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Big Bear weekend away (part 1)

Andrew had a month off work this summer – that corresponds exactly with the month that I’m not allowed to take time off from my job. So there goes any vacation plans we might have had.

Instead, I resolved that we would do a little weekend getaway – we live in Southern California, after all. There are endless options for weekend vacations.

By the time Andrew knew for sure which weekend would work for him, it was already a couple weeks before. I had originally hoped we could have rented a beach-town condo or similar on the central coast and had Christian and Avalon come meet us. But of course, by the time I started looking everything was either WAY out of our price range or booked up.

Sad. So what are some other non-beach options? We eventually narrowed it down to Palm Springs and Big Bear. Since we had already been to Palm Springs (a couple years ago) and since it was bound to be 140 degrees or something equally ridiculous, we decided on Big Bear.

Andrew hadn’t ever been, and I hadn’t been since 1998 or so – with the high school group with my church. I should dig out those photos!

I had solicited ideas on Twitter and Facebook and several people recommended Big Bear, and one even provided a specific hotel recommendation. My friend Kam has been to Big Bear several times and gave me some more ideas….. But after a little bit of research, I was able to book a little studio private cabin basically right on the lake for less than a hotel room elsewhere.

Deal city!

So I made sure Andrew KNEW without a doubt which days I had booked us rooms for (he’s not great with dates), and then started daydreaming about how we would spend our weekend. I didn’t do a whole lot of research. It’s not as if Big Bear was high on my list of places to visit because of such and such. I just figured we’d hike or maybe do something a little more involved like kayaking or so. But no definite plans.

Which honestly was kind of nice. All of our past vacations I have WAY planned to the hour. And loved all of them (Italy, Scotland, etc). But this weekend-away was not necessarily going to be like that. It was just a weekend to be together away from home.

The night before we left, I was at work and Andrew did a little bit of research into any places around town that might be haunted. Because that is ALWAYS a fun touristy thing to do. He also looked at some other options – kayaking, horseback riding, fishing.

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We left home Saturday morning around 8a or so. As per our tradition, we treated ourselves to Starbucks on the way out of town. Big Bear is about 2.5 hours away, and we spent the morning listening to Marc Maron’s WTF podcast.

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I had no idea that Big Bear was ON the mountain range. We got into the San Bernardino National Forest and started climbing the windy switch-back road up the mountain. Slowly, of course, and stopped once to take in the view from the shoulder. But just kept climbing and climbing. I guess I assumed Big Bear was in a valley on the other side of the mountain, but no. It was created actually as a reservoir with a dam at one end. So we climbed the mountain, rounded the corner and there it was.

From Wikipedia:

Big Bear Lake is a reservoir in the San Bernardino Mountains, in San Bernardino County, California, United States. At a surface elevation of 6,750 ft (2,060 m), it has an east-west length of approximately 7 miles (11.2 km) and is approximately 2.5 miles (4 km) at its widest measurement, though the lake’s width mostly averages a little more than 1 mile (1.6 km). These approximations are based on the lake having an optimum retainable water level. At dam’s end Big Bear measures its deepest water at 72 feet (22 m). It is a completely snow-fed lake, having no other means of tributary or mechanical replenishment.

We got to Big Bear around 11:30a or so, which was too early to check into the hotel, so we ‘Yelp’d’ some restaurants nearby.

When we got into town, we drove around the lake a little bit, just to see what there was to see and get our bearings in the area. We stopped by Vons to get some water bottles – since we both pretty much only drink water and especially if we were going to go on a hike.

I noticed several places to pull off and park, but they all required an “Adventure Pass”. We came across the Big Bear Discovery Center where we were able to pick up a couple maps of the area and an Adventure Pass for parking. We bought the Annual Pass, so now we need to go visit other National Parks so our $35 doesn’t go to waste!

I don’t know what it is about being in the outdoors or the mountains like that, but I was totally craving a burger. A nice, cheesy, home-style burger. We found a parking spot near Teddy Bear Restaurant and went there for lunch.

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Fun little sidenote: We were seated out on the patio for lunch, and the family at the table next to ours was debating politics and the validity of the Electoral College. And by “family” I mean parents and a 14-ish year old and an 11-ish year old. I LOVE that!

I got my burger – exactly what I wanted – and Andrew ordered tacos. He always orders tacos. If there are tacos on the menu he has to have them. I don’t really get it, but if he wants to have tacos I’m not going to stop him.

Turns out he should not have gotten the tacos. No cilantro, I think the meat was mixed with scrambled egg. Not really his thing at all.

But now I feel like I have to make a mini scrapbook about all the places Andrew has eaten tacos.

Next up: hiking and our hotel!

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