Heh....I lived several years in San Diego County in the 60s (Navy Brat) until 1972 in different locations. Used to go back to visit the folks in La Mesa while going to SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism Inc.) events in Balboa Park until 1995.
Lived outside of El Centro/Brawley near Seeley and the Chocolate Mountains first. That was when you drove the old Hwy 8 up through the mountains to San Diego....a long windy two lane highway that Mom hated to travel to San Diego on. Especially when there were semis. You passed The Desert View Tower and so on. Much of this is missed after the new 8 was constructed.
When I lived near Seeley, you could still see remnants of the old plank road that was used to cross the desert with back in the 20s. There was Glamis, Plaster City (Gypsum mine), Ocotillo Wells, the Desert View Tower, Anza Borrigo National Desert Park....yep, there is plenty of Desert.
Then moved to San Diego proper and lastly to La Mesa.
Yeah, when people think of San Diego, they think of ocean part, never thinking there is desert, forest and a lot inbetween the county.