Best of East County

The Best of East County

ESTRELLA COUNTY PARK OPENS IN CASA DE ORO

East County News Service

January 1, 2021 (Spring Valley) -- On Friday, Dec. 18, the County of San Diego Department of Parks and Recreation opened Estrella County Park in San Diego’s Casa de Oro community.


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‘TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS 2020 IN EAST COUNTY

‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through East County

Not a creature was stirring, in December 2020.

Cowboy boots were hung by chimneys with care

In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.

 

From Barona to Ramona, Jacumba to Jamul

East County folks in quarantine this Yule

Can’t party hearty with potluck dishes,

But they did send Santa these 2021 wishes.


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CHRISTMAS STAR TO BE VISIBLE DEC. 21 FOR FIRST TIME IN OVER 800 YEARS

By Miriam Raftery

December 20, 2020 (San Diego) – On Monday for about an hour after sundown, people around the world will get a rare glimpse of the “great conjunction” – the largest planets, Jupiter and Saturn, so close that the appear to be touching as one bright celestial body.  Many astronomers believe this is the same celestial phenomenon described in the Bible as the Star of Bethlehem that reportedly guided wise men to the manger where Jesus was born. The last time it appeared this brightly was more than 800 years ago, when it was viewed via telescope by Galileo.

The conjunction will peak on Monday, Dec. 21, the winter solstice, and will be best viewed for about 45 minutes to an hour after sunset. In the U.S., look to the southwest sky to see this rare occurrence with the naked eye or enhanced with binoculars or a telescope, ideally from an unobstructed area. 

For those who miss the sight on Monday night, NASA says the solar system’s two largest planets will appear nearly as close on the Dec. 20 and 22.


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PHOTOS OF THE WEEK: LAKE CUYAMACA WILDLIFE TRAIL

 
 
East County News Service
 
 
November 28, 2020 (Cuyamaca) – Scott Lagace sent in a stunning collection of photos, along with this description. 
 
“There is a trail out by Cuyamaca Lake called the Marty Minshall Trail or as I call it, the wildlife trail because of all the deer, turkeys, birds and even a Bald Eagle which flies around the lake. Along with the wildlife the landscape and scenery of the area is breath taking especially now that the leaves are turning colors.”

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GIFTS FROM THE EAST: SPECIAL 2020 EDITION

By Miriam Raftery

November 19, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – This holiday shopping season amid a pandemic, we’ve scoured the shops and online stores across San Diego’s East County to find our recommendations for gift items unique to our region.  Our picks include many artisan and locally hand-crafted treasures, farm-fresh humanely raised foods, delicious sweet treats, warm and stylish wearables, and gifts that benefit local nonprofits including a wildlife sanctuary. This year, we’ve chosen many places offering online ordering  as well as locations allowing ample social distancing.


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SUPERVISORS APPROVE DARK SKIES PROTECTIONS FOR JULIAN AREA AND BORREGO SPRINGS

By Miriam Raftery

Photo:  Night sky in  Borrego Springs, by Dennis Mammana

November 18, 2020 (San Diego) – San Diego Supervisors today voted to approve amendments to the county’s Light Pollution ordinance which will provide “Dark Sky Community” designation to both the Julian and Borrego Springs community planning areas.  The action aims to prevent light pollution, enhancing astronomy viewing and related tourism.

The action comes after the Julian Dark Sky Network asked Supervisors in 2018 to create a way for Julian to meet International Dark Sky Association recognition. Borrego Springs was the first California community to receive that designation in 2009.

"Our community is part of the 1% of the U.S. that can still see the Milky Way. Our distance from the urban glow of San Diego's skies and the surrounding mountains help with our sky quality, but preservation must be intentional," the Julian Dark Sky Network's website states.


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COUNTY HOSTS EXCITING CAMPO ROAD CORRIDOR REVITALIZATION PLAN COMMUNITY FORUM

By Henri Migala

 

October 18, 2020 (Spring Valley) – The public has until October 29 to weigh in with comments on the County of San DIego’s plans for revitalizing a stretch of Campo Road that runs through the heart of Casa de Oro. 

 

To gain more input, the County’s Planning and Development Services (PDS) held a virtual community “Guiding Principles” workshop on the Campo Road Revitalization Plan on Thursday, October 15, from 4:00-5:30 p.m. Up to 78 community members participated virtually in the workshop.


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DYING MOUNTAIN LION CUB SAVED BY SAN DIEGO HUMANE SOCIETY'S PROJECT WILDLIFE IN RAMONA

East County News Service

October 7, 2020 (Ramona) -- An orphaned mountain lion cub who arrived at San Diego Humane Society’s Project Wildlife — Ramona Campus in critical condition is finally feeling better after weeks of intensive care by medical staff.

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LAKESIDE FAMILY GROWS 1,600 PUMPKIN

By Miriam Raftery

 

October 1, 2020 (Lakeside) – The Fredricks family in Lakeside is once again vying to earn the title of biggest pumpkin grown in San Diego County this year—and maybe ever.


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TRENDING: OUTDOOR ROLLER-SKATING

Story by Rebecca Jefferis Williamson and Miriam Raftery 

Photo by Rebecca Jefferis Williamson:  Skaters stay cool with misters at the Viejas outdoor roller rink in Alpine

August 21, 2020 (Alpine) - Looking to change up your COVID-19 outdoor exercise routine? Consider visiting the outdoor roller-skating rink at Viejas Casino Outlets to burn off some of that quarantine-15 extra weight.  Or take a skate at the San Diego Derby United outdoor rink in Encanto to roll those pounds away—and have fun. 


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MOST JULIAN BUSINESSES ARE OPEN FOR VISITORS, BUT JULIAN CARRIAGE COMPANY FALLS VICTIM TO PANDEMIC

 

Story and photos by Miriam Raftery

August 13, 2020 (Julian) – Tourists are returning to Julian, the historic gold-mining town nestled in the mountains of San Diego's East County.  According to Robin Boland at the Julian Chamber of Commerce, nearly all businesses that are allowed to be open under state and county health mandates are now open, including shops, outdoor and takeout restaurants, breweries and wineries serving food. Though a few have limited hours, Boland assures, “There is still plenty to do and plenty of places to eat.”

One long-time town fixture, however, has fallen victim to the pandemic. Julian Carriage Company posted on Facebook July 31, "I'm sorry to hhave to inform you that due to COVID-19 and other extenuating circumstances we are no longer in business. Brett and I will sure miss everyone that came to Julian and rode our carriage. Life has taken us on another journey now and we are no longer in Julian. We love all of you!!!!!!! Thank you for an amazing 7 years!!!!!!! I will never forget this chapter of our lives."


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CHILDREN’S NATURE RETREAT REOPENS AFTER COVID-19 SHUTDOWN: ANIMAL RESCUE NEEDS VISITORS AND DONATIONS

 

Source: Children’s Nature Retreat

June 23, 2020 (Alpine) -- The Children’s Nature Retreat, a 20-acre animal sanctuary in Alpine with 140-plus domesticated animals, is reopening to guests.

The animal sanctuary is open by appointment only, limited to 50 people. Guests are required to wear masks at the entrance, and if they come within 6-feet of anyone outside of their family/household; visitors can roam the outdoor property on the self-guided tour without masks.


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AMID PANDEMIC, ANZA BORREGO FOUNDATION ACQUIRES LANDS TO EXPAND STATE PARK

By Miriam Raftery

Photo by Ursula Esser courtesy of Anza Borrego Foundation:  Base of Sheep Canyon

June 8, 2020 (Borrego Springs) – California’s largest state park is about to get even bigger. The Anza Borrego Foundation announced that it has closed escrow on several properties it plans to donate to the state to expand Anza Borrego Desert State Park. The land transfer will include 331 parcels totaling 17,598 acres over 25 years of land acquisitions.

“In response to COVID-19, there has been increased land activity. Landowners have called eager to sell, and a couple even wanted to donate their land to ABF,” a newsletter sent by the ABF to its members states.

Grant writing and land acquisition have continued even while the park has been closed off to the public due to the pandemic.


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HOW DID THE LION ON MOUNT HELIX GET HIS ROAR?

 

By Rebecca Jefferis Williamson

 

May 21, 2020 (La Mesa) -- Tucked away on a Mt. Helix homeowner’s path, a lion sleeps – and roars to life whenever someone strolls past.     

 

Here is the backstory on this big cat in hiding—actually an African lion statue—and an intriguing mystery on how he got his voice. 


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LOCAL RANCHERS AND FARMERS GROW NEW BUSINESS MODELS DURING PANDEMIC

By Miriam Raftery

Updated May 14, 2020

April 26, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – “Zoom our Zoo is an online, real-time animal show tailored for your audience,” a message at the Oasis Camel Dairy website reads. Owners of the Ramona-based family ranch, like many local ventures that rely on agritourism, face high costs to feed and care for their camels, exotic performing birds, racing turkeys and other animals without public events during the COVID-19 pandemic. So now they are offering interactive programs online to liven up corporate events or entertain kids with virtual birthday parties featuring “camel capers and parrot pranks” through Zoom – for a fee.


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VIRTUAL DESERT WILDFLOWERS TOUR

East County News Service

April 4, 2020 (Borrego Springs) -- The COVID-19 stay-home order and parking lot closures at all state parks has prevented many San Diegans from traveling to see desert wildflowers. Fortunately, the Anza-Borrego Foundation has put up a video tour of this year's blossoms, with this note:  "Since so  many of you cannot visit Anza-Borrego right now, we wanted to bring our spring bloom to you. Enjoy!

Take the virtual wildflowers tour here:  https://www.facebook.com/AnzaBorregoFoundation/videos/1112381709122228/


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EL CAJON PARKS AND RECREATION GOES VIRTUAL

East County News Service

April 2, 2020 (El Cajon) — El Cajon’s Parks and Recreation site has set up a Virtual Recreation and Resource Center filled with fun, education and resources through these wild and turbulent times.


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WHAT TO DO DURING CORONAVIRUS SHUTDOWN? CHECK OUT THESE ACTIVITY IDEAS

By Miriam Raftery

March 14, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – If you’re healthy and under 65, but trying to avoid crowds and maintain social distancing (authorities recommended six feet from others), here are a few options to consider, from hiking and fishing at local forests, parks and lakes to homebound activities such as gardening, games, cooking and virtual tours.


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EL CAJON DESIGNATES HALL FAMILY RANCH HOUSE AS LOCAL HISTORIC RESOURCE

Source: City of El Cajon

December 19, 2019 (El Cajon) -- On Tuesday, December 10th, the El Cajon City Council approved designation of the Hall Family Ranch House, built in 1886, as a local historic resource. The property includes a single-family residence with a detached garage located on Provo Street in El Cajon. The 133-year-old home features a Folk Victorian architectural style. 


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SAN DIEGO'S HISTORIC PLACES: MISSION TRAILS REGIONAL PARK OFFERS INSIGHTS INTO KUMEYAAY

By Donald H. Harrison

Originally published at San Diego Jewish World, a member of the San Diego Online News Network

Photo:  Ewa’a on patio of Mission Trails Regional Park visitors center

December 8, 2019 (San Diego) - There are some 40 miles of trails in Mission Trails Regional Park along the San Diego River and surrounding grasslands and mountains. Hikers can view Kumeyaay and Spanish archaeological sites, possibly encounter some endangered animals and some dangerous ones, and be introduced to plants with characteristics so interesting they almost have personalities.


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SAN DIEGO'S HISTORIC PLACES: MISSION TRAILS VISITORS CENTER PROVIDES EXHIBITS ON KUMEYAAY LIFE

By Donald H. Harrison

Originally published at San Diego Jewish World, a member of the San Diego Online News Network

Photo:  Kumeyaay elders by T.J. Dixon and James Nelson

December 8, 2019 (San Diego) - The Visitors and Interpretive Center of Mission Trails Regional Park is low-tech compared to razzmatazz commercial attractions like Disneyland or Sea World, but it effectively teaches about Native American life and about nature. Its exhibits appeal to a full range of age groups with a variety of learning styles.


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GOLDEN SPIKE CEREMONY CROWNS RAILWAY’S CENTENNIAL CELEBRATION IN CAMPO

View video of golden spike driven in by actor Jake Schaible portraying John D. Spreckels at centennial : https://youtu.be/n2MQr565uq4 

By Rebecca Jefferis Williamson and Miriam Raftery

December 4, 2019 (Campo) – Four days after Armistice Day in 1919 ended World War I, John D. Spreckels drove in a golden spike to complete the San Diego & Arizona Railway in Carrizo Gorge.  That historic event was recreated on November 16, 2019 at the centennial of the historic occasion celebrated at the Campo Railroad Park & Museum.

Spreckels originally “missed the spike, they reset it, he bent it, and then nailed it,” said Allen Semelsberger, Pacific Southwest Railway Museum’s archivist in a previously published report. True to historical detail, actor Jake Schaible portrayed Spreckels at the centennial, swinging and missing a replica of the spike before ultimately driving it in before a large crowd, including members of the Spreckels family in the front row. 


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SANTEE KICKS OFF HOLIDAY SEASON WITH A TREE LIGHTING AND FESTIVITIES

 

By Rebecca Jefferis Williamson

Nov. 24, 2019 (Santee) Santee kicked off the holiday season with an annual tree lighting ceremony held at the Santee Trolley Square on Nov. 22.

The tree lighting ceremony, held  at 6:30 p.m., was accompanied by a display of fireworks.  The event, attended by thousands, also featured live music, snow sledding, carriage rides, mini-express  train rides, a petting zoo, carolers, free holiday crafts, and more.


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JACUMBA'S FESTIVAL OF SUNFLOWERS: A POP-UP SHOW OF LOCAL ART STARTS NEW TRADITION

By Rebeca Person

Editor Miriam Raftery contributed to this report

November 22, 2019 (Jacumba Hot Springs) -- Local Jacumba artists exhibited their works in a Pop-Up Show October 5th launching Jacumba’s first ever Festival of Sunflowers at Gilliam Gallery in downtown Jacumba Hot Springs.
 
Linda Churchill, muralist and mosaic artist, revealed new mosaics and oil paintings of Jacumba’s scenic beauty. 
 
Now the community plans to make this event an annual tradition.


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SAN DIEGO COUNTY'S HISTORIC PLACES: A NATIVE PLANT GARDEN AT GROSSMONT COLLEGE

By Donald H. Harrison

Originally published at San Diego Jewish World, a member of the San Diego Online News Network

November 9, 2019 (El Cajon) If it appears during fall that it has been snowing in the California Native Plants Garden at Grossmont College, don’t bother checking the thermometer or calling the Guiness Book of Records. The white precipitate isn’t snow at all, but in fact is a great volume of seeds produced by the prodigious female plant of the Chapparal Broom, also known as the Desert Broom.


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SAN DIEGO'S HISTORIC PLACES: OLD MISSION DAM

By Donald H. Harrison

Originally published at San Diego Jewish World, a member of the San Diego Online News Network

November 6, 2019 (San Diego) - Old Mission Dam, a.k.a. Padre Dam, is celebrated as both a California Historic Landmark and as a National Historic Landmark for being one of the first irrigation projects on the West Coast of the United States, having been built between 1813 and 1816 by Franciscan padres and Kumeyaay laborers.


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SAN DIEGO'S HISTORIC PLACES: LINDO LAKE IN LAKESIDE

By Donald H. Harrison

Originally published at San Diego Jewish World, a member of the San Diego Online News Network

November 1, 2019 (Lakeside) - Lindo Lake’s name is a combination of English and Spanish meaning “Beautiful Lake” and no doubt exercise enthusiasts, water fowl admirers, picnickers, horseshoe pitchers, antiquarians, and automobile racing fans would agree that the description is apt.


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FIELDS OF DREAMS: LAVENDER FARM FOR SALE

By Miriam Raftery

October 13, 2019 (Valley Center) – Readers of East County Magazine have seen our stories through the years on the beautiful and fragrant fields of lavender blooms and events such as high teas held at Keys Creek Lavender Farm in northeast San Diego County. But now, the farm is up for sale – and owner Alicia Wolff is seeking “the perfect buyer – one who may continue my dream…while living their own dream.”


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GUESTS KICKED UP THEIR HEELS AT CAMPO CREEK VINEYARDS' PICKNG AND STOMPING PARTY

 

By Miriam Raftery

 

September 20, 2019 (Campo) – Guests kicked up their heels in more ways than one at the Campo Creek Vineyards first-ever Grape Picking and Stomping Party on September 7th

Wine club members and other visitors first got a taste of what it’s like to pick grapes, getting tips on harvesting ripe Pinot Noir grapes on the vines. 

Located on a cattle ranch that dates back to 1888,  the vineyard now has 10,000 vines and the winery produces hand-crafted wines, many with labels featuring cattle, cowboys and ranching themes.


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SAN DIEGO COUNTY'S HISTORIC PLACES: BANCROFT RANCH HOUSE

By Donald H. Harrison

Reprinted with permission from San Diego Jewish World, a member of the San Diego Online News Association

September 2, 2019 (Spring Valley) - Speculation was popular from the 17th through 19th centuries that Native Americans might have been descended from the Lost Tribes of Israel. In this community off State Route 94, there once lived a famous historian who was among those who investigated the Lost Tribe theory and then dismissed it as being fanciful.


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