Tag Archives: interstate 8

Out & About—The secret stairs are no longer secret

Out & About

I have lived in La Mesa CA (or so close that I had to go through La Mesa to get anywhere) for 18 years. In all that time I kept hearing about the secret stairs. They were so secret that I never found them until one day I was browsing Google Maps to find the street names near some stairs that I knew about. That was when I noticed that stairs are on Google Maps, so I scrolled over to La Mesa and began looking for stairs. I found them!

Location of the La Mesa secret stairs

img_1592 zoey the cool cat preparing for the weekendThere are five blocks of them! My little heart was all a-pitter-patter, so I got dressed, told Zoey the Cool Cat that I would be right back (she was oblivious), hopped in the car, and drove over to what I was sure were the secret stairs.

Interestingly, everyone seemed to know about the secret stairs yet no one could tell me where they were, and they are not in any tourist guides or books about La Mesa. That’s how secret they are.

The stairs have quite a few places to stop and rest, which is good because I’m 61 and don’t do a lot of stair climbing. There are about 100 steps for each block—and there are five blocks—of which about 75 of those steps in each block are actual stairs. A few of pictures of the stairs and the views of La Mesa:

La Mesa secret stairs

La Mesa with Grossmont Center mall and hospital in the upper leftView from the La Mesa secret stairs

La Mesa secret stairs

The Interstate 8-California Highway 125 intersection
with a nice view of the Santa Rosa mountain range
which are about 30 miles away.View from the La Mesa secret stairs

The stairs are in regular use by physical fitness buffs. It took me almost two hours to traverse them up and down, and to wait for people to get out of my pictures, and to do a couple of re-starts when I was trying to count them!

Thanks for stopping by! See you next time!

This post approved by
This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Testing for horsepower

Out & About

The first time I went to Houston was 1973 when I was 18. I was mesmerized by the freeways, especially the “spaghetti bowl” interchanges in and around downtown. When I moved to Houston in 1977, I often would drive out of my way just to drive the spaghetti bowls. Of course, that was back when gas was 59¢ a gallon….

Here in San Diego we don’t have a lot of great spaghetti bowl interchanges but one of my favorite is the interchange in Mission Valley where Interstate 8 passes under Interstate 805. It’s a huge interchange. Looks like this:

Interstate 805/Interstate 8 interchange in San Diego's Mission Valley

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

It’s possible to see Tokyo to the west and New York City to the east from the top of the 805…..

Going north is a long, steady climb, while going south is a steeper, shorter climb. Both sides make for a great test drive in a new car if you’re searching for horsepower….. Just sayin’.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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The Boulevard in San Diego, California

Out & About

Many decades ago the main east-west thoroughfare to and from San Diego was El Cajon Boulevard. About twenty miles long at its peak before the Interstate system, it is a prime example of growth and development that was shaped by the automobile. About six miles of the middle section was obliterated when Interstate 8 was built in the early 1960s; there is a small section remaining in El Cajon. The western end, from Normal Street in San Diego to Spring Street in downtown La Mesa is about eleven miles long.

The remaining eleven miles of El Cajon Boulevard presents to the historian the site of the very first Jack in the Box restaurant built at 6270 El Cajon Boulevard in 1951. Jack in the Box gave us the first drive-through and the innovation of a two-way intercom to allow one car to place an order while another car was being served. Jack in the Box has its corporate headquarters here in San Diego.

Jack in the Box corporate headquarters in San Diego, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

At the other end of El Cajon Boulevard is the historic Lafayette Hotel, built in 1946 with an Olympic-sized swimming pool designed by Johnny Weismuller, winner of five Olympic gold medals and the actor who played Tarzan in twelve movies, arguably the best known of the many actors who played Tarzan on film and on television. The first guest when the hotel opened in 1946 was none other than the incomparable Bob Hope.

businesses along the boulevard (7) lafayette hotel stamp

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

In the latter part of the 20th century (in other words, when I came to San Diego in April 1993), El Cajon Boulevard was a hotspot for prostitution, both male and female.

El Cajon Boulevard also was the site of the El Cajon Boulevard Riot. Also known as the Drag Strip Riot, it was one of the first major youth riots of the 1960s.

The riot began during the evening of August 20, 1960, as an organized protest over the closing of Hourglass Field, an unused Navy airfield, to drag racing. Although drag racing had been organized by the San Diego Timing Association, a local group of hot rod clubs, it was unauthorized. Both the Navy and the police looked the other way because, at the time, Hourglass Field was the only off-street venue available for drag racing. On August 8, 1960, three (maybe four) bystanders were injured during a drag race, causing the Navy to shut down the airfield to drag racing.

Location of Drag Strip Riot in August 1960 in San Diego, CaliforniaAt the intersection of El Cajon Boulevard and Cherokee Street on the nights of August 20 and 21, an estimated 3,000 teenagers and adults blocked three blocks of El Cajon Boulevard and began holding impromptu drag races with just enough room for cars to race two-abreast down the street. When police arrived to disperse the crowd, many protesters fought back, showering officers with rocks and bottles.

Although I found lots of information about Hourglass Field, I found very little information about the riot itself. My research mind is in overdrive.

I’ll have to put it on my to-do list to take you on a tour of The Boulevard during daylight hours.

For the rest of this post, though, we’re going to take a darkness tour because there is a lot of nighttime fun on The Boulevard.

Here ya go:

img_1126 el cajon boulevard stamp img_1125 el cajon boulevard stamp img_1122 el cajon boulevard stamp img_1119 el cajon boulevard stamp img_1118 el cajon boulevard stamp img_1116 el cajon boulevard stamp img_1115 el cajon boulevard stamp img_1112 el cajon boulevard stamp img_1111 el cajon boulevard stamp img_1110 el cajon boulevard stamp img_1109 el cajon boulevard stamp img_1107 el cajon boulevard stamp img_1103 el cajon boulevard stamp

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Need a unique gift for a special occasion?

Use code YLNNRX for a $40 discount on
Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos at Fine Art America

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Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post