Robert Arends

5 to Try: Roadside Wonders of San Diego’s East County

Cosmic car at Unarius Academy in El Cajon

You might recall my blog awhile back on Quirky Roadside Attractions in San Diego’s East County region. With Memorial Day around the bend, now is the perfect time to map out another adventure to discover some wonderfully fascinating finds in our backcountry. Following are 5 to Try:

Dino-sized greeting at Creation & Earth History Museum

1. Creation and Earth History Museum

Let there be light! The Creation and Earth History Museum in Santee is a showcase of the literal six-day creation of earth, according to the Bible’s book of Genesis. Highlights include stellar displays of planetary development (Day 1), a jungle-like Garden Room with live animal terrariums (Day 6), model of Noah’s Ark (great photo opp), an Ice Age Room and Ancient Civilizations Room with replicas of the Tower of Babel and Rosetta Stone. Admission is free.

Model of UFO spiritual tower at Unarius Academy

2. Unarius Academy of Science

Out of this world! The Unarius Academy of Science in El Cajon is a garden-like teaching center featuring cosmic art, a “Power Tower,” Future City Model and Star Center room with murals of Atlantis – illustrating Unariun beliefs in past lives, Tesla technology, lost civilizations and UFOs. The group is known for its 2001 prophecy of spaceships landing in nearby Jamul to form a spiritual tower. Call 619-444-7062 or e-mail uriel@unarius.org to arrange a visit. Did you know: Unarius stands for Universal Articulate Interdimensional Understanding of Science.

Goat Canyon Trestle Bridge in Anza-Borrego Dessert State Park

Goat Canyon Trestle Bridge

3. Goat Canyon Trestle Bridge

Make tracks… to the world’s tallest curved timber railroad trestle, the Goat Canyon Trestle Bridge traversing the steep-walled Carrizo Gorge near Jacumba. It spans 200 feet high and 750 feet long! It’s a hearty hike to the vista point, but well worth it. For those who may not have the hiking boots (or stamina) to make the trek, there’s a 10-foot high model at the San Diego Model Railroad Museum (the world’s largest operating model railroad museum) in Balboa Park.

Giant labyrinth at Sacred Rocks Reserve

Giant labyrinth at Sacred Rocks Reserve

4 and 5. California’s Two Largest Labyrinths

A-MAZE-ing! Check out California’s two largest labyrinths at Labyrinth in the Oaks, a private riverfront retreat along the San Diego River headwaters in Julian, and Sacred Rocks Reserve in Boulevard. Both claim to have the largest labyrinths in the state, but technically LITO is biggest at 105 feet in diameter. Sacred Rocks’ maze is still an impressive 100 feet, modeled after the labyrinth in Chartres Cathedral in France(!). Cost is $8 for a day pass to explore the grounds of Sacred Rocks. Labyrinth in the Oaks is open to overnight guests only.

Happy exploring! 🙂

Robert Arends

Historic Highways 80 and 94 Road Trip this Saturday!

Mountain views along Historic Highways 80 and 94.

Road trip! If you’re up for adventure this weekend and looking to hit the open road, I’ve got the trip for you: the 6th Annual Passport Through Time Road Trip on Historic Highways 80 & 94.

For those not familiar with Highways 80 and 94, they’re like San Diego’s very own Route 66 – a slice of Americana traversing a scenic rural landscape leading to some fun and surprising roadside treasures.

The caravan of cars and motorcycles will cruise through San Diego’s “backyard’s backyard,” covering a distance of about 100 miles! It’s so leisurely paced though, with a dozen plus pit stops along the way, that you’ll hardly notice the miles fly by.

Speaking of pit stops, following are my Top 3 favorites on each historic highway…

Highway 94:

  • Barrett Junction Café is a favorite back road stop. Opened in 1946, the cafe is famous for its family-style fish fry. Check out the funky collection of antiques and historic photos lining the café’s walls and counters. A vintage ice box and antique phone (that still works) add to the country charm. 
  • Step back in time at the Potrero General Storewhich dates to the stagecoach era of the mid-1800s and has a friendly, small- town feel.  Café 94, a popular local diner connected to the general store, is the place for home-style comfort food.

    Motor Transport Museum.

  • The Motor Transport Museum in Campo one of my favorite backcountry attractions – home to 200+ antique trucks and other motor transport vehicles, plus an eclectic collection of photos/memorabilia related to automotive pioneers. It’s housed in the historic Campo Feldspar Mill, built in 1929.

Highway 80:

Wisteria Candy Cottage - delish!

  • The famous Wisteria Candy Cottage in Boulevard a family-run sweet shop housed in a one-room schoolhouse from 1921, is famous for its hand-dipped chocolates and other old-fashioned candies. Yum!

    Live Oak Springs' cozy cabins.

  • Live Oak Springs Resort, also in Boulevard, is a cozy and romantic mountain getaway known for its picturesque, two-story A-frame cabins. Nestled amongst the giant oak trees, they look like something right out a children’s storybook.

    Colorful Tryyn Gallery.

  • The Tryyn Gallery in Guatay a little-known artistic jewel, featuring a collection of handcrafted wooden cooking utensils and other unique wood carvings by craftsman Bill Chappelow, whose fine-wood designs are part of the Smithsonian collection in Washington, D.C.!

The Passport Road Trip begins at 9 a.m. at Simpson’s Nursery in Jamul (registration $20 per car) and ends at the Downtown Café in El Cajon at 3 p.m. with a sumptuous no host buffet, live entertainment and auctions to win some fab prizes.

Get your motor running and discover the delightfully diverse communities of San Diego’s East County!