Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Lakeside to Desert View Tower

As promised yesterday, here's  my "returning to the Tower" post with many pictures and some personal thoughts about each spot.


Up Interstate 8 about seven miles east, near Alpine, is a popular scenic viewpoint. Yesterday it was graced by four or five semi-trucks as well as several other vehicles. On a clear day, "rise and look around you, and you'll see just who you are." Oops. Forgot I was wearing the "My brain is 80% song lyrics" t-shirt. Seriously, when the sky is clear, I've been able to see all the way to Point Loma and the ocean. Yesterday, not quite that far. It's a good spot for truckers to rest themselves and their trucks, preparing for the grade up to a little over 4,000 feet. 

Trucks at Alpine Viewpoint
Here's the view toward the west yesterday. The ocean is past that very faint outline of a mountain near the center. But, it's still a wonderful view that changes with each season.

View Towards San Diego from Alpine Viewpoint
I hung around for a short time, checked out the view, the people, and my email. Nope. Nothing spectacular, except the view. Time to get back on the road as there was still about 55 miles, more or less, to go. However, I decided to get off the freeway and head up Old Highway 80. There's more to see that way.


View from Tierra Del Sol
I have a good friend who is a member of the San Diego Astronomy Association (SDAA). According to their website, "Public Star Parties are held during the dark of the moon at the Association's observing site at Tierra Del Sol.The schedule for these parties maybe found in the Events section of this website. The Club's 22-inch LippRitchey-Chretien reflector, as well as its newly acquired 8-inch D&G refractor, are available for club members and hosted during Public Star Parties for visitors." 

I've been up there with him many times and have always been impressed by the number, size, and variety of telescopes members set up to view the sky. Tierra Del Sol is located near the small town of Live Oak Springs, off  Tierra Del Sol Road. Please see this map for more detailed directions. 


Okay, Sharon Greve Campbell, here's Boulevard for you. The town used to be a going concern, until the freeway bypassed it. According to Wikipedia, "The town and post office were named Boulevard after US Highway 80 which ran through town. Eventually Interstate 8 was constructed, bypassing the town." But since the town is only about 12 miles from the Desert View Tower, friends and I go there to eat all the time. Oh, and to also splurge a little on candy.


The Wisteria Candy Cottage has been in Boulevard since 1921. My mom and dad recalled stopping there many times. However, it went through many changes of ownership and closures over the years. It's now been reopened for quite a few years and is a must-stop for anyone with a sweet tooth http://www.wisteriacandycottage.com/. I love their caramel and pecan turtles. 

Wisteria Candy Cottage

Almost across the street from the candy store is the Manzanita Diner, where we go for dinner almost every week. They specialize in Italian food, and their lasagna is outstanding. As are their pizzas. I love their barbecued chicken pizza. We usually call ahead and our beers, water, and pizza are usually ready when we arrive. 

Even though a friend and I are almost 70, we're sometimes (usually?) still kids at heart. And Brandy, our favorite waitress, caters to us. For some reason, known only to us, we've gotten into the habit of blowing straw wrappers at each other. So, to cater to the "kids," she started placing a bunch of straws at our places. To thank her, we usually pelt her with four or five, all in fun. I'm sure it's a waste of paper and plastic, but hilarious sometimes. Several weeks ago, one of my wrappers got stuck on a sliver of the wood ceiling and remained up there for quite a while. It finally fell down. Oh, well.

Brandy's daughter, Aubrey, also works in the restaurant, and we were thrilled to see her oldest child take her first steps. Aubrey just had her second daughter several months ago. So cute. Both women are some of the hardest workers I've ever seen, yet they take time to get to know their customers and provide small things, like Easter stickers, for us. Brandy takes care in wrapping our leftover pizza in foil, turning the packages into things like rabbits with long ears or dragons. Definitely a good place to eat. Closed on Wednesdays.

Manzanita Diner


The Golden Acorn Casino is technically in Campo, but since it's right off the freeway, on Old Highway 80, I'll include it here. I've only been there to gamble once, on a Senior Day, but have eaten in their restaurant several times.Nothing to write home about, but they have quite decent prices, such as the typical Prime Rib Dinners for $7.77. I usually stop by to fill up my gas tank on the way back from San Diego as their prices are reasonable.And they do have quite a wide variety of snacks and other items in their store.

Do you see the "wind farm" to the right in this picture? Since the casino is located at an elevation of around 4,000 feet, it's an ideal spot for those turbines. There are quite a few of them on a hill across the freeway.

Golden Acorn Casino

I include this picture of an interesting tree just because I love seeing it each time I drive by between Boulevard and Jacumba. Forgive the radio antenna to the left: I was too lazy to get out of the car.

Interesting Tree along Old Highway 80

And finally, Jacumba Hot Springs, at the end of our trip. Borrowing from the Wikipedia article, "Jacumba Hot Springs is located on the Mexican Border. A small settlement exists on the Mexican side, known as Jacume; the unmanned crossing was closed in 1995. The new, enlarged border fence now runs through the area. The United States Border Patrol maintains an increased presence in the area to curtail smuggling and illegal immigration."

Jacumba was another spot negatively affected by the freeway. "Around the turn of the 20th century, the health and relaxation benefits of natural hot springs began to be commercialized. The Jacumba hot spring is prolific and delivered enough water to fill large public baths, the remains of which can still be seen. The water contains sulfur but has a pleasant clean smell. In 1919 rail service connected Jacumba to San Diego. By 1925 the town had a world class hotel, the Hotel Jacumba. In the 1930s, Jacumba had developed into a top destination and had a population of about 1,150. Many of the foremost movie stars and celebrities of the time regarded Jacumba as a prime destination for relaxation."

Now there is very little left of the town except for a refurbished hotel/restaurant, a small store, a school, and a few other spots. Please read the rest of the Wikipedia article for more information. I would have loved to live here when the city was in its prime.

Coming back here after a few years, I cried when I saw this horrible border fence between Jacumba and Mexico for the first time. Families used to be able to walk back and forth over the border and visit with each other. Now it's necessary for them to somehow drive or get rides many miles to the nearest border crossing, either Tecate or perhaps Calexico. Needless to say, I hate the fence and always will.

Border Fence
Here's what's left of the city of Jacumba, looking east.

Entering Jacumba
Ricardo Breceda is well-known for his metal sculptures in Borrego Springs, and here is another of them, this one located in front of the Jacumba branch of the San Diego County Library.

Breceda Metal Sculpture at Library
It's been very windy up here lately, and I loved the tumbleweed stuck in the wires at the small Jacumba Airport.

Tumbleweed Caught in Wires at Airport
And here's the turnoff to the Desert View Tower, on In-Ko-Pah Park Road. There was actually a park here for a while but it was shut down many years ago.

Turnoff to Desert View Tower

 And here we are, safe and sound, at the Desert View Tower. Hope you enjoyed your trip. Please come again. 

Desert View Tower

Monday, March 28, 2016

Desert View Tower to Lakeside, CA

Okay. This morning I threatened to blog about my 120-mile round trip drive from the Desert View Tower to Lakeside, CA and back. I needed a haircut, and the woman who has cut my hair for many years now lives there. Besides, it’s been so windy up here today I wanted an excuse to get away for a bit. So, here goes – pictures and all.

I got on Interstate 8 and headed west, passing the turnoff to the town of Jacumba. I’ll take you through there on the way back. This first picture shows the view on a cloudy, windy morning of an almost empty freeway and the mountains in the distance. 

 Since the Border Patrol in their white and green trucks is a huge presence here, I usually avoid the uphill inspection stop on the freeway by turning off onto Old Highway 80. There’s still a stop on that road but it takes no time at all. And I don’t have to wait in a long line and then shift gears to make it up the hill. 

 Old Highway 80 served as the main road between San Diego and the back country for many years until the freeway was built. And it goes through some beautiful scenery, shown on the next four pictures.


After a quick drive past the Border Patrol guard, I got back on the freeway and finished the drive into El Cajon. This morning I was in a hurry to make my appointment so didn’t stop along the freeway to take pictures. And I also needed to get some gas. However, I made up for it on the way back, as you’ll see by the number of pictures and descriptions in the second part of this blog, “Lakeside to Desert View Tower.” 

The next two pictures show part of the city of El Cajon, where I stopped for gas. Are you getting excited yet?

Well, after filling the tank with $2.45/gallon gas, the cheapest I've found in the area right now, I headed into Lakeside for my haircut and to visit and talk Bernie Sanders politics with my good friend, Cindy. She now sells manufactured homes, but also still cuts friends' hair at her home. I got to play with her little granddaughter as well. 

This is the end of part 1, the trip down. Now I need to spend some time reducing the size of the rest of the pictures, so will write the rest of the story tomorrow. Stay tuned. Hope you're not too excited yet. LOL!

Saturday, September 5, 2015

A Somewhat "Rocky" Situation

In the grand scheme of things, this probably ranks way up there with watching water boil or something. But, it's annoying all the same.


C'mon, shoe manufacturers. Not all of us live with sidewalks and grass. Not all of us have full-time housekeepers to sweep up all the little rocks several times a day. Not all of us have the time or desire to pick out little rocky pieces before entering a building or room to avoid scratching the floor.

What's the purpose of the deep grooves?  Give me a good reason and I'll shut up. Well, probably not, but it sounded good.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Curiously Trivial? Or Is It?

Except for a long stint of playing "Duke Nukem" in the 1980s and "Scrabble" last year, I have never been very interested in computer games. But, thanks to my son and his fiance, I've somehow gotten hooked on "Trivia Crack." Not sure why, but in two months, I've advanced to Level 130 or so, whatever that means. I'm really not that interested in the awards like cards, gems or what-have-you. No, I just enjoy the challenge of answering questions in the various categories. And that's really what this blog is about.Trivia Crack-Education Version

For those of you who haven't played the game, the categories of questions are: Sports, Art, History, Geography, Science, and Entertainment. I won't go into the details of how to play because it's very simple: figuratively spin a wheel online and answer a question from whichever category the pointer lands on. If you answer correctly, you can continue going until you miss a question. For the rest of the details, you might check out the Trivia Crack site.

The questions are rated Easy to Difficult, with a choice of four answers. Here are some samples:

  • What is the addictive chemical in cigarettes? Alcohol? Carbon Dioxide? Sodium? Nicotine?
  • What country did King Hussein rule? Vietnam? Canada? England? Jordan?
  • What is poi made from? Breadfruit? Taro? Rice? Potato?
  • Marcus Allen won the Heisman Trophy in 1981 while attending which college? UCLA? University of Miami?  USC? Oklahoma?
  • What kind of animal is the cartoon character, "Daffy?" Hen? Duck? Doodle Bug? Bear?
  • What is the Beaufort scale used to measure? Surf? Barometer readings? Wind intensity? Volcanic Activity? 

Sure, it's disappointing to answer a question wrong. But, I love Google. What's to stop me from looking up more information about those baseball stats or that rock group, to find out more about them? Nothing. I've discovered my best category is Science, but there are many chemistry and physics-based questions I have no idea how to answer. Google. How about the history of the rulers of various countries? How about which states or countries border others? Google.
                                                                                   Chemistry Tutor Online

In another blog, I might write more seriously about my thoughts on the Googlization (is that a word?) of the world. But for now, it's sufficient to use it for somewhat trivial pursuits in search of little bits of extra knowledge, perhaps just to win a game, or perhaps to expand my knowledge just a little.

 Model Rocket!

Which Reggae band helped Sean Paul launch his career? Do you know? I don't have the slightest idea.
 Sean Paul Sued By Ex-GF For $80 Mil, Did Cocaine, Erectile Dysfunction ...

Friday, August 28, 2015

Lumbering Around at the Desert View Tower

Okay. I admit it. It's been kind of a long time since I've posted anything. Like, way back in March? In between, I worked on Orcas Island in the San Juan Islands in Washington for a month, then came back here to the Desert View Tower. This has been the first summer I've stayed here - and it's too damned HOT!!! Hopefully this heat and humidity will end soon. In the meantime, I love the air conditioning in the RV and have been getting a lot of reading done.

 In order to do anything outside, I've found that heading out about 6 am and working for a couple of hours before it gets too sweltering works pretty well. So, we've had a project for the last month. Those of you who know me pretty well might remember that I enjoy starting what might seem like impossible projects and actually finishing them. This has been one of them. And I swear I've gotten some pretty decent muscles in my arms in the process.

In October, the owner of the Tower will be welcoming his brother and family here from Bali, which will be quite a change for them. They'll most likely be living in the little green house, very close to where my RV is  parked. In order to give them some much needed privacy, I decided to move my rig down the hill. Not a bad spot at all. But, the beautiful view has been spoiled by a huge (humongous?) pile of several years' worth of old lumber, immense stickery tree branches, scrap metal, and other kinds of junk and trash. In addition, the owner had dug a long trench to repair the lines for the sewer leach field. He made an offhand remark one day that he has wanted to clear out the area for a long time. Impossible? Well, yeah. But, what else did I have to do? LOL!

My RV and site

Wish I'd thought to take some "before" pictures, but alas, you'll have to use your imagination to visualize what the area looked like, using the "almost completed" pictures I took this afternoon.

We started by tackling the huge stack of assorted "stuff," which rose to the lower branches of the three trees and covered all the area between them, out to the driveway. Layers and layers and layers of every size of both useful and no-way-in hell-to use-this wood and metal and ??? you can think of. Sandwiched in between the layers were beer cans and bottles, pieces of wire, cardboard boxes, and anything else you can imagine. It took a couple of weeks to get rid of that pile, piece by piece, layer by layer. We made several secondary stacks of stuff in order to just be able to walk around: good wood in one stack, possible firewood in another, branches and tree limbs, and complete worthless junk in yet another. We threw all the possible firewood into the back of the pickup and unloaded it up the hill, where we'll cut it as needed. So, one huge stack turned into another somewhat smaller stack in another place. Hmm. Did that make any kind of difference? Not sure. You decide.

Stack for firewood

 Gradually we uncovered the trees by getting rid of all that stuff and doing a lot of raking to get rid of several years' worth of dried thatch. That stack of thatch alone took many, many trips with the wheelbarrow to get rid of it down the hill, out of sight. Note: since the construction-type wheelbarrow has also been used for foundation work, the inside is coated with a nice layer of hardened cement, making it quite a bit heavier than I'm used to. (Are you picturing the development of muscles yet?)

This is what the area looks like today. More to come. But the area under the trees is now clear.

On to the maybe-useful wood. I rounded up lots of old plastic buckets and filled them with kindling-size pieces, ready to grab for winter fires. As for all the old branches and tree limbs, I dragged them all down the hill - again, many trips - minding all the thorns (Band-Aids help). We stacked all the possibly-building-usable wood nearby. Lots of 2 x 2s, 2 x 4s, and 4 x 4s. Couple of huge black plastic trash bags took care of the plastic, bottles, cans, weird metal, and other stuff. I filled six other trash bags with dried cardboard and paper, again, to use as kindling.

In the meantime, the owner finished the sewer leach field project and filled in the trench. One less thing to jump over. Yaay! We've still got a bunch of old fencing, hoses, and other possibly usable stuff, as well as a big stack of tree stumps. Perhaps we'll even level the ground a little.

See the little building in the pictures? A former tenant built that several years ago but didn't get to finish it. Ben is going to complete it, covering a couple of walls to go with the sliding glass doors and the windows, all of which provide a beautiful view of the canyon, mountains, and desert below. We'll cover the roof and finish the floor a little better and...voila, something special.  I'm visualizing a possible getaway when the weather is dismal and the RV gets too crowded with one person. And my friend Cindy Crawford has offered a picnic table and bench for under the tree. Thank you, Cindy.

 It's still a work in progress, made slower by the 100+ degree weather and humidity. But, the end is in sight. Probably time to pick another project, you think? Hah!

P.S. A big thanks to Ben's sister, Mary, who just sent me this picture of the area in 2013. She wrote that they moved a lot of the stuff in order to get to the leach field. So, we didn't have to worry about the chain link fence, the wooden wire core, and some of the other larger things. However, other than the leach field ditch (and the piled up dirt), the area got filled up with more stuff.

The area in 2013