This was the last of 4 days in Southern California, mostly in the San Diego area around my birthday. Hard to believe, but it was the first time I had set foot in California in 28 years (February 1983)!!
When I was in the Navy stationed in and near North Island (mostly on San Clemente Island) from 1971-74, I was able to drive back and forth to my mom's house in Phoenix frequently, so I got to know that run pretty well. At times when I hung out in San Diego I would explore some of the nearby areas, such as out to Julian. But the one drive that I really liked was to head out of Lemon Grove on CA94 through such neat places as Jamul, Dulzura, Potrero, and Campo. A little ways east of Campo, CA94 ends where it intersects old US Highway 80 at Manzanita. From there you continue east on US80 through Jacumba to where it finally reconnects with I-8 near the Desert View Tower. Along this route you get very near the Mexican Border in places. A short side road near Potrero takes you to the pleasant border town of Tecate. Once when my mom was visiting in San Diego, I took her back to Arizona this way, and she insisted on shopping for some pottery in Tecate. That was the only time I have ever driven into Mexico, and I couldn't have picked a more laid back place (at least back then). I drove down to the border there on this trip, and it still looked pretty mellow.
It was driving through this area that I became familiar with, and a fan of, the San Diego and Arizona Railroad (Carrizo Gorge fame).
It sure was fun to drive that road again after all these years (1974). Every bit as beautiful as I remembered! The old mill in Campo now houses the San Diego Motor Transport Museum. Campo is also home to a railway museum. My favorite of these towns was Jacumba, with its once popular hot springs resort (now pretty run down). I was sad to see that the old Hotel Jacumba was no longer there (except for a chimney remnant).
It closed as the area fell out of favor and burned in 1983. Jacumba is the point at which the San Diego and Arizona Railroad turns north and begins its drop into Carrizo Gorge on its way to the desert below. Just east of town I-8 does the same. Before the drop to the desert below, a section of old US80 takes you to the Desert View Tower. I had never stopped there before and was sure glad I did.
On my way back to Tucson, I went south from Gila Bend to Ajo for a change of pace, and finished by heading across the Tohono O'Odham Nation on AZ86. I'm including a few photos from Ajo with this set.
This was a great trip that let me relive some of those crazy days (daze) of the 1970s!