Big Bear, Trains and Flesh Eating Cacti – part I

I’ll be splitting this last weekends adventure into three parts over the next few days because (theoretically) you could pursue each of these destinations in three separate day trips (if you’re in the Southern California area).

We made our way up to Big Bear located in the San Bernardino mountains, about 100 miles from Los Angeles. Initially I had planned on spending the whole weekend up there.
Cozy.
In a cabin.
Snow falling gracefully outside…

I talked to my long time friend that lives up there year round and he said “Don’t bother. The weather has been awful this year.”

Sadly the snow has been few and far between this season. Which is unfortunate because the local economy thrives on the vacationers that flock up the mountain year round to enjoy the lake or the slopes. But when it’s too cold for the lake and the only snow to be found is man made and on the grounds of the ski resorts…meh. Not the country get away we were hoping for.

So I jumped on Expedia (It’s my go to for travel planning, and no I’m not paid to say that. They actually have no idea I’m talking about them *bwahahaha*). I booked a room in San Bernardino at the foot of the mountain. This also gave me the breathing room to create other plans in the Inland Empire that I had always wanted to do but never got a chance to.
Aaaannnnndddddd it was way cheaper.

We stopped at Lake Arrowhead on the way up because I had always wanted to walk around their little village. I hesitate to write anything “negative” but the whole place was only “ok”. The views of the lake are awesome and the shops we did go into were charming but on the whole I didn’t feel inclined to stay.

One of the upsides of our stop in Lake Arrowhead was an impromptu hair cut for Co. This kid has been wanting to “grow his hair out” for as long as I can remember. We got out of the car and I looked at his sweet face and said “ok kiddo, I know you want to grow your hair out but we need to trim it up, make it all one length while it grows out.” He sighed and I explained I’m still in support of his decision to express himself through his “look” but that he was looking like a ragamuffin. We stopped into Rumors and my initial impression had me asking “is this a place were a child can have their hair done or is it a bit too spa like?”. Seriously, it’s that cute. Furthermore it has some major TARDIS action going on, it’s far bigger on the inside once you walk through and has quite the pretty view of the lake. The gals there were more than accommodating and very sweet about our mob of 5 coming in and crowding up the place. I’m awful with names but I want to say Cohan’s stylist is named Julie (cute, friendly, blonde with a forearm tattoo). Co got exactly what he wanted, she kept the length as much as she could and I got a little boy who didn’t look like a stand in for Oliver Twist. I’ll be honest it’s the best trim I’ve seen on him in a few years.
It’s completely rational to make the trek up the mountain to get my hair done by her too right?

We left Lake Arrowhead and made it to Big Bear. I’m notorious for packing picnics (eating at restaurants gets pricey for all of us). So we sat at Boulder Bay munching happily, watching the ducks and enjoying the crisp weather. The park is very pretty but can get a little busy. I can’t imagine it during a peak season.

We then went to the Big Bear Discovery center . I imagine this place would be fantastic for little ones (we got through it pretty quickly and still enjoyed ourselves thoroughly). The main center has a couple of small exhibits about local wildlife and vegetation and there’s a back portion located outside with a few hands on displays that had us getting creative and laughing.

Next was Juniper Point .The gate wasn’t open so we parked along the road (several other cars were there so we assumed it was ok, I don’t know for sure so please do this at your own risk). We didn’t go down the whole trail because we were meeting our friend at 4:00 so we just wandered and enjoyed being out in the (paved trail) scenery. It’s a gorgeous spot and while it isn’t exactly roughing it it’s a good way to stretch your legs if you have small children in strollers, joint problems or have older people in your party.

We made our way to Sandy’s a sports bar that our friend favors. Don’t let the bikini clad gal on their website fool you, in my experience the establishment is kid friendly, reminding me more of the breweries in NorCal or the old style pubs across the pond. The food is fairly typical bar fare (they do make attempts at vegetarian options, vegans like myself are far more limited, I had the veggie sandwich without mayo or cheese). They have a full bar, tv’s on most of the walls tuned to a wide variety of sporting events, friendly staff and most importantly (to my little mice) a game room. Four pool tables, a handful of arcade games etc etc. more often than not we end up in there for a solid hour after we eat.

We finished our night on the mountain playing Cosmic Golf. A truly treacherous game for people with depth perception problems *shyly raises hand*. It got chilly pretty quick and the course (while 18 holes) is pretty small. Regardless of weather or size that was one of the highlights of our day. The kids were especially excited at the prospect of being outside in the black lights playing mini golf, the novelty of it didn’t wear off for them. A word to the wise. It’s cash only and also score cards don’t exist. There was a review on yelp, one of those cranky reviewers that have oodles of time to just talk trash and get labeled as “elite” that was FURIOUS about the lack of score cards.

It’s cosmic golf, were you expecting to take this PGA serious?

Us less competitive folk? We had a ball.

We made it down the mountain and to our hotel at about 9 pm (and even got upgraded to a full suite because they had overbooked, thank YOU Hilton).

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