By Susan A. Mahalick
August 5, 2014 (Baja, Mexico) - Want to be outside, see waves splash up onto volcanic rocks, watch dolphins swim by and sea birds perch everywhere? Add to this some of the finest hospitality, drinks and food and this is a sure winner.
Former Campo artist now creating film on cofounder of Rancho La Puerta
By Mimi Pollack
On July 24th, 2014, my good friend Vivian Blackstone will celebrate her 86th birthday. A woman in excellent health, she has lived an unconventional life with an artistic, bohemian and spiritual bent. That artistic side still continues as she is working on a film about Edmond Szekely [aka the professor], who along with Deborah Szekely, created and developed the world famous spa and resort in Tecate, Mexico, called Rancho La Puerta. This film is important to Vivian as the professor was an influential person in her life and she hopes this film will honor him and the influence he had on her.
By Mimi Pollack
July 24, 2014 (Tecate)--Many of us lead hectic, stressful lives, so it is always healthy to find ways to unwind. Spending a week at a spa is one good way to relax and recharge, but not everyone can afford that or has the time. Here in San Diego, we are lucky to have a world class spa and retreat, Rancho La Puerta, just across the border from East County. Founded in Tecate, Mexico in 1940 by Edmond and Deborah Szekely, Rancho La Puerta has built a solid reputation and a loyal following over the years.
By Susan A. Mahalick
July 10, 2014 (Baja) - Many have heard of Puerto Nuevo as a lobster village, an adventure in eating experiences. Few have the same pleasure of knowing of Popotla, Km 33, just south of Baja Studios, there is an arch and a dirt road leading into a tiny village full of tiny eateries and curio shops. Unlike Puerto Nuevo, much more than lobster is served up, caught only minutes or hours before it is served to you. The entire village can be walked in a mere twenty minutes. One can bring in their own beverages most places. It is also possible to purchase fish to take home for that party or intimate dinner.
By Mimi Pollack
July 3, 2014 (Tecate)--Gizmo is one of the official greeters at Rancho La Puerta, a spa in Tecate, Mexico, just over the border from San Diego’s East County. Deborah Szekely and her late husband, Edmond, started Rancho La Puerta [the ranch] in 1940. Back then, it was very rustic and primitive as they were living in harmony with the surrounding nature. That love of nature continues, and today Rancho La Puerta is ranked as one of the best spa destinations in the world.
By Mimi Pollack
July 1, 2014 (Tecate)--There are only 70 to 80 people left in Baja California who speak Kumeyaay, according to Michael Wilken Robertson, an anthropologist who also specializes in ethno-botany. When Wilken-Robertson first started his journey studying the indigenous people of Baja California, he was told there were no indigenous cultures there.
He believed something had to be done to preserve these ancient cultures and traditions before they were lost, especially those of the Kumeyaay [Kumiai] people. The Kumiai are the indigenous people on both sides of the border, starting from Carlsbad on the United States side, down to the Santo Tomas Valley in Baja California, Mexico.
The Museo Communitario de Tecate [Tecate Community Museum] and the Kumiai wing is a good first step towards documenting the life and history of these people. It is part of the Centro Cultural [Cultural Center] in Tecate, Baja California.
Source: San Diego Sheriff
June 25, 2014 (San Diego)-- It's officially summer and finally time to take that vacation. You can make your break even more stress-free and sign up for vacation checks from the San Diego County Sheriff's Department.
By Susan A. Mahalick
June 11, 2014 (Baja California, Mexico)--Designed by Jo Ann Knox Martino, and situated in the eastern portion of the valley in the same area as Baron Balché in Porvenir, is the elegant cava built for storage, wine making and tastings of her famous Tango wines. The name, Vintango, comes from Jo Ann’s love of tango.
By Miriam Raftery
June 4, 2014 (Jacumba Hot Springs)—Slipping away to the high desert community of Jacumba Hot Springs proves a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of city life.
Not too long ago, Jacumba nearly became a ghost town after a resort hotel from the ‘20s burned down and Interstate 8 was built, drawing traffic away from Old Highway 80 through the heart of Jacumba. But then a revitalization committee petitioned the state to take back the town's historic name -- Jacumba Hot Springs. Since then, these movers and shakers have infused new life into a town named by the Kumeyaay Native Americans who once camped here in the winter months: Jacum—a place of healing waters.
Now celebrating its centennial year, the town recently hosted the Healing Waters & Arts Festival--a successful event for the community and guests alike.
By Susan Mahalick
May 20, 2014 (Baja)--I am not retired, like so many people are down here, but I consider Baja to be my home, and have for eleven years now. I used to come down for long weekends when I lived up in San Diego, staying with a friend in Baja del Mar. I started crying going back over the border on Sunday evenings, so I decided I could fix that problem by moving here. My friend helped me a find my first tiny casita to rent in Colonia Reforma which is close to the power plant in Rosarito.
By Susan Mahalick
May 9, 2014 (Baja California)--Art Fest started due to the vision of one man who wanted to promote the abundance of fine art in the northern Baja area. Organizer Benito del Aguila Malvaez, owner of Los Naguales, a Mexican folk art gallery, has been putting on this event since it started in 2009 with 5000 attendees.
April 29, 2014 (Potrero) --For the first time, Potrero County Park is offering cabins to visitors who want to enjoy the natural beauty of San Diego County’s southeast region.
County Parks and Recreation celebrated the grand opening of two new disabled-friendly cabins Monday. Each one, with porch, measures 390 square feet, sleeps five and features heating, a ceiling fan, a restroom, and a small seating area.
By Susan A Mahalick
Photos by Sitara Monica Perez and the author
April 12, 2014 (Baja, Mexico)--Sitara Monica Perez, the woman with the lyrical name, arrived here almost two years ago to accomplish her dream of making wine. She is not only doing that, but also becoming an expert on the winemakers and wineries in the process. Originally from Alaska, she has lived in Costa Rica and Argentina before coming to Baja to learn winemaking.
(If you would like to sponsor the Baja Blog, or any column on ECM, contact email@example.com)
By Susan A Mahalick
Photos by Sitara Monica Perez
March 19, 2014 (Baja)--You walk into a long space broken up by curves of white walls, stained glass windows and a large bar with lights behind the stained glass at the base at night. Both bistro type seating and regular dining tables are available in the main dining room. There is a second room for events or private parties. A very large window at the rear overlooking the Pacific opens to the fresh salt air. Ceiling fans circulate in key locations. The ceiling is made from plastic, clear tiles which provide plenty of natural light.
By Miriam Raftery
January 15, 2014 (Lakeside) – If you’re looking for a place to getaway from the hustle and bustle of city living without traveling far away, consider a stay at one of San Diego County’s local Native American resorts. Recently, I won a vacation to Barona Resort & Casino in a prize drawing at the La Mesa Centennial party –so in early January, my husband and I savored a relaxing weekend at Barona.
Unlike Las Vegas casinos, Barona resort is not glitzy or gaudy. The casino and hotel complex are designed to fit in with the rural ambience, complete with a casino designed to resemble a barn and a waterwheel. The property includes several lakes, providing idyllic places for walking or relaxing in an Adirondack chair to watch the sunset over the nearby mountains. The site is also designated as a migratory bird sanctuary by the Audobon Society.
December 23, 2013 (San Diego) – If you love California’s agricultural products — our fruits, nuts, veggies, chicken, eggs and pork chops — the County Agricuiltural Department has this reminder for you: don’t pack a pest in your luggage!
The holiday season is also the season for traveling. And we should all do our best to protect the California agricultural products we love to eat — and which make up a huge part of our state and local economy — by making sure we don’t accidentally bring something home that can force quarantines, wreck crops and wreak havoc.
By Roy L Hales
November 6, 2013 (San Diego) – Cruises are popular getaways, and many ships depart from Southern California. Only some cruise lines have better environmental records than others. Marcie Keever, of Friends of the Earth report, recently did an evaluation of 162 cruise ships to help people choose green and sustainable businesses.
Among cruise ships departing from San Diego, for example, ratings ranged from “A” to “F” depending on the cruise line and category.
By Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna
June 17, 2013 (San Diego) – It’s summer time, and time for a vacation! Many of us may be ready for or planning a vacation for the summer months. Here are some safety tips to help make your vacation safe and enjoyable says Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna. Vacation safety actually begins while you are still at home and begins with planning for safety!
June 4, 2013 (Alpine) – Viejas Casino & Resort has been awarded the prestigious Four Diamond status from the American Automobile Association (AAA), officially designating the property as one of the nation’s premier resort destinations.
Fewer than 5% of the nearly 31,000 properties approved by AAA achieve the highly-coveted Four Diamond distinction.
“We are extremely proud to be acknowledged as one of the finest resort destinations in the country,” said Viejas Casino & Resort General Manager Chris Kelley. “This honor is a testament to the dedication, hard work and professionalism of our Team Members and reflects our absolute dedication to the highest standards of guest service, accommodations and amenities.”
By Laura Chapman
March 28, 2013 (San Diego's East County)--We all know about going "green" around our homes. Recycling newspapers, plastic and aluminum has become so commonplace that we actually look for recycling bins when we're out and about. How many times have you gone to a dinner party and helped with the cleanup by asking, "Do you recycle?" All of this is aimed at the goal of reducing our individual carbon footprints. If we can all lower the amount of carbon by-products released into the atmosphere we'll be taking proactive steps to bolster our fragile eco-system.
Now the green movement has spread beyond homes and businesses and out into the travel industry. Yes, you can see the world and still go green.
Story and photos by Miriam Raftery, video by Paul Kruze
March 22, 2013 (Alpine) – “This truly is a game changer for East County,” said Joe Terzi, Chief Executive Officer of the San Diego Tourism Authority, at a VIP grand opening last night of the $36 million, five-story hotel at Viejas Casino & Resort in Alpine. He hailed the new resort as a “great new addition to the San Diego region” that will help East County benefit from tourism that drives San Diego’s economy.
Dignitaries and community leaders from across our region turned out for last night’s occasion. A second opening for the public, including a free world premier performance of the Cirque-style show “Rise”, will be held on Saturday night, March 23 along with fireworks to celebrate East County’s landmark new addition.
View our exclusive video, see our photo gallery and read details of this landmark occasion below.
March 11, 2013 (Jacumba Hot Springs)--Pinch Flat Fortune Productions has created a delightful video that provides a cyclist’s eye view of Jacumba Hot Springs, a town built around a natural mineral spring bubbling up from the ground near a pond that’s a birdwatcher’s haven. The filmmakers call Jacumba Hot Springs “magical,” adding that in addition to free camping and soothing soaks, the community has, “some of the kindest, quirkiest, most interesting people we have ever met, all in one place.”
By Aimee Walker
February 3, 2013 (Southwest U.S.)The southwest of the United States is of course widely known for that most magnificent of natural wonders, the Grand Canyon. The region has much more to offer than a single scenic wonder, however. The four states of Colorado, Utah, New Mexico and Arizona have some of the most magnificent hiking trails in all of the US.
By Amanda Witt
Editor’s note: The following hilarious account of a vacation gone awry was written by a friend. Names have been changed to protect the privacy of the author and her husband, a candidate for public office. Amanda is currently recovering from this misadventures in paradise.
September 21, 2012 (San Diego) – We prepaid for a trip to Maui for our 34th wedding anniversary in March and could not take it due to my third shoulder surgery. Then we learned that we had to use it or lose it, so the first week in September we boarded a plane bound for paradise. This seemed like a good idea, as it would give Rob a break from campaigning.
Autumn in California's Eastern Sierras
By Mary Robinson
September 5, 2012 (Sierra Nevadas) -- It begins as a prayer. Zen-like in its simplicity. Your paddle glides soundlessly into the chilly mix of Sierra snow melt where the tiniest of insects alight on the water amid bursts of orange and red leaves. Just you, a lake and the mountains' reflection.
By Dennis Moore
April 19, 2012 (Baja)--Baja, or Baja California, is the northernmost part of Mexico--just across the border from San Diego. Like a hidden jewel waiting to be discovered, the region has many tantalizing facets. Baja includes the cities and towns of Tecate, Ensenada, Tijuana, Rosarito Beach and Puerto Nuevo, which is world renowned for its lobster fest.