crops. The lack of water slowed area development. The winery and what became downtown had access to adequate well water, but most of the area had none. More about the water issue/solution below.
After the post office was established (1882) and the train came to town (1892), the next major event was the subdivision of downtown into town lots and the opening of two buildings, the Vista Inn and the train depot. These actions in 1913 set the location of downtown permanently and began a major development of the area.

In 1927, Washington D.C. gave permission to open a bank in Vista. On February 21, 1928, The First National Bank of Vista (according to reports of the day) "opened Saturday with an all-day and evening reception during which hundreds inspected the new banking rooms, complete with the first electric elevator in North County...The bank starts with a capital stock of $25,000."
In 1966, and again in 1981, the bank changed names. By the mid-80s, any form of banking moved out and the building was sold. A variety of occupants have hung their business name above the door ever since.
In 1927, a large fire at the Vista Irrigation District office created a need to develop a fire department. Residents organized the first Vista Volunteer Fire Department with 14 volunteers.  This mural, depicts the event, in 1928, when the volunteers bought a 1911 Seagrave fire truck from Orange County, which was funded by $511.44 in donations and profits from a fireman’s ball.
I was drawn to this mural which pays tribute to the silent film star, Margarita Fischer (Pollard), who owned a residence in Vista known as the Rancho Buena Vista Adobe (on our list of must sees). She and her husband, Harry Pollard, an MGM producer, owned the Adobe from 1931 to 1951.
The Avo Theatre (1948), a quonset hut-style theater, was designed by S. Charles Lee. Mr. Lee (1899 - 1990) was an American architect recognized as one of the most prolific and distinguished motion picture theater designers on the West Coast.

The avocado-shaped lobby and the theatre's name, pay homage to Vista's most famous crop: the avocado. Although the exterior and lobby area still exist as first built, the auditorium has been stripped of any decoration it may have had. I can only imagine its opulence.
This building (circa 1950) harkens back to a post-war time that I would have loved to see.
The Old Town has held onto this mid-century feel and demands a longer explore soon.
Knowing that the Vista Historical Society was closed due to COVID, we went to its headquarters anyway and learned the story of Nick Huntalas.
Nick came to this country from Greece in 1902. He settled in Bakersfield working for the railroad as a construction foreman. In about 1911, he and several other Greek railroad workers founded the Greek American Land Co (two years later he would own it outright). They bought several hundred acres of land in the Vista area including the site of his ranch.
In 1916, he decided to go back to Greece to find a wife. Instead, he was introduced to a Greek immigrant girl by a cousin in New Jersey. They were married three days later. They settled on the ranch in 1918, naming it Rancho Minerva. When water came to Vista for irrigation with the formation of the Vista Irrigation District in 1923, and the completion of the infrastructure in 1926, the Huntalases planted citrus and avocado groves. They were very successful.
In 1933, they hired Mr. Deardorf (one of the original 14 volunteer firemen) to build them a home. He had patented a method of building adobe walls and used that method to construct this long lasting house. The couple lived there until they died, Nick in 1980, his wife, Bessie, in 1992. The two surviving children decided to subdivide the property, but instead the Vista Unified School District took the site by eminent domain in anticipation of a future middle school. The district rented the house to tenants until construction began in 2005; the school opened in 2007. The City acquired the house in 2008, and the historical society located there a year later.
We had no idea this rancho was here, or the history it held. The entire City of Vista intrigues. Wait until you see more of its artistic side tomorrow.

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I am a Stationery Addict...

 If I needed any proof that the above statement is true, I found it through this awesome Buzzfeed article.

According to the article, Only A Stationery Addict Will Own 22/35 Of These Things, I am full-on addicted. "You checked 24 out of 35 on this list! You're a stationery addict! Growing up, you probably enjoyed going to buy back-to-school supplies, and your love of stationery hasn't changed since! You have very particular preferences on things like pens and wide ruled vs. narrow ruled, and have stacks of notebooks and planners."

This could not be more true! I even shopped, as a child, at the paper-by-the-pound store. So right on!

This is my office... my creating space.
"Here's the list (if you do it online, they will give you the tally and your addict status): A yearly planner. A second yearly planner you bought after changing your mind about the first planner. A lined notebook. An empty notebook you think is too nice to use. A notebook with dotted pages to do bullet journalling. A few pens you don’t mind losing that you give when someone asks if you’ll lend them a pen. A fountain pen. A ballpoint pen. A ~fancy~ ballpoint pen. Washi tape. A washi tape dispenser. A hole punch. A stapler. A desk tidy (obviously not one I checked as you look at my desk below). Sticky notes. A pencil case. Colored fineliner pens. Regular fineliner pens. Highlighters. Pastel highlighters. A weekly desk planner. A desk calendar. Those lil' cute erasers that are actually too nice to ruin. Regular erasers you don't mind ruining. A permanent marker. A pen pot. Index cards. A ruler. Bulldog clips. Stickers. A ring binder. Felt-tip pens. Rubber stamps. Notecards. A letter-writing set, even if you never write letters." What's your score? Fun stuff, right?

"Creative people don't have a mess,
They have ideas lying around everywhere!"

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Scenes of our Simple Morning

 I just had to share a couple of photos from the start of our day, yesterday.

We are early risers and were rewarded by a beautifully painted morning sky.
We were also visited by a sweet little bird whose presence seemed to have no impact on Shadow, our neighborhood cat.
One of my favorite morning visions is a hot air balloon floating overhead. Today, there were several though this one resembled Mickey Mouse's sorcerer's hat and anything that reminds me of Disneyland makes me happy.
And if all those things weren't enough, the blue skies arrived, mottled with white billowy clouds... these are just a few of our favorite morning treats which make getting up early so very worth it.

"I don’t need to drink coffee to be awesome.
I’m already awesome.
But it’s more fun when I’m awesome and awake."

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Two Different Beach Towns...

Today's outing took us to not one but two seaside towns: Encinitas and Carlsbad, both exciting in their own way and so worth sharing.

Encinitas, which means little oaks in Spanish, was established in 1881. One day we will return for a more through explore, for today we're looking at this quaint city's more recent history.
We have driven past this unique place and have never stopped. Wouldn't you know that the one time we wanted to visit, it's closed due to COVID?
According to the Self-Realization Fellowship website, "Born in India in 1893, Paramahansa Yogananda has come to be recognized as one of the preeminent spiritual figures of our time. Through his universal teachings and the example of his life, he contributed in far-reaching ways to an acceptance and understanding in the West of the spiritual wisdom of India."
Shortly after Paramahansa Yogananda received the gift of the Encinitas Hermitage from one of his closest disciples, he began plans for the construction of the Golden Lotus Temple, which he dedicated on January 2, 1938. The temple was designed by Paramahansa himself with the intention of revealing as much as possible the panorama of nature’s beauty. Magnificent views of sea and sky were afforded by the four-story glass observation tower and immense windows overlooking the Pacific Ocean, which was visible directly behind the low altar. During the next four years, thousands attended the Thursday and Sunday services conducted by the Guru at this site (in the present-day Meditation Gardens).


In 1942, the erosion of the shoreline caused the Golden Lotus Temple to become unstable, and it subsequently had to be removed. Through the ensuing decades SRF services have been held at various locations in Encinitas. A wander around town revealed many of them, all unique and all worth discovering.
Oh and Encinitas is a surf town! Its influence is found throughout.
We had to head next to Swami’s (a first for us), the name ascribed to the popular surf break at the southernmost end of town, below the bluffs where the golden-spired Self-Realization Center resides. A great surf break, this spot is highly coveted by local surfers. If you’re a surfing worshipper this is definitely the place to paddle out and join the line.


After ogling surfers, we strolled through some of the old neighborhoods. Many of the homes remain untouched and look as they did almost 100 years ago.
We were super excited to see O.U. Miracle had worked his concrete magic here as well as in Oceanside.
Steve and I have admired these homes several times. Located on a quiet street of quaint beach houses and mismatched cottages, this incongruous sight of two seemingly enormous boats always surprises. Interestingly, they have never been to sea. Despite their 19 portholes, mariner’s wheels and quirky starboard list, the SS Encinitas and SS Moonlight have only ever been homes for landlubbers. They were built by architect Miles Kellogg in 1928 using timber salvaged from the local bathhouse and a hotel that failed to survive Prohibition’s dry years, the 1888 Moonlight Beach Dance Parlor. I am always delighted by these 90+ year old beauties. Cool right?
Our final stop, just north of Encinitas was in the town of Carlsbad.
Carlsbad is the home of one of our favorite new places- Cerezo Bluffs Tide Pools.
As we waited for the tide to get to its lowest, we explored a bit of the scenic cliffs which dramatically line the coast.

A surprise find was this Cormorant nesting. It has been a day of new discoveries. 
Look at how close the pelicans flew above the boarder. WOW.

This egret had no fear of Steve. The tide was out and he was on the hunt for treasures from the sea. So cool!

Turban snails continue to awe and delight when found.
Exploring tide pools really is a treasure hunt. One really never know what one will find.

Can you see why we love it so?
“The sea is emotion incarnate. It loves, hates, and weeps. 
It defies all attempts to capture it with words and rejects all shackles.
No matter what you say about it, there is always that which you can't.”
― Christopher Paolini, Eragon

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