Tag Archives: San Diego Activities

Taxidermy With Dr. Seuss

Seuss header

San Diego is a hotbed of Dr. Seuss-iness, which is not surprising as he lived here from 1947 until his death in 1991.  Mandeville Special Collections in UCSD’s Geisel Library is filled with his notes and original artwork, and there is a bronze statue of him sitting at a drawing desk outside the library named after him.  UCSD also celebrates Dr. Seuss’ (Theodor Geisel’s) birthday in the beginning of March each year, and gives away thousands of pieces of free cake.  See my post You Had Me At Free Cake for a description of this whimsical event.

There is another, temporary Seuss-fest in San Diego, at the San Diego History Center in Balboa Park.  They currently are showing an exhibit of his artwork including sculptures, paintings, and drawings, which runs until December 2015 (Ingenious! The World of Dr. Seuss).

Sam and Trevor had a half day a few Wednesdays ago, so we headed to Balboa Park, our Explorer Passes in hand.  Explorer Passes give you admission to all of the museums in the park (but not the Zoo), so we had a lively debate (as usual) trying to figure out where to go.  Trevor reminded me of the Seuss exhibit, which ended the discussion.  Off we went!

From the lobby there is a view of a vibrant yellow wall, which is hung with fanciful taxidermy specimens.  Taxidermy as only Dr. Seuss could conceive of it!

Taxidermy with Seuss.2

Here is an old photo of Dr. Seuss under one of the taxidermy heads that hung in his home, holding a little dog.  Is it just me, or is this juxtaposition a tad creepy?

Dr. Seuss with dog

Speaking of Dr. Seuss’ home, one of the first things you see in the gallery is a huge photo of him sitting at his work table.  His home sits on top of Mt. Soledad in La Jolla, and offers views up and down the coastline.  As a creative person, I can only imagine how cool it would be to do your work with that view outside your giant windows.  Sublime.

Dr. Seuss at desk

The gallery was filled with paintings by Dr. Seuss.  Below are a series of cats.  From the left, “Cat From the Wrong Side of the Tracks”, “Wisdom of the Oriental Cat”, “Joseph Cat and His Coat of Many Colors, and “Green Cat with Lights”.

Different Seuss Cats

The colors were so vibrant.  On the left below are “Free Bird” and “Fire Bird”.  I didn’t get the title of the one on the right.   So I’m going to make one up.  How about “Little Red House in a Big Big Universe.”

Colorful Seuss paintings

Self portraits by Dr. Seuss.  He forgot to put on his happy face.

Self portraits

Sometimes the exhibit strayed into more adult themes, like the “Facts of Life” on the right.  The one to the left is Dr. Seuss’ version of “Abduction of the Sabine Women”, which depicts Roman men abducting neighboring Sabine women to help populate their new city.  Hard to imagine a children’s book based on that theme.  It would be enough to give Cindy Lou Hoo nightmares!

Facts of Life.Sabine

This one is “After Dark in the Park”.  Who knew the little animals were so happy?  I wonder what’s in their water…

Park after Dark

There were also amazing sculptures, including, of course, the Lorax.  It inspired Sam to get all “Hand of God”.

The Lorax

Bitter Teen Trevor found his soul mate, Mr. Grinch.  And Horton is hearing a Who.


Had to get a photo of Sam I Am with some green eggs and ham.

Sam I Am

WHEW!!!  What a great exhibit.  Though they started out chipper as chipmunks, the boys found it a bit exhausting.  Fortunately there were giant poof pillows, upon which they sank gracefully down.

Before and after

If you live in San Diego or come to visit, this exhibit is up in next December.  If you would like more info on Dr. Seuss, there is a nice article from 2004 in UCSD Magazine, where the author visits Dr. Seuss’ house and interviews his widow Audrey (Oh the Places He Did Go).

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Filed under Arts/Crafts/Photography, Family

Tadpoles in the Water, Animal Tracks in the Mud

Mission Trails header(Click on photos to get a better look)

On a hot July day I took my son Sam and his friend JD out to Mission Trails Regional Park.  The Visitor’s Center (on the right in picture above), is a 10 minute drive from our house.  We stopped in to ask about the recent fire (you can see the burn area midway between the Visitor’s Center and the break in the hills), that began here and went up over the hills to the right, and to look around.  The canyon behind where we live is on the western edge of the park, and living so near such a beautiful natural resource is one of the things we love best about our house.

It was a bit hot for hiking, but we did see some great stuff as we poked around the park. We saw live animals like tadpoles, and evidence of many animals like raccoons in tracks in the mud.  We also saw the effect of the drought on the park, as the large pond and running stream near the dam has dried up into a few small ponds.  Check out our photos and read about our adventures below…

Sam and JD on the deck at the Visitor's Center, the beautiful view behind them.

Sam and JD on the deck at the Visitor’s Center, the beautiful view behind them.  On the upper left you can see the area that burned in the recent fire.

Sam and JD in the amphitheater by the Visitor's Center, hanging out with a mountain lion and a wood rat.

The boys in the amphitheater next to the Visitor’s Center.  They are making friends with a mountain lion and a cute little wood rat.

Sam and JD in the amphitheater by the Visitor's Center, hanging out with a mountain lion and a wood rat.

A close up of the area of the burn. We happened to see the arson investigation team working at the site when we arrived.

We are in the middle of a drought in San Diego, the effects of which were very apparent.  I found pictures from 2010, when Sam was on a school field trip.  Back then the dam actually had water flowing over it.  Sam is standing in that area in the middle photo.  There were several small ponds, one a very attractive orange color.

We are in the middle of a drought in San Diego, the effects of which were very apparent. I found pictures from 2010, when Sam was on a school field trip. Back then the dam actually had water flowing over it. Sam is standing in that area in the middle photo. There were only several small pools of water left, one a very attractive orange color.


One really fascinating thing about the receding water is that there were loads of tracks in the mud.  The upper tracks are raccoon hands.  They look like little fairy hand prints.


I think the print on the upper left is a big cat.  Cats keep their claws retracted, so you don’t see claw prints in their tracks.  Or else it just a dog with fat paw pads and small claws!  Lots of bird prints too…


The little pools were full of life.  You can see snail and fish in the green pond, and the little black blobs in the orange pond are tadpoles.  They will probably turn out out to be radioactive, flesh-eating killer frogs, after having grown up in that orange water, so take care in a few months if you are down by the dam!  On the lower left is a wood rat nest, and a lizard on a rock is on the lower right.


The big pond on the other side of the dam wall.  It looked almost like a planned Zen garden.  A nice note to end on.  If you get a chance, take a trip to Mission Trails and check it out.  Just maybe not at noon on a hot July day.  We had to head to Dairy Queen afterward for ice cream cones to recover!


Filed under Family, Gardens/Plants/Nature

Scripps Institution of Oceanography Pier Walk

We took the kids to a program offered by the Birch Aquarium at the SIO pier in La Jolla, which is normally closed to the public.  It is a working research pier used by scientists at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography (part of USCD).  The program started with a tour of the campus (the new Forum building was beautiful, we want to go back there for lunch), and then we got to head out onto the pier.  There were several stations set up at the end of the pier with different activities for the kids and adults to try.  They tried to collect plankton with a plankton net (but the only thing they found was a fish egg), there was a table set up with various shark displays, another table housed the squid dissection, and finally there were several tubs of mussels and rocks they had collected from the sea floor, that Sam in particular spent a lot of time sifting through searching for creatures.

We had a great time, and I particularly enjoyed being out on the pier, looking at the view back toward the coast.  The program started at 7:00,  and we left around 8:30 (it got cold!), and the lights sparkling on the water were lovely after dark.

As a special treat we were given sealed plastic baggies filled with bioluminescent plankton (dinoflagellates) that glow blue and green when you shake the baggie, called a Bioglow Kit.  They should live for several months if we care for them properly (indirect sun to feed them, no extreme temperatures).  The idea for the kits came from marine biologist Michael Latz of the Marine Bioluminescence Lab at SIO.

The Birch Aquarium offers this program throughout the year, it is called the Full Moon Pier Walk (the next is August 30th).  We had clouds on our night, so I think we will have to try it again sometime!  And I would recommend it if you are looking for a very San Diego outing for adults or kids with an interest in marine science.  Check out Emma’s and Sam’s blogs for their posts on our outing.

This is the view from the near end of the SIO Pier

Sam dancing for the SIO pier cam.

A research building on the end of the pier

Squid dissection table.

The view from the pier as we were leaving.

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Filed under Family, Science