Best of East County

The Best of East County

FIREBALLS IN THE SKY: METEOR SHOWERS START TONIGHT, PEAKING ON EARTH DAY

East County News Service

Image via NASA: Lyrid meteor showers in 2012

April 16, 2021 (San Diego’s East County) – Look up during the early morning hours April 16-30 and you may be treated to a view of the Lyrids meteor shower. Called the "Old Faithful of meteor showers" by Space.com because their peak usually lasts for several hours, the Lyrids are known for producing fireballs, or meteors with trails of glowing, ionized gas in their wake. 


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ON A ROLL: ENJOY OUTDOOR SKATING AT VIEJAS OUTLETS IN ALPINE

East County News Service

April 11, 2021 (Alpine) – If you’re looking for some fun outdoor exercise, Southern California’s largest outdoor roller rink is open for the 2021 skating season.

The rink is located at the Viejas Outlet Center, 5003 Willows Road in Alpine.

Admission for roller skating is $10, including rental skates.  You can also get a season pass for $99, which provides unlimited roller skating all season long through September 6.


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LIONS, TIGERS AND BEARS CELEBRATES NATIONAL PEANUT BUTTER AND JELLY DAY

By Henri Migala & Miriam Raftery

 

April 3, 2021 (Alpine) -- Nearly 100 people, many of them children, came to Lions, Tigers and Bears in beautiful Alpine yesterday to help celebrate National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day. 


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VIDEO OF THE WEEK: THREE SISTERS FALLS

 

March 21, 2021 (San Diego's East County) -- What better way to celebrate the arrival of spring than to hike to one of the most beautiful places in East County, Three Sisters Falls in Cleveland National Forest? 

Scott Lagace made the trip this week with friends. The trail is a steep two-mile hike down and two miles back -- all uphill.

Despite these challenges, Lagace says,"It was a beautiful hike there and back. The falls was flowing beautifully. It was amazing at a distance and close up. I would definitely do this hike again. Just got to remember to take the road from the Julian side, not Descanso!"


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ETIQUETTE ON THE HIKING TRAILS

Story and photos by Greg Dunne

March 14, 2021 (San Diego’s East County) -- A hiking we go, a hiking we will go, it’s a beautiful spring day, a hiking we will go! Hiking on the trails of San Diego County has been a great past time over the last 12 months of the pandemic. Let’s have our trail etiquette boots on when we are out there with our fellow hikers.

The hiking trails have been packed with people the last 12 months. The increase is due to Covid-19. As a regular hiker here in our East County, I would estimate it to be 8 to 10 times as many people and even more than that on the weekend. With more people on the trails, we need to be more diligent out there. So, let’s be conscience of our surroundings.

Don’t be in a hiking daze when on the trail. It’s important we know a few rules of the trail so everyone can enjoy the outdoors. Trail etiquette is needed on the trails when hiking, especially on narrow paths. Always try to stay to your right side when passing hikers along the trail coming from the opposite direction—just as when we are driving in our cars, we drive on the right-hand side of the road. There are a few hikers out there sticking to the left side, maybe they’re used to European trails?


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FIRE PITS AVAILABLE FOR RENT At LAKE JENNINGS

By Miriam Raftery
 
March 10, 2021 (Lakeside) – What could be cozier than a lakeside fire on a springtime evening?  Grab your marshmallows and chocolate for S’mores, roast hot dogs or get your best campfire stories ready – now you can rent a fire pit at Lake Jennings in Lakeside.

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STATE PARKS REOPEN FOR CAMPING

By Miriam Raftery

 

Photo: Jonny Victorino, via Anza-Borrego Foundation

 

February 3, 2021 (San Diego’s East County) -- As of February 1, camping is now officially open again at California State Parks, including Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Cuyamaca Rancho State Park, and Palomar Mountain State Park in San Diego’s inland region. State health rules and social distancing guidelines will apply.

 

Here is what’s open in our local state parks:


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BORREGO PALM CANYON: A WONDERFUL HIKE FOR THE ENTIRE FAMILY

Source: Anza-Borrego Foundation

January 30, 2021 (Anza-Borrego) -- With recent rains and even snow in the upper watershed, and thus more creek water flowing down Borrego Palm Canyon, this is the perfect time to head out on the iconic 3-mile roundtrip hike up the Canyon to the first grove. Although you can not enter the palm grove itself, the modified loop trail brings you to a stunning overlook where you can admire how Mother Nature has bounced back and how the native fan palms are recovering.


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HOW THE PANDEMIC LED TO HORSES AND SECOND ACTS

By Mimi Pollack
 
January 22, 2021 (El Cajon) -- 2020 was a strange, difficult, and even transformative year for so many. In my case, the pandemic made me feel very mortal and I decided to start checking things off my “bucket list.” First up was going back to horseback riding after 20 years of not riding or being in the horse world.

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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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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.

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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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.

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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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.

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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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.

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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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.

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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