Best of East County

The Best of East County

DOG PARK OPENS IN ALLIED GARDENS

East County News Service

 

Photo: New Allied Gardens Off-Leash Dog Park; screen shot, @AGGCcouncil via Facebook 

February 19, 2024 (Allied Gardens) – A new dog park opened last weekend in San Diego’s Allied Gardens neighborhood for pet owners to bring their dogs to frolic off-leash. The new park, next to the Allied Gardens Pool at 6707 Glenroy Street in San Diego, is larger than most other local dog parks.


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RECENT RAINS SHOULD MAKE 18TH ANNUAL PLEIN AIR INVITATIONAL ONE OF THE MOST COLORFUL

By Jonathan Goetz

 

February 5, 2024 (Borrego Springs) -- The 18th Annual Plein Air Invitational in Borrego Springs, California promises to be a captivating celebration of art and nature. The event runs from March 4 to April 14, 2024.

 

While wildflowers typically start popping up halfway through February, the peak blooming usually occurs in March and continues through April. Given all this winter's rain this year's floral blooms in the Anza Borrego should be early and quite exceptional.


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ROMANTIC PLACES TO TAKE YOUR VALENTINE IN EAST COUNTY

By Miriam Raftery

February 5, 2024 (San Diego’s East County) -- Looking for some creative ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day with your special someone? East County has some great getaways and romantic rendezvous retreats, winetasting events, adventures to remember and culinary experiences to savor.


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ORDER YOUR 2024 BEAUTIFUL EAST COUNTY CALENDAR!

 

January 5, 2024 -- We still have a few calendars left! Back by popular demand, our "Beautiful East County" calendar for 2024 showcases our region's scenic attractions and wildlife.

The calendars are available as our thank you gift to you, with any tax-deductible donation of $50 or more this month. To donate, please visit www.EastCountyMedia.org/donate.

Your donation will help sustain our independent reporting for San Diego's East County.

We thank you for your generosity, and thanks to our many readers who have already contributed.  


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COUNTY HOLDS GRAND OPENING FOR DIANNE JACOB EQUESTRIAN PARK IN LAKESIDE

 Story and photos by Shiloh Ireland

View video from County News Service

December 31 2023 (Lakeside) – County Parks and Recreation held a grand opening of the $16.9 million Dianne Jacob Equestrian Park on December 12 in Lakeside. Several hundred people attended, with Jacob as the guest of honor.

Jacob served 28 years as District 2 County Supervisor and is an avid equestrian. Her dream of a premier facility was unveiled to an enthusiastic crowd and local officials. Jacob was an advocate for many park projects during her tenure of 28 years in public office.

The excitement was obvious in Jacob’s demeanor as she cut the long red ribbon to open the beautiful facility. “This is awesome...It’s one-of-a-kind and it’s going to bring in events from all over the state of California,” said Jacob. “This is going to put Lakeside on the map.”


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RALLY FOR LIGHT COMMEMORATES CHANUKAH AND SOLIDARITY WITH ISRAEL

                              

By Shiloh Ireland

 On Thursday, December 7th; several hundred people participated in an enchanting Rally for Light: event in solidarity with Israel, organized by Chabad House at San Diego State University. At the event, one of the largest menorahs in the United States was unveiled, replacing a menorah that was previously vandalized.

According to a press release from organizers,” This event symbolizes the strength and unity of our community in the face of adversity, as well as a response to the recent act of anti-Semitism experienced at SDSU. The event also comes at a time when global support for unity and resilience is more crucial than ever, particularly considering the current situation in Israel.”


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LAKESIDE'S BULLS ONLY RODEO: THE SOUND OF THUNDER

             

By Shiloh Ireland

November 15, 2023 (Lakeside) --  The Bulls Only Rodeo in Lakeside on Oct. 13-14 featured the most exhilarating and crowd engaging sport challenging the performers to the perfect eight second ride. The Bulls Only is presented by the Lakeside  Optimist Club; proceeds are used to provide for the needs of youths in Lakeside.

This was the 24th Annual Bulls Only Rodeo There are many rodeo events, but the Sports Writers of America voted bull riding as the most dangerous sporting event in the country.

ECM attended the October 14th performance. The excitement was felt in the air upon arrival with families and a large crowd anticipating an explosive performance of bull riding, junior bull riding and the always-favorite mutton busting by youngsters. There were many vendors and a wide variety of snacks and beverages to keep the guests fueled. The jumbo screen held up by a crane was a spectacular addition to the performances as instant replays were seen up close and in seconds following a performer’s ride.


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PUMPKINS, HOMESTEAD HOLIDAYS AND MORE AT OMA'S FAMILY FARM

 

East County News Service

October 27, 2023 (Lakeside)-- Oma's Family Farm has been a Lakeside business since 1960.  The  farm’s pumpkin patch offers a variety of pumpkins, plus you can opt for wagon rides, a petting zoo, sand sledding and more. Saturday is the last day this season for the pumpkin patch, and reservations must be made online here.

If you miss the pumpkin patch, the farm offers many other attractions such as Furry Animal Friends, Dump Trucks & Dozers, Land of Milk and Honey, Bubble Blast, Country Fair, and soon, Homestead Holidays, Christmas trees, Christmas Cinema, visits with Santa Claus and more. The farm also hosts private events.


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WINNERS IN LAKE JENNINGS PHOTO CONTEST

September 28, 2023 (Lakeside)--Helix Water District announces the winners of the 2023 Lake Jennings Photo Contest, with this year’s first place in the adult category going to photographer Billy Ortiz of Lakeside for his image “Reflection.” (Photo, left)


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JULIAN FARM AND ORCHARD NAMED ONE OF USA TODAY'S BEST APPLE ORCHARDS

By Kyle Alderman

September 19, 2023 (Julian) – Julian Farm and Orchard is a winner in the USA Today 10Best Readers’ Choice Award for Best Apple Orchard in the USA. The farm was nominated by an expert panel from the publication that includes editors and relevant contributors. The nominees were then voted on by the public and the farm placed among the top 10, representing the only location in California.

Julian Farm and Orchard was recognized for its vast apple orchard that boasts over 1,400 trees and covers a large portion of the 25-acre property. The panel also considered other factors including their activities and other Autumn offerings.


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JACUMBA BATHHOUSE BAZAAR: SAN DIEGO BACKCOUNTRY’S LIVELY STREET MARKET

If you find yourself craving a ceramic bird whistle, a new painting, zucchini plants or luffa sponges, you’re likely to find them at the Bathhouse Bazaar.

By Rebecca Person

August 28, 2023 (Jacumba Hot Springs) - High desert heat, the cold, the wind - the threat of a category 2 hurricane - the elements have not diminished interest in Jacumba’s lively backcountry street market, The Bathhouse Bazaar, now in its 3rd year. 


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SAN DIEGO ANIMAL SANCTUARY & FARM REVEALS NEW ORGANIC GARDEN

Farm fresh veggies are harvested daily

East County News Service

August 21, 2023 (Alpine) - San Diego Animal Sanctuary & Farm (SDASF), a 20-acre animal sanctuary in Alpine, announces the first harvest of its new, organic garden, which is available for sale. Funds earned from garden sales will go directly to the animals and sanctuary. Produce includes lettuce, carrots, radishes, kale, squash, zucchini, chard and more, harvested daily. In the growing stage, the farm also has a variety of tomatoes, spinach, fruits, bell peppers, corn and more. 


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SAN DIEGO ZOO SAFARI PARK ANNOUNCES ELEPHANT VALLEY TO BRING GUESTS CLOSER TO ELEPHANTS

Source: San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance

Photo by Miriam Raftery: African elephant in South Africa

August 10,2023 (Escondido)-- San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance has announced construction is officially underway on what the organization says is the largest and most transformative project in the San Diego Zoo Safari Park’s 50-year history. The all-new Denny Sanford Elephant Valley will reimagine the heart of the Safari Park, turning the current elephant environment into a “dynamic savanna and a place of exploration,” according to the SDZWA media release.

Elephant Valley will give guests of all ages the opportunity to connect with elephants like never before in hopes of encouraging greater empathy, understanding, and appreciation of this majestic species—and igniting a passion for wildlife. Surrounded by elephants on multiple sides, including from below via an overhead walkway with views of the herd passing through, guests will learn about the crucial role elephants have as ecosystem engineers, and about their intricate social dynamics.


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PINE VALLEY DAYS: A SMALL TOWN SHOWS ITS BIG HEART

 

By Shiloh  Ireland

 

July 30, 2023 (Pine Valley) – The 52nd annual Pine Valley Days Parade was held on July 29, a fun event in a small town with a big heart. Pine Valley's annual event was filled with families lining the main street and children darting for candy scattered by the participants.

From equestrians, big rigs and action characters to local beauty queens, youth groups, a bagpipe band and a Tecate dragon, it was a colorful display of the very best in this very small town.


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EAST SAN DIEGO COUNTY: BACKCOUNTRY TRAVELS FOR SUMMER

By Rebecca Person

Photo:  Farmstand in Jacumba Hot Springs

July 13, 2023 (San Diego’s East County) -- The backcountry of San Diego, though seemingly quiet,  is  alive with opportunities for adventure and local events.

Aside from the lure of the open road on one of San Diego’s most scenic highways, oak-and -boulder-studded Old Highway 80, or via beautiful CA-79,  there are barbecues, fairs, country markets, art and music shows, occasional farm stands, lakes, yard sales, horseback riding and the like tucked into the breathtaking scenery along the route. 

San Diego’s backcountry offers unforgettable AirBnb experiences in the rural towns of Campo, Boulevard, Guatay, Descanso, Julian, Pine Valley and Jacumba Hot Springs. 


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PHOTOS OF THE WEEK: CEDAR CREEK FALLS

July 10, 2023 (San Diego’s East County) – Walt Meyer snapped these idyllic images at Cedar Creek Falls, perhaps the most beautiful place in San Diego’s East County.  The towering waterfall is situated in Cleveland National Forest near Julian.

“The water was pretty and cold, but refreshing after the hike,” Meyer says. “The falls were beautiful.”

A permit is required from the U.S. Forest Service for this very strenuous hike, where many have suffered heat exhaustion or injuries, requiring rescues, and several have perished.

Hiking on a clear day in winter, or when temperatures are cooler, is recommended--and be sure to carry plenty of water for the steep, mostly shadeless climb out of  this Eden-like oasis.


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WATER SLIDE AT SANTEE YMCA REOPENS AFTER 3-YEAR CLOSURE

By Miriam Raftery

July 3, 2023 (Santee) – If you’re looking for a cool way to beat the heat, grab your beach towel and head on over to the city of Santee’s Aquatic Center at the Cameron Family YMCA (10123 Riverwalk Drive, Santee).

Their gigantic, twisting three-story water slide reopened today– just in time to make a splash on Independence day and beyond.

The huge, twisting water slide has been closed for three and a half years for repairs.


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SAN DIEGO ZOO SAFARI PARK WELCOMES MALE LION

Source: San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Photos:Ken Bohr, San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance

May 20, 2023 (Escondido) — The San Diego Zoo Safari Park has welcomed a new lion to the pride: Bo, a 7-year-old male African lion. On May 17, Bo curiously explored his new home at the Lion Camp habitat, showing confidence as he became comfortable in his new surroundings. Bo will eventually lead his own pride when he is introduced to the three female lions who reside at Lion Camp—Malika, Zuri and Amira.

Bo moved to the Safari Park from Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, following a recommendation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP) for African lions, which is designed to help maintain a healthy, genetically diverse assurance population of this species.


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VIDEO OF THE WEEK: REVOLUTION IN THE ORCHARD

 

March 31, 2023 (Santa  Ysabel, CA) -- East County Magazine interns Jacob Pamus and Daniela Torres visited Julian Farm and Orchard, where a recreation of a Revolutionary War battle was held.  They interviewed participants in both the British and Colonists camps, including General George Washington.

Julian Farm and Orchard is located in Santa  Ysabel, California, just outside of Julian. The farm also celebrated Daffodil Days on March 26, when our team checked out the action.


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HELPING EAST COUNTY ANIMALS TOGETHER

By Mimi Pollack

Photo courtesy San Diego Animal Sanctuary

March 19, 2023 (Alpine) -- An East County animal sanctuary is in trouble and needs the community’s help. Local humanitarian Agnes Barrelet heads up The San Diego Animal Sanctuary and Farm in Alpine, a nonprofit, where she and her crew tend to a varied menagerie of animals in need.

Formerly known as the Children's Nature Retreat, this rural 20-acre property in Alpine is a haven for all kinds of animals, including zebras, horses, African cows, camels, mules, donkeys, rabbits, mini horses, mini goats, mini pigs, ostriches, emus, desert tortoises, and more. They have 200 hundred animals with over 95 domesticated livestock, 29 different species and 78 breeds from around the world. There are several animal enclosures, including Barnyard Alley, Tortoise Landing, African Grasslands, and Mini and Big Farms.

Photo right courtesy San Diego Animal Sanctary

Barrelet is known for rescuing animals in need, but that is something she is not going to be able to do anymore without the community’s help.


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WILDFLOWER WATCHING: TIPS FROM ANZA BORREGO FOUNDATION

East County News Service

March 17, 2023 (Borrego Springs) -- Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is beginning to have pockets of blooming wildflowers as well as cacti blooms. The Anza Borrego Foundation offers these tips for those planning to come view wildflowers:

  1. Check the weather forecast before heading to the Park. Make sure to dress in layers and pack plenty of water.
  2. Call the Wildflower Hotline at 760-767-4684 for weekly updates on the best viewing locations.
  3. Print the most recent wildflower map at home. You can click here to find printable wildflower maps.
  4. You can also get printed wildflower maps and viewing tips at the State Park store at 587 Palm Canyon Drive between 11 .am. and 3 p.m. Fridays through Sundays.
  5. Check road conditions, including the surrounding mountains for any road closures or chain requirements.
  6. Make sure to visit our State Park store, open daily 9 AM - 5 PM for any needed information or to purchase Park maps.

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LAKE CUYAMACA NAMED FOURTH BEST CAMPING SPOT IN AMERICA

By Miriam Raftery

Photos by Miriam Raftery and Scott Lagace

March 11, 2023 (Cuyamaca) -- Campspot, a campsite booking website, has named Lake Cuyamaca Recreation and Park District the fourth best place for tent campers in America. The contest is Campspot’s second annual competition, which includes various categories from glamping to RV parks. View award winners.


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SAN DIEGO ZOO SAFARI PARK RINGS IN SPRING WITH RETURN OF SPRING SAFARI FEATURING BUTTERFLY JUNGLE

Spring-themed Festivities Scheduled March 18 – May 14, shining spotlight on local wildlife

East County News Service

Photo by Emily Senninger

March 7, 2023 (Escondido) -- Celebrate the arrival of spring in full color at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, with the return of Spring Safari Featuring Butterfly Jungle. Visitors and their families can embark on a wild, global adventure without ever leaving Southern California—and every visit contributes directly to saving wildlife in our own backyard and around the world.


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IMPOSSIBLE RAILROAD TRADING POST: A BACKCOUNTRY WAY STATION FOR VISITORS IN JACUMBA HOT SPRINGS

 

By Rebecca Person

 

March 4, 2023 (Jacumba Hot Springs) - In San Diego’s high desert backcountry off I-8 East, a forgotten hot spring oasis awakens to a new future. Jacumba Hot Springs’ revival at the hands of a tribe of youthful designers and creators brings promise to town.

Inspired by all the changes, David Lampley has opened a vintage clothing shop directly across from the town’s hot spring lake. Since its heyday as a retreat for Hollywood in the 1930s, Jacumba has attracted a long list of international visitors.  

We’ve been calling Jacumba the corner of humanity, “ says Lampley, who chose Jacumba for his longtime dream of owning a business because he always liked the area. The Impossible Railroad Trading Post is named for a defunct rail line that used to bring revelers and health seekers to enjoy the town’s healing waters, fresh air, star-filled nights and the old hotels, now gone. The old tracks and train cars are a short stroll away from the shop’s front door, itself only a few hundred feet from the towering spectacle of Mexico’s border fence.


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SNOW PLAY IN SANTA ISABEL

By Miriam Raftery

Photos by Henri Migala and Miriam Raftery

February 27, 2023 (Santa Ysabel)-- The weekend storm brough snow to unusually low levels in San Diego County's mountains. With  popular destinations such as Julian, Cuyamaca and Mount Laguna blocked except to residents and chains required in the morning, followed by traffic jams when some highways later opened, ECM's editor and photographer headed to Santa Ysabel instead.

Visitors pulled off alongside the highway were enjoying building a snowman and tossing snowballs, with dogs frolicking in the snow. Several motorists paused to pose for pictures with horses standing just behind a barbed wire fence.

Blue skies,puffy clouds and sunbeams warming the terrain completed this idyllic scene.


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MOST STORES ON MAIN STREET CLOSED IN JULIAN SUNDAY DUE TO SNOWBOUND EMPLOYEES

Story and photos by Nadin and Tom Abbott

February 27, 2023 (Julian, CA) -- We decided to go up the mountain to Julian yesterday because it’s beautiful after a snowstorm. So we woke up bright and early and packed the Jeep for an adventure in the mountains. We also wanted to introduce my service dog to snow. As always, we packed our press passes and camera equipment, the latter because we wanted to take photos of this amazing winter wonderland, and in this, we were not disappointed.


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HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE: SAN DIEGO FLUME OPENED FEB. 22, 1889

Courtesy of Cabrillo National Monument

Photo: Dignitaries including California’s Governor rode the flume across East County, from Lake Cuyamaca to Lake Murray.

 

February 23, 2023 (San Diego) -- 134 years ago, the San Diego Flume opened. Today, the word flume is often used to describe a type of theme park ride in which users get splashed while riding in a wooden roller coaster. While such a thing would be ahead of its time in the 1880s, the San Diego Flume was far more significant, because it provided something essential to the residents of the small but growing city of San Diego than any thrill ride could: abundant water. 

 

The Flume’s construction began in 1886 with the goal of bringing a reliable and plentiful water supply to the residents of the growing city and county of San Diego. The Flume project dammed the San Diego River's waters at the bottom of the Cuyamaca Mountains and then through a 35 mile complex of wooden chutes, trestles, and tunnels delivered it to a reservoir in La Mesa. From there, water was conveyed to places across San Diego where residents could reliably irrigate their farms and gardens and enjoy plentiful drinking water. 


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SNOW DAY AT LINDO LAKES

Story and photos by Shiloh Ireland

 

December 23, 2022 (Lakeside) - Wesley Maddocks of San Diego County Parks and Recreation featured Snow Day at Lindo Park in Lakeside.

 

"It has been a dream of our directors to bring snow to our parks," says Maddocks.

 

Twenty tons of ice were donated for this event and the crowd grew to approximately 150 as kids arrived from school. Santa sat patiently for the children to hear their Christmas wishes. It looked like all the participants had a fun afternoon.


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VIDEO OF THE WEEK: LIGHTS AT THE LAKES HOLIDAY SHOW IN SANTEE

 

December 16, 2022 (Santee)  -- ECM took a drive through the first-annual Lights at the Lakes holiday show, now running on select dates through December 24 from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Santee Lakes Recreation Preserve. John Levken's video shows highlights of the one-mile drive through over 35 different sparkling light displays set to music synchronized to your car radio.

Each time guests attend the show, it's a new experience.

Tickets are not available on site, and must be pre-purchased online.


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VIDEO OF THE WEEK: FALL IN EAST COUNTY

December 5, 2022 (San Diego's East County) -- ECM intern John Lekven and editor Miriam Raftery highlight the many annual autumn attractions, festivals and events across San Diego's East County.

From colorful fall foliage to Oktoberfests, grapestomps at local wineries, Halloween happenings and fall festivals, culiminating in events to herald in the holiday season, each fall brings a magnificent array of options for residents and visitors to San Diego's inland region.


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