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.
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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.
By Megan McGlamery
December 5, 2011 (Jamul) -- Tucked away in the scenic countryside of Jamul, California is the five-star Jamul Haven Inn, an exquisite bed and breakfast featuring a beautiful Victorian farmhouse. This four-bedroom, four-bathroom inn is especially spectacular during the holiday season, when innkeeper Marianne Roetzheim brings the holiday spirit to life with her stunning decorations.
Story and photos by Miriam Raftery
March 7, 2011 (Santee) –Golden lights glowed from the interiors of floating and waterfront cabins at Santee Lakes--cozy havens which will soon be accommodating overnight guests. I took a sneak-preview stroll along Lake 7 at twilight—witnessing the transformation from daytime to nightfall in the campground.
As the sun set, I could hear the “singing” of coyotes on nearby hills. Soon, deep indigo blue hues enveloped the lake and sky above. The soft call of a night heron carried on the wind. Shorebirds perched in trees or foraged among rushes along a waterfront path; a flock of ducks left a rippling trail across the otherwise mirror-smooth lake, crowned by rolling hills beyond.
Hooked On Baja, By Tom Gatch, (The Countryman Press, Woodstock, Vermont, 2007, 206 pages.)
Book Review: By Dennis Moore
November 11, 2010 (San Diego) -- Tom Gatch, who has built a solid reputation as one of the foremost writers and photographers focusing on outdoor and recreational topics in Southern California and the Baja Peninsula, has written the definitive book on where and how to fish Mexico’s legendary waters, Hooked On Baja.
Story and photos by Tom Gatch
October 25, 2010 (Baja)--Punta Banda is a narrow, mostly barren, finger of land that pokes out into the Pacific Ocean at the southern end of Bahia Todos Santos near the City of Ensenada. Standing not far from the tip, bus loads of bug-eyed tourists regularly stare out at the myriad of sharp, guano covered outcroppings as they munch on fish tacos and wait for the next influx of water to surge through the legendary blowhole, then spurt up in the air and dissolve into a fine, cool mist.
Story and photos by Miriam Raftery
October 1, 2010 (Julian) –If you’re heading up to the Julian Apple Festival this weekend, you’ll find plenty of sights to see along the way.
This time of year, watch for wildlife and glimpses of fall foliage as the trees begin to acquire their autumn shades of splendor, though the most spetacular fall colors are still a couple of weeks away in most areas. Still there are plenty of attractions right now to make a trip to the mountains worthwhile.
All aboard! Pacific Southwest Railway Museum in Campo
By Dennis Richardson
August 29, 2010 (Campo) -- A cool breeze whistled in our ears as the Golden State Diesel- Electric train rumbled across the Campo Creek trestle, straight toward a tunnel blasted through a mountain. Three large owls soared through the darkened tunnel as we journeyed back in time.
A"Staycation" in East County
By Rachel Ford
April 2010 (Jamul) -- Jamul Haven is an 1890 Victorian mansion that has been lovingly transformed into a luxury bed and breakfast. Situated within 30 minutes of downtown San Diego, this European style bed and breakfast is nestled in a picturesque valley and is well worth a visit.
By Miriam Raftery
Video by Rob Constantine
“Just like the Roman Empire, things that are built can decay, but they’re never lost as long as you keep them in your heart.” – Christian Woempner
May 7, 2009 (San Diego’s East County)—Traveling down Old Highway 80 with a man who helped build it proved a nostalgic and fascinating journey. “I love the sound of tires,” Craig Woemper, a 39-year veteran of Cal-Trans, said as the road ker-thumped beneath us. Raised in rural East County, Craig and his son, Christian, joined ECM’s editor and videographer for a trip down memory lane, providing insights not only into the road’s colorful history, but also sharing lore and legends of our region, assuring that these memories will not be consigned to the dust bin of history.
|Wild horse sculptures|
By Miriam Raftery
April 1, 2009 (Borrego)—Visitors to Anza-Borrego may be startled by the vision of life-sized metal sculptures of dinosaurs, mastodons and other prehistoric creatures rising from the desert floor like sentinels of a forgotten era. Other sculptures portray wild horses, birds of prey, tortoises, a saber-tooth tiger and Native American themes. The creations by sculptor Ricardo Breceda are just some of the many surprises in store for those who visit the Anza-Borrego Desert, a treasure trove of hidden gems.
By Dennis Moore
December 7, 2008 (Tecate) — Between the desert and the sea beats the heart of Baja California: Tecate, Mexico (not to be confused with the American city by the same name just across the border). Located in the northern central part of the state, Tecate is the ideal starting destination to every other city or point of interest in the region including Mexicali, Ensenada, La Rumorosa, Tijuana, Rosarito Beach and San Diego, California.
La Rumorosa, a solid rock mountain range between Tecate and Mexicali, affords breathtaking scenery to the desert below. During wintertime, the snow-covered mountains of La Rumorosa bring a winter wonderland atmosphere to the area, the Mexican counterpart to Vail or Aspen, Colorado.