Osprey, State Route 94, San Diego County, California

Beyond the boondocks, part 1: State Route 94, San Diego County

Out & About

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

San Diego County is unique because there is such a variety of geography, and a variety of people to go with it. Going from west to east, there are the beautiful beaches, urban madness, suburbia, low mountains, high mountains, and……….

Beyond the boondocks

Arguably one of the most beautiful drives in San Diego County is State Route 94 (SR94), of which about 72% is beyond the boondocks:

State Route 94 map

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

SR94 was designated the Martin Luther King Jr. Freeway in September 1989 after years of brouhaha over San Diego (an arch-conservative, white majority city for many decades) not having a Martin Luther King Jr. freeway like most cities and states.

SR94 begins in downtown San Diego at the intersection with Interstate 5 and works its way east, from urban to suburban to boondocks to beyond the boondocks, connecting with Interstate 8 a little more than 63 miles to the east.

Although SR94 is eligible for inclusion in the State Scenic Highway System, for some reason Caltrans has not seen fit to add it. This is the same Caltrans that waters the freeways at 2:00 p.m. on 90°F days (that’s an editorial comment).

Communities served by SR94, from west to east:

  1. San Diego (southeast) — urban
  2. Lemon Grove — suburban
  3. La Mesa — suburban
  4. Spring Valley — boondocks
  5. Casa de Oro — boondocks
  6. Rancho San Diego — boondocks
  7. Jamul — beyond the boondocks
  8. Dulzura — beyond the boondocks
  9. Tecate — beyond the boondocks
  10. Potrero — beyond the boondocks
  11. Campo — beyond the boondocks
  12. Boulevard — beyond the boondocks

This post covers only the portion of SR94 from Jamul to Boulevard, so you city slickers can either enjoy the scenery or go look for a city slicker blog somewhere……….:)

SR 94 is very close to the border with Mexico, so you will see lots of Border Patrol cars and you’re bound to pass through at least one border patrol checkpoint. Be nice to the officers and their drug-sniffing and hidden people-sniffing dogs….

Border Patrol checkpoint

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

If you look off to the south, you can sometimes see the brown border fence built during the last few years to try to keep Mexican citizens from entering the United States illegally.

Border fence with Mexico, State Route 94, San Diego County, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The road is winding, and dangerous, particularly in rainy weather. Although the speed limit is generally 50 mph, if you’ve never driven SR94 before, you’ll be hard pressed to do 50 mph around unfamiliar curves.

State Route 94, San Diego County, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

State Route 94, San Diego County, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The mountains are beautiful, and there are many stopping points where you can get out and take pictures.

State Route 94, San Diego County, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

State Route 94, San Diego County, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Below is a Photoshop Photomerge panorama using nine pictures. Click on the picture for a larger version.

State Route 94, San Diego County, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Look at the tops of the mountains where you will often see some spectacular homes.

Homes beyond the boondocks

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

There are surface indications of faults beyond the boondocks, nothing like the San Andreas Fault, though.

State Route 94, San Diego County, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Since people do live beyond the boondocks, there are places to eat and stores to buy souvenirs to prove to family and friends that you did, indeed, go beyond the boondocks.

State Route 94, San Diego County, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

State Route 94, San Diego County, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Rattlesnake eggs for sale inside

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Wildlife is plentiful — ospreys, rabbits, cows, coyotes, road runners, eagles, wild dogs, and, of course, snakes, including rattlesnakes.

Drive slowly (there are turnouts so you can let faster local traffic go by), keep your eyes open, and have your cameras handy.

Osprey, State Route 94, San Diego County, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Rabbit, State Route 94, San Diego County, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Cattle, State Route 94, San Diego County, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Cattle, State Route 94, San Diego County, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Wild dog, State Route 94, San Diego County, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

If you’re interested in getting out of the car and doing something, there are several places that offer horse rides. Just be sure to obey all signs.

Horse rides, State Route 94, San Diego County, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

In Campo there is the Motor Transport Museum of San Diego. Admission is free but they are only open on Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Click on the panorama below for a bigger picture.

Motor Transport Museum, State Route 94, San Diego County, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Also in Campo is the Pacific Southwest Railway Museum which offers rides on historic trains. They also are open only on weekends but have lots of interesting events throughout the year. Check them out for Halloween (Pumpkin Express), Thanksgiving, and Christmas (North Pole Limited) events. Click on the panoramas for bigger pictures.

Pacific Southwest Railroad Musem, Campo, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Railroad trestle, State Route 94, Campo, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Railroad bridge, State Route 94, San Diego County, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Train trestle panorama, State Route 94, San Diego County, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Train tracks, State Route 94, San Diego County, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Not on SR94 but accessible only via SR94 is Tecate, comprising both Tecate, California, and Tecate, Mexico. It is where Tecate beer is brewed, and there are free beer-tasting events throughout the year.

Tecate, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Much of the area beyond the boondocks burned in the October 2003 and October 2007 fires, and while I was out there, the Shockey Fire was burning, having burned 2,851 acres, destroyed 11 homes, and taken the life of an 82-year-old handicapped man who apparently had refused orders to evacuate. Folks, property and material possessions are not worth lives; if you are ordered to evacuate in advance of wildfires, please do so!

The main vegetation beyond the boondocks is manzanita. It’s a very beautiful bush but it is basically a flame thrower because when it gets overheated it bursts into flames. Maybe this might have been the bush in the Bible story.

Manzanita, State Route 94, San Diego County, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

If you get out to do a little walking, pay attention to where you are putting your feet. The infamous “jumping cactus” (Chollas sp.) makes its home beyond the boondocks. Chollas has extremely painful thorns, and the branches break off with barely any contact, resulting in its “jumping cactus” name. If it attaches to you, you will be in pain, and getting the little pieces of cactus off of you….. well, the ordeal will put a damper on your day.

Chollas cactus, State Route 94, San Diego County, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Although that is a large specimen, easily seen, the little pieces that fall to the ground start growing, like any good cactus, and it’s those little ones that you really have to watch out for. Even an experienced botanist like me occasionally runs into these things. I brushed up against a small one while I was taking pictures for this post, and two days later I still have a painful whelp where one cactus thorn pierced me good, real good.

Also beyond the boondocks is a large, vining plant with very large, beautiful, and aromatic flowers. It looks like this:

Datura, State Route 94, San Diego County, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

As much as you’re going to want to pick a flower, DO NOT DO IT! This plant is a Datura species, also known as stinkweed, jimsonweed, angels trumpet, moonflowers, deadly nightshade, henbane, mandrake, thornapple, and witches weeds. It is extremely aromatic from dusk to dawn, but as soon as you touch a flower or leaf, it and you stink to high heaven, and it’s a smell that rivals the skunk and is just as difficult to remove. This will also put a damper on your trip beyond the boondocks.

Lastly, you will see a lot of trees with the bottom three feet of their trunks painted white. According to my wise old grandmother, who also did this, the paint prevents insects from attacking the trees. There is no scientific proof of that, but people who live beyond the boondocks probably don’t read very many scientific journals.

Painted tree trunk, State Route 94, San Diego County, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Keep your eyes on the mountains to the north and you can see remnants of an aqueduct that brought water to San Diego from the lower Colorado River many decades ago. Click on the panorama picture for a bigger picture.

San Diego Aquaduct, State Route 94, San Diego County, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Looking for real estate services in San Diego County?
I can highly recommend
James Frimmer, Realtor
Century 21 Award, DRE #01458572

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I recommend Russel Ray — that’s me!Real Estate Solutions

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

26 thoughts on “Beyond the boondocks, part 1: State Route 94, San Diego County

  1. Chancy and Mumsy

    Thank you, Russell for sharing this in pictures. Although the sites are great to see I would not want to travel that highway. Loved all the animal pictures and the signs. Hugs

    Reply
  2. Pit

    Hi Russel,
    The bicyclist in me would like to know if you have any idea of hnow much of this beautiful road has good shoulders to ride a bicycle on. In the pictures I sometimes saw fairly wide shoulders and sometimes none.
    Take care, and have a good one,
    Pit

    Reply
        1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

          I’m self-employed and generally work at home, so give me 24 hours notice and I can meet you just about anywhere. I will have some free tickets to the Zoo and the Safari Park by then since I just renewed my annual pass and the perks come with the renewal. A day at the Zoo?

          Reply
  3. Pingback: Scenes from……….beyond the boondocks « Russel Ray Photos

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