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.
TAKE A HIKE IN A COUNTY PARK OR PRESERVE
Spring is a great time to visit some of San Diego County’s many beautiful parks, which have trails suitable for all ability levels. While large gatherings and indoor group activities are cancelled until the end of March, some outdoor activities are still being held. You can also hit the trail on your own (bringing a buddy is recommended) plan a picnic, or go birdwatching. For a list of County Parks, visit http://www.sdparks.org/. There are also hiking trails in Cleveland National Forest, the Sweetwater National Wildlife Preserve, and Cuyamaca Rancho State Park, to name just a few of our inland region's beautiful natural treasures, however some have been shut down to stop crowding. Closures include Three Sisters and Cedar Creek Falls.Parking lots at all state parks have now closed down, though some trails are still accessible.
GO BOATING OR FISHING
UPDATE: MANY IF NOT ALL OF THESE LAKES HAVE NOW CLOSED DUE TO THE GOVERNOR'S ORDER.
Lake Cuyamaca in Cuyamaca Rancho State Park, Lake Jennings in Lakeside (run by Helix Water Disrict) Santee Lakes, as well as several of the County and City of San Diego reservoirs across our inland region have boats for rent including rowboats, motorboats, pedal boats, canoes and kayaks. Many also have fishing gear for rent and places to fish off the shore or from a dock; check fishing licensing requirements. Options vary by location. Use sanitizing wipes to clean oars or other surfaces before touching. Check these resources:
TAKE YOUR DOG FOR AN OUTING
Several East County cities have dog parks for your furry friends to run off-leash, with a variety of options. For instance, Wells Park in El Cajon has separate large and small dogs areas as well an a canine obstacle course. You can also walk dogs on leash at most local parks and trails. Check city websites for La Mesa, El Cajon Lemon Grove and Santee for detaills on their dog park options. Or take a walk along a public trail, or in your own neighborhood.
WATCH FOR WILDFLOWERS IN ANZA-BORREGO
Wildflowers are beginning to bloom in the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, where there’s plenty of elbow room to stay away from crowds. You can find updated maps on where to find flowers at the Anza-Borrego Desert Natural History Association website, if you want to avoid the state park’s visitor center to minimize contact with others: https://www.abdnha.org/pages/03flora/reports/current.htm.
While in Borrego Springs, you can also check out the amazing sculptures scattered across the desert terrain, from dinosaurs to dragons to giant horses and more.
GO CAMPING OR RENT A CABIN
Update: All campgrounds in county parks have shut down.
There are many parks with campgrounds and cabins for rent in our region, from Cuyamaca Rancho State Park to floating cabins at Santee Lakes. There are also private cabins for rent in our wooded mountain areas such as and Cuyamaca. Check availability as the situation is fast changing and some may shut down.
Tellling tales around a campfire is a time-honored tradition, worth including in your camping retreat.
While away the hours with a treasured novel or nonfiction book. County libraries have books and reference maerials available online, though libraries are temporarily closed. Find a branch near you at https://www.sdcl.org/. You can also order books online delivered to your doorstep from the library, or from online booksellers sucha s Amazon.com, or some local bookstores offering curbside service only.
COOK UP A FEAST
If you’re home and healthy due to a workplace shutdown or kids off from school, now is the time to discover the joys of cooking. Plus while hoarders are leaving stores bare of nonperishables, there are still ample fresh fruits and vegetables, meats and other items to be found for preparing tasty and nutritious meals at home – and save money on pre-packaged foods. Hunt for recipes online, watch a cooking show on TV, or pull a favorite cookbook off the shelf for ideas.
Introduce your kids to the simple pleasures of board games like Monopoly, Scrabble or Life, or interactive games such as charades. You can also play video games online.
Time at home can be a good opportunity to start learning to play a musical instrument such as guitar, banjo, harmonica or keyboard. There are online instructions available for the basics, or consider some private lessons with a pro.
This is a great time of year to plant a garden to enjoy fresh vegetables in the summer months. Raised beds help keep weeds and watering controlled, with easy access to tend and harvest your first crops. Even in limited space, you can grow vertical crops such as training pole beans, peas or cucumbers up a fence. Radishes go from seed to harvest in just three to four weeks, while crops such as peppers and tomatoes do well with little ado in San Diego’s climate. Learn more about gardening at www.TheGarden.org
Unexpected time off may be the prefect time to write a memoir, novel or poetry, taking up painting, or try your hand at crafts. You might discover new talents -- or even a way to make some extra money in the future!
TAKE A VIRTUAL TOUR
Now you can tour famous museums around the world without leaving home via this virtual museum tour site .
Now is a good time to join a local Next Door group in your neighborhood to meet neighbors virtually and share information on resources—such as what local businesses are open or closed, and who just got in shipments of toilet paper during the coronavirus situation. Of course, social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are always ways of staying in touch when you can’t be around friends in person.