California Tidbit:

Solar Tower 2

Sci Fi meets the gambling masses:

On your last few miles on I-15 heading out of California into Nevada you can’t help but miss three huge towers that look like something out of a Star Wars movie.

Instead of cranking my neck out the window like everyone else, I decided to actually pull over and snap a few shots.

Standing tall against the back drop of the desert you can only imagine how high they actually are. They give out an ominous look with the haze around the bright light source and the steam bellowing from the top.

So what are they?

They are the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System (ISEGS) in California’s Mojave Desert. Opened in 2013 the generating towers are delivering power to PG&E and Southern California Edison. The project is currently the largest solar thermal power plant in the world uses mirrors to focus the power of the sun atop receivers on the towers.

The electricity generated by all three plants is enough to serve more than 140,000 homes in California during the peak hours of the day. The Ivanpah site enjoys sunshine most of the time and is near power lines that transport the power.

This 2.2 Billion complex consists of three generating units and is located in Ivanpah which is about five miles from the California-Nevada border.

How it works is the computer generated mirrors reflect sunshine to boilers atop a 459 foot tower. The sun’s power is used to heat water in the boiler tubes and then make steam which drives the turbines to create electricity.

More projects are on the way as the government pushes for cleaner power.

So if you are taking a trip that way on I-15 near Vegas be sure and be on the lookout for them.   I really don’t think you will miss them.

Solar Tower 3 Solar tower 4


Imperial Beach

IB Pier
Imperial Beach

Looking south along the sandy beaches of Imperial Beach, California you can see the outlines of the Coronado Islands nestled offshore about 14 miles.  While gazing out at the four islands it brings to mind a tropical getaway in a foreign land.  In this case, that foreign land is not too far away as Imperial Beach sits about 3 miles from Mexico and the coast is only separated by the Tijuana river.

Coronado IslandsCornado Islamd with sun

In fact, Imperial Beach is the most southwesterly city in the continental United States and for vacationers as well as staycationers, it is not too far from the attractions in San Diego, Coronado, and of course Mexico to its south.

Nestled next to the Pacific Ocean, its expansive beaches offer swimming, surfing , bodyboarding. and of course sun bathing.  Most of the activity is situated near the 1,400 foot long fishing pier and the Portwood Pier Plaza. There you can swim and enjoy the beach with the safety of a lifeguard on duty, at least during the summer months. 

At the plaza you will find grassy and picnic areas, a tot-lot, entertainment stage, and access to the pier and beach. There are parking lots scattered about but it can get crowded in the summer and residential streets will be the only available parking.  Stay clear from the beaches right next to the river mouth as the surf can get dangerous with no lifeguard on duty as well as potential contamination.   It is best to stay closer to the pier where the water is cleaner.

Pier in distance

A known fact about Imperial Beach is that it is host to the U.S. Open Sand Castle Building Contest. This event attracts hundreds of thousands around the country as well as some of the best sand building competitors.  The weekend long celebration features a street fair, various other activities, and its main draw the expertly designed sand castles.   If you miss the event, you can still view the sculptures for a few days until Mother Nature decides to sweep the creations back out to sea.

On the flip side, an unknown fact to most people is that Imperial Beach is home to some 300 species of birds and considered one of the best birding areas in Southern California.  The world-renowned Tijuana Estuary and wetlands are part of a National Wildlife Refuge nearby.  Visit the Tijuana Estuary Visitor Center for maps of public trail systems and guided tours of the area.

There is also a bike path that runs from Imperial Beach to Coronado and provides beautiful views of southern San Diego bay and Silver Strand State Beach.

Imperial Beach gets a bad rap for a coastal town because it doesn’t have the uniqueness of a Laguna Beach, the charm of Carmel, the richness of Newport, or the newness of Huntington Beach.  It is mostly untouched and feels like old California.   Even on the city’s website they call it ‘Classic Southern California’.

At Staycationscalifornia, we love all coastal towns and will always find the positive.

As mentioned Imperial Beach is no Huntington but it doesn’t try to be. It has its own feel.

IB looking toward Tj

If  even for a day or weekend visit IB and enjoy the beach, fishing, hiking, biking, or just sit back and watch the sunset.  Also remember, even though that foreign land is not so far away, you are still safe and sound in the good ole USA.

Sunset IB

San Diego Zoo Special

  • Throughout the month of October, the San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park celebrates Kids Free presented by Mission Federal Credit Union by offering children 11 years and younger free admission.

During Kids Free, the Zoo is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and the Safari Park is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Children               under the age of 15 must be accompanied by a paid adult during their visit.

  • Every weekend throughout the month of October, Zoo and Safari Park guests can experience kid-friendly activities such as crafts and coloring and animal encounters.
  • Guests can watch as special items such as pumpkins or gourds are given to some animals as tasty enrichment treats. These special treats are offered on Saturdays and Sundays during Kids Free at both the Zoo and Safari Park

San Clemente Seafest

San Clemente Seafest

Take Metrolink to Seafest

Say goodbye to summer and hello to fall at Seafest, a day-long festival packed with fun, food and sea-related activities. On Sunday, October 5, Seafest celebrates its 27th year with a surfing contest, art and craft exhibit, U.S. Coast Guard Search & Rescue demonstration and its signature chowder cook-off.

Held in beautiful seaside San Clemente, Seafest is best reached by a convenient Metrolink train. The San Clemente Pier Metrolink Station is right next to the event.

Seafest Schedule
Sunday, October 5   9:30 a.m. – 3 p.m.