TITLE: El Cajon, California
By Carol Krejci
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EL CAJON, CALIFORNIA
We had just moved from Ohio to the San Diego area and my son, a single parent, was taking us (his children and me) for a little tour. “El Kay-jun?”, I asked. “I thought that was in Louisiana”, I said teasingly. Scott laughed and quickly corrected me. “No, Mom”, it’s not El Kay-jun…the name is pronounced El Ca-hone, with the letter ‘j’ sounding like an ‘h’ and the emphasis on the last syllable”. Sheepishly, I acknowledged that I had a lot to learn in regards to pronunciation in southern California.
Fearful of interstate driving, my first car journey alone was chosen carefully and deliberately. It was a very short drive from our apartment on Navajo Rd. to Fletcher Parkway and into El Cajon. I had obtained specific directions on my computer, printed them, and was trusting them to guide me to the publishing offices of Christian Services Network, which at that time was located on Janich Ranch Ct. in El Cajon. As I crested the hill on Fletcher Parkway, the beautiful view of the Laguna Mountain foothills, a backdrop to the city of El Cajon filled my eyes. What a gorgeous view, I thought, as the car descended into the valley. Stopping at the first red light, I glanced at the street sign, repeating the name to myself…Ki- a-mawka Street…what an unusual name! This was cause for laughter when I later told Scott of my drive to El Cajon, which, I of course, pronounced correctly. “Wrong again, Mom”, he said. It is pronounced (phonetically) Kwee-a-macka Street. Don’t worry…you’ll get the hang of it”. I wasn’t so sure that I would.
During the next two years that we lived on Navajo Rd., one of my favorites pastimes was to drive down Fletcher Parkway and shop in El Cajon. I would marvel at the view with each trip, and now, as a fairly frequent visitor, I always feel I am “home again” when I see those familiar mountains. Whether I’m riding the trolley from San Diego or Santee or riding along the Interstate highways 8 or 67, the mountains remain sturdy and majestic, seemingly protecting the city.
I found El Cajon to be a very friendly, beautiful, clean city, filled with every kind of shopping imaginable, ranging from the lovely Parkway Plaza Shopping Center to the many varieties of specialty stores sprinkled around town. I especially enjoyed haunting the aisles of the thrift shops, as I searched for that elusive “great find”. Watch out for specially designated parking spots on East Main St. on Wednesdays however, for it is then that the city readies itself for the Cajon Classic Cruise, the largest weekly classic car show in southern California.
There are restaurants to fit every budget and taste; Mexican, Asian, Greek, American, Italian, to name a few, and of course, plenty of seafood. One of our favorites was the little El Pollo Loco on Broadway just past the Parkway Plaza Shopping Center, and for dessert, a little further along on the other side of the street is a genuine Crispy Crème store. If the light is blinking, you will be given a free glazed donut; hot, sweet, and ready to eat! Forget the calories!
One of our favorite trips was to go to Julian, especially if it was raining in El Cajon. During the winter, we would search the tops of the mountains for signs of snow and if seen, we would eagerly pack the kids’ snow gear, follow Interstate 8 towards Alpine, and then onto the Sunrise Highway toward Julian. The snow, we hoped, would be waiting for us there.
Along the way, huge bubbles of rock peppered the mountainsides, and as we climbed higher in altitude and the temperature dropped, the alpine scenery astounded us with its beauty.
Later, a hot apple pie from Julian, placed on my lap for the ride home, kept me warm all the way, and the fantastic spicy scent of warm apples tempted us all with thoughts of pie and ice cream the closer we got to home.
I loved seeing the lights and buildings of the Viejas Casino and shopping area on the right as we neared El Cajon again. Having left the snow of the Laguna Mountains behind, we thrilled again at the lovely palm trees and tropical flowers…we were in El Cajon again and it was great!
Though I just visited the region in October of last year, I am now blessed to be returning for the winter. I am eager to see the mountains as I drive down Fletcher Parkway again…I’ll be there in 36 hours and I can’t wait! It’s time for El Cajon again, and I am hoping that I pronounce those street names correctly this time! I think I’ll drive over to Jamacha Blvd. this time. I wonder…Jamacha?…is that a coffee drink?
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