Beyond the boondocks, part 1: State Route 94, San Diego County
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……….
Arguably one of the most beautiful drives in San Diego County is State Route 94 (SR94), of which about 72% is beyond the boondocks:
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:
San Diego (southeast) — urban
Lemon Grove — suburban
La Mesa — suburban
Spring Valley — boondocks
Casa de Oro — boondocks
Rancho San Diego — boondocks
Jamul — beyond the boondocks
Dulzura — beyond the boondocks
Tecate — beyond the boondocks
Potrero — beyond the boondocks
Campo — beyond the boondocks
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….
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.
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.
The mountains are beautiful, and there are many stopping points where you can get out and take pictures.
Below is a Photoshop Photomerge panorama using nine pictures. Click on the picture for a larger version.
Look at the tops of the mountains where you will often see some spectacular homes.
There are surface indications of faults beyond the boondocks, nothing like the San Andreas Fault, though.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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Posted on September 27, 2012, in Birds, Digital photo editing, Fauna, Flora, Halls of History, History, Manmade, Mother & Father Nature, Out & About, Photos, Railroads & trains and tagged boondocks pictures, border patrol pictures, campo railroad museum pictures, cattle pictures, chollas pictures, cow pictures, datura pictures, dog pictures, manzanita pictures, motor transport museum of san diego, osprey pictures, pacific southwest railroad museum pictures, rabbit pictures, raiilroad trestle pictures, railroad bridge pictures, san diego aquaduct pictures, san diego mountain pictures, state route 94 pictures, tecate pictures, U.S. Mexico border fence pictures. Bookmark the permalink. 26 Comments.