Big Bear weekend away (part 2)

So after lunch we drove around the lake some more … It’s not a very big lake at all, so it was easy to take a short leisurely drive around, checking out the town, checking out the lake, checking out the naturey-activities.

We had identified one of the shorter, nearer trails and went on a short hike before we went back to check in at the hotel.

For whatever reason, the hike we chose was labeled an “Interpretive Hike” …. Although, the path was pretty clear and not at all interpretive so I don’t know what that was about.

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It was a mile and a half and set up in a loop. We started on one side of the parking lot, hiking up hill to behind where the parking lot was, and then downhill the other side to end up back on the other side of the parking lot. Unfortunately, the trail guide with all the descriptions that matched the markers was out of stock. Bummer. I seriously love LEARNING about where I am – whether that’s history or science or whatever. One of the reasons I’ve realized I love guided tours. I would have totally taken a guided hike.

Oh well.

Not 100 yards into the hike, I realized I didn’t have any hair ties on me. I usually keep at least 1 on my wrist, but had forgotten to put it on that morning. And, bizarrely, I didn’t have any in my purse OR in our travel-toiletry bag either! Grrrr …. So I spent most of the hike with one hand holding my camera and the other hand holding my hair up. I sweat a lot (probably because I get so overheated with my fair skin) and I’m sure I looked lovely. In fact, between the sweat and holding my hair in a (damp) twisted bun for so long, once I took it down it looked like a wild mane. Bigger than my hair ever is!

We saw a million lizards on our hike. Andrew loves lizards. It’s the little boy in him, I guess. He kept a running count and instagram’d photos of at least half of them! We also saw at least 1 chipmunk, and 3 dogs (but those were attached to their owners).

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 It was a nice hike – not too long but still physically exerting.

And by the end we were ready to go check into our hotel and wash our faces.

The hotel looked pretty adorable from the street. Lots of trees and shading and not too crowded on the property. But when we checked in and they gave us the map of the property and showed us where we’d be staying we got really excited!

Big Bear Frontier Hotel is ON Big Bear Blvd (the main street lining the south of the lake). The whole of the property, however, actually heads back toward the lake with MORE small cabins and a hotel building on the actual lake shore.

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Our tiny little cabin was I think one of the smallest they had. Just a little studio cabin (tiny kitchen, tiny bathroom, not much more room than what the bed took up), with no deck. But the hotel is pet-friendly, and many of the other private cabins near us had a little fenced in deck to sit on, complete with a small gate to close off the deck if you want to let your dog off his leash while in your cabin.

Our front door was about a block away from the hotel’s private beach, and just across a driveway from a large grassy area with picnic tables, grills and a horseshoe game. Of course, when we got there there was a large LOUD picnic going on, not 40 feet from our windows.

But we were actually both tired enough to fall asleep in spite of the yelling.

Once we checked into the hotel, we kind of jointly decided to just spend the rest of the afternoon napping and reading and hanging out on the beach. We had water bottles, and we’d leave again for dinner, but just spent the time together that afternoon.

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Andrew had started reading Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin – the first book in his fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire. I brought along a history book I had borrowed from my dad – A Life Wild and Perilous: Mountain Men and the Paths to the Pacific by Robert M. Utley. Something about reading about beaver trapping and exploring the Rockies just seemed right for this trip to Big Bear. Plus, part of the chapters I read on Sunday included Jedediah Smith stumbling upon the San Bernardino Mountains …. Exactly where we were almost 200 years later.

I love history.

For dinner we decided to just walk the few blocks into ‘The Village’ … or rather, near The Village. Kam recommended we eat at Nottingham – the restaurant right next to The Robinhood Resort where she stayed last time she was there. We got there well before sunset and were seated out on the patio.

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Andrew, miracle of miracles, did NOT get tacos. He did get fish, though – his other theme for the weekend. Mango Ahi salad and I got stuffed salmon, with veggies and mashed potatoes. YUM. Andrew also ordered a big beer – and when he drinks he gets chatty. That dinner date was so much fun just because Andrew was so chatty!

We talked about my quitting my job, and his plans for his freelance and what is going on with his family and what I remembered about the last time I had come to Big Bear. I love being married to my best friend, for sure.

Coffee and mud pie for dessert…. And then a lovely walk home in the dusk.

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Once we got back to the hotel it was basically dark and quiet …. But not yet too late. So we walked down to the beach, sat in one of the lounge chairs the hotel had supplied there and talked some more. Bats swooping overhead, nearby houses all lit up and reflected in the lake. It really is a gorgeous place.

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According to my iPhone app, thunderstorms were in the forecast for Sunday, so we didn’t plan on doing anything special. In fact, I was almost hoping it WOULD thunder and rain because A) I love storms and B ) That way we wouldn’t have to make any decisions about where to hike or whether or not to spend money horseback riding.

Saturday night we went to bed early-ish with no plans to get up at any specific time on Sunday. The best kind of vacation.

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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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