Best of East County
Story and photos by Robert Gehr
August 29, 2014 (El Cajon)--Built in 1876 by Amaziah Lord Knox, this structure was a hotel and residence combined. It was located near what is now Main St. & Magnolia Avenue in downtown El Cajon. The place provided a comfortable place for weary travelers to spend the night when traversing back and forth from the Julian gold mines to San Diego.
By Mimi Pollack
August 28, 2014 (Ramona) -- Being an animal whisperer is not magic. It is a combination of common sense and tapping into an energy or even spiritual connection that a lucky few have with animals. Gil and Nancy Riegler, owners of the Oasis Dairy Camel Farm in Ramona, have had a special bond with animals since they were young, and it has grown over their many years of working and learning about them.
201 East Main St. - El Cajon, California, www.ci.el-cajon.ca.us
Article & photographs by: Robert Gehr - Copyright Ó 2014 by Robert Gehr
August 21, 2014 (El Cajon)--Renovated from the ground up, this wonderful park is located in downtown El Cajon at Main St. & Sulzfeld and features plenty of seating - from benches to grassy areas - for a break from the hustle of life. Shade trees, such as the blue flowering Jacaranda, give relief from the hot sun while street noise fades into the background. Sit quietly long enough, and you may see a variety of birds, including ducks from the waterscape across the street, ravens, hummingbirds and an occasional hawk.
Hear our interview at the Ramona Fund for Animals Wildlife Center: http://kiwi6.com/file/6sce6l835w
By Miriam Raftery
August 7, 2014 (Ramona) – The Ramona Fund for Animals Wildlife Center is one of only three facilities in San Diego County that rehabilitate injured or ill wildlife for release back into the wild. Currently the Center is nursing back to health two coyote pups found with burned feet during the May wildfires.
The Center, founded by Cleveland Amory, also has some permanent residents that cannot be rereleased, including a hand-raised captive cougar in these photos (shot through the bars of its enclosure). This mountain lion was reported by a local veterinarian after its owner, who purchased it illegally from out of state, brought the cub in for a “well kitten” checkup.
By Miriam Raftery
July 17, 2014 (Campo) – After years of storage in temporary facilities, an extensive collection of memorabilia and research materials on San Diego’s own railroad history is now available to the public at the new Southwest Railway Library in Campo.
Last weekend, East County Magazine Radio show’s producers rode the rails and interviewed the museum’s archivist. You can hear our story here: http://kiwi6.com/file/yku4jfxvdz
At a private VIP party, supporters celebrated a ribbon-cutting at the new museum, toasted its success with champagne, and then road a vintage railway train through East County’s beautiful backcountry.
By Jessica Richmond
June 5, 2014 (San Diego’s East County) -- June 15th is Father’s Day--a once-a-year special day reserved to honor all of the hard work and love that our fathers have given to us. We at ECM have compiled a list of special activities sure to bring a smile to your father’s face. These fun family outings this weekend in San Diego and East County range from free to a hundred dollars or so, so you’ll find an ideal outing for minimal or a deluxe day with all the lavish trimmings.
You can take Dad (and the family) to East County’s new “America on Main Street” celebration for free. A family of four could enjoy a day of fishing for under $36 dollars, or savor wine tasting for two with just you and dad for about $15 dollars. Our list also includes free outdoor activities, movies in the park, a Father’s Day “Man it Up Brunch,” a tour of an architectural treasure, night fishing and more at modest rates--all in East County. Or, if you’re feeling flush in the wallet and willing to venture farther afield to the shores of San Diego, you can treat your father to a once-in-a-life-time adventure of falconry flights, breakfast with Shamu, or a guided kayaking tour.
We hope these options give you some good ideas to delight dear ole’ Dad--and East County Magazine wishes you a safe and happy Father’s Day!
May 28, 2014 (Santee Lakes) - If you’re angling for a fish dinner—or just enjoy catch and release, you may want to check out Santee Lakes, where night fishing kicks off on June 12th. There are a total of six night fishing dates coming up: June 12th and 26th, July 20th and 24th, and August 7th from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Lakes 1, 2, 3 and 4.
May 25, 2014 (San Diego’s East County)—After being closed or two years due to city budget cuts, Kumeyaay Campground at Mission Trails Regional Park is now open again to campers on Friday and Saturday nights.
The San Diego City Council authorized the funding at the request of Councilmember Scott Sherman, according to an article in the Mission Trails Regional Park newsletter.
May 8, 2014 (Alpine) - Lions, Tigers & Bears, the Alpine non-profit exotic animal sanctuary, invites guests to “follow the yellow brick road” to its annual Wild in the Country Gala on May 10, from 3:00 – 7:00 p.m. The event, held at the sanctuary and open to the public, features a silent and live auction, live entertainment and music, a catered dinner, visits with the big cats and bears, interactions with ranch and farm animals in Animal Encounters and fun for the whole family.
By Miriam Raftery
April 10, 2014 (Jacumba Hot Springs) – The weather is warming up and the Jacumba Hikers are hitting the trail, with a trip to Blue Angel’s Peak and Nopal Peak planned this weekend and more outings later in the month. For a list of hikes, click here. To read hiking safety tips, click here.
By Miriam Raftery
March 21, 2014 (Santee) -- Our Mardi Gras celebration at Pinnacle Peak in Santee was a hit - thanks to our wonderful readers, the fabulous Bayou Brothers Band, and our generous donors and sponsors! Your support will help East County Magazine continue to provide award-winning coverage of important news that matters here in our region -- as well as providing wildfire and emergency alerts. We're your community media!
Oh, and we do like to put the "fun" in fundraising, too! Scroll down to see lots more photos of our readers enjoying the festivities -- and if you missed the best party in town, be sure to click "subscribe" (it's free!) at the top right side of our homepage to be added to our email list for future fabulous events.
March 21, 2014 (San Diego's East County) - The Jacumba Hikers will hit the trail on Saturday, March 22 to the Valley of the Moon. This trip may include: Smuggler’s Cave, an old hideout of bandits and smugglers off I-8 East just past the San Diego/Imperial County line in a high desert area near the Mexican border. We’ll also hike in through the Valley of the Moon, Elliot Mine and Blue Angels Peak Monument.
January 31, 2014 (San Diego)--If you're not a sports fan--or just can't bear to watch the SuperBowl after the Chargers were excluded, cheer up! While the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks duke it out on the (freezing cold) field in New Jersey this Sunday during Super Bowl XLVIII, San Diego County residents can soak up the sunny weather and take advantage of County activities that totally trump TV touchdowns.
Whether you love hiking, biking or just exploring San Diego, there’s plenty to do across the County this weekend instead of watching the Super Bowl. The County offers ten alternatives; all events take place on Sunday. Most of them are free--and most are in East County.
By Miriam Raftery
January 9, 2014 (Anza Borrego) -- Late winter and early spring are the prime seasons to visit Anza-Borrego Desert State park, when the weather is mild enough for savoing outdoor hikes through rugged and beautiful terrain. There are also many activities coming up from hikes to cultural events -- and several organizations offering activities besides the Park itself.
Winter is a good time to try and spot elusive and endangered Peninsular Bighorn Sheep and other wildlife. Soon, spring blooms will cover the desert floor and mountain passes, adding brilliant splashes of color to the landscape.
December 19, 2013 (Mount Helix) -- Our "Feasting and Merrymaking" party was a rousing success. Thanks to all of you who joined in celebrating the holiday season as we continued our tradition of giving back to our community of readers. (Note: If you wish to receive invitations for our future events, including our upcoming Mardi Gras party, be sure to subscribe--free--to our newsletter at the top right side of the homepage.)
Miss San Diego and Miss San Diego East County greeted our guests and were welcome additions to our party this year. We also had visits from several elected officials including Congresswoman Susan Davis, La Mesa Councilwoman Christine Alessio, and Jacumba Planning Group member Howard Cook.
November 28, 2013 (Lakeside) – While your east coast relatives are shivering in snowstorms, you can savor the warmth of our California sunshine by enjoying the great outdoors over the holiday season. Thankfully, Lake Jennings will be open throughout the Thanksgiving weekend, including Thanksgiving Day. Heads up, students! The lake will also be open during winter break, closing only on Christmas Day, December 25.
Lake Jennings is a popular site for camping, fishing, hiking and picnicking. The campground is open 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. Camping reservations can be made online at www.lakejennings.org. Now, the lake is also available for rental for special events.
By Miriam Raftery
November 7, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) –Among East County’s best-kept secrets are the dramatic tours offered by Overland Adventures.
Autumn nights are ideal for several special upcoming experiences ranging from a classical guitar concert by moonlight in the redrock Hawk Canyon area to two overnight camp-outs for stargazers –including a chance to view an upcoming meteor shower and the spectacular comet ISON.
For details on these autumn excursions, scroll down or visit http://www.californiaoverland.com/
By Miriam Raftery
October 6, 2013 (Descanso) –The aroma of burning wood filled the air as ranchers pulled their iron brands out of a flaming pit at the Buckel Ranch in Descanso. Old-timers said it was the only time ever that ranchers from all of East County’s historic ranches gathered in one place. The occasion? Tammy Cooker, owner of the Descanso Junction Restaurant, invited these seasoned cowhands to burn their brands into tabletops for her popular eatery now undergoing a remodel.
Cooker has earned the community’s loyalty, having opened her restaurant just before the Cedar Fire, then keeping it open to serve up firefighters, displaced residents and stranded motorists. Located in a century-old building, her restaurant closes down tomorrow and will hold a grand reopening celebration October 10-12. The revamped interior will celebrate our region’s historic roots.
By Miriam Raftery
September 11, 2013 (Jacumba Hot Springs) – “The people of this town came together,” said famed sculptor Ricardo Breceda after hoisting a 1200-pound metallic rattlesnake sculpture into place in front of the Jacumba Community Park.
Best known for his larger-than-life sculptures of present and prehistoric wildlife in the Anza-Borrego desert, Breceda yesterday sold additional sculptures to Jacumba Hot Springs art fans – works that will soon grace rocks and roadways in this high desert community seeking to reinvent itself as an arts colony.
It all started with a winged dragon.
"TRACK TRAILS" SMARTPHONE APP FROM PARKS AND RECREATION TURNS ORDINARY HIKES INTO ADVENTURES FOR KIDS
September 10, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – Combine kids’ love of electronics with the outdoors, throw in some prizes and an online nature journal and just like that, you have them outside discovering the beauty of nature.
That’s the concept behind TRACK Trails, a new system that County Parks and Recreation is bringing to California and the west coast for the first time.
The grand opening for the trails system took place at San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve in Cardiff on Saturday.
“While we are celebrating the grand opening of this TRACK Trails system here in Cardiff, families can also take their children to Lindo Lake and Louis Stelzer County Parks in Lakeside to see this new way of discovering the outdoors,” said County Supervisor Dave Roberts. “They can use smart phones right on the trail to log on to a website and mark their progress in a nature journal to win prizes or wait until they get back home to get online.”
September 1, 2013 (Jacumba Hot Springs) -- Next year marks the century milestone of the founding of Jacumba Hot Springs. Although the community of Jacumba was settled in the mid- 1800s, the first time the community appeared in an official document as Jacumba Hot Springs was in a State of California Railroad Commission document dated1914.
Four major festivals are planned for the Centennial: a third annual Blues Festival May 3, a Healing Waters and Arts Festival the weekend of May 24, a Centennial Fall Festival October 4 and a Christmas Festival December 6. More details on the festivals will be announced at a later date.
July 18, 2013 (San Diego)--“San Diego Family Magazine” readers voted Mission Trails Regional Park (MTRP) “Best of Family Fun” for 2013 in four categories: Best Place to Connect with Nature, Best Lake, Best Guided Nature Walk, Best Lake, and Best Horseback Riding Trails (bring your own horse). MTRP was the only entry to win in four categories.
MTRP is 12 miles from downtown San Diego and five miles northeast of Qualcomm Stadium off Mission Gorge Road. The park encompasses about 5,800 acres, and offers 40 miles of trails for hiking, bicycling – including mountain biking, rock climbing, horseback riding, and a 14,750-square-foot Visitor Center located at One Father Junipero Serra Trail, San Diego 92119. It is the largest urban open space park west of the Mississippi and everything is free--including many special summertime activities. Scroll down for details.
July 11, 2013 (Lakeside) – What could be more idyllic than to while away a summer’s day at a beautiful lake? You can channel your inner Tom Sawyer as you explore Lake Jennings, where you can try your hand at fishing, campin,g hiking trails to savor nature watching, or glide across the water’s surface aboard a rented canoe, motorboat, or paddle boat.
As a special treat for family summer fun seekers, the recreational side of Lake Jennings (a reservoir) is open daily in July. Hours are Sundays through Thursdays 5:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. and on Fridays and Saturdays, 5;30 a.m. until midnight for those who wish to savor the outdoor experience under the stars after sunset – or do some night fishing.
By Nadin Abbott
Photos, Tom Abbott, Video Nadin Abbott
June 12, 2013 (San Diego)— Here's some entertainment that's strictly for the birds. Nancy and Gil Riegler, owners of the Oasis Camel Dairy in Ramona, are holding turkey races at the San Diego County Fair at Del Mar--as well as an exotic bird show.
So how do they get the turkeys to race?
By Sierra Robinson
Photos by Sholeh Sisson and Miriam Raftery
May 28, 2013 (El Cajon)--Every Wednesday from 5 to 8 p.m., Downtown El Cajon Business Partners hosts a classic car show. Each week the theme changes, from last Wednesday’s “Topless Night” where all of the best convertibles could be seen on the Promenade, to this week's Salute to the Military.
Other upcoming events include Charger Steve's Starz Carz, Return of the Horseless Carriage, and Thunder on Main Street for the season finale at summer's end, featuring a full street closure.
By Miriam Raftery
April 28, 2013 (Deerhorn Valley) – The first-annual Deerhorn Valley Home and Garden Tour on April 21 provided an intriguing glimpse into the history of this fascinating area of East County, as well as tours of a spectacular and diverse array of homes and gardens.
A unique aspect of this tour, unlike others that are self-guided, was the tour bus provided along with helpful guides who gave details along the way not only of residences on the tour, but also colorful tales about the communities and rich heritage of this region.
March 26, 2013 (Jacumba) – From wildflowers to waterfalls, the Jacumba Hikers have announced a variety of unique hiking destinations for their outings this spring. Scroll down for a list of hikes and descriptions of hikes set for April and May.
To view flyer with details, including difficulty/accessibility of hikes, click here.
By Ariele Johannson
April 9, 2013 (Campo)--Imagine the Old West back in the 1800s. Lawmen are few and far between. Desperadoes sometimes spread terror throughout the new state of California. And Campo, on the United States-Mexican border, is the site of a confrontation between law-abiding citizens and one such gang of outlaws.
The Gaskill Brothers Gunfighters, an Old West reenactment team, brought history to life with period attire and weapons outside the Golden Acorn Casino on March 23, 2013. The occasion was the Campo Gunfight of December 4, 1875. Forgotten by history, The Campo Gunfight lasted longer and had more casualties than the shootout at the OK Corral.
By Ariele Johannson
April 9, 2013 (Campo)--The reenactors involved in this fascinating hobby of bringing the famed Campo Gunfight to life have their own histories and stories of how they came to portray the Old West—that is, when they are not working as investment brokers, linemen, firefighters, lawyers, and more.
Frenchy (photo, right) is played by Bear Larsen, who has acted in Hollywood movies, such as The Dogs directed by John De Bello, best known for directing Attack of the Killer Tomatoes. Larsen has been involved in reenacting for over 30 years. He speaks about it this way: "I love doing it. It's in my heart."
By Ariele Johannson
If you've watched a reenactment of the 1875 Campo gunfight, you may have wondered what led up to the conflict and wanted to learn more about this fascinating tale. Here are the true details behind one of East County's most infamous historical episodes.
The leader of a Mexican gang, or Californios banditos, was Clodoveo Chavez and his most trusted man, Cruz Lopez. Chavez had recently threatened revenge on the gringos, because his “captain,” the infamous Tiburcio Vasquez had been jailed in San Jose for two murders. Vasquez pled innocent, and it is possible he never committed any murders during his “career.”