Big Bear!

           With both my birthday and our anniversary approaching, it was road trip time for the Bear Team as we headed high into the San Bernardino Mountains to the resort  town of Big Bear. Giddy up!

            The trip began with a bang; well not quite. It was more like a whimper, as we roared down the entrance ramp to I-15 and immediately came to a complete stop along with the other 1.5 billion cars waiting for the chance to leave San Diego.

When we finally got moving, we headed North. After overcoming Memorial Day weekend traffic, including the world’s largest unecessary road construction project along I-215 (your tax dollars at work!), we turned onto CA-330 which headed immediately into the mountains, and toward our destination at 7000 feet.

ImageThe road curved ever upward. We passed a sign informing us that we were now 4000 feet above sea level. Still we climbed. I navigated our Saturn around one hairpin turn after another. There were times when it seemed that only two of our tires made contact with the road, while the other two hung over the abyss. The views were breathtaking, or at least I imagine they would have been, had I been able to risk a look. As it was, you couldn’t have pried my eyes away from the road with a crowbar, given my weird obsession with not dying.

I clung to the wheel, warily edging our car up the side of the mountain. We passed 5000 feet. Sweating profusely, I coaxed the Vue around yet another death-defying curve. Horns blared as the drivers behind me, who apparently opted for the “anti gravity” package when buying their cars, lined up down the slope of the mountain. As we passed 6000 feet, Dena began bailing buckets of my sweat through the open window.

At last we arrived at Big Bear Lake Nestled high in the San Bernardino Mountains, and surrounded by a National Forest, the lake and the town which surrounds it is a popular vacation spot for fishing and boating in the summer, skiing and snowboarding in the winter, and general laziness year round.

We checked into room 225 at Cathy’s Cottages, with is part of the Sleepy Forest Resort This honeymoon suite came complete with a king sized bed, a gas fireplace, an extra large two head shower, and a big jacuzzi tub. After changing to warmer attire (the temperature was about thirty degrees lower than when we left home) we set out in search of a hearty meal. We found it at Captain’s Anchorage

This rustic stone and log establishment has the ambiance of an old school steakhouse. I ordered the top sirloin, while Dena opted for chicken charlotte, topped  with bearnaise sauce. Complete with baked potatoes with all of the toppings, salad, clam chowder, and bread, the meal was delicious! There was so much food we took home leftovers (which we ended up having for breakfast the next morning).

After dinner, we walked across the street to Walgreens. Since I began working for Walgreens in 2008, I’ve found that no matter where I go, I end up visiting one of our stores. This happens without fail. I’ve found that it is pointless to resist. So what if half of my paycheck goes right back where it came from? We decided to buy some champagne, though the options were a bit limited. I thought about asking if they had anything else, but figured it probably would have gone something like this:

We retired to our room, ready to check out the tub. Filling it took a looooong time. So long, in fact, that I began to wonder if we might just be better off going to bed with the water running in the hope that it would be full the next morning. Finally the water was high enough to turn on the jets. We settled into the churning water, glasses of champagne in hand, and made a toast to us. Not a bad way to spend an evening.

The next morning, we headed for The Village, a shopping an entertainment district near the lake. After browsing through a few shops, and buying some white choclate bark and fudge, it was time for lunch. Given the choice of anything I wanted for my birthday lunch, I chose Mexican food. I’d read online about a nearby restaurant called El Jacalito Unsure of how to get there, we decided to consult “Siri,” which Apple refers to as iphone’s “intelligent personal assistant.” To refute this statement, I now offer the following exchange between Dena and Siri:

Dena:” Give me directions to El Jacalito”

Siri: “Searching for directions to Jacelraigottlieb.”

Eventually we found the place. I ordered crispy tacos with beans and rice, while Dena had a taco salad. The food was good, though a bit more Americanized than I expected. When it comes to Mexican food, I’ve become completely spoiled by living in San Diego, where you can walk into any hole-in-the-wall place and have the best food you’ve ever had.

After lunch, we headed for Bear Mountain, a ski resort where I’d read that you could ride the ski lift for free on your birthday during the off season. When we pulled into the parking lot, the place was completely deserted. Aparently, whoever is responsible for updating the website had the day off that day. We found out later that the resort would open for the summer the next day. Welcome to my world.

Following the failed ski lift incident, we parked by the lake and walked across the causeway to the North shore. We walked along the bank for a while, and then, following the Woodland Interpretive Trail, headed into the mountains.  As the trail wound through the forest, we found ourselves high above the lake, with stunning views of the mountains in the distance.

They love their bears in Big Bear. That night and the next morning we visited the following establishments: Teddy Bear (for dinner), Boo Bear (for lunch), and Smoken Bear (just to look around). Notice a trend here? In addition to bear names, you can buy almost anything with a picture of a bear on it, including: mugs, lamps, shirts, sweaters, calenders, toilet paper, wine, beer, maxi pads, pregnancy tests, underwear, hats, socks, condomns, oil filters, beef jerkey, magnets, suppositories, bicycle helmets, and vibrators.

The next morning, we left Big Bear and headed home. As we wound along Route 18, know as the Rim of the World highway due to the spectacular views of the forest, mountains, and valley floor below, we pulled over every mile or so to take in the scenery, which was jaw dropping. We stood together, taking in the landscape; not quite believing that we had found a place so beautiful.

Finally, we made it to the bottom of the mountain. As we crept along the clogged freeway toward whatever devastation our cats, Pip and Sqeaky had wrought in our absence, I reflected on our trip, and our upcoming tenth anniversary. Had it really been a decade? Time is slippery, it seems, and it gets away from you if you aren’t careful. This concludes the philosophical portion of today’s post!

It was a great trip, but it was just as great to sleep in our own bed when we got back. Nothing like spending a few nights away to make you appreciate home. To view photos from our trip, click here:

The time has come to part ways for now. As always, thanks for reading. Until we meet again, take care of yourself. And don’t take any s**t from anybody! See you next time!


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