Best of East County

The Best of East County

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 business 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

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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500 TURN OUT TO PARTY ON THE HILL AT THE HEART OF MT. HELIX

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo, left: Twilight atop Mt. Helix during auction at HeART of Mt. Helix

 

August 16, 2019 (Mt. Helix) – More than 500 art aficionados, philanthropists, food and drink fans, and people who like to party turned out at the 12th annual HeART of Mt. Helix  The event benefits the Mt. Helix Park Foundation which maintains the stone-stepped amphitheater, historic cross, surrounding park and wildlife habitat atop the mountain.


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SAN DIEGO COUNTY'S HISTORIC PLACES: SAN PASQUAL BATTLEGROUND

By Donald H. Harrison

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

Photo:  plaque overlooking battle area.

August 11, 2019 (San Pasqual) - When a U.S. Marine Corps detachment from the USS Cyane marched from the shore of San Diego Bay to the plaza in Old Town San Diego on July 29, 1846 and raised the American flag without serious challenge, thus ending  Mexican control over this city, someone must have thought, ‘Wait a minute! Isn’t this too easy?”


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A SUMMER’S EVE TEA AT THE LAVENDER FARM

By Miriam Raftery

 

July 31, 2019 (Valley Center) – My daughter and I savored a soothing summer’s eve at Keys Creek Lavender Farm in Valley Center, partaking of an outdoor high tea on a shaded patio--an idyllic way to relax and indulge in some scrumptious treats.

After rambling down winding country roads, we arrived to be greeted with a hand-washing station complete with a lavender sugar scrub that left our hands not only clean, but soft and smooth.  I recommend arriving early to take a stroll past lavender fields, albeit past the peak spring bloom season.  


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SAN DIEGO COUNTY'S HISTORIC PLACES: JULIAN

By Donald H. Harrison

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

Photo:  Julian Hotel, formerly Hotel Robinson

July 21, 2019 (Julian) - Whites who had been slaveholders and blacks who had been slaves contributed to the early history of Julian.  Today, in the colorful mountain town of gold mines, apples and antiques, both groups of people as well as other ethnic groups  are remembered and honored.


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A MAGICAL PLACE: HUBBELL HOME, STUDIO AND GARDENS

By Miriam Raftery

July 13, 2019 (Julian) – A visit to artist and architectural designer James Hubbell’s property atop a hill overlooking the Volcan Mountain Preserve in Julian, California is an entry into a whimsical world, where buildings appear to have sprouted from the landscape, complementing curves and rugged forms in nature, punctuated by colorful stained glass, murals and more.

Every year on Father’s Day, the Ilan Lael Foundation opens up the property to the public for a tour of the property, where James and his wife, Anne, still reside.  I had the pleasure of taking the tour this year.


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MECCA IN THE HIGH DESERT: JACUMBA HOT SPRINGS

By Daniel Smiechowski

Spa exterior, restaurant and running pictures courtesy Daniel Smeichowski.  Spa water photo courtesy Miriam Raftery

July 14, 2019 (Jacumba Hot Springs) -- As I drove east on Old Highway 80 about five miles to the I-east junction, I came upon a God-forsaken outpost of ramshackle homes, a trailer park, County library, elementary school, a few churches and a grocery store. What brought me here, however, was the iconic spa named after the town itself, the Jacumba Hot Springs Resort & Spa.

It seems like yesterday when my Mother and Father brought me here on a Greyhound bus from Milwaukee 54 years ago. In 1966, this spa served as a waystation for Greyhound bus lines. Interstate 8 did not exist in 1966 going through the El Centro corridor. But what was my real motivation in coming here? I came here for the sake of my beloved sport of triathlon. It was a match made in heaven. Mecca in the high desert. Blissfully sensual and healthier than 20 Spanish Pamplona bulls. Yes, I considered the extreme temperatures but common sense solved any dangers to the body and mind.


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RAILWAY CELEBRATES CENTENNIAL

By Miriam Raftery

July 11, 2019 (Campo) – The San Diego & Arizona Railway, known as the “Impossible Railway” for the many challenges faced during its construction, is celebrating its 100th anniversary with two major centennial events on September 7 and November 16.

 

On Saturday, September 7, a Groundbreaking Festival will commemorate the 1907 groundbreaking of the railway, which took a dozen years to complete. 

Then on Saturday, November 16, a Centennial Celebration Day will include a reenactment of the 1919 golden spike ceremony, when John D. Spreckels drove in the final spike to complete the rail line in Carriso Gorge.

Both events will be held at the Campo Railroad Park & Museum operated by the Pacific Southwest Railway Museum, a nonprofit organization. 

At the events, the public is invited to come and enjoy train rides, view vintage railway cars and unique railroad equipment including a 1902 steam pump engine, an operating scale steam train exhibit, plus food, drinks, souvenirs, commemorative program and fun for the whole family.


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Local news in the public interest is more important now than ever, during the COVID-19 crisis. Our reporters, as essential workers, are dedicated to keeping you informed, even though we’ve had to cancel fundraising events. Please give the gift of community journalism by donating at https://www.eastcountymedia.org/donate.

CAR SHOW REVS INTO LA MESA

Story and photos by Emily Alessio

July 6, 2019 (La Mesa) -- La Mesa’s classic car show is back! Whether you’re a hot-rodder or a lowrider, there’s something for everyone at this show.

 

The show and music event complete with bandsis now being held every Thursday night from 5 to 8 p.m. through August 29th. Classic cars line La Mesa Boulevard in the downtown village for the summer show season, sponsored by Johnny B’s Burgers, Brew, and Spirits. 

 


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SAN DIEGO COUNTY'S HISTORIC PLACES: LEMON GROVE

By Donald H. Harrison

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

June 8, 2019 (Lemon Grove) - If you travel to Hamburg or Frankfurt in Germany, you’ll find that in neither place is a “hamburger” or a “frankfurter” a staple of local diets. Wouldn’t you think that in Lemon Grove, one could get a glass of fresh-made lemonade? Lido’s, a popular family-owned restaurant serving Italian food for nearly a half century, indeed has lemonade on the menu. However, the waitress advises, it’s not fresh-squeezed; it’s from a dispenser.


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SAN DIEGO COUNTY'S HISTORIC PLACES: LA MESA'S WALKWAY OF THE STARS

 

 

By Donald H. Harrison

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

May 23, 2019 (La Mesa) - Between La Mesa Boulevard in the heart of this city’s business district and the Allison Avenue Municipal Parking Lot which serves as a venue for Farmers Markets held on Friday afternoons is an innovative walkway in which murals celebrate volunteerism and stars on the sidewalk honor local volunteers. This small urban mini-park is called The Walkway of the Stars.


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SAN DIEGO HISTORIC PLACES: ADMIRAL BAKER FIELD, PART TWO

 

 

By Donald H. Harrison

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

May 9, 2019 (San Diego) - Who was the Admiral Baker for whom Admiral Baker Field with its two golf courses is named?

His son, also named Wilder Baker, replied in a telephone interview from Darien, Connecticut, that in the U.S. Navy, Admiral Baker perhaps was best known as the chief of staff to Admiral John S. McCain, whose grandson, John McCain, became a senator from Arizona and the 2008 presidential candidate.


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