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Places, Earth
San Diego 2015
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San Diego 2015

Original Article and Photographs by Kenneth A. Larson © 2015 - 2017

We got off an hour late, as usual, heading south to Oceanside where we exited at Highway 78 toward Carlsbad. Due to numerous delays, we arrived at Leo Carrillo Ranch Historic Park two minutes before the 11:00 tour.

The tour started heading toward the original ranch entrance and then the ranch Caretaker's house. On the way we passed various fruit trees and cactus, some in bloom. We followed the tour route to the main house where we learned more about Leo Carrillo, a popular character actor from vaudeville to color TV. The main house had been built long before Leo bought the ranch, but he had it restored and it became a single story from the original two story. Leo liked to entertain and the tour next took us through or past other constructionss such as the poool, large barbeque, Cantina, garage, barn, and others, ending at the Visitor Center which showed a 10 minute video.

Next we took back roads to Alpine to spend the rest of the day with a friend under the clear, dark, star filled skies of eastern San Diego County.

The next morning, we spent some time with my friend and then headed east on I-8 a few miles to Highway 79 north. We entered Cuyamaca Rancho State Park. About 2003, this area had been badly burned in a devastating wildfire which threatened the town of Julian. But that was some years ago and while there was much evidence of large dead trees, it was starting to green up. Cuyamaca Reservoir

2006, three years after the fire.

2015, twelve years after the fire.
seemed a little low, but we've been in a drought for several years. I'm not sure, but I think Highway 79 is the western boundary of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park for a mile or two. We stopped for a minute at Desert View Park (AKA Jess Martin Park) a very small park with a very large view, the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, largest state park in California. We learned later that it was a perfect day to see the wild flowers, but we were running out of time and had to pass it up.

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park


It was just a few more miles to Julian which we have visited many times before. Our first stop was at Eagle and High Peak Mine. We began at the Blacksmith Shop, now the Visitor Center and store which sells rocks, gold related objects, and other souvenirs. Outside are some antique vehicles and a gold panning demonstration. The tour was about to start so we bought our tickets and watched the panning demonstration. Our guide told us about the colorful history of Julian and about gold mining in general. Next we proceeded into the Eagle Mine up the main tunnel connecting all the branch tunnels. The tunnel runs uphill into the mountain so that the loaded ore cars roll down hill. About half way through the tour, we crossed the boundary into the High Peak Mine, which used the Eagle Mine tunnel because it was a faster way to get out of the center of the mountain, although they kept everything else separate. The High Peak Mine did have its own tunnel entrance which is how we exited the mines. Along the short walk back to the Visitor Center, we passed more old equipment and vehicles.

We had visited the museums and historic building in town during our previous visit, so we had lunch at Apple Alley Bakery, including a piece of pie. I got in line at Julian Pie Company where I bought an Apple and Mountain Berry pie while my wife got in line at Mom's Pies for an Apple Crumble. I won't tell you which pie was better, only that I enjoyed taste testing them all. It was time to move on.

We stopped a few minutes in Santa Ysabel and visited the historic Santa Ysabel Store and Backcountry Visitor Center which had information on the area and sells antiques and souvenirs. We continued west on Highway 78 past Oasis Camel Dairy, San Pasqual Battlefield State Historic Park, and San Diego Zoo Safari Park, all of which will have to wait for another day. Thanks to traffic we arrive home much later than we had planned but logged another successful road trip.

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This page last updated: Friday, 28-Apr-2017 12:54:20 EDT

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