NatGeo’s 9 Best Fall Escape Trips in the U.S.


 Take to the Skies at the Albuquerque, New Mexico International Balloon Fiesta 

WHY GO: Take in the gorgeous New Mexico landscape and delicious New Mexican cuisine while enjoying the spectacle of the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, which takes places every year in October.

WHAT TO EAT: Get the red chile pork ribs at El Pinto. For a classic chile relleno, visit Mary and Tito’s Café.

PRACTICAL TIP: Most New Mexican restaurants will ask whether you want red or green, for which kind of chili you want. To get both, just say Christmas.

FUN FACT: The Albuquerque balloon festival is the largest hot-air balloon festival on Earth.


read about more places to go, see all 9  fall vacations to experience in 2016 –>


Brighten Your Home With A Few Levitating Bonsai

Levitating Bonsai, Smithsonian

A workshop in Japan created tiny Bonsai plants that float with the help of magnets

Every so often, the advances by scientists and engineers come together in a enchanting way. That’s the joy behind these floating miniature bonsai plants, now something you can actually purchase from a new Kickstarter campaign: Hoshinchu Air Bonsai Garden

The Japanese workshop, or atelier, is based on the country’s southern island of Kyushu. The floating plants grow out of a ball of moss, which the workshop calls a “little star.” In Japanese, the moss-wrapped ball of soil used to nurture a plant is called a kokedama or Air Bonsai and is apparently a new craze, which opens up many new possibilities for creative gardeners. 

How does it work? Magnets, of course. The “little star” has an embedded magnet that enable it to float two centimeters above the base, which in turn carries its own magnet, powered by an AC adapter. 

The basic kit includes an elegant, simple base and a fabric cushion in addition to the “little star” moss ball. Hand-crafted porcelain bases come at a higher price. Since live plants run into exportation issues, the sets that will be sent out of the country cannot include Japan-grown bonsai. The workshop is partnering with plant growers in the states to supply locally-sourced pine trees, Emily Reynolds reports for

Though seemingly magic, these little floating plants aren’t without their challenges, points out James Vincent at The Verge. Watering will be a challenge (the creators recommend removing the plant from its mid-air perch for the operation) and the magnetic base needs to be plugged in to work.

Of course, the real challenge with these alluring displays will be keeping the plant alive. Bonsai plants are notoriously tricky to grow, requiring precise application of techniques like pruning, wiring, defoliation and grafting.

The Kickstarter campaign ends on March 1, but already they’ve gathered more than $200,000 in pledges, beating their $80,000 goal by a landslide. These floating little plants may may be the next craze to hit the gardening industry.​

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What Is Wind?

Sailboat Wind, Smithsonian
Whether arriving on a gentle breeze or a stiff gale, air moves like water responding to high and low pressures around the Earth.
Wind is an ever-present force. From a gentle breeze to a cold arctic blast, it is constantly shaping the landscape and the weather. But where does wind come from?

Simply put, wind is the motion of the air around us, generated by differences in pressure in the Earth’s atmosphere. Air is a fluid, and just like water, it obeys the laws of fluid dynamics. It will seek to flow from a region of higher pressure to one of lower pressure, says Chris Maier, a meteorologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Weather Service.

Earth’s air-filled atmosphere is constantly but unevenly pressurized, with highs and lows at various places caused by the uneven heating of Earth’s surface by the sun. The air at the North or South Pole is colder and denser, while the air at the Equator is warmer and rises more easily. The colder, more highly pressurized polar air is constantly trying to move down to the Equator to replace the warm, rising air.

That creates Earth’s overall global circulation, says Maier. There are wind belts that circle the planet along latitudinal lines, each having particular characteristics and creating specific weather patterns.

One of those bands is the Intertropical Convergence Zone near the Equator, where the trade winds meet. Sailors named the trade winds, navigating by them because of their fairly dependable behavior.

In the Northern Hemisphere, the trade winds are created

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Sept. 25 – Nov. 1, The Haunted Hotel   Spine tingling, heart pounding effects that are so real they will keep you screaming for your life as you try to find your way out. Time/Place: See website for schedule. / 424 Market, San Diego Contact: (619) 231-0131 /

Sept. 25 – Nov. 1, The Haunted Trail   Enter the mile long Trail through the twisted grove of pines and gnarled oaks. Visitors watch your back! Time/Place: See website for schedule. / Balboa Park Contact: (619) 231-0131 /

Sept. 25 – Nov. 1, The Scream Zone   A year-to-year favorite is the House of Horror, along with our newest attraction known as KarnEvil, and the Haunted Hayride. Time/Place: See website for schedule. / Del Mar Fairgrounds Contact: (858) 755-1161 /

Sept. 30 – Oct. 4, San Diego Film Festival  Independent films, filmmakers, actors, panels and parties. Produced by the nonprofit San Diego Film Foundation. Time/Place: See website for schedule. / Reading Cinemas, Gaslamp Quarter &  ArcLight Cinemas, La Jolla Contact: (619) 818-2221 /

Oct. 1, An Outside Perspective: The Impossible Railroad  An Outside Perspective invites visitors to explore issues emerging from the exhibitions on view. Learn about the history of the rail industry in San Diego and its relationship to the 1915 Panama-California Exposition. / Time: 6:00 PM to 7:30 PM / Price: Members – Free  |  Students and seniors – $8  |  Nonmembers – $10 / Location: 1001 Kettner Blvd at Broadway, SD, CA 92101 / For more info.: visit

Oct. 2 – 31, Boomont Park Fall Festival and Haunt  Boomont Park is back with even more family-friendly Halloween festivities and fun during this month-long event! / Time: 11:00 AM to 10:00 PM / Price: Entry to Festival – Free Rides and Some Activities / Location: 3146 Mission Blvd., San Diego, CA 92109 / For more info. call 858.228.9283 or visit

Oct. 2 – 3, La Mesa Oktoberfest  A tradition for our community is the annual Oktoberfest. This activity brings visitors and vendors from all over the region to La Mesa for a weekend dedicated to family, friends, great food and entertainment. / Time: 12:00 PM to 10:00 PM / Price: Free / Location: Spring Street and La Mesa Boulevard / For more info.: visit

Oct. 2 – 4, MCAS Miramar Air Show  Welcome to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, home of the 3d Marine Aircraft Wing and the largest military air show in the nation. The theme for the 2015 MCAS Miramar Air Show, which runs October 2-4 2015 is “A Salute to Veterans and Their Families.” We take great pride in the men and women who fight our country’s battles and the families who support them. / Time: see website / Price: Free, preferred seating – $30-$300 / Location: Marine Corps Air Station Miramar / For more info. visit

Oct. 2 – 25, Rise of the Jack O’ Lanterns  Lighting up the night this October at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park in Escondido is the most unique and iconic family-friendly fall event, RISE of the Jack O’Lanterns! See more than 5,000 hand-carved illuminated Jack O’ Lanterns created by professional artists and sculptors arranged in creative ways along a 1/3-mile scenic walking trail all set to an original music score produced exclusively for The RISE! / Time: call or visit website / Price: $22-$30 / Location: 15500 San Pasqual Valley Rd. Escondido / For more info.: visit

Oct. 2 – 11, Oktoberfest in El Cajon  Come and enjoy authentic German food, such as bratwurst, ox-on-the-spit, potato salad, potato pancakes, sauerkraut, red cabbage and a variety of German pastries. We offer a great selection of German beers and liquors, and soft drinks and water, to enjoy with your friends and family! / Time: 12:00 PM to 10:00 PM / Price: Adults – $5, Under 21 & Active Military – Free / Location: 1017 South Mollison Avenue, El Cajon / For more info. call 619-442-6637 or

Oct. 3, Pacific BeachFest  Visitors and residents of San Diego are welcome to “Discover the Action” this year at the annual Pacific BeachFest. This one-day event is perfect for visitors looking to enjoy all that San Diego beaches have to offer. / Time: 11:00 AM to 6:00 PM / Price: Free / Location: Pacific Beach Boardwalk between Diamond Street and Thomas Street, San Diego, CA 92109 / For more info.: call 858.273.3303 or visit

Oct. 3, Wienerschnitzel Wiener Nationals  The 19th annual Wienerschnitzel Wiener Nationals kicks off in San Diego at Qualcomm Stadium. The top sixteen dogs from the qualifying round will advance to the San Diego final at the Del Mar Race Track. The top dogs from San Diego will advance to the championship at the Port of San Diego Holiday Bowl Balloon Parade. / Time: 8:00 AM to 12:00 PM / Price: $10 for participating dachshunds. Free for humans and non-racing dogs. / Location:  Qualcomm Stadium Rugby Fields / For more info. call 619.283.5808 or visit

Oct. 3, Carlsbad Oktoberfest  Be a part of this Carlsbad premier tradition with several hundred of your closest friends, family and neighbors for a day of great food, awesome music, and festive fun. / Time: 12:00 PM to 10:00 PM / Price: Children – Free / Adult In Advance – $12 / Adult Day of – $15 / Location: Chestnut Avenue and Pio Pico Drive, Carlsbad / For more info.: visit

Oct. 3, Planting Hope Gala   Cocktail reception, three-course dinner, live music, inspiring stories of restoration, and an opportunity to support the life-changing work of Plant With Purpose. Time/Place: 5:30pm / Omni La Costa Resort & Spa: 2100 Costa Del Mar Road, Carlsbad   Contact: (800) 633-5319 /

Oct. 3 – 30, LegoLand Brick-or-Treat Party Nights  Brick-or-Treat Party Nights is back and better than ever! It’s a one-of-a-kind party every Saturday Night in October, PLUS Friday, October 30 from 5:00 to 9:00 PM. / Time: 5:00 PM to 9:00 PM / Price: $70-$90 Evening Only – $35-$45 / Location: One LEGOLAND Dr., Carlsbad, CA 92008 / For more info. visit

Oct. 5, San Diego Music Awards   Presents awards recognizing many different genres of music. Time/Place: 7pm / Humphreys Concerts by the Bay: 2241 Shelter Island Drive, San Diego Contact:

Oct. 7-18, Del Mar International Horse Show   The world-class competition attracts an elite field of internationally recognized horses and riders. Time/Place: See website for schedule. / Del Mar Fairgrounds   Contact: (858) 755-1161 /

Oct. 9 – 11, Without Walls Festival 2015  This year’s event boasts numerous collaborations with renowned San Diego theatre and dance companies, along with several national and international artists. / Date:  2015 / Time: 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM / Price: visit website / Location: 2910 La Jolla Village Dr., La Jolla, CA 92037 / For more info.: Call 858.550.1075 visit

Oct. 10, Julian Cider Run  BBQ lunch, cider samples, apple pie, music & games at a private home with a beautiful view in Julian. All motorcycles & other forms of transportation welcome.   Time/Place: 9:30am / Address given upon RSVP Contact: (619) 296-2135 /

Oct. 10, Fall Festival for Families   A great chance to get your kids outdoors to discover their environment, enjoy nature and share art and music. Time/Place: 10am-3pm / Alta Vista Gardens: 1270 Vale Terrace, Vista Contact:

Oct. 10, Carnival 4 Canines & Friends   A community event for the whole family with the focus on responsible pet ownership. Time/Place: 10am-2pm / Lake Jennings Park: 9535 Harritt Rd. Contact:

Oct. 10 – 11, Cardiff Surf Classic & Green Fair  Grassroots community event that pays homage to our Earth. Time/Place: 9am-5pm / Cardiff Reed Contact: (760) 436-0431 /

Oct.10 – 11, La Jolla Art & Wine Festival  The 2015 La Jolla Art & Wine Festival returns to La Jolla for its seventh annual season on October 10th and 11th in the heart of the village, on Girard Ave. / Time: 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM, Sunday until 6:00 PM / Price: Free / Location: Girard Ave. and Prospect St., La Jolla, CA 92037 / For more info.: Call 858.228.6542 visit

Oct.10, Old Town’s Fall Festival  Old Town San Diego State Historic Park is kicking off the fall season October 10 with its annual Fall Festival. The museums and merchants in the state park will host family-friendly games, activities and entertainment reminiscent of an old-fashioned harvest celebration. / Time: 12:00 PM to 4:00 PM / Price: Free / Location: Old Town San Diego State Historic Park / For more info. visit

Oct. 11, Little Italy FESTA!  Now, the Little Italy Festa is the largest Italian American festival on the West Coast. Hip and Historic Little Italy welcomes over 120,000 attendees with the tantalizing sights, sounds and aromas of Italian culture. / Time: 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM / Price: Free / Location: 2210 Columbia St., San Diego, CA 92101 / For more info.: visit

Oct 13 – 24, San Diego Italian Film Festival  The ninth annual San Diego Italian Film Festival showcases the best of new Italian film and culture with a series of premieres ranging from engaging dramas and entertaining comedies to documentaries telling unique stories. / Time: visit website / Price: Starting at $8 / Location: 1649 El Prado, San Diego, CA 92101 / For more info. visit

Oct. 17, Walk to End Alzheimer’s   There is no cost to walk, however we highly encourage you to join/start a team and fundraise to help find a cure. Time/Place: 6:30am / Balboa Park Contact: (858) 966-3319 /

 Oct.18, Safari Park’s Oktoberfest Celebration  Enjoy a delicious and bountiful dinner buffet to celebrate Oktoberfest at the Safari Park. There will be live music and a convenient cash bar. Families are welcome! / Time: 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM / Price: Members: Adult – $44.95 Children – $18.95 Nonmembers: Adult – $57.95 Children – $31.95 / Location: 15500 San Pasqual Valley Rd., Escondido / For more info.: Call 619.718.3000 or visit

Oct. 22, 3rd Annual Whiskey & Wine BBQ  We are excited to celebrate our very own hand-selected Estancia La Jolla Hotel & Spa Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Whiskey and our wonderful partner Trinitas Cellars with our 3rd Annual Whiskey & Wine BBQ. / Time: 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM / Price: Tickets start at $80 per person / Location: 9700 N Torrey Pines Rd., La Jolla, CA 92037 / For more info. Call 844.806.2529 or visit

Oct. 24, Out Of The Darkness Community Walk   Benefits local and national suicide prevention and awareness programs of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Time/Place: 8:30am / NTC Park at Liberty Station / Contact:

Oct. 30, The Orange & Black Ball   A masquerade gala to raise awareness and funds that benefit the museum’s art education and outreach programs. Time/Place: 6pm-12am / Balboa Park: Timken Museum / Contact: (619) 239-5548 /

Oct. 31, Monster Bash   San Diego’s biggest Halloween Block Party returns transforming over eight city blocks into the largest Halloween event in California. Time/Place: 6pm / Gaslamp Quarter & East Village / Contact: (619) 233-5008 /

Oct. 30, Hallo-wine and Spirits® Party  Celebrate Halloween at San Diego’s famous haunted hotel on Friday, October 30. Don your best costume and join us for the 6th annual, adults-only, “Hallo-wine and Spirits” Party full of spooky surroundings, great eats, delicious wines and dancing until you drop! / Time: 7:00 PM to 11:45 PM / Price: visit website / Location: 1500 Orange Ave., Coronado, CA 92118 / For more info.: visit

Oct. 25 – Dec. 31, Monsters!  Find out what’s hiding under the bed! See beasts familiar and strange, real and imagined, kind-hearted and troublesome, from across the span of human history and culture! You’ll learn where they come from, what they look like, how they behave, and how to defeat them! / Time: 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM / Price: Included with Admission / Location: 1350 El Prado, San Diego, CA 92101 / For more info. Call 619.239.2001 or visit


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IVAN SOLIS, JR.  / Title365 /  / (619) 804-9000

FIRST AMERICAN TITLE / / (619) 742-0193

Tower Pulls Drinking Water Out of Thin Air

Water Tower from Air

Designer Arturo Vittori says his invention can provide remote villages with more than 25 gallons of clean drinking water per day.

In some parts of Ethiopia, finding potable water is a six-hour journey.

People in the region spend 40 billion hours a year trying to find and collect water, says a group called the Water Project. And even when they find it, the water is often not safe, collected from ponds or lakes teeming with infectious bacteria, contaminated with animal waste or other harmful substances.

The water scarcity issue—which affects nearly 1 billion people in Africa alone—has drawn the attention of big-name philanthropists like actor and co-founder Matt Damon and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, who, through their respective nonprofits, have poured millions of dollars into research and solutions, coming up with things like a system that converts toilet water to drinking water and a “Re-invent the Toilet Challenge,” among others.

Critics, however, have their doubts about integrating such complex technologies in remote villages that don’t even have access to a local repairman. Costs and maintenance could render many of these ideas impractical.

“If the many failed development projects of the past 60 years have taught us anything,” wrote one critic, Toilets for People founder Jason Kasshe, in a New York Times editorial, “it’s that complicated, imported solutions do not work.”

Other low-tech inventions, like this life straw, aren’t as complicated, but still rely on users to find a water source.

It was this dilemma—supplying drinking water in a way that’s both practical and convenient—that served as the impetus for a new product called Warka Water, an inexpensive, easily-assembled structure that extracts gallons of fresh water from the air.

The invention from Arturo Vittori, an industrial designer, and his colleague Andreas Vogler doesn’t involve complicated gadgetry or feats of engineering, but instead relies on basic elements like shape and material and the ways in which they work together.

At first glance, the 30-foot-tall, vase-shaped towers, named after a fig tree native to Ethiopia, have the look and feel of a showy art installation. But every detail, from carefully-placed curves to unique materials, has a functional purpose.

The rigid outer housing of each tower is comprised of lightweight and elastic juncus stalks, woven in a pattern that offers stability in the face of strong wind gusts while still allowing air to flow through. A mesh net made of nylon or  polypropylene, which calls to mind a large Chinese lantern, hangs inside, collecting droplets of dew that form along the surface. As cold air condenses, the droplets roll down into a container at the bottom of the tower. The water in the container then passes through a tube that functions as a faucet, carrying the water to those waiting on the ground.

Using mesh to facilitate clean drinking water isn’t an entirely new concept. A few years back, an MIT student designed a fog-harvesting device with the material. But Vittori’s invention yields more water, at a lower cost, than some other concepts that came before it.

“[In Ethiopia], public infrastructures do not exist and building [something like] a well is not easy,” Vittori says of the country. “To find water, you need to drill in the ground very deep, often as much as 1,600 feet.  So it’s technically difficult and expensive. Moreover, pumps need electricity to run as well as access to spare parts in case the pump breaks down.”

So how would Warka Water’s low-tech design hold up in remote sub-Saharan villages? Internal field tests have shown that one Warka Water tower can supply more than 25 gallons of water throughout the course of a day, Vittori claims. He says because the most important factor in collecting condensation is the difference in temperature between nightfall and daybreak, the towers are proving successful even in the desert, where temperatures, in that time, can differ as much as 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

The structures, made from biodegradable materials, are easy to clean and can be erected without mechanical tools in less than a week. Plus, he says, “once locals have the necessary know-how, they will be able to teach other villages and communities to build the Warka.”

In all, it costs about $500 to set up a tower—less than a quarter of the cost of something like the Gates toilet, which costs about $2,200 to install and more to maintain. If the tower is mass produced, the price would be even lower, Vittori says. His team hopes to install two Warka Towers in Ethiopia by next year and is currently searching for investors who may be interested in scaling the water harvesting technology across the region.

“It’s not just illnesses that we’re trying to address. Many Ethiopian children from rural villages spend several hours every day to fetch water, time they could invest for more productive activities and education,” he says. “If we can give people something that lets them be more independent, they can free themselves from this cycle.

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Hidden San Diego – Free Tuesdays in Balboa Park

Believe it or not, there are still things in life that feed the mind and soul and are free. And no, I’m not talking about the beach. I’m talking about Balboa Park, and if you’ve never stepped foot in any of the Park’s wonderful museums and art galleries, well, you ave no excuse not to.

Because I’m gonna let you in on a little secret: you can get in for free. Yes, I said FREE. As a public service to San Diego, most of the Park’s museums and galleries offer free admission on Tuesdays every month. Now, as a disclaimer, not every venue is free each Tuesday: the Park rotates them on each Tuesday, so certain museums are free on certain Tuesdays of the month. Also, be forewarned, the free admission typically applies only to the venue’s permanent collections, not any special event, attraction or exhibit which may be in process at the time of your visit.

Nevertheless, it’s a great opportunity to acquaint yourself with some culture in the city’s jewel of a park all for the right price. Here is the schedule of free admissions for each month, subject to change:

First Tuesday

      Reuben H. Fleet Science Center
      Centro Cultural de la Raza
      Model Railroad Museum***
      Natural History Museum***
    *** Free to San Diego County Residents and Active Military only

Second Tuesday

      Museum of Photographic Arts
      Museum of San Diego History
      Veteran’s Museum and Memorial Center

Third Tuesday

      San Diego Art Institute
      San Diego Museum of Art
      San Diego Museum of Man
      Japanese Friendship Garden ***
    *** Free to San Diego County Residents and Active Military only Mingei International Museum

Fourth Tuesday

      San Diego Air & Space Museum***
      San Diego Automotive Museum (last admission 3:45pm) ***
      San Diego Hall of Champions***
      House of Pacific Relations International Cottages
      *** Free to San Diego County Residents and Active Military only

Fifth Tuesday

      Normal museum prices in effect.
      The Timken Museum of Art is always free.

Note:  Some museums may offer complimentary admission to their permanent collections only and charge admission to special exhibitions or films. Strollers are NOT allowed in the San Diego Natural History Museum during Residents’ Free Tuesdays.

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