As Interstate 8 was built across San Diego County’s rugged mountains in the 1960s and 1970s, the most difficult section was creating the two, crisscrossing traffic lanes up and down Mountain Springs Grade, which jumps back-and-forth across the San Diego-Imperial county line east of Jacumba.

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Back in 1959, they were darned proud of the improvements to Del Dios Highway, one of the names of the road that connects I-5 and I-15 in northern San Diego County. But today, it’s scary and curvy, just the thing for a great day trip and a chapter in my Joyrides Around San Diego.

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Our backcountry has exploded in color, so there’s no need to go to the desert to see beautiful flowers and green mountains. Drive to Sunrise Highway, Old Highway 80, Palomar, Rancho Santa Fe, Cuyamaca, Julian and Couser Canyon where you’ll see flowers ranging from the California Poppy to Wild Mustard (reportedly scattered by the Spanish explorers to mark their route four centuries ago).

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Although I haven’t seen any reports yet, the Blair valleys south of Borrego Springs might be a good place to look for flowers — and avoid “flowergeddon.” The roads — especially the Montezuma Valley Road (Highway S-22) route — have been clogged as it seems all of Southern California is heading out to see what’s being called a “super bloom.”

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