Three-dot lounge visits fowl, fish and features

Western grebes engaged in their rushing courtship ritual at Lake Hodges./Brian Caldwell.Lake Hodges Photo Tours

Herb Caen at his office, Dec. 31, 1993/Nancy Wong

There was a method to the madness of presenting San Francisco legend Herb Caen’s three-dot lounge history along with its various re-interpretations. That was to set up Escondido Grapevine’s own three-dot lounge approach to local news. For more about the concept, visit our story here. For more local three-dot news, keep on trucking below…

Lake Hodges Wildlife gets down to business

First came the mating of the grebe, then came the bald eagles It’s March and Lake Hodges is brimming with exotic fowl life.

Clark’s and western grebe were having at it in the wild water dance called rushing, whereby they flock and mate from winter through spring for the annual rites of breeding season.

Brian Caldwell was keeping close tabs on bird activities at the city of San Diego lake located just southwest of Escondido, according to Ernie Cowen of th San Diego Union Tribune.

“The grebes have been at it a lot this month,” Caldwell said.” Christmas morning it was nonstop. Everything has been starting to happen,” .

Lake Hodges recently re-opened. Visit for additional information, maps and trail guides.

This is how Cowen described the mating ritual:

It begins with the birds issuing high-pitched, two note calls. This is known as advertising. Once another male or female shows interest, the pair — or sometimes three birds — will engage in ratchet-pointing where their call becomes more harsh and ratchet-like and they lower their heads with crest raised, neck extended with bulging throat, and bill pointed at other birds while riding low in the water. The next phase of this choreographed display is known as dip-shaking where the courting birds will lower their bills into the water, then lift up, shaking their head from side to side. The birds appear to explode from the water, rising onto their feet side by side and seemingly running across the surface of the water for 10 or 25 yards in a very structured pose of wings held up and back, necks extended, red eyes glowing, and beak pointed upward. Again, in unison, the birds end the rushing ballet by simultaneously plunging, head first, into the water.

Male grebes select the nest site and attentively feed their partners during the early part of the nesting process. Once eggs hatch, the fuzzy little chicks can often be seen riding on the backs of both parents, sometimes disappearing in the protective feathers of parent birds.

Their unique nests are built right at water level, woven into the branches of reeds or trees. This allows parent birds and chicks the ability to swim right up to the nest.

Bald Eagles soaring at Lake Hodges

Bald eagle sightings are on the rise across San Diego County, and one wildlife photographer said he has been seeing more and more of the majestic birds at Lake Hodges – leading to an increase in spectacular images.

Brian Cadwell leads photo tours at Lake Hodges and for 20 years, Bald Eagles were nearly impossible to find. They are not around all the time, but when they can be seen, the lake is usually not busy.

Cadwell said he wants to encourage eagle watching but visitors should keep some guidelines in mind.

First, stay 100 yards away. That is enough to see a big bird like a Bald Eagle. Secondly, nesting birds should be completely avoided because it can affect how well they nest and how well they breed.

Glen View Elementary trout get going

Over eight weeks, third grade students at Glen View Elementary School watched as their classroom’s rainbow trout eggs hatched and grew into juvenile fish, learning about everything from ecosystems to water quality along the way.

Glen View is in Escondido, California, where the school district has partnered with the Escondido Creek Conservancy to offer Trout in the Classroom. Through this program, students raise trout for release in a local lake. This benefits both the students — who learn about watersheds and how to care for living creatures — and the environment. “We all need clean water,” Escondido Creek Conservancy Education Director Simon Breen told NBC San Diego. “We all need clean air and we’re never going to get there if the next generation doesn’t understand the steps that they can take.”

This was the first time teacher Belle Basa participated in the program, and she said the fish “mostly cooperated,” while the students loved coming in and keeping tabs on them. Last Wednesday, it was time for the fish, now about two inches long, to be released in San Diego’s Lake Miramar, and the class said goodbye to each one as they were gently placed into the water. Student Jaqui Gonzalez told NBC San Diego she was happy for the fish, because “they’re going to be free in the lake, not just a small room.”

Escondido mayor gives state of the city address

Escondido Mayor Paul ‘Mac’ McNamara/File

It’s good to live in Escondido, where lots of new housing is being built, city staff is committed and knowledgeable, and the crime rate is lower than it’s been in decades, Mayor Paul McNamara told a group of hundreds Wednesday, Feb. 26 during his second annual State of the City Address, according to Harry Jones of the San Diego Union Tribune.

But McNamara also delivered a darker message during his 20-minute speech concerning looming financial problems.

Although the City Council has signaled that it is mulling the possibility of asking voters citywide to approve a one-cent sales tax increase in November, the mayor’s speech indicated it most certainly is likely to happen.

He even referred to the future ballot question by a specific name: the “Public Safety & Essential Services Revenue Measure.”

“Although Escondido has a long tradition of safe neighborhoods, involved residents and a vibrant business community, I need to also inject a little reality,” he told the crowd gathered in a large room at the Center for the Arts, Escondido.

“Much of our basic infrastructure is aging and in need of repair or replacement … without new revenues, Escondido will be forced to reduce or eliminate services in order to balance future city budgets. We will still have a growing structural deficit projected over the upcoming 18 years totaling approximately $176 million. Takeaways by state government and unfunded state and federal mandates continue hitting us.”

Temecula theater company moves to Escondido

Jordan Beck, Executive Director along with J. Scott Lapp, Artistic Director for The Barn Stage Company/ CCAE

The Barn Stage Company, a Temecula-based professional theater company, will merge with the California Center for the Arts, Escondido, it was announced Friday, March 6.

The Barn Stage’s executive director, Jordan Beck, and artistic director J. Scott Lapp will move the company to Escondido, where they will oversee the new Center for the Arts theatrics department and help in the production of theatrical arts at the center.

“Having found a home in Escondido, we are thrilled to take what we started with The Barn Stage Company and continue our mission of theatrical excellence by joining the California Center for the Arts family,” Beck said.

The center first partnered with The Barn Stage Company in 2018 for the fall production of “The Best of Broadway.” Other partnership productions have included “The Best of Motown,” “The Piano Men,” and “Happily Ever After.”

“We look forward to joining the team in Escondido and introducing a new Broadway caliber season of plays, musicals and special events in 2020 and beyond,” Lapp said.

Jerry VanLeeuwen, executive director of the California Center for the Arts, Escondido said the move would benefit both parties.

“Jordan and J. Scott are so well respected locally and in the industry,” he said. “Their connections and reputation have already enhanced the programming options of the center. This new connection will bring events we have not even imagined yet. I cannot wait.”

The center, which just wrapped up its 25th anniversary seasno, will be announcing its theatrical arts 2020-21 season lineup by the end of the month.


Escondido High School Plans its 50+ Reunion Picnic on May 16th at Grape Day Park

Escondido High School 2019 Reunion at Grape Day Park/Courtesy

Saturday, May 16, 2020 – 11am-3pm – cost $25 – lunch and beverages included.

About 800 alumni and friends of Escondido High School will gather on Saturday, May 16 in Escondido’s Grape Day Park to celebrate their school’s 75th Golden reunion – the longest running event of its kind in the nation. Since 1946, when 10 ladies met for lunch and decided to make that a regular event, the EHS Golden Reunion has grown into a large and much anticipated celebration of “Cougar Pride”. Last year, the range of graduating classes represented was 1941 to 1969. This year it’s up to 1970. The feel of the event is like one huge family reunion.

Under two massive tents, hundreds of classmates get reacquainted and talk about their years in high school, their teachers, sports, getting in trouble, who they dated or wanted to date, and embarrassing stories. The school motto of “Loyal, Strong, and True” really does seem to describe these classmates who graduated over 50 years ago.  It’s not always easy to recognize faces after 50+ years, but name tags help!  

At the entrance to the event are rows of “memory boards” with photos and memorabilia from graduating classes as early as 1929. It’s quite interesting to see the changes in people, styles, and school life over the last 90 years. The unique thing about this reunion is how it has persisted for 75 years without fail and is completely organized by a changing group of alumni each year.

The biggest challenge the organizers face is tracking down the thousands of “lost” graduates so they can receive invitations to the event. They ask that if you have a parent or grandparent who graduated from EHS more than 50 years ago, please help them make contact with the group through the Facebook page or email

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