Sometimes a girl just needs to feel like a Norwegian Viking princess, and living in the arid southwest can make this a challenge. Luckily fall has finally arrived to SoCal and Big Bear California is only an hour away.
We took the winding two lane highway 38 up the mountain, transitioning from the city of San Bernardino to the twisting pine tree lined road that is the way to Big Bear. When we finally got around the last curve and saw the lake, it was a brisk 48 degrees and there was still a layer of snow on the north facing slopes.
Some interesting facts about Big Bear that must be true because I read it on the internet: In the times of horse drawn wagons it would take two days to reach Big Bear from San Bernardino. Later, Big Bear was the final destination of the world’s second running bus line. Buses would carry patrons from the valley up to the lake thus putting Big Bear on the map as a prime tourist destination. Big Bear has been the location of many Hollywood films and is an extremely popular destination for all of the greater Los Angeles area.
I crave the wild places, where the wind in my hair seems to be just for me, where I can feel alone. But sometime I just want to go for a short hike, walk through an adorable mountain town, eat German food and have a beer. Big bear, the answer to my rustic urban prayers. We went for a short hike to Castle Rock, well not to Castle Rock, we did more hoohumming and taking pictures than we did hiking. Why is it that 16 miles seems like a perfectly reasonable distance but one mile just drags on and on, maybe it’s just me. As my darling mountain man husband was getting over a nasty bug we decided to turn our tails around and head into town for lunch. The Big Bear Brewing is where we hung our hats. If you find yourself on a chilly fall day in an adorable mountain town which reminds you of a Nordic fairytale you better get some gosh darn brats and pretzels. And beer, lots of beer. After lunch we did some more walking, window shopping, and maybe got something sweet from the North Pole Fudge Co.
Being from the northeast I have yet to be impressed by a Socal winter, and by impressed I mean I’ve never had to shovel my car out of four feet of snow while the wind howls at the back and the temperature dips into the negatives. When I was in Big Bear though I experienced a sensation I have not felt in a few years. They say that smells can bring you back, that sounds can remind you of bygone days. For me the gentle crackling and squeaking of packed snow under my boots always brings a rush of memories. It is the sound of home in winter, it makes me think of clean sharp air in my lungs, of snowflakes melting on my cheeks, of the promise of a warm house at the end of a long day outside playing in the snow. Perhaps I am getting ahead of myself, it is after all not even Thanksgiving. While in Big Bear though I got a glimpse at the winter magic that is to come.
If you have never been to Big Bear I highly recommend it, there are excellent hiking trails, a beautiful lake, a few amazing climbing areas, and the cutest little mountain town in the San Bernardino range.