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Stories by Steve Sorensen

Please Don't Tell Anyone That Old Surfers End Up Here

A wonderful world well south of the border.

Not long after the New Year, my friend and neighbor here in Zacatitos, Marilyn Z, sent me an email saying that, at 81 years of age, she had lost her battle with cancer and had ...

Don't Pitch Your Tent on San Clemente Island

It's the Navy's Paradise, Not Yours

“We went over to Santa Catalina Island and trapped eight goats, fit them with radio telemetry collars. Because goats are gregarious and tend to congregate together whenever possible, the Judas goats led us to the remnant herds.”

The Good Seed

The sign on Carlsbad Boulevard says simply “Seeds.” Behind that stands a small, Spanish-style place surrounded by a wonderland of flowers. Some new trendy beachwear boutique, you think. Or perhaps a chic vegetarian restaurant. Of ...

The Meal Man

He finds them, he feeds them

Foster Hood don't have no “Native Californian" bumper sticker on the back of his Blazer. Anybody else who's lived in this county long enough to have a suntan may try to pass himself off as ...

There's Only One Hitch

If you have to thumb a ride, you have to tell a story

The smartest hitchhiker I heard about was a guy who hitched carrying his belongings in a gas can with the bottom cut out. Drivers who will never pick up a hitchhiker will stop for a motorist out of gas.

Up by the Roots

San Diego County has more rare and endangered species than any other place in America.

Otay Mesa on a hot summer morning. A few dazed-looking cattle wander aimlessly through the brush. Off to the south, the huge tail of a jet, taxiing for takeoff at the Tijuana airport, rises above ...

The Understanding of Henry Rodriguez

An Indian tribal elder has discovered the language of life.

Nearly sixty years ago, when Henry Rodriguez was just a boy, he liked to walk from his home on the La Jolla Indian Reservation to the top of Palomar Mountain. Following the old Bailey Trail, ...

Fifty Miles of River

Three days along the San Dieguito

In the next three days, I learned that the San Dieguito River drainage is a kind of graveyard for dead automobiles. They litter the river’s canyons like dinosaur bones. That V-12 was simply the first.

Blood Brothers

With the flow at the Twelfth Ave. plasma center

If only Rat hadn't decided to share his home with his two buddies, maybe everything would have been okay. That’s when the trouble started. Ever since then, none of them had been able to get ...

Mission over the Mountains

Mock war in a true wilderness

The northern, more rugged sector of the Chocolates that is owned by the navy. It is probably the most beautiful area of the range, but unfortunately it is also the most heavily bombed, by far.

Life on the Crest

Jerry Schad loves to explore the desert, and the rougher it gets, the better he likes it.

I made my bed in the lee of a stout little juniper, but Schad, fond of wind and rain and discomfort,made his on the crest. Then we huddled together to cook noodles and tuna, with a Kahlúa chaser.

The Nurture of Things

Thirty years ago, when it was still possible to live in the beach communities of North County by pursuing some ambition other than getting rich, the nursery business was dominated by mom-and-pop operators who had ...

Bobby Riggs, the legendary tennis hustler, has a hundred bucks that says he can beat you. Somehow.

Great Top Spin Never Stops

The legs may be long gone, but at 67, the tennis trickster can still outhustle the best of 'em.

Forty Miles of Bad Road: In search of the authentic El Camino Real

Retracing the route

The modern-day El Camino Real picks up about a half-mile to the west, climbs the bluff, and continues across Encinitas Boulevard to La Costa. But a more obvious route lay directly ahead, along Rancho Santa Fe Road.

The Spectacle at Moonlight Beach

Where the myth meets the sea

A kid on a skateboard weaves his way down the asphalt trail, swinging the cast on his forearm in front of him like a club, twisting and contorting his body in pursuit of some mystical kinesthetic release.

The Spirit of Steve Ponchetti

An Indian leader leaves the earth

Although they only die once like the rest of us, it has forever been the custom of the Diegueño Indians to bury their dead twice: once at death, and then once again a year later. ...

Return of the Mountain Lion

Ten years ago when Buzz Johnson moved from Colorado to the 650 acres he owns on Angel Mountain, ten miles south of Mount Palomar, the property was so thick with manzanita and chamiso that a ...

The Only Honest Game in Town

Who needs poker parlors? A bunch of elderly gents up at the Ace'e Duce'e, that's who.

"We thought it was the bingo parlors out on the Indian reservations cutting into our business. For a while they were getting 1500 people a night out there. Now I’ve heard their business is way ofF.”

And on This Farm They Had Some Fish

It can get wet out there in the desert, especially when you're raising tons of fish.

Shortly after dawn on a chilly desert morning, Bill Engler, 44-old fish farmer-entrepreneur, and Victor Wade, his 45-year-old French-Canadian partner, are standing in their pole-barn fish hatchery trying to figure out how to measure a ...

Ten Grand for a Dance: On the prowl with a North County gold-digger

It's a jungle out there, and it takes a certain breed of woman to get what she wants.

The girls know the drug dealers are usually free spenders because their money is illegal — it’s easier to spend it than it is to launder it, and besides, there’s more where that came from.

The Big Hike

Border to border along the Pacific Crest Trail

Orville Cummings, owner of the 9000-acre San Felipe Ranch at the bottom of the Banner Grade east of Julian: “The backpackers would camp right at the windmill and keep the cattle away from the water.”

The Big Lure

At four o'clock on a Saturday morning about the only people you will find awake in San Diego County are short-order cooks, cops, insomniacs, truck drivers, and bass fishermen. Of them all, the bass fishermen ...

Sweet, Wet, Ugly, Tough

Life at the end of a lobster trap.

He had refrigeration trucks made up to look like camper vans to transport the illegal shorts, and he made arrangements for airplanes to land at San Clemente Island to pick up the shorts and fly them to Las Vegas.

River Run

Hiking to the source of the San Diego River

I finally fall asleep in the early hours and awaken about seven a.m. feeling surprisingly fresh. I had a dream that I went around the next bend and found myself in downtown San Diego.

Pecking Order

Cockfighting: Money and Death in the Pit

Just across the Colorado River from Blythe, less than a mile into Arizona, there’s a big corrugated tin shed at the end of a dusty gravel road. It looks like some kind of deserted warehouse, ...

A Kingdom Bought and Sold

There had been indications, beginning with when the bathtub in the upstairs bathroom fell through the ceiling of the basement. Nobody was hurt, but it was an omen. Shortly after that fungus began growing on the basement walls.

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