The Far East Project

A People's History of San Diego's East County
Photo blog

Cows in the Rain – Martha Kennedy

Cows in the Rain - Martha Kennedy

I live in one of the historic stone houses in Descanso. Most of these photos are of ordinary things I see just living in this beautiful town.  – Martha Kennedy


Trailer – Steve Drimmel


My image, Trailer, shot in a backyard in Lakeside California depicts how it may feel for some of today’s youth to dream of a more prosperous life. The scene represents the appearance of the hopelessness that goes along with feeling stuck in low income Small Town, USA.

The message that is conveyed is that it is always possible to better yourself, no matter where you come from. Desire, hard work, a…nd education are the keys to open the doors of a better future. This opportunity is available to any child with determination to pull themselves out of the hardship and poverty that prior generations have fallen into and remained. Children in today’s society are being forced to grow up at a much faster pace than that of their parents or grandparents. Modern technology has brought an overwhelming abundance of information that not only has broadened their horizons, but has forced the younger population to be inundated with material that can rob them of their childhood innocence at an alarming rate.

Today’s technology can be a blessing and can open a multitude of doors for brighter futures and opportunities; however, it must go hand in hand with the proper guidance of adults, parents, teachers, etc. who are committed to being involved in helping these young people reach toward their own personal goals.

Their gaze is drawn through the wilderness of the past and into the future of possibilities. – Steve Drimmel

Security Features – Matt Lewis

Security Features - Matt Lewis

 “Up in Cleveland National Forest, my buddy Pete said he wouldn’t  be ready for the wilderness until he had a knife and a wide-brimmed hat. The knife was picked up at a souvenir store on the way, and the hat is borrowed from a fellow camper. Even though he got what he wanted, he still looks dubious as the sun sets about the night ahead.” – Matt Lewis.

Lakeside Elementary Christmas Pageant – C.j. Arabia

“Lakeside Elementary Christmas Pageant, 1977ish.” – C.j. Arabia

Life in the Snow Zone – Martha Kennedy

Life in the Snow Zone

“I live in one of the historic stone houses in Descanso. Most of these photos are of ordinary things I see just living in this beautiful town.” – Martha Kennedy.

Bad Moon over Cleveland – Matt Lewis

Bad Moon over Cleveland

“A friend of mine rented a campground in Cleveland National Forest last year for his girlfriend’s birthday. However, because of the time of year (November) we had virtually no neighboring groups and felt like we had the whole campground to ourselves. This picture is from a hike we took in late afternoon, when the moon was just starting to show over the treeline.” – Matt Lewis.

February Snow – Leslie Yoder

“Late the evening of February 26, 2011, snow fell in Jamul–a rare event. These photos were taken either around midnight on the 26th or the next morning around 7:30am at my home in Lawson Valley, Jamul. One features a view of Gaskill Peak.” — in Jamul.


“The Manhattan Playhouse” – Justin Hudnall

The Manhattan Playhouse in Lakeside, for sale and tattered but still a inspiring relic among small town stages. A faded poster in the gated entrance way advertizes the last show to take place there, some time ago, was a local production of “You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown.” – Justin Hudnall

Cozy Street Art Scene 1 – Kinsee Morlan

“I took these photos with my iPhone. My hubby and I took on the Amazing Geocache Challenge, one of the City of La Mesa’s cute ways of celebrating their centennial. Most of the clues were simple and finding what they wanted us to find didn’t prove to be much of a challenge. It was fun, though, and nice to get out and see small, quirky details of La Mesa that I’ve never noticed before. I particularly enjoyed this street-art piece in an alley in downtown La Mesa and the rhino yard art. I’d tell you the locations, but it’s more exciting if you actually take the challenge and find them yourself:” — Kinsee Morlan

Last Ranch in Ocotillo – Justin Hudnall

“This is the last ranch on the San Diego County-side of Ocotillo off I-78. The Imperial County sign is just out of frame to the left.” – Justin Hudnall



Mt. San Miguel – Arnold Young

Day 23/365 – 23/2011 – 1/23/11

I grew up seeing this mountain, and it hasn’t changed much in all that time. A few more antennas, but for the most part still the same. I want to dedicate this photo to all my school friends, I hope it carries as much fondness as it does with me. – Arnold Young.

Santee Aquatic Center – Arnold Young

Cameron Family YMCA – Arnold Young

“Yodeling Granny Kickin’ It Old School” – C.j. Arabia

shot on El Capitan Ranch, Old HWY 80 El Cajon Ca.

Starring Betty Avelar

who has lived there since 1955

and still does

– C.j. Arabia

“Out On Bail” – C.j. Arabia

Taken in front of our stack of hay, which we always had, at my Grandma’s ranch off Olde HWY 80 – technically in El Cajon though closer to Alpine – I’m guessing it’s 76 – 78ish – Uncle gil in the hat – druggie alcoholic – went by the handle “The Channel 5 Ranger” on the CB radio that we had – we talked on the CB all the time. Could reach people in Hawaii on a good day.

13 people in a tiny house that my Grandpa built – crooked floors – one bathroom – 2 bedrooms – I slept on one side of a sofa and my sister slept on the other side. Most of us didn’t have beds or bedrooms. We just slept all over.

My uncle grew pot on the roof over the pig pen. The DEA raided the ranch once.

Maybe twice, I remember getting a call from someone down the road that the cops were coming and us throwing the pot off the roof and down into the pig pen. Another time it was for weapons.

Lots of UFO sightings out there. Also satanic cults. People found sacrificed animals all the time. Said it was the satanic cults.

We would climb on the hay stack and my grandma would yell “watch out for rattle snakes.” I guess they would crawl around the hay too. You could hear the rattles in the summer all around you when you’d walk around the ranch.

El Capitan Ranch. That was the name of our ranch. At least that’s what the sign over the entrance said.

I like to scare my boyfriends by taking them there when we first start dating. – C.j. Arabia.

Trunk-or-Treat – Pete Evaristo

“First-Place Winner, Best Decorated Vehicle, at Deerhorn Valley’s First Trunk-or-Treat event (East San Diego County, Oct. 30, 2011, Thematic Vehicular Transformation by Yoder & Evaristo, jack-o-lanterns by Hedrick). And kids were really afraid to reach inside the “mouth” for candy. — with Leslie K Yoder(L) and Elisa Hedrick.” – Pete Evaristo.


Rosie the Rattler – Leslie Yoder

“Shortly after moving to Lawson Valley, Jamul in 2009, I spotted a very colorful and dead lizard next to my house. I went back inside to get my camera, and when I came out, the lizard was gone. On looking around, I found this scene behind my house: A southwestern speckled rattlesnake swallowing the lizard whole. I’ve been a rattlesnake fan ever since.” – Leslie Yoder.

Cold Spring, Warm Cat – Leslie Yoder

“The spring of 2011 featured record low temperatures for the east county. It snowed throughout Jamul in February and again in Deerhorn Valley in April. Like many rural east county residents, I depend solely on wood heat to get through the winter (and, in this case, spring). This photo shows the simple joy of warmth as expressed by one of my cats.” – Leslie Yoder.

Lemon Grove Panorama – Rebecca Rauber

“I’m a lapsed Catholic. But I believe in the theoretic power of the church to be a power for good (though as an institution, they squander this power grotesquely), especially on a local, community level. I love this scene; it creates a canvas of optimism, possibility, and pureness for me.” – Rebecca Rauber.

Officer Shooting Caught On Camera, El Cajon – San Diego News Video

From youtube:

EL CAJON – August 21, 2011 – An officer is shot right in front of a news camera. The entire event is caught on camera including shots fired, officer rescue, SWAT standoff, house fire, helicopter water drops, and more.

The suspect, Kevin Collier, shot his 1-year old daughter, his mother-in-law and then police showed up (me too). Upon arriving, officers were met with gunfire from the suspect who had an assault rifle of some sort. Officer Jared Slocum was struck in the left temple, where it exited the rear of his skull. He was NOT shot in the neck, as it appears. The suspect then set the house on fire, before shooting himself. The fire department could not approach because officers could not confirm if the suspect was dead or not. Firefighters are not going to walk up to a home with the possibility of a man inside with an assault rifle. Officers requested Mercy Air for transport, but instead took the wounded officer by ground in a patrol car as it would be much quicker. This was on a dead-end street, so the rescue of having to pass the line of fire was very risky. A gas line explodes at one point (bluish smoke). SWAT set up and work with the fire department to help slow the rate of spread. Two helicopters begin water drops, which I have never seen before on a structure, only brush fires. Officer Slocum is doing well, but has decided to “medically retire” from the El Cajon Police Department, move, and go back to college. The officer who was with him, Officer Tim McFarland, was a rookie at the time and was being trained by Slocum. So if anyone wants to badmouth him, keep in mind he was still learning the ropes and in my opinion did everything right. Officer Slocum’s wound, although severe due to the location, had very very little blood loss. So for those appauled that none of us applied pressure, quite frankly it wasn’t neccessary and he was capable of doing it himself. And for all you anti-cop commenters, keep in mind, officers are still humans with families. The men and women in this video are excellent officers. Especially Slocum and McFarland.

Former El Cajon Police Chief (at the time) Pat Sprecco said “That’ll be used as a training tool for a long time”, referring to the footage.

This footage won an Emmy Award for Spot/Breaking News Coverage.

Jane – Hanna Tawater

Jane - Hanna Tawater

“My first adult relationship was with Manuel. Manuel and his dog Jane. Manuel and Jane lived in El Cajon and collected broken down cars they liked to repair and (hopefully) sell for a profit. Four years of my life were spent there, in the heat and dryness, in the fumes of auto exhaust coming from the yard as I sat on the “porch couch” with Jane eating ice cream and watching the man I love do one of the things he loved. Manuel and I have long since gone our separate ways, but I hear Jane is still alive and doing well.”

High Voltage – Pete Evaristo

High Voltage - Pete Evaristo

“Says something about East County residents and the utility companies. Location: Lawson Valley.” – Pete Evaristo.


Fence and Cloud – Steven Kitchens

Fence and Cloud - Steven Kitchens

“Once straight lines of a fence contrast against the wisping Lawson Valley clouds.

Location: Lucita Rd. Between and Maguay Rd.”

Rodents Are Not Weeds – Leslie Yoder


Rodents are not Weeds - Leslie Yoder

“For most folks living in rural East County, rodents are considered a nuisance; they are the weeds of wildlife out here, and not without reason given how destructive they can be. I still find their behaviors and adaptations fascinating, however. Featured here: a pack rat (a.k.a wood rat) nest in the engine compartment of my car.” – Leslie Yoder

Double Rainbow – Sheila Martenies

“This was taken in Santee in 2011 on my son’s cell phone. To us, it looked like the rainbow is right over our house :)”